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Symmetric vs asymmetric tread


James Morse

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In looking at a lot of tires, this occurred to me and has been bothering me.

Tread on tires:
You can have unidirectional. Usually we don't see that except for instance high performance Goodyears for street cars.
A good example is those large tractor tires. If you mounted 2 rear tractor tires to the same face, you'd end up with the sides having opposite tread which of course you would not do.
So the outside face of the 2 tires has to be different. When you do that, it essentially reverses the direction of rotation, is a way of thinking about it, and the tires being symmetrical, it looks, and is, exactly right.
Same drill for street tires. They have to be symmetrical to be unidirectional or it would look strange.

If you have OWL on only one side of the tire, then, you cannot mount different faces. Just a side note. I mean, you could, but you'd lose the lettering if it was only on one side of the tire.

So leaving aside unidirectional since it doesn't really apply to us (I don't think); it is just to get in the mindset of what happens when you mount the tire with one side or the other facing out.

Here's the thing that bothers me. If tires are not symmetrical tread (bisecting the tire, the 2 sides are mirror images), no matter how you mount them, they will NOT be symmetrical side to side. That's what gets me because although it's true the truck is not symmetrical in lots of way, the body and general shape of it at least outside is intended to look symmetrical.

I know it seems like, if you flip a tire over, that would reverse everything.... and it does (as in the tractor tire example).... but if it's not symmetrical, what you end up with is the tread on one side is not a mirror of the other side. Like, you have two lefts or two rights. There is no way the left and right tires will be mirrors.

So if there is any intent in the tread design to, for instance, channel water to the outside, it will channel to the inside on the other side of the truck.

Take for example this tire, which I'm looking at as a probable when I upgrade tires:
Mickey Thompson 52510 Mickey Thompson Baja Legend EXP Tires | Summit Racing

That is not a symmetrical tire. No matter how you turn it or flip it, you will have the lines that you see running diagonally through the middle part of the tread running the same direction. They won't be mirror images. As I said it's like you will have 2 lefts or 2 rights in a sense.

To me it seemed like flipping the face - for instance those M Thompson tires you could do that as they are not OWL and it looks like there is no front/back, I think the faces are identical - it seemed like flipping the face would do the trick but it just doesn't work that way. I made little mock up tires/tread and turned them around and turning something asymmetrical 180 degrees does in fact reverse it but if it's not symmetrical you end up with that weird situation that is bothering me. Obviously it's not terribly important or it things wouldn't be like that, but you see what I'm saying. To me the two sides should have the tread as a mirror of the other side. A lot of tires look on first glance like that's true, but, they aren't. Regular street tires probably just about always are symmetrical, but not a/t tires.

Thoughts?
 


rusty ol ranger

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My thoughts...

You think alot about tires :ROFLMAO:
 

Roert42

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1668445885274.png


This topic reminded my of the tires on the old military vehicles. Just as good traction going forward as going backwards.

I think most tires are designed to have optimum performance when going forward, while still being able to film them around any which way. Which doesn't make much sense now that I think about it.
 

James Morse

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These tires you show have no side to side variation. What I'm saying is tread can be mirror image (though offset) but be directional as in regular tractor tires.
Your pic tires are not mirror images but they are effectively mirrors because they are the same everywhere. You can flip them or drive them any way you want and they work as well.
Now, where do I get these in 31x10.5R15? I suspect on the road they would be a bit noisy, but who knows.

When there IS side to side variation that by definition makes tread directional. But if the side to side variation isn't a mirror, then, they're not symmetrical, and... back to square one.

I guess what started me thinking about this is, if you take a pic of the front tires of asymmetrical tread, your initial inclination would be to say "you have mounted them both the same way and you should have flipped one to the other face" (you can easily imagine this scenario for regular tractor tires with angled tread). Now of course this could happen on the truck, but, the thing is, if they aren't symmetrical, you can go ahead and mount the other side but you still have the same problem! It still won't look "right".

I suppose you could say from a performance standpoint tires are, one would think, made so they pull neither left nor right no matter how they are mounted (unless they are strictly direction with arrows on them). So this all just doesn't matter and is a waste of time.
That still doesn't change the facts.

Great pic, thanks.
 

Roert42

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Now, where do I get these in 31x10.5R15? I suspect on the road they would be a bit noisy, but who knows.

These are for 16" wheels, but they are about 30.5x5.8xR16. They also sell some for 15" wheels that are about 29.5x5.8xR15.

Seems like old military tires like these were all fairly narrow.

Not such a bad thing. Should be better in snow or other slippery but solid surfaces, then a fat tire, due to the pressure/ weight of the vehicle being concentrated over a smaller area.

Would think it would be counter intuitive if you were trying to drive over deep snow or soft/ boggy mud.
 

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Could always go with a TSL Bogger. That is also kind of symmetrical.

I think they have a 31x12.05R15

1668448735017.png
 

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I don't think you would find anything truly symmetrical. Problem being, the lug spacing. You don't want to have a tire with a big lug on the left and right at the same point. It would give you a terrible ride and bad traction all in one. If you had a big lug that went all the way across the tire you are spacing out your pressure across the entire with, diluting it.

They clock the big paddles on these tires so they are alternating, that way you always have even pressure on the ground. The big paddles are not for increased traction, but to help dig down and throw the loose mud away from the tire.
 

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In looking at a lot of tires, this occurred to me and has been bothering me.

Tread on tires:
You can have unidirectional. Usually we don't see that except for instance high performance Goodyears for street cars.
A good example is those large tractor tires. If you mounted 2 rear tractor tires to the same face, you'd end up with the sides having opposite tread which of course you would not do.
So the outside face of the 2 tires has to be different. When you do that, it essentially reverses the direction of rotation, is a way of thinking about it, and the tires being symmetrical, it looks, and is, exactly right.
Same drill for street tires. They have to be symmetrical to be unidirectional or it would look strange.

If you have OWL on only one side of the tire, then, you cannot mount different faces. Just a side note. I mean, you could, but you'd lose the lettering if it was only on one side of the tire.

So leaving aside unidirectional since it doesn't really apply to us (I don't think); it is just to get in the mindset of what happens when you mount the tire with one side or the other facing out.

Here's the thing that bothers me. If tires are not symmetrical tread (bisecting the tire, the 2 sides are mirror images), no matter how you mount them, they will NOT be symmetrical side to side. That's what gets me because although it's true the truck is not symmetrical in lots of way, the body and general shape of it at least outside is intended to look symmetrical.

I know it seems like, if you flip a tire over, that would reverse everything.... and it does (as in the tractor tire example).... but if it's not symmetrical, what you end up with is the tread on one side is not a mirror of the other side. Like, you have two lefts or two rights. There is no way the left and right tires will be mirrors.

So if there is any intent in the tread design to, for instance, channel water to the outside, it will channel to the inside on the other side of the truck.

Take for example this tire, which I'm looking at as a probable when I upgrade tires:
Mickey Thompson 52510 Mickey Thompson Baja Legend EXP Tires | Summit Racing

That is not a symmetrical tire. No matter how you turn it or flip it, you will have the lines that you see running diagonally through the middle part of the tread running the same direction. They won't be mirror images. As I said it's like you will have 2 lefts or 2 rights in a sense.

To me it seemed like flipping the face - for instance those M Thompson tires you could do that as they are not OWL and it looks like there is no front/back, I think the faces are identical - it seemed like flipping the face would do the trick but it just doesn't work that way. I made little mock up tires/tread and turned them around and turning something asymmetrical 180 degrees does in fact reverse it but if it's not symmetrical you end up with that weird situation that is bothering me. Obviously it's not terribly important or it things wouldn't be like that, but you see what I'm saying. To me the two sides should have the tread as a mirror of the other side. A lot of tires look on first glance like that's true, but, they aren't. Regular street tires probably just about always are symmetrical, but not a/t tires.

Thoughts?
You're thinking too hard. You're going to make your brain hurt over nothing.
 

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Don't stress about tires too much. Buy what makes you happy.
 

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mud tire.jpg


This is a picture of the tires linked. Left is the original, right is flipped, as if on the other side of the tire was facing out. Yes, You are correct, mirror images. I believe the "Aqua Tread" design was truly symmetrical and directional at the same time.
1668456687909.png
 

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A good example is those large tractor tires. If you mounted 2 rear tractor tires to the same face, you'd end up with the sides having opposite tread which of course you would not do.
Depends on the style of rim, some you could still install with the tread going the right way but just end up with the valvestem to the inside.

When not powered directional ag tires clean better in mud and wear better on pavement when ran "backwards"

Most combines have the rears backwards if they don't have powered rear wheels.



Same with implements



During "Tractorcade" in the late 70's when a bunch of farmers drove their tractors to DC to protest, many flipped their rear tires around for driving lots of miles on pavement.
 

Josh B

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You are a picky sort. You should run this by Mickey :D
 

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As far as performance is concerned, the tire will perform equally regardless of which way is it mounted or rotated. The asphalt, dirt, gravel, etc isn’t going to care.

I love the curiosity and wanting to learn but sometimes I think you are digging too deep. Careful, you might run into Alice or the White Rabbit if you keep it up.
 

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609322qbt346.jpg


Mirror image. It's a sand tire for a quad
 

James Morse

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Thanks for these great replies.

@Roert42 yes the military tires - great - will have to look to see if they have in my size (or will fit somehow) - I think they'd be noisy, but, nice.
The TSL Bogger qualifies to me as symmetrical, as I noted, perhaps in the other thread on this, the 2 halves, as if you sliced the tire vertically, don't have to be lined up side-to-side because they are continuous so while it's not symmetrical per se, it does qualify as symmetrical for what we are talking about and yes it's directional. Nice. Awfully wide? Could I even put a 12" rim on my truck and would the tires fit without rubbing? I kind of want to pursue that more even though that's a more aggressive tread than I might be thinking, it would be awesome in snow, dirt, mud, on rocks - everything, right? Maybe a bit noisy. But most places I would go are say w/in 50 miles of here then I'd have a set of road tires. If I weren't going on a trip I'd probably leave them on in the winter for those occassional snows we have.

Yes about the lugs and offsetting the sides. I totally agree, and thanks.

Technically, you could have 2 sets of tires and when you are going off-road you could swap them. This approach begs for a lift in your shop, not totally necessary, but it'd make it 10x easier.

@Ranger850 just to clarify I assume you made mirror pictures, as well as flipped them 180 degrees (large pic). Because if was -only- flipped over, it would look the same. In the left pic, there is an angle running upper left to lower right, if you flip it over, it looks the same (angle runs same direction). So you must have not only flipped them but mirrored them. You could have just mirrored them and got the same result. What we are seeing there is two different tires. I think that's what you meant, tell me if otherwise. To have what is shown, you would have to order 2 lefts, and 2 rights. No one I know does that at least not commercially.

In the small pic (Aquatread), yes, that's truly symmetrical and directional and no doubt has arrows on it telling you direction of rotation. For street/rain tires you can find them, I think I ran directional tires on the Fiesta back when for the track. Shaved, which at the time seemed ridiculous to get new tires then cut off most of the tread. They stick better though. You had rain tires too.

The Quad tire is a good example of symmetrical and directional no doubt the opposite faces are mounted in use.

Interesting about flipping them and the valve stem to the inside. Would only work on certain rims though.

I'm not clear why changing the tread direction on farm equipment makes it better for the road vs dirt. Must be something to do with the mechanics of wear.

@Josh B Did you mean Micky Mouse or Micky Thompson?
 

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