Slot Car Tires - Which Ones?
Slot Car Tires : Which One ?
For beginners and other racers that have always used the stock tires on their slot cars, the question will inevitably have to be asked, sooner or later: which after-market tire should I buy?
And the answer is always the classic «It depends.» Not very helpful. Let's explore what it means in the next few paragraphs.
There are four main compounds in use in the 1/32 slot car world : rubber, urethane, silicone, foam.
Foam is not used a lot in the home market, it’s more geared towards big commercial tracks. Slot.it has started to make some foam tires in the last year but if you're just beginning to replace stock tires, just skip foam for now.
Rubber is what most stock tires are made of. They are considered OK for magnet racing on plastic tracks but they dry and harden pretty fast (in a couple of years) if not cared for properly. They typically don’t have the best traction. The only exception is NSR tires, that come standard on NSR cars. Those tires are performance-oriented and are used by a lot of racers but they need proper preparation. When they want to replace the stock tires with something better, slot racers usually go with urethane or silicone tires.
Silicone tires are the best-performing tires you can find but they need a clean and smooth track. As long as you keep the track free of dust and the surface is smooth, silicone tires will give you traction, a lot of it. And they last a very long time, without losing their original qualities. Since they are not prone to wear, that means they’re also harder to sand and profile. You know we currently sell silicone Quick Slicks. Those tires have won numerous races all over North America and they're quickly be coming the tire of choice for the teams competing in the last 24-hour races, where the world record for distance in 24 hours was beaten three times since 2011.
Urethane tires are the next best thing. They typically have less traction than silicone tires but they can tolerate a certain amount of dust on the track without losing much performance. The downside is that they wear more quickly but they are also much easier to sand and profile than silicone tires. On an abrasive track, they will be very good (and wear pretty quickly). Paul Gage tires are made in Canada by a great guy (Paul Gage, you guessed right!) and they're also very good but they are « artisanal » in the sense that the inside wall is not finished (it’s easy to sand though). All Paul Gage tires have rounded sidewalls and many sizes are available so you can usually find a tire that fits your car/wheel. We always carry a large selection of Paul Gage tires.
There are far too many different wheels out there and one tire size does not fit all, (very) far from it. And that's where it gets complicated. Wheels have different diameters (A/B), different widths (C) and also different center ribs (D/E). The thickness of the tire is another variable that comes into play when it comes time to find a suitable replacement tire.
Unfortunately, there's no magic formula to find a compatible tire. That's where you can use our exclusive Tire Selector, along with our Wheel-Tire Chart. With those reference charts and tools, you'll find the right tire model for many popular cars/wheels. If you don't find the car you want tires for, just get your favorite measurement tool out of the drawer and start measuring. We'll try to help you as much as we can.