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What are the Differences Between R-1 and R-1W Tires?

 Which Tire is the Best for my Operation?

When choosing to place radial traction tires on a tractor, one of the most common questions we hear is whether R-1 or R-1W tires are best. When looking at the price difference between the two tire types, farmers wonder what they get for the higher price of an R-1W. To help farmers make the most informed decision, here are some facts and performance benefits for R-1 and R-1W tires.

The language itself, R-1 and R-1W, is a tire industry standard defining the minimum designed tread depth of an agricultural traction tire. The Tire and Rim Association defines the minimum bar height based on the tire width and the aspect ratio (height of the sidewall). The R-1 designation is the standard tread depth. The tread depth of an R-1W tire is at least 20 percent deeper than the same sized R-1 tire. In simple terms, R-1W tires have a taller bar height, but all the other dimensions, such as overall diameter and rated load capacity, are the same between the R-1 and R-1W tires.

There is not a substantial performance difference between the two types of tires – particularly for farmers who are concerned about soil compaction. Soil compaction is the result of the axle load and the inflation pressure to carry the axle load. Since the two tires have the same load and inflation pressure, the tires will create the same amount of soil compaction. If farmers are concerned about soil compaction, it is more important to look at tire sizes or IF and VF tires that carry the axle loads of their tractors at pressures below 15 psi. 

  1. The traction difference between the two tires depends on the soil conditions in which the tires operate. The deeper R-1W tread depth does not automatically mean the tire has more traction. Traction is dependent on tread bar shape and the angle of the bars. However, when deciding between the types of tires, pay close attention to soil conditions and consider the following:  Dry or normal soil moistures can use an R-1 tire. The R-1 and R-1W tires will have similar amounts of traction. Both tires work great in these soils, but if a farmer is debating the two tires because of cost vs. performance, the R-1 tire is more cost efficient
  2. In wetter soil conditions, even if they are borderline, consider using an R-1W tire. Just like in dry soils, the R-1W tire doesn’t generate more traction over the R-1, but the deeper skid will help maintain traction in higher slip ranges. The extra cost of the R-1W helps ensure traction in those areas, which helps with time and fuel efficiency.
  3. In wet soils, like those in the Texas Bayou or the Gulf Coast region, neither the R-1W or the R-1 are the best choice. Instead, farmers could look to move up to an even deeper tread on R-2 tires. The tread depth of an R-2 tire is two times deeper than R-1 tires to help gain traction in those wet soils.

After considering the soil conditions, think through how often the tractor will be running on paved surfaces like the roads or concrete feedlots. If a farmer doesn’t have to drive many miles on the road to get to their fields or doesn’t operate in a concrete feed lot, then an R-1 tire is a good, cost effective solution. If a farmer does travel long distances to get to their fields, or if the tractor operates in concrete feedlots, move to an R-1W tire. The deep skid will allow the farmer to put more hours on the tractor before the tires need replaced.

Click here for a list of Normal Tread Tires (R1), Wet/Sticky Traction Tires (R-1W) and Deep Tread Tires (R-2).