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Performance Tires 101: The Difference Between Types of Sporty Tires

You have a multitude of different tire categories to choose from when you want to wrap your wheels in fresh rubber. Drag radials and summer performance tires are two types that are tuned for racing and spirited driving while still keeping your sports car road legal.

If your goal is to tune your sports car to reach its full handling potential on dry roads, you should swap out your stock all-seasons for performance tires right away.


Drag Radials for Sprints and Drag Races

Drag radials give you maximum 0 to 60 mph performance. They’re specially tuned for straight-line acceleration and use just enough tread to keep them street legal.

Drag radial tread patterns are directional. They bite the pavement as hard as possible when you’re accelerating forward. The rubber compound is soft and sticky for maximum grip when you dump your clutch or perform a brake stand.

Basically, drag radials help send your car rocketing forward from a standstill when you floor your engine at the drag strip or between stop lights.


The Downsides of Drag Radials

The issue is that drag radials are far from ideal in terms of practical driving. They can be sketchy in any sort of inclement weather.

The lack of tread depth makes drag radials far less able to displace water on wet pavement. That means they’re susceptible to hydroplaning at highway speeds. They’re also more likely to slide when you throw your car into a wet corner.

The sticky rubber compound also needs to remain heated up from burnouts or bouts of hard driving to offer maximum traction. When you’re just heading out on a quick trip to run some errands, your drag radial tires will remain cold for most of the trip. That means they’ll be delivering relatively poor performance in lots of everyday driving scenarios.

Lastly, the soft rubber compound equates to a shorter lifespan for drag radials. You’ll be wearing them down and replacing them relatively often if you use your sports car for everyday driving.


Extreme Summer Performance Tires: All-Around Sportiness

Tires with an extreme summer performance rating are a bit more practical. The idea behind them is the same: minimal tire treads and soft rubber designed to offer maximum grip in a street-legal package.

While they do offer better off-the-line grip, summer performance tires aren’t only tuned for straight-line sprints. They deliver optimum lateral grip as well. You’ll be able to take sharp corners harder and maintain stability through high-speed turns.

Extreme summer performance tires have the same drawbacks as drag radials. Their shallow treads aren’t great at displacing water and their rubber compounds need to warm up before they handle optimally. They also tend to wear out faster than more conventional tires.

Nevertheless, summer performance tires can’t be beat if you want maximum handling performance from your street car. While they don’t quite match the straight-line grip of a drag radial, they’re still quite grippy and will improve your car’s 0 to 60 mph sprints. They’re a great option if you have another daily driver for racking up the miles and only take your sports car out for fun.


Ultra High Summer Performance Tires: The Jack of All Performance Trades

If racing-inspired tires are too impractical for you, opt for a set of ultra high performance tires. They’re much more common, with virtually every major tire brand offering their own version. Like the other performance tire categories, they use soft rubber and minimized treads tuned for maximum acceleration and lateral holding ability.

However, the treads and rubber compound aren’t nearly as extreme as the others. Summer performance tires can easily be daily driven on public roads safely and confidently. They wear out quicker than their all-season counterparts, but not nearly as quickly as drag radials or extreme summer performance tires.


Which Is the Right Rubber for You?

Every car and driver is unique. The best tire for your vehicle depends heavily on the vehicle itself and, more importantly, your driving habits. Talk to an experienced technician at Evans Tire & Service Centers for help in choosing the perfect tires for your ride.

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