Best Trailer Tires - Radial vs Bias Ply: A Buyer's Guide

Best Trailer Tires For You – Radial vs Bias Ply: A Buyer’s Guide

Tires-Easy Radial Tires, Tire Buying Guide, Tire Reviews, Tire Sizes, Tire Technology, Trailer Tires

If you like taking your boat out to the lake or pulling your camper behind you on adventures you want to ensure you have good trailer tires so your trip ramains enjoyalbe. Trailer tires are build differntly than car and truck tires and are specifically designed for trailers to minimize sway while maximizing safety. But not all trailer tires are created equal. They generally fall into two categories: radial and bias.

Knowing which ones are best for your needs may require a bit of research and reflection.

This buyer’s guide on trailer tires will help you find the right tire sizes, load rating, price, and style for your trailer so that you (and your cargo) can stay safe on the roads.

Don’t underestimate the importance of trailer-specific tires on your trailer. Using the right trailer tire can reduce fuel consumption, reduce roughness and pull on your tow vehicle and ensure your cargo gets where you desire to go in great shape.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of buying trailer tires.

1. What Are Trailer Tires?

Trust us – the difference between regular vehicle tires and trailer tires is significant.
Trailer tires are constructed very differently so they can perform specific duties on the road and fit the needs of trailers, not cars.

When you buy a car/truck tire, it’s built to help you maintain control on turns and handle high speeds on the highway from the seat of your car. Trailer tires are designed for free rolling axles. This means they do not control direction in any way and are meant to follow the tow vehicle freely.
Trailer tires don’t need the same aggressive traction that your car/truck tires do. But they need to be sturdy enough to carry heavy loads without losing control, as well as resist wear and heat buildup. They must be able to handle the sway that comes with being towed, keeping the load and the trailer right behind the tow vehicle, following steadily.

2. Factors to Consider While Buying Trailer Tires

Load Rating

In general, trailer tires are designed to carry more weight than your average vehicle tire. A trailer tire load range indicates how capable the tires are to pull heavy loads like boats, trailers, campers, livestock or even other cars.

Referring to a trailer tire load range chart can help you determine the correct ply rating for the weight of your trailer.

We’ll get more into ply rating later in this article. But for now, know that your tires will state the maximum load per tire.

Speed Rating

The trailer tire speed rating is conveyed through a letter code system. A tire rated L can be operated up to 75 mph while a tire rated M can be operated up to 81mph.

If you can’t find a letter rating on the sidewall of your tire, the best bet is to check with the manufacturer or tire professional to make sure you are getting the propers speed rating for your intended use.

Construction

If you’ve ever pulled a trailer behind your vehicle, you know that bumps in the road can pose a serious threat. That’s why a trailer tire with shock absorption qualities is important – your tires will last longer if they are built to handle rough roads. Additionally, good trailer tires give you a smoother ride and are better at protecting the cargo in-tow.

Generally speaking, trailer tires are built with circumferential grooves and ribbed treads. The tread pattern on trailer tires helps with low rolling resistance to keep the tires rolling freely in the direction the trailer is headed.

Now, the specifics of a trailer tire’s construction also depend on whether it’s a radial or bias-ply tire – we’ll get more into that later on.

Size

Trailers come in many different sizes and there are many different trailer tire sizes to fit each spcific trailer. Larger tires are typically radial tires meant for higher sppeds and longer hauls. Bias ply tires come in a wider range of sizes and can be put on small utitly trailers, farm trailer and boat trailerts. It is important to make sure you look at your trailer manufacturer’s manual before changing trailer tire sizes.

Lifespan

The first thing many shoppers look for when reading trailer tire reviews is the average life expectancy of the product. Obviously, you want to purchase a tire you know you can rely on for years to come.

However, the lifespan of your tire can depend on several aspects.

  • How often will you use the tires?
  • What kind of surfaces will you drive on?
  • How high-quality are the materials?

All of these factors can play a significant role in how long it takes for your tires to show their age and need replacement.

Be sure you’re looking into speed and load ratings to ensure they match the trailers specifications. As most trailer tires have a 65mph speed rating – towing at higher speeds creates excessive heat, causing the tire to wear down faster. In terms of load rating, exceeding the range is another way to increase wear – and can easily cause a blowout!

Overall, trailer tires typically lose one-third of their integrity after three years. We strongly recommend replacing trailer tires after five years – no matter how good they might look!

Sidewall

Even when you’re purchasing top-rated trailer tires, it’s important to take a look at the products’ sidewalls. This is where you’ll see indications that clue you in to the tire’s specifications, as well as its load-bearing capabilities and whether or not it’s radial or bias ply.

3. Types of Trailer Tires

A. Radial Ply

Let’s start by addressing the question, “What is a radial tire?” If you’ve never shopped for trailer tires before, you may not have heard the term.

Essentially, radial trailer tires are unique in that the plies start at the center, then run “radially” (hence the name) around the tire. This special 90-degree tread centerline angle provides the tires with excellent grip, as well as improved durability.

When you look at a radial tire, the plies’ special pattern should be clearly evident. You’ll notice angles that make the tires flexible, as well as thick shoulders that protect the tire and the trailer cargo from shocks. Drivers often compliment radial tires for their smooth ride and superior handling.

*If a buyer is comparing bias-ply vs radial trailer tires, the biggest benefits they’ll notice with radial tires are the higher levels of protection, better durability, and improved comfort. However, they’ll also notice a bigger price tag that comes with these benefits.

You’ll likely want to choose a radial trailer tire if you’re looking for low rolling resistance, stability, long tire lifespans, and better fuel economy. Drivers who often tow large, heavy loads (like campers, livestock, boats or cargo trailers) typically choose radial due to these factors.

Best Radial Tires

1. Goodyear Marathon Tires

This multi-purpose, effective trailer tire provides superb travel capabilities. Its scientifically designed ribbed tread is specifically aimed at making your trailer-pulling experience as flawless as possible.

If you’re looking for a smooth ride, this tire’s sidewall makes it extra durable, long-lasting, and steady. It even stands up in tough circumstances under uneven, rocky ground.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

The Goodyear Marathon is excellent for drivers embarking on long-haul drives with a trailer in tow, or travel on varied terrains. They are a great choice for travel trailers, horse trailers, cargo trailers and boat trailers.

Speed Rating: 65 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at $68/tire.

2. Greenball Tow-Master Special Trailer Radial Tires

If you need to pull some heavy loads like boats, horse trailer, big cargo, or even travel trailers, this might be the tire for you. Its dual steel belts give the tire an extra bit of strength and stability, preventing sway as you make your way to your destination.

The Greenball Tow-Master can pull a wide range of trailers without compromising fuel efficiency. Surprisingly, it also has a speed rating of M, meaning that drivers can pull the trailer at up to 81 mph. This makes it an excellent choice for long trips across the country. Thr price for the value is just about unbeatable.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Horse trailers, boat trailers, travel trailers, or other big loads of cargo.

Speed Rating: 81 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $48/tire.

3. Atturo ST200 Tires

This radial tire comes in different ply ratings and is typically used by utility (but also recreational) trailers. It’s four channels help maintain tractions on wet roads, and the strong center rib is great for tracking the tow on a vehicle while on the highway.

Because the Atturo ST200 tire is created to help pull heavy loads that are carried at a higher center of gravity, it’s a great choice for drivers who pull a variety of big cargo products on their trailers. Its speed rating indicates it can go up to 75 mph, allowing it to cover long distances quickly.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Heavy cargo and big trailers.

Speed Rating: 75 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $40/tire.

4. Velocity WR078 Tires

This versatile, long-lasting trailer tire has a rounded profile and an internal structure that includes twin steel belts. This helps stabilize the tread, giving drivers extra traction and durability.

The Velocity WR078 is great for drivers pulling travel trailers, pop-up campers, boat trailers, and even utility trailers. Whether you need to haul your RV or your favorite camping accessories, the tread’s extra rubber protects you from flats on the road and increases your stability.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Travel trailers and pop-up campers, boat trailers, utility trailers.

Speed Rating: 75 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 4.1 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $52/tire.

5. Carlisle Radial Trail RH Tires

The variable pitch design of the Carlisle Radial Trail RH tire is designed to give this option better fuel efficiency and minimize extra road noise. It also has special technology made to resist heat build up, allowing this tire trailer to maintain high intergirty and last for many years.

Considered a best-in-class trailer tire, this tire is an excellent choice for those pulling boats, horses, livestock, cargo, or towable RVs.

Fun fact: It was even dubbed the official Trailer Tire of the 2012 American Bass Anglers tour.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Boat trailers, horse and livestock trailers, or towable RVs.

Speed Rating: 75 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $57/tire.

6. Goodyear Endurance Tires

As an ST/special purpose trailer tire, this is one option you can always rely on. The internal structure includes twin steel belts with two-ply nylon reinforcement to stabilize the tread and provide extra traction, as well as durability.

The Endurance also features a polyester cord body, giving the trailer that smooth ride that so many drivers seek. The Goodyear Endurance tires are made to last for a long time and provide less sway.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Pop-up campers, boat trailers, toy haulers, fifth wheels, and travel trailers.

Speed Rating: 87 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $118/tire.

B. Bias Ply

Now, let’s talk about bias-ply tires, the counterpart to radial trailer tires. These products are built with nylon belts that run at 30 to 45-degree angles from the center line – rather than 90-degree angles. Bias ply tires are more prone to flat spotting when parked for long periods, howerver they can be stronger than radial tires in some instances due to the numerous ply layers, and they resist sidewal damage better. They also are typcally cheaper in cost than radial tires.

Perhaps the biggest benefit that come with bias-ply tires are their ability to maintain good traction at slow speeds. This is ideal for pulling a boat in or out of the water – or pulling a heavy farm trailer out of a field. Additionally, bias tires typically have thick sidewalls to resist cuts, bruises and punctures.

Although they aren’t quite as comfortable as radial tires, they’re more affordable. They are a good option for drivers who aren’t towing at highway speeds, or lomg distances.

Generally, buyers go with a bias ply tire if they are looking for a lower price than radial tires. It still provides great traction, especially when going in a straight line, but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This makes bias ply tires a common choice amongst people who don’t put a lot of wear and tear on their trailer – they just need it for the occasional straightforward towing session.

Best Bias Ply Tires

1. Carlisle Sport Trail Tires

This tire’s bias-ply construction gives trailers excellent performance capabilities – while still looking like a radial tire. Its wraparound tread provides superb handling, even in harsh weather conditions. The tire even takes corners well, which is difficult for many trailer tires.

If you’re looking to pull boats, horses, or stock trailers, the Carlisle Sport Trail tire might be a perfect fit. Some drivers even use this tire to pull utility trailers or construction trailers – the durability allows for both.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Construction, livestock, and cargo utility trailers.

Speed Rating: 81 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $25/tire.

2. Power King Boat Trailer II LP Tires

This tire has a traditional sawtooth circumferential rib tread pattern that makes for easy cargo pulling on paved roads. Additionally, the bias-ply casing gives the tires a thicker sidewall, allowing trailers to handle road hazards and potholes with minimal problems.

The Power King Boat Trailer II LP tires are made to pull small to medium-size trailers. Its durability and ability to handle different kinds of roads makes it perfect for drivers looking to pull boats on a trailer.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Boat trailers and medium-sized trailers.

Speed Rating: 81 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $39/tire.

3. Greenball TowMaster Special Trailer Bias Tires

Greenball Corporation has been known for its high-quality tires for years, and the brand’s trailer tires are no exception. This tire’s construction is aimed around providing a long tread life and exceptional carrying capacity.

Looking for a trailer tire that’s great for pulling boats, ATVs, jet skis, snowmobiles, and even camper trailers? The Greenball Tow-Master Special Trailer Bias Tires offer an excellent towing experience at a surprisingly low price. Known for its reliability and high level of performance, this is certainly one of the most popular bias trailer tires on the market.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Camping trailers, jet ski, ATVand snowmobile triailers and boat trailers.

Speed Rating: 81 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $21/tire

4. Deestone D268 Trailer Tires

Many car enthusiasts already know about Deestone tires – they’re made to be strong and durable, and most last for years without problems. The Deestone D268 is Deestone’s trailer tire, and it has been constructed to last for a long time while drivers tow heavy loads in a variety of situations.

This high-quality trailer tire features optimum highway patterns and can be used to pull a variety of heavy trailer loads. From work trailers, motorsport triailers to camping trailers, drivers pull many different kinds of cargo with this extremely reliable tire.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Work and utility trailers, camping trailers, cargo trailers.

Speed Rating: 62 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $29/tire.

5. Gladiator QR15-STB Tires

The Gladiator QR15-STB is a special trailer tire built to carry very heavy loads. Its wide-open circumferential grooves help quickly evacuate water and grip the road well, even in moist conditions.

This bias-ply tire’s design allows for excellent heavy-load bearing capabilities, as well as off-road towing in certain circumstances. As a result, many construction companies and farmers choose this trailer tire for their towing.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Farm trailers, utility & cargo trailers and boat trailers.

Speed Rating: 62 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 5 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $30/tire.

6. Greenball Towmaster Trailer Bias Tires

Greenball TowMaster Trailer Bias Tires This tire is constructed with modern tread designs for a smooth towing experience. Although it comes at an economically friendly price, it can compete with many of the best qualities of other popular trailer tires.

As a special purpose trailer tire, and for a surprisingly low price, the Greenball Towmaster Trailer Bias Tire provides excellent reliability and a high-level of performance, as well as a long life.

What Kind of Trailer They Should Go On?

Boat and jet ski trailers, utility trailers, small campers, and ATV/UT and snowmobile trailers .

Speed Rating: 75 MPH

Ratings: The tire has an average review of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Price: Starts at around $18/tire.

4. Safety Tips

The number one safety tip we can give you is to pick the right tires for your needs. Even the best-rated trailer tires can fail if they aren’t used properly.  If you’re pulling big loads like boats, livestock and campers or RVs on the highway – get a radial tire. If you’re mainly towing at low speeds off the pavement, a bias is the better choice.

You need to know how the speed of your travel and the weight of your cargo specifically affects the lifetime of your tire. Be sure to check speed and load ratings, and abide by them.

Pay attention to what kind of road conditions, distances, weight, and terrain your trailer tires can feasibly handle. The more you know about the specifics of driving safely with your tires, the better.

Other tips for staying safe while pulling an item with trailer tires:

  • Always inflate the trailer tires to the correct inflation indicated by the trailer specs.
  • Avoid going over the tire’s maximum speed rating
  • Understand that the load-bearing capabilities will decrease at higher speeds
  • Replace your tires every five years
  • Store your trailer tires in cool, dark areas at max inflation
  • Consider using covers to protect the tires from sunlight when not being used

5. FAQs

Are trailer tires rated for highway use?

What many don’t realize is that speed is hugely important when it comes to driving with trailer tires. Unless noted otherwise, your trailer tires should not exceed 65 miles per hour – and this can make driving on the highway a challenge.

Your trailer tires should never be used at speeds greater than 80 mph.

How often should I change my trailer tires?

You can’t always tell how worn a trailer tire is just from its appearance. That’s why we recommend replacing them after about 5 years, just to be sure they’re in good shape. This is typically when you reach between 10K or 12K in mileage. You should always change a tire that has excessive cracking and ozone damage.

Can I change my tires from bias ply to radial or vice versa?

It’s not typical to switch back and forth. If your towing needs change drastically, you may want to change tire types. Always consult your trailer manual to ensure you are using the proper type of trailer tire

What is the load range on a trailer tire?

The load range rating can be found on your tire’s sidewall and will indicate how much weight the tire is designed to carry. In some cases, you might have heard these ratings referred to as “ply ratings,” the older term for indicating the strength of a tire. The higher the ply number, the heavier-duty the tire.

You should always check the load range in your tire’s description to ensure that it has the capacity to carry whatever you plan to tow on your trailer.

Should I use bias ply or radial trailer tires?

There isn’t necessarily a black and white answer to this question. It really depends on what you need from a trailer tire, as well as what you plan to pull and how much you can afford to spend.

Typically, bias-ply tires are less expensive than radial tires, which makes some drivers more likely to buy those than radial options. You just need to be sure you know what your driving situation is. If you will be towing on the highway, definitely use a radial tire. If you will mainly be towing at low speeds or off the beaten path, go with bias.

However, if you’re pulling precious cargo that weighs a lot, radial tires do perform better on a noticeable level. You’ll experience a smoother ride and less sway, plus they last longer.

As a shopper, you need to pay the most attention to the load-bearing capabilities of the tires you evaluate. Radial tires are usually built to take on heavier loads, and therefore can be more expensive. You’ll need to determine exactly what you need to purchase in order to safely (and comfortably) tow your cargo.

How can I protect my trailer tires from dry rot?

As is the case with most products, natural degradation is just a reality of life. Over exposure to environmental conditions can compromise the rubber compounds in your tire.

Dry rot is caused by weather. Your trailer tire can become damaged from both excessive UV rays from the sun and freezing temperatures. The exposure to high ozone concentrations, changes in climate, and general misuse can be huge contributors to dry rot. To reduce the weathering of the trailer tires’ sidewalls, try to avoid the following:

  • Staying parked in one position for long periods of time.
  • Low inflation pressure
  • Storing tires at extreme high temperatures
  • Storing near electric motors, battery chargers, generators, welding equipment, or any other item that creates ozone.

Why do my trailer tires keep blowing out?

More often than not, trailer tires blow when they have experienced too much heat on the road due to a lack of inflation. Make sure you’re maintaining good air pressure in your tires. Additionally, you should always ensure that you’re not overloading the tire or surpassing the speed rating, both of which can lead to blowouts.

How can I tell if a tire is a radial or bias?

The easiest way to tell if a tire is radial is to look for the R on the tires sidewall  in the tire size, indicating it is a radial tires. A bias ply tire will be marked with either a dash  (-) or a D in the tire size where the R was on radial tire.  Also both tires will have the full word radial or bias ply written somewhere on the tire sidewall.

Should I rotate my trailer tires?

Trailer tires wear evenly, meaning they do not typically need to be rotated. If you’re trailer tires are NOT wearing evenly, you are likely experiencing an issue with your trailer – and should get it inspected.

In Conclusion

Picking the right type of tire for both your vehicle and your trailer is extremely important when it comes to staying safe on the roads. You need the right kind of construction behind your trailer tires to get you from point A to point B safely – without putting extra wear and tear on your vehicle or the item you’re pulling.

For any further questions on trailer tires, please contact our team at Tires Easy. We’ll help you find the perfect tires to your trailer and ensure you feel confident in your buying decision.

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