Friday October 13 2017

Low profile tyres: New trend in town


By Mustafa Ziraba

You could have heard this before, but it does hurt to hear it again. Tyres are the most important single link between your car and the road surface.
Think about that for a moment. You can have the most powerful engine, the most sophisticated transmission, the most elaborate suspension, and every other car wizardry, but all will mean nothing if the tyres (and wheels) are not up to expectation.
Rest assured though that tyre technology is at an all-time high and it keeps getting better.
In fact, it is quite amazing that great tyres can do wonders for a less-than-fantastic car, specifically low-profile tyres and large-diameter sport rims.
“Low profile” describes a short sidewall height that shows the amount of rubber between the outside edge of the wheel and the road.
They are also wider than standard tyres, which leads to a broader contact with the road.
A narrower sidewall means a larger wheel and a sportier look. Because they are wider, this can be beneficial for braking and cornering on dry roads.
Such tyres, according to Allan Kibuuka, a tyre mechanic at Shell Najjanankumbi, often look better and offer an aesthetic that many drivers appreciate.
“Believe it or not, a low profile tyre dramatically changes the look of your car and feels safer,” he says.
Many car manufactures have adapted the low profile tyres with some older models in the market getting on the bandwagon to feel the benefit of the new tyre technology.
However, the problem comes in the design aspect. Low profile tyres, Kibuuka says, are fitted with specific requirements such as matching suspensions and steering wheel system, which offers proper functionality.
However, many people ignore this and work on assumptions, which might result into dire failures such as suspension failure, shuttered shock absorbers and damaged wheel rims, among others.
Like many “performance” products used in cars, low profile tyres are a trade-off that might cut back on the car’s comfort as shock absorption and ground clearance are hugely affected.
Apart from that they are quite expensive with a price range of between Shs400,000 and Shs2m depending on the size and brand.
However, even then, they have become a standard for many new cars.
Low profile tyres look sporty and provide crisp handling with an average sidewall of 15 inches compared to the normal average of 22 inches.
Additionally, if the tyre deflates, the car’s handling does not suffer as it would with normal tyres.

The downer side
One of the prevalent arguments against low-profile tyres is with less sidewall, the wheels are much more vulnerable to being dented by rough surfaces, especially on murrum roads. They are also susceptible to damage by potholes and road pavements.
Tyre pressure
When it comes to low profile tyres, the right tyre pressure is vital. Over-inflation can significantly decrease the driving comfort, while an under-inflated tyre can lead to overheating and irreversible tyre damage.
Because of this, the recommended pressure values should be observed at all times.