Radial Tire Vs. Bias: What are the Difference ?

Do you want to change your tires, and you are considering various options in the market to land the best? When looking for the befitting wheel part, you will have to weigh radial tire vs. bias types. Radial and bias refer to manufacturing technology. The two technologies vary when it comes to arrangements of the rubber layers and strengthening fiber.

Which one to go for? This is a critical decision to make. To help you make the right decision, we take an in-depth analysis of this discussion. It will help you know how to tell if a tire is radial or bias and its respective benefits.

Radial Tire

radial tyre vs normal tyre

A Brief History of Radial Tires

Radial tires, also going by radial ply tires, have been in the automotive scene for over a century. The predecessor to the modern radial tire designs received a patent in 1914 in London. The first radial-ply tire came through the courtesy of Michelin, a giant French tire manufacturing company. The company commercialized this tire type, and many automotive makers started using it. Among the reasons behind the tires’ success was they rode smoothly and led to a good fuel economy.

The radial tire pros spread far and wide, translating to mainstream appeal in Europe and Asia, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. In the late 1960s, Consumer Reports documented the benefits of the radial tire. The magazine’s report drew attention to this tire type, and many auto manufacturers started acknowledging the innovation. At this point, radial tires were not that popular in America.

From the 1970s, many manufactures incorporated this tire type as a standard design. Presently, they feature on most vehicles.

Structure and Construction

On the radial vs. bias tire debate, one of the things that you will notice is that they have varying designs. To understand the structure of a tire to understand radial tire technology, you need to know about the tire carcass. The carcass is the network of rubber-coated ply cords that run across the tire. The carcass may also contain steel and other textile material for improved strength and resiliency.

The plies are what make radial technology different from bias technology as they radiate out at 90-degrees. They start at the center, going bead to bead. You also realize that the crown is layered construction forming a belt. As such, you find that the sidewalls and the crown act independently. The design of the tires translates to stability and brings on an excellent grip when the vehicle is on the road.

Bias-ply vs. radial motorcycle tires? Most motorcycles use radial tires due to the firm grip they provide. You will mostly notice this type of tire on sports bikes. For bias vs. radial tractor tires, you notice that bias feature prominently on tractors and heavy vehicles like tractors. The main factor behind their use in such situations is their weight support. We will look at bias tires later on in this piece.

Pros of Radial Tires

The radial variety has plenty of advantages which are the main reasons for its wide adoption. The tread construction and layering ensure a firm grip translating to a smooth ride. The construction is also responsible for its durability. The crown and sidewalls act as independent parts, which is why it is uncommon to come across tire wear patterns like feathering.

The soft sidewalls absorb much force from the road, bringing a smoother ride. There are also suitable for fast speeds. Bias-ply vs. radial drag racing, which one is the best? For a long time, bias wheels were the standard in drag racing; however, there are now drag radials, which perform equally better.


One of the main disadvantages you will notice is the radial tire price. It is pretty expensive compared to bias tires. The good thing is that it gives you great value for what you spend. The tires are not great in weight handling that is why they are not recommended for heavy-duty vehicles.

Additionally, they are vulnerable to wear in case of deflation or excessive weight.

Bias Tire

bias vs radial off road

Bias tires were the standard tire type for many years until radial tires came on the scene. While the radial variety is the most prevalent in the automotive industry, you will still find bias tires. Among their application is on heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and off-road vehicles. They are also common in classic and antique cars to maintain their originality. Drag racing vehicles relied on the use of bias-ply tires. However, at the moment, there are drag radial tires that are ideal for this auto-sport sector.


The structure is the defining bias tire specification that will allow you to differentiate it from the radial plies. The ply cords of its carcass run diagonally. It is why it also goes by the name, diagonal tire. The layering’s diagonal outlay brings on a crisscrossing pattern and is constant from the crown to the sidewalls. The Plies take a 30 or 45-degree angle. At times, there may be the inclusion of fiberglass belts to up its resiliency.

Pros of Bias Tire

One of the bias tire advantages is that it has a high weight support capability due to its layered structure. This construction feature makes this wheel ideal for heavy applications like trailers and trucks.  This structural advantage also translates to puncture resistance. It has this benefit over radial-ply tires as they have a strong sidewall.

There is also torque splitting, where if there is a puncture, there is a minimal risk of it expanding. Furthermore, the bias type is more affordable than its radial counterparts.


A significant downside of bias tires is that they are not flexible.  This makes them more susceptible to heat from abrasion due to the forced shape change.  The inflexibility reduces the contact grip on the road, increasing drag, which leads to poor fuel economy. The stiffness of the tire makes it unable to absorb shocks from bumps. As such, all the impact goes to the driver. In severe situations, this may lead to issues with the car suspension system.

Radial Tire vs. Bias Differences

Coming to the root of the radial tire vs. bias ply discussion, we will look at their differences. From their respective descriptions, you realize that they are very different. Looking at their variations will help you in how to tell which tire you have and which one is the best in different situations.

The table below will give you a clear look at where they contrast.

Radial Tire Bias Tire
Its structure consists of layered plies, radiating from the center to the side beads. They have a 90-degree angle. The structure of bias tires also consists of layers, though they have a diagonal outlook. The plies come from the center to the side beads and they have a 30 of a 45-degree angle.
The crown and sidewall function as independent parts. It comes due to the layering and this makes these wheels flexible. Its crown and sidewall are the same structure. This design makes it less flexible, but it boosts its resiliency. The hardiness is what makes it suitable for heavy vehicles.
The radial tire is ideal for small vehicles, such as sedans, SUVs, vans, and motorbikes. Bias tires work well with tractors, trucks, and off-road vehicles. They also feature prominently in auto-sports, especially drag racing.
Radial tires are very effective, with benefits like fuel economy, long service, and impact absorption. Bias tires’ benefits include being affordable and having a decent weight support capability.
Ideal for fast-moving cars with powerful engines. The faster the vehicle moves the better the grip on the road making the drive smooth. The bias ply is great for moderate moving vehicles, with small or medium-sized engines.

What is the difference between Radial and Bias tires? YouTube

 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which Is Better, Radial or Bias Tires?

 Ans: Radial tires come top in this discussion, considering the many advantages it has over the other tire. Its design gives it an edge in terms of stability, durability, and fuel economy. The benefits are the main backer behind its wide adoption. Bias tires are also good as they are cheaper and can support massive weights, such as those of trucks and tractors.

Q: How Do I Know If My Tires Are Radial Or Bias?

Ans: To know the tire type you have, check on the sidewall where you will see their specifications. If it is a radial tire, it will have the letter R on its specs, while bias will have the letter B. A thing to know is that you won’t find bias wheels on passenger cars for safety purposes.

Q: Do Radial Tires Help Fuel Economy?

Ans: Fuel economy is one of the main reasons for the widespread use of radial tires. The layering of the plies makes them flexible, further upped by the independence of the sidewall and crown. The flexibility brings on a solid grip with the road surface, with no drag. With no drag, the engine does not strain to initiate motion.

Q: Can You Mix Radial and Bias Tires On A Trailer?

Ans: When putting tires on a trailer, either pick radial or bias. Never mix the tires, as they have different structures, and it may lead to a coordination issue when moving the trailer. It may also cause damage to the tires.

Q: What Does The R Or D Mean In A Tire Size?

Ans: On the tire’s sidewall, you will see digits that denote its specifications. It is a combination of letters that let you know the tire type you have. For example, R means you have a radial tire, while B is for belted bias and D for diagonal bias tire.

Final Words

Radial or bias, what are they, and what makes them distinct? If you have this question concerning tire types, then this article comes to your aid. Knowing their differences helps you know which one is perfect for your vehicle and its associated benefits. Get the right wheels and make sure you perform regular maintenance activities like tire rotation and balancing.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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