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Bias Ply vs. Radial Tires

Bias Ply vs. Radial Tires

I have Avon 6000x16 on my 120 and I am delighted with them in every respect except they wear a little fast - but that's the price you pay for sticking to the road. I was advised by someone who owns two 120's and had tried both bias and radials that the solid rear axle and leaf springs in the rear are not very friendly with radials as the back end wants to drift around curves and the radials tend to hang on real tight and then break loose all of a sudden. In other words, they are not very "forgiving". In addition to that, the Avon's just LOOK right. (I have heard that both Avon and Donlop were provided as original equipment.) - Bruce Cunningham, '53 XK120 OTS

I have been there and have done that with radials and have to agree, they are great until they LET GO. It is exciting, as long as the roads are empty. I have had the Avons for over two years and am very pleased with them. I purchased them from British Wire Wheels in Santa Cruz, CA. Within two blocks, the flat spots are gone and I used them in the Western State slalom with fairly good results. I probably had as much forward grip under power as I did with the radials. - Larry J, 660636

Bruce - If you think the Avons wear fast, ask someone about the old Dunlop Road Speeds! 20,000 miles was a lot, with 'enthusiastic' driving. I also agree with Larry (below) concerning the performance of radials - got great mileage with old Michelin-X tires (upwards of 80,000 miles), but the uncontrollable slippage in the wet (past the limit of adhesion) plus sidewall failure led me back to Dunlops - believe a sujitable tiure is now available through the Firestone chain, plus others. Controlled sliding is fun, indeed, with a live rear axle! Motor on! - Larry Schear, Twin Cam, Inc.

Larry, You actually drive an XK in the wet? What on earth do you do when the "wet" and Jos. Lucas electrics fight (and Jos. Lucas loses). Call home for the Chevy? - Mike Plechaty

My Avons wore faster on the rear than on the front - no doubt due to the recently discovered broken leaves in the rear springs. The two long leaves were broken on the off side allowing that side of the axle to move forward under acceleration and rearward under braking which kept it constantly misaligned with the front end. Of course that also made the front tyres wear somewhat faster. I expect my tyres to last longer with new springs. I also adjusted the torsion bars to raise the front end of the frame to the correct 7.125" height. I don't know whether that will affect front tyre wear. - Bruce Cunningham, '53 XK120 OTS

Mike, In some places such as jolly olde England and sleepless Seattle we don't have a lot of choice about driving in the rain; Either we do it or we don't drive. I'm sorry but Californian sometime drive me to distraction. I am driving on Firestone 6.00X16's (bias ply) . I got them from Coker Tire and they have a nice period look, but they, of course, aren't original in any sense. They seem to drive nicely but i have rarely tested the limits of adhesion. - Carl Orlob 680305 XK120FHC

Carl. First let me state that I fully support your view on Californians. Secondly, when did you get the Firestone tires ? I have gone back and forth on radails vs. bias and I have a tendency to believe that a good set of bias would be just fine on my 150. I have been running a set of Allstate 'historic reproductions' that I purchased from Sears around 1983, and they are really not bad although they seem to contribute to an occasional shake rattle and roll phenomenon. When I get my new wheels, maybe Firestones would be the way to go. - William C. Burke

Dear Sir, I am running the Firestone 6.00 - 16 4 ply tires. Max load 1400 Range "B" DOT 147 Tube type, nylon cord. They look old and are serving the need. I do not race on them, and if they sit in one place for a long time (years) they get a flat spot, but it does go away after a while if you can stand it that long. - Edgar Blake

I appreciate the views and driving experiences our members are providing on this subject. As I complete my 150 FHC restoration, the purchase of tyres represents yet another outlay. I have bitten the bullet for new CWWs but am sitting on the rubber purchase. So this current discussion provides more input before the wires are reshod. Thanks folks for this, and I'll add my good wishes to all for a merry holiday period. - Bob Oates

I got these tires in May of 1996, although the car was not driven until October. These may only be procured through Coker as they purchased the design when Firestone discontinued the tire. Coker can be reached at 1 800 251 6336 and are located at 1317 Chestnut Street, Chattanooga TN USA (Zip code 37402-4418); They also have a warehouse in, where else, California. Freight is FOB their nearest warehouse. - Carl Orlob 680305 XK120FHC

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