Skid steers are one of the most versatile and universal machines found on jobsites today. Skid steers were first introduced into the dairy farm application when released but have become popular in the construction industry amongst many others. Today, it's not uncommon to see these machines being used for mining, demolition, recycling, waste-handling, landscaping, and so much more. Anywhere a small but powerful machine is needed for a project, you’ll probably find a skid steer in use.
Developments in skid steer technology has also led to innovations in tire technology. Traditionally, skid steers have been outfitted with pneumatic tires (air-filled). But over the past 15 years or so, demand for solid skid steer tires has been trending upwards. But which tire is the superior option? It can be tough to choose between the tried-and-true pneumatic tires that has been in use for years, versus the newer, more technologically advanced solid skid steer tires. Let's examine some of the differences so you can determine which kind of tire is right for your needs.
Pneumatic Skid Steer Tires
As the industry standard, pneumatic tires are the easiest to afford and purchase. When comparing the prices of pneumatic skid steer tires versus solid skid steer tires, the pneumatic skid steer tires seem like the better value due to the lower up-front cost. The downside is that these tires tend to wear out quickly. They are also more likely to be punctured, so you’ll need to replace or repair them often. These costs can add up to a huge expense in the long run.
Another reason workers might prefer pneumatic skid steer tires is because skid steer machines are not equipped with suspension, so the ride can be bumpy and rough. Pneumatic skid steer tires help soften the ride by providing shock absorption, resulting in greater comfort for the machine operator. However, this can also be a drawback because the ride can get too bouncy due to the air in the tires, this is a common complaint from operators.
One of the most appealing things about solid skid steer tires is never having to stop working to deal with the hassle of repairing a flat. In extreme applications such as demolition sites or rock quarries, pneumatic tires are at high risk of puncture from items like rebar, sharp rocks, or construction debris. Solid skid steer tires provide the ultimate in puncture-resistance, which means less downtime for workers and machines, and fewer repair costs.
Though solid skid steer tires are more expensive up front, they last 3 to 5 times longer, and in severe applicatons up to 10 times longer than pneumatic skid steer tires, which means fewer tires will need to be purchased. This also increases your return on investment (ROI) because the machine will be in operation for far longer between tire changes without downtime from flat tires. Overall, solid skid steer tires provide more uptime and less downtime.
One of the biggest complaints about solid skid steer tires is the lack of suspension. Pneumatic skid steer tires are generally considered friendlier on the operator, who can feel battered by the hard ride provided by lower-quality solid tires. However, advances in rubber technology and solid tire designs have made this far less of an issue. Rubber compounding has advanced to a point where solid skid steer tires are able to compress and give a smooth ride for the operator while still able to handle heavy loads. Also, as a result from advances in rubber compounding, the problem of stress cracking has been eliminated even while having a tire with a lot of movement in the rubber compound.
Skid steer machines are an important part of the modern jobsite, and the right tires are critical for getting the job done right, on time, and under budget.
To learn more about solid skid steer tires visit the Solid Skid Steer Tires Buyers Guide from Evolution Wheel.