The Difference Between Sturdy and Stretchy Sidewall
Now that you feel confident about everything we’ve covered so far in our past articles, we think you are ready to tackle the difference between a sturdy and stretchy sidewall. In this article, we’ll cover both the difference between the two and which might be a better fit for you! Let’s get into it!
Generally speaking, higher performance and competition tires have a lower aspect ratio which means that the sidewall is smaller and sturdy. What is aspect ratio you ask? An aspect ratio is the relationship between the height and width of a tire. Having a lower aspect ratio causes the tire to have better lateral stability around corners. That means that those tires are able to resist the force put on them when you are attacking a corner. In turn, this means that tires with a lower aspect ratio generally have more sturdy sidewalls which roll less than stretchy sidewalls. That means that if you have a sturdy sidewall, you would be able to better control the contact patch which means better vertical movement and resistance against lateral forces. There is a downside which is that a sturdy sidewall will also reduce comfort as it will absorb very little on the road (not so much fun for daily driving). This sounds like we are throwing a lot of Lab Corp Science at you but we have a point here. For all of those reasons, all race tires have a sturdy sidewall (including the Accelera 651 Sport, of course). In order to be competitive, race tires (rubber with TRW of 200 or less) need to be able to withstand high speeds and intense movements. Making a lower aspect ratio and overall reinforced sidewall ideal.
A stretchy sidewall is great for a smooth ride. But because of that, you sacrifice performance as you would not have as much handling or stability compared to a sturdy sidewall. Having a stretchy sidewall is more forgiving than a sturdy sidewall which can help drivers feel more confident. On the other hand, if you have a sturdy sidewall, the tire will be much more responsive and slightly ‘snappy’ which can be a difficult thing for new drivers. Another thing to consider is if you want to stretch your tires to widen the stance of their car. Yes, we are talking to you stance boyz. This must be done with tires that have stretchy sidewalls because you are literally stretching the sidewall to fit over a larger than recommended wheel. (Side note: Stretching your tires is only done for appearance and has no performance benefits.) Again, we are talking to you Stance boyz. All and all most standard passenger tires or UHPs will have a stretchy sidewall. The standard daily driver has no need for cornering strength, but for a smooth quiet ride.
Sturdy or Stretchy?
As you can tell, sidewall plays a bigger role in your tire’s performance than you probably thought. If you usually race on a track or road course, a sturdy sidewall is best. This is because having a hard sidewall won’t allow the tire to roll and will allow you to control the contact patch. The sidewall on your tire can make a huge difference which is why it is so important to choose the right type for you. If you usually race on a straight line or plan on using these tires for your daily driving, a soft sidewall is better. This is because a softer sidewall provides a much smoother ride as it can flex and absorb bumps in the road. But remember, the smoother ride sacrifices performance which is why most performance tires have a sturdy sidewall. So, choose wisely.