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While all riding lawn mowers generally come with one type of tires, there are a number of different types of mower tires out there that are valuable for use in different situations.
The term “lug” refers to the wide, raised bars that run horizontally across the face of these tires. This lug can vary in depth, from shallow to extremely deep. This lug helps to provide traction by allowing the tire to push against the turf. These are particularly useful in slippery, swampy, and muddy areas. They are also useful on steep slopes, as they allow the tractor to dig in and push up the slope.
There are two problems with lug tires for regular usage. The first comes in regards to turf damage. Lugs will dig into the ground and can cause damage to the turf. They will compact it, and dig it up as they move forward. This makes them an issue when you require working on surfaces that need to be left in good condition.
By having a smooth contact surface, these tires can avoid damaging the turf at any point. They allow the mower to glide over the surface without compacting or otherwise damaging the surface. This makes the ideal for when uniform, undisturbed surfaces are necessary. They have found quite a bit of use on golf courses, as they allow the putting green to be mowed without leaving marks or compression that could alter the path of a golf ball.
The unfortunate disadvantage of these is that they offer almost no traction. They will not be useful on steeper slopes, and should be used with caution on any slope at all. Slippery grass, mud, and loose dirt will all create a severe loss of traction, and you’ll have a tractor that is stuck or unable to reach an area that may need to be mowed.
These tires strike a happy medium between providing traction and leaving a footprint on the turf.
- Square Shoulder Traction Tread – Commonly used as drive tires on lawn mowers, these tires will generally have a more aggressive tread pattern set across a wider tire. This means they will leave a moderate footprint, and may result in some compacting and wear on the turf. These tires are generally used on highly trafficked turf, and will in most cases be the best option for the average lawn.
- Round Shoulder Traction Tread – These can be used as drive tires or as front tires, and will have a less aggressive tread than the square shoulder tires. This means slightly less traction, but it also means a little less marking on the turf that you are working on.
- Round Shoulder Rib Tread – These are almost exclusively used as front steering tires. The tread line that runs around the tire, instead of across it, provides better guidance. The same way that a horizontal tread provide traction in the forward and backwards directions, the vertical tread keeps the tire from straying on a side-to-side basis.
Choosing the right tire for your situation is very important, as you will be using that tire for years. It is not logical to have various tires for different situations in your yard – it is better to have one multi-purpose tire, which is why many people go with a turf tire. However, depending on your situation, you may have different needs. Evaluate which tire will suit the majority of your needs, and that will be your best bet.