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Road tyres vs. Slick tyres

The design and style of a tyre can be hugely influential on how it performs and in what conditions. Road tyres, while fantastic for everyday usage, are not as suitable for competitive racing situations. Instead, special racing tyres, or ‘slick’ tyres, are more appropriate as they boast special features that make them excellent for high-speed track situations. But what are the key differences between road tyres and slick tyres that make them suited to their respective uses?

Use and design

formula 1 tyres

Slick tyres, also called ‘track’ and ‘race’ tyres, are used for purely competitive purposes and are prohibited from being driven on normal roads. Unlike their road tyre counterparts, they possess virtually no tread or grooves, meaning they have an entirely smooth surface. This results in more rubber being in contact with the ground than is achievable by road tyres. This also delivers more power to the slick tyres in exchange for less fuel input.

Traction levels

Due to the larger amount of surface area in contact with the ground, slick tyres generate a higher amount of traction than road tyres, giving them a better grip on surfaces during dry conditions. However, a primary reason they are disallowed from use on normal roads is due to their unsafe nature during wetter conditions, as they have a tendency to aquaplane. The tread of standard road tyres prevents them from aquaplaning, making them a safer choice for high precipitation weather conditions.

 Longevity and durability

Where road tyres excel over their slick counterparts is in their durability and their longevity. Slick tyres are used in races, and consequently undergo heavy wear and tear, reducing their lifespan significantly. It is important to bear in mind that whatever type of tyre is being used, the driving style that is inflicted upon them will influence their lifespan. If the tyres undergo regular harsh accelerations or are driven over rougher terrains, these factors will also impact the longevity of the tyres.


During races, slick tyres experience intense heat due to the high speeds they are reaching. Unlike regular road tyres, they are able to withstand higher temperatures without burning up, as their design makes it easy for them to handle achieving fast speeds over a short amount of time.


formula 1 tyres

Whilst everything about their design is geared towards achieving top speeds and greater power, slick tyres should be reserved only for competitive use. They are generally unsafe for standard road use due to their ineffectiveness at coping with wet conditions, rendering them unsafe during high precipitation seasons. In addition, road tyres will grant you a much longer lifespan and better durability that is more suited to serve in a reliable car for you and your family.

Here at Tyres Northampton, we provide and install a huge spectrum of branded tyres for cars, vans and motorcycles alike. Our professionals deliver an efficient and thorough service, and are able to deliver many types of vehicle servicing, including MOTs and exhaust and brakes servicing. To arrange a visit, or to simply find out more about us, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our friendly team.


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