The Pros and Cons of the Different Types of Telehandler Tires
Telehandler owners/operators ask a lot of their tires—they need to transmit a machine’s power, provide stability when moving a load at height, operate in a variety of terrains, and stand up to regular use. Consequently, equipping a telehandler with the right tire will have an enormous effect on its performance, improving everything from productivity and safety to profit. But what type of telehandler tire to choose?
Three Types of Telehandler Tires
There are three types of telehandler tire each with their own set of pros and cons:
- Pneumatic (bias and radial)
The definition of pneumatic is “containing or operated by air.” Because pneumatic tires are air filled and don’t use expensive foam or the massive amount of rubber found in other tire types, they’re generally the most affordable telehandler tire option. There are two types of pneumatic tires available—radials and bias—and while radials are gaining popularity for use on telehandlers in some markets such as Europe (they offer a host of advantages that we detail in our blog Why Switch Compact Construction Equipment to Radial Tires?), most machines in North America are equipped with bias tires.
Pneumatic Telehandler Tire Pros: In addition to their typically lower cost, pneumatic tires offer better traction on soft surfaces and uneven terrain, and because of their comparatively low weight, they provide superior floatation. All of this adds up to tires well suited for telehandlers operating on soft or muddy surfaces. Another benefit of air-filled tires is the soft ride they provide, which is easier on operators and reduces wear and tear on machines.
Pneumatic Telehandler Tire Cons: The downside of pneumatic telehandler tires is that they’re vulnerable to puncture. Flat tires on telehandlers are not just disruptive with downtime, they’re dangerous if a flat occurs with a load in the air.
Solids live up to their name, as they’re made of solid rubber. Solids have the highest up-front cost and are the longest-lasting of the different types of telehandler tires. However, the comparatively high initial investment doesn’t tell the whole solid tire story. Solid tires are puncture proof, which eliminates costly tire-induced downtime, and will last anywhere from three to four times longer than pneumatic tires, which often results in them having the lowest total cost of ownership.
Solid Tire Pros: The solid rubber construction of these tires means that they’re resistant to cuts and puntures, and there is a lot of rubber to wear away which makes them super-long lasting. Another benefit of solid construction is that the tires require very little maintenance—for example, there’s no need to monitor air pressure. Because the tires are solid rubber, they’re heavy, which creates an extremely stable platform for the machine to operate.
Solid Tire Cons: The drawbacks to solid tires is that their weight and rigid footprint don’t translate as well to soft surfaces as other types of telehandler tires. A firm ride is a also noticeable characteristic of solid tires—some operators find them comparatively harsh, although others appreciate the stability they provide.
Foam-filled tires typically split the difference between a pneumatic tire and a solid tire—their cost and lifespan are generally greater than that of a pneumatic, but less than that of a solid. Commonly, bias tires are chosen for foam filling.
Foam-Filled Tire Pros: The weight of the foam makes these tires heavier than their pneumatic counterparts while still allowing the tire to put a favorable footprint on the ground—all of this adds up to stability when lifting loads on uneven terrain. Another advantage of foam-filled tires is their increased puncture resistance when compared to a traditional air-filled tire.
Foam-Filled Tire Cons: While this type of tire benefits from improved puncture protection, they’re not immune to destruction, especially on their sidewalls. Also, pneumatic tires are engineered to operate inflated with air, not foam—because of this, foam-filled tires can hasten tire wear and shorten their life. This is particularly true of tires not foam-filled by an expert.
No matter what tire type you choose for your telehandler, Galaxy has an option for you. Pneumatics, like our Giraffe ND, are made to handle the unique challenges telehandlers place on their tires, using everything from more bead turn up (fabric layers that overlap a tire’s bead and strengthen the sidewall) to special bead fillers to extra-strong fabrics that create sturdy sidewalls that can stand up to hard days and foam filling. Galaxy solids, such as our Super High Lift SDS, have a reputation for thriving on the toughest jobs and in the harshest conditions.
Contact your local Galaxy dealer or rep to learn more about our extensive line of telehandler tires. Or, take a listen to ATG’s national product manager for construction and industrial tires talk telehandlers with the Digging Deeper Podcast.