Four seasons, four driving types
The Economist caught up with local tyre fundi, Mr Leon Kotze, Administrator at Tiger Wheel and Tyre who shared his knowledge of the various tyre types found on Namibian roads. Kotze gave an overview of the four most popular tyre types found in the country.
High Performance Tyres
Designed with the daredevil in mind, high performance tyres can clock speeds in excess of 250km/h. These tyres come standard on sports vehicles and will set owners back anything from N$1000 to N$4000 each. High performance tyres carry a V on the sidewell, an indication of the speed classification. Performance tyres are manufactured from soft compound rubber. These tyres perform well in both wet and dry conditions and corner well. The next time that Golf GTI pulls up next to you at a traffic light, chances are good that it sports high performance tyres. Their only drawback is that they wear down faster than conventional tyres due to the surface heat of Namibian roads.
Off Road Tyres
Designed with the game lodge owner in mind, off road tyres typically spend 80% of their useable life off road and only 20% on road. These tyres retail from N$1000 up to N$4000.The rubber is neither soft nor hard compound but is somewhere in between. These tyres have big chunky treads so that it can provide good grip on loose surfaces such as sand and mud. The side walls are stiff so that the tyre can cope with uneven surfaces and potholes. These tyres are very noisy when driven on normal road surfaces due to the big gaps in the tread. They also wear out faster on normal roads because the grip is concentrated on specific areas of the tyre’s tread.
Semi Off Road Tyres
Semi Off Road Tyres are found on Sports Utility Vehicles and are designed for everyday city driving as well as some offroad driving. Typically, semi off road tyres are designed to be used on-road for 80% of the time but can be equally useful for that drive to the farm. These tyres retail for N$1500 upwards to N$4000.
The most popular of all tyre types, passenger tyres are the most common and the cheapest. These tyres are designed for everyday, all weather driving. These tyres can set you back for as little as N$500 and range in size from 13 inches upwards. Standard tyres are made of harder compound rubber to extend the tyre’s life. These tyres offer the perfect compromise between handling and cornering ability of a car and ride comfort, low road noise and safety.