Skid Steer Tire Sizes Explained
Choosing the right sized tires for your skid steer is essential to optimizing its efficiency, power, and lifespan. However, if you aren’t familiar with the various different skid steer tire sizes, knowing which size of pneumatic or solid tire to choose can be challenging. To help you find the right-size tire for your skid steer, we have put together this comprehensive guide on skid steer tire sizes explained.
Pneumatic Skid Steer Tire Sizes Explained
Originally, skid steers only had pneumatic tires, and there were no solid cushion tires. As such, all skid steer tire sizes are based on three original pneumatic sizes: 10x16.5, 12x16.5, and 14x17.5. Such sizes indicate the width of the tire and what type of rim it fits on.
The two most popular sizes are the 10x16.5 and 12x16.5. The first number refers to how many inches wide the tire is, while the second number refers to how many inches compose the rim diameter. As such, a tire that has a size of 10x16.5 means that it has a width of 10 inches and a rim diameter of 16.5. A 16.5 rim diameter is the standard for a smaller-sized skid steer.
To accommodate larger-sized skid steers, wider tires with a size of 12x16.5 are also produced. Such tires have a width of 12 inches and a rim diameter of 16.5 inches. Over time, even larger skid steers were produced that had 90 horsepower or greater. As a result, more substantially sized tires became necessary. Thus, tires in a size of 14x17.5 started being made, which were 14 inches wide and had a rim diameter of 17.5 inches.
Importance of Determining the Outer Diameter
It is important to note that the outside diameter of the tire is not measured. While pneumatic tire sizes do not list the outer diameter of the tire, it is perhaps the most important dimension to consider when it comes to choosing a tire that is the right size for your skid steer.
Choosing Tires With an Outer Diameter That Is Too Small
If you put tires on a skid steer that have too small of an outer diameter, your skid steer grapple bucket or other attachment will not level. Because the tires are smaller, you will have to lift the arms of the skid steer up to prevent the bottom of the bucket from touching the ground. As a result, your skid steer’s arms won’t be held in a seated position that allows them to be supported by the machine frame.
When the skid steer’s arms are down and seated, the machine is more rigid, which will give you optimum power when trying to dig something. As such, it is unideal to use tires that are too small, which will cause the arms of the skid steer to be loose rather than seated when pushing dirt, thus decreasing their rigidity and lessening the digging and lifting power of the machine.
Choosing Tires With an Outer Diameter That Is Too Large
It is also disadvantageous to choose skid steer tires that are too large for your machine. If you put the tires on your skid steer that are too big, the bucket attachment will hover above the floor even when the arms of the machine are all the way down.
In order to get the bucket to touch the floor so that you can effectively dig or load material, you will have to tilt the front of the bucket down. If doing so causes you to angle the arms of the machine too much, you will have less power and more stress will be placed on the skid steer’s hydraulic cylinders. Ideally, the tire should be the correct size so that arms of the machine can be seated fully while the bottom of the bucket is flat on the ground, so that you can put full power into digging your load
Flat-Proof Skid Steer Tire Sizes Explained
Flat-proof tires are sized differently than pneumatic tires. Instead of just the width and rim diameter, solid skid steer tires also include the dimension of the outer diameter in their sizing for a total of three numbers.
For example, the equivalent of a 10x16.5 pneumatic tire is size 30x10x16 or 30x10x20. The first number is the outer diameter (which is not mentioned on a pneumatic tire), the second number matches the first number on a pneumatic tire and is the width of the tire, and the last number matches the second number of the pneumatic tire and is the rim diameter. To break that down for you, a solid tire that has a size of 30x10x16, has a 30-inch outer diameter, a 10-inch width, and a 16-inch rim diameter.
There is no tire size with 16.5-inch or 17.5-inch rim diameter on solid tires. Instead, there are only two rim sizes, which are either 16 or 20 on skid steer rims. A tire with a 30x10x16 means that the tire will have a smaller wheel with more rubber and a tire with a size of 30x10x20 will have a larger wheel with less rubber. Having less rubber means that there will be less room for aperture holes, and thus less cushion for your ride. As such, a tire that has a 16-inch wheel is usually the better tire and is typically more expensive because it has more rubber. Understanding this distinction is important when converting to solid skid steer tires.
Now we will move on to the 12-inch tires. The equivalent of a 12x16.5 pneumatic tire is a 33x12x20 or a 33x12x16. It is important to note that when choosing whether to go with a 20 or 16-inch rim size, the outer diameter is not changing. A 33x12x20- and a 33x12x16-sized tire will both have a 33-inch diameter. The only difference is that the rim size will either be bigger or smaller. As previously stated, if you have a smaller 16-inch wheel, it will have more rubber. A larger 20-inch wheel means that there will be less rubber because the outer diameter stayed the same.
As a general rule when converting from pneumatic tires to solid tires, the outer diameter for the size 10x16.5 is usually between 30 and 31 inches, the outer diameter for the size 12x16.5 is typically between 32.5 and 33 inches, and the outer diameter for the size 14x17.5 is usually between 36 and 36.5 inches in diameter.
McLaren’s Innovative Solid Skid Steer Tires
McLaren is a leading provider of top-quality skid steer tires. Our expertly manufactured tires are designed to fit a wide variety of brands—from Caterpillar to Bobcat—and offer optimal performance in terms of efficiency and comfort. To learn more about our innovative tires, contact us today at (800) 836-0040 or click here to request a quote.