PRODUCT TEST: TIRE BLOCKS

You may have heard of a little secret top pros are running these days called Tire Blocks. Here’s how they work.

 

WHAT ARE THEY?

Tire Blocks are the next step in the evolution of flat protection. These hand-cut wedges of dense foam replace most of the air in your ATV or UTV tire and are designed to fit together so tightly that they provide nearly the same ride feel with or without air. Tire Blocks are designed to be another option to the original Tire Ball System, which features individual air bladders instead of foam blocks. They were designed by veteran desert racers who needed the peace of mind available with Tire Balls, but wanted a more affordable option that didn’t vibrate after a puncture, like with Tire Balls.

FEATURES:

Tire Blocks come in specific sizes for each size tire and wheel combination. The blocks are tightly wedged into the tire carcass, leaving very little room for air. With the Tire Blocks installed, the feel is similar to that of a tire with 6 pounds of air pressure. The Tire Blocks will allow 4/5 pounds of air pressure around the foam, but the tire will feel the same, whether it is flat or full of air. The wedge design of the Tire Blocks nearly eliminates the vibration experienced after a puncture with other leading run-flat systems. The foam density of the Tire Blocks feels like approximately 5/6 psi on an ATV, and there are denser foam blocks for heavier UTV applications. Tire Blocks are also reasonably lightweight, typically adding only 1/2 pound per wheel in most applications.

INSTALLATION:

The Tire Blocks are a bit of a chore to install, but they are definitely less difficult to install than Tire Balls. It is especially challenging to install the last few blocks, but once they’re in, there is no question of whether they are in correctly. With Tire Balls, incorrect installation leads to severe vibration. With the Tire Blocks, you can see that they are in the right way, so you can be sure they won’t vibrate. Installing both systems is made much easier with a few specialty tools that can run from $200 to $300.

To install the Tire Blocks, lube the tire carcass, then lube and install the individual blocks. The tire will appear full when you still have two blocks left, so it will take some effort to wedge these final blocks into place. Once all the Tire Blocks are installed, the wheel must be pulled or pushed through the center of the blocks, and the bead must be mounted with tire irons or a beadlock. Beadlocks definitely make installation easier, but they are not necessary.

HOW DURABLE ARE THEY?

If you never suffer a puncture, the Tire Blocks will last a lifetime, but, with a puncture, you can run the tire for up to 100 miles without really feeling the flat. If you fix the flat fairly soon, the blocks will not be damaged; however, if you run them without air for hundreds of miles, the heat created will shrink them slightly, reducing the tire pressure feel. Fortunately, you can compensate for this by adding an extra block, so many racers continue to use the compromised blocks as spares.

WHO ARE THEY FOR?

Tire Blocks will benefit just about anyone who rides or races an ATV or UTV. They were designed for off-road/desert racing, but flat protection is important to everyone. A bonus feature of the Tire Block system is increased traction and handling. Motocross racers are discovering that the traction advantages outweigh the very little rotating weight, and more pros are racing with them all the time. The user-friendly design of the Tire Blocks has increased their appeal to recreational and utility riders as well. Imagine the advantages of heading off into the backcountry with a group of friends and not having to worry about anyone getting a flat tire. Tire Blocks can mean the difference between a great weekend of riding or spending hours trying to plug or repair flats.

HOW DO THEY HANDLE?

Tire Blocks were first developed to improve on the technology of Tire Balls by eliminating vibration. The final product, however, has far exceeded that goal. Not only do the Tire Blocks not cause vibration, they actually improve traction and handling in almost every situation. The Tire Blocks give you the traction of running 4 psi, make you feel more connected to the ground and provide the confidence of knowing you don’t have to worry about flats.

THE VERDICT:

The Tire Block system is an ingenious invention that offers pro-level flat protection to the masses. With proper tools and a little patience, anyone can mount them correctly. The wedge design virtually eliminates any possibility of vibration, and the extra half-pound per tire is barely noticeable. We have used these for the last two years in our Baja, BITD, and WORCS racing efforts, and they are foolproof. In fact, we’ve started intentionally hitting obstacles with the tires to avoid damaging other parts on our ATVs. If your tire is punctured, it will be a good 20/30 miles before you can feel the difference, and even then, the tire is capable of running upwards of 100 miles at race speed without issue. Another benefit is that the blocks fit so tightly that you don’t really need a beadlock. While the tires are more difficult to mount on a standard rim, the inside pressure against the tire bead is strong enough to keep a flat tire beaded for hundreds of miles.

CONTACT: www.ridetireblocks.com or call Kenny at (253) 973-5111
RATING: *****
PRICE: Between $75-$170 per sport ATV tire, depending on size. $155-$295 per tire for UTVs

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