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Fixing Road Lope

In a recent survey, Titan Tire Corporation found that 47% of growers – regardless of tire brand – identified road lope as a problem they experience with their tractors and combines. Road lope is the physical swaying and bouncing of a machine during road transport. If you’re one of the 47%, here’s what you can do to improve riding comfort and productivity.

Proper alignment
There is a misconception in the marketplace that road lope is a by-product of poor design. The issue is more often related to the way the wheel and tire system is aligned when it’s installed on the equipment.

“Wheels and tires both have natural high and low spots, and if they are not aligned correctly when mounted and installed, it will increase the likelihood of road lope issues,” says Scott Sloan of Titan. “By selecting a factory-mounted tire from a manufacturer that aligns the high and low spots of the wheel and tire in the factory, you are likely to see reduced road lope as compared to a tire that was mounted without regard to high and low spots.”

Wayne Birkenholz, Firestone Farm Tires, says, “There can be a number of causes for road lope or a combination of causes.” If you’re experiencing road lope, many times the assembly can be trued up or recentered on the hub to reduce total runout and improve your ride.

“To do this, you need to identify the high spot on the assembly,” advises Birkenholz. “Once that is found, turn the high spot to the 12 o’clock position with the wheel jacked up. Loosen the mounting hardware enough to allow the assembly weight to adjust on the hub.

“If the assembly runout cannot be reduced sufficiently when repositioned on the hub, you need to determine whether the runout is related to the tire, the rim, or both,” says Birkenholz. “If the high spot of the tire aligns with the high spot of the rim, the total runout can be reduced by turning the tire 180°.”

Roadside assistance
If you’re having trouble aligning tires on your own, contact your local dealer or the tire manufacturer field service team.

Titan formed the Titan Grizz Squad in 2011. The team of field service technicians is responsible for visiting customers and making adjustments to wheels and tires to get better performance.

Firestone also has a team of field engineers capable of addressing and resolving various types of ride issues.

Other causes
In general, road lope is not dependent on the type of tire,” says Birkenholz. “However, some of the more aggressive tread designs may be more prone to vibrate.”

Titan says low sidewall technology (LSW) can help combat road lope.

“With the LSW, growers will experience greater stability, less road lope, and less power hop when compared to conventional tires and wheel assemblies,” says Sloan.

If you continue to have ride-disturbance issues, look into these four factors:

  • Inflation pressure. Check to ensure that the pressure is correct for the tire size and load. “This typically has a small effect on ride, but it does little good trying to correct a problem when the inflation pressure is wrong,” says Birkenholz.
  • Fully seated beads. When a bead isn’t fully seated, this can cause a ride disturbance, because the tire isn’t concentric with the wheel.
  • Side-to-side rocking motion. This can also be caused from lateral runout of the rim. There have been some cases where the rim disk is not welded true to the rim.
  • Liquid ballast. This can cause a surging sensation, particularly when the tire is less than 75% filled.

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