I have written about “slick tyres” on many occasions, but I have never stopped to think that my readers and customers, may not have a clue what I am writing about. Do I use the word slicks for a couple of reasons?
The first is when a customer calls in with “bald” tyres. The fact that they are bald makes them look like slick tyres. They are shiny with no tread left on the tyres at all. This is what the real thing looks like. The difference is that the real thing is used for motorsport. These tyres are designed for the use on sports cars and racing cars.
We have all seen the F1 racing cars with their huge tyres that look to have no tread on. Well, they are used on very dry tracks, usually in a hot country, such as Australia or Brazil. The other criteria for using slicks is on a nice tarmac road surface.
The tyres are first heated in special tyre tents. This makes the compound of the tyres very soft and the tyre actually sticks to the road surface. One of the downsides is that the slick tyres pick up small stones and grit. These can be removed and the task usually falls down to one of the race team to sit on a stool and painfully remove all the stones and grit.
A type of slick tyres was also used in the 1960’s.
These were used on “hot rods”, but the tyres did not handle well in wet conditions, due to the lack of tread pattern. Some drivers would cut a thin tread pattern out on the slick tyres tread. This helped with a partial grip, but tyres were developing fast and the radial tyres came out in wider sections, with a proper tread pattern. These made the hot rod slick tyres obsolete.
Slick tyres are also used on the rear of drag cars. The soft compound often burns up and creates a huge amount of smoke, making the racing more exciting to watch.
Here in the UK, Slicks are of course illegal to use on our roads, so the circuits are the place to try them out.