When you throw your car into a corner at high speed, your tires can sometimes "roll-over," meaning that your tire sidewalls fold and buckle and "roll over" onto the sidewall. To prevent tire roll-over at speed, you can:
- Upgrade your tires to the stiffest sidewall available, which can dramatically reduce ride quality
- Invest in bigger wheels that can accommodate a lower profile tire, which can also reduce ride quality
- Reduce your vehicle's center of gravity by installing lowering springs which - you guessed it - often reduce ride quality
However, a new accessory called a "camber tire" could redefine suspension performance, as these tires could make it possible to have a high performance vehicle with halfway decent ride quality.
What's A Camber Tire?
Before we talk too much about the camber tire, let's talk about camber and toe.
Camber is the difference in angle between the wheel’s vertical alignment and its perpendicular orientation to the road surface. When the top of your tire and wheel is tilted in towards the body of your vehicle, than you're running negative camber (this is the stanced look). When your tire and wheel is tilted outward, you're running positive camber.
Toe is the measure of how much your wheels are pointed (not tilted) inwards or outwards. If your vehicle has zero toe, than each wheel is pointed perfectly ahead. If your vehicle as positive toe, than your right front wheel is pointed a bit to the right, and your left front wheel is pointed a bit to the left. If your vehicle has negative toe, then both your wheels are pointed inwards toward one another.
The point: If you're running a radical camber setting, you need to run a radical toe setting to compensate. Otherwise, you're tires wear out incredibly quickly.
Changes in camber can have a significant impact on a vehicle’s performance:
- If all your wheels have positive camber, you'll find that straight-line driving is easier. In fact, many drag cars run slightly positive camber on the drive wheels to improve launch times. You'll also see positive camber on off-road vehicles and trucks that carry heavy payloads.
- If all your wheels have negative camber, you'll find that your vehicle corners a bit better. Most cars run with a slight amount of negative camber on each wheel, as this improves ride and handling without effecting tire wear or straight-line performance.
The issue is that camber effects your vehicle's tires rather dramatically. If you don't compensate for your camber settings by adjusting your vehicle's toe, your tires will be ruined in short order...which brings us to the camber tire.
With a radical amount of camber, your tire tread remains firmly and evenly planted on the road surface (no more tire roll-over). The radical negative camber also fights body roll, which helps to ensure your vehicle suspension stays more firmly engaged during cornering. Finally, the camber tire has a spiraled tread design rather than a perfectly round tread. This spiraling helps compensate against the natural tendency of a negative cambered tire to turn inwards...which means you can run radically cambered tires without running an outrageous toe setting that would negate a lot of the benefits.
During a test by TheSmokingTire
, the Camber Tire demonstrated overall better performance than a normal tire. While there was a small amount of under steer, the Camber Tire was more responsive during the slalom run, handled rough roads better, and appeared a lot easier to handle at speed on the straightaway. The tire offered increased lateral grip, better steering feel, and an overall increased ride quality.
One test alone is not conclusive; only long-term testing can provide a final answer. However, this test supports the science behind the Camber Tire and suggests that this setup could be beneficial. Here's to hoping we see more testing of this setup.
Learn more about the Camber Tire here: http://cambertire.com/indexretail.html