Tyre care is one of the most important parts of maintaining a vehicle. One of the first parts of tyre maintenance is wheel balancing. However, traditional wheel balancing has its limits, especially with off-road tyres. Fortunately, this issue can be avoided thanks to a new balancing method called Hunter Roadforce®, as ANTON WILLEMSE JNR discovers.
The Adventure Afrika team recently received a brandnew set of General Grabbers AT3’s to test. However, before taking these awesome tyres onto the road, we needed to balance them properly. So, we headed to our nearest Best Drive fitment shop to have the tyres and wheels balanced, using the Hunter Roadforce® System.
What is Road Force?
Balancing a tyre is an essential part of the tyre fitment process as it allows you to eliminate vibrations caused by imbalances in the vehicle’s tyres and wheels. However, traditional balancing has its limits. One noticeable shortcoming of traditional balancing is that it cannot measure the force a tyre produces while in motion and weighed down by the vehicle. This is where the Hunter Roadforce® system comes into play. The system is designed to simulate on-the-road conditions. As a result, a tyre fitment centre can accurately measure the force the tyre can throw off.
Remember, balancing aims to eliminate all vibration, as it can severely affect both comfort and reliability. Hunter Roadforce® is a bespoke piece of equipment that simulates on-road conditions to measure the lateral and radial force inflicted on the tyre to detect tyre runout and imperfections. When travelling at highway speeds, an average tyre rotates at 850rpm. At this speed, the driver can feel even the slightest imperfections. During the normal operation of a tyre, it experiences two fundamental forces, namely radial and lateral forces. Whilst measuring the radial forces, the system can detect tyre runout.
Tyre runout is when the wheel is out of round or has uneven tread/tyre wall stiffness. Both these can result in vibration, even with a tyre and wheel that’s been balanced traditionally. In addition to radial forces, Hunter Roadforce® also measures the lateral forces experienced by the wheel. This refers to the amount of flex within the tyre. Let’s suppose one part of the tyre is stiffer than the rest. This can lead to unwanted vibration at higher speeds, otherwise known as force variation. Larger all-terrain tyres can fall victim to tyre runout because of the aggressive tread pattern and unequal wear due to aggressive off-roading or even imperfections from the factory in new tyres.
To help detect these issues the Hunter Roadforce® simulates on-road driving conditions by applying 566.99kg of force to the rotating tyre via a load roller. While the tyre is spinning against the load roller, the machine is looking to detect tyre runout and force variation. Once the system detects the issue, the algorithm can calculate where to place the counterweights to balance the wheel properly. They then repeat this method for all four tyres, as well your spare tyres to ensure a smooth and steady tyre performance.
Another important part to remember about Hunter Roadforce® is that it’s not only for a new set of tyres – it can also serve as a significant part of tyre care. Your tyres serves as the only connection to the road your vehicle has. As a result, they endure a fair bit of punishment, especially for overlanders travelling on harsh roads. The damage might cause unwanted wheel vibration due to the force variation and wheel runout explained earlier. Wheel runout is particularly common with steel rims and off-roading tyres. So, after purchasing your new set of tekkies, try to get them Hunter Roadforce® balanced once a year to protect your tyres and allow optimal performance and longevity.
As mentioned, our vehicle has been fitted with a brandnew set of General Grabber AT3’s. These tyres are larger at 265/70 R17 when compared to the OEM size of 265/65 R17. When I fitted the tyres, I got them Hunter Roadforce® balanced since the tyres I had before the set of Grabbers suffered from severe vibrations. At times, this was so bad that I thought my suspension was at fault!
When I fitted the Grabbers, the kind folks at Best Drive tested my scrub set on the Hunter Roadforce® system. It then became clear that my vibrations were because of both runout and force variation on the older tyres. Now these tyres were old and due for a replacement, but it did serve as the perfect benchmark to test the effects of Road Force balancing. As such, after fitting the new tyres, we balanced them with the Hunter Roadforce® system. The ride of the bakkie is much smoother, eliminating all unwanted vibration.
My verdict and opinion on Hunter Roadforce® balancing is overwhelmingly positive – it is a valuable tool for both tyre fitment and tyre maintenance. And it can save your vehicle and sanity by forcing away the vibration.
*For more information on Hunter Roadforce or to find a fitment centre near you, contant Leaderquip on +27 11 334 1680 / email@example.com.