Don’t look now but the weather is starting to turn cold, and before you know it we’ll be getting our first dose of snow and ice. If you’re one of the winter warriors preparing for battle with Mother Nature this season, give yourself a fighting chance with the right tires or tracks. It’s time to shed the belief that the tires on your skid steer loader or the tracks on your compact track loader are all-purpose. The only thing all-purpose means is that you’ll get average traction and performance in a variety of working environments. If you want to achieve above-average performance in snow and icy conditions, you need to outfit your machines with tires or tracks designed to handle the challenge of working in winter ground conditions, while delivering maximum pushing force without slipping or sliding when turning or stopping.
Armed with a snow plow or snow blower, skid steer loaders are powerful weapons for residential and commercial snow removal. However, skid steer loaders outfitted with the standard R4 tires, or bar-style tread tires, aren’t going to give you the traction you need when pushing large quantities of heavy, wet snow. According to Eric Hartzler, wholesale manager at MWE, a manufacturer and distributor of compact equipment tires, “Investing in a set of tires designed specifically for snow and icy conditions is the best option for snow removal. And for working in the snow, you should be looking for a tire with a non-directional tread design and a low void-to-lug ratio. The non-directional design will provide you with fantastic longevity on hard surfaces and plenty of traction to keep the wheels from slipping when under load in icy conditions.”
A couple of MWE’s most popular products for snow removal tires include the Solideal Lifemaster and the Galaxy Trac Star ND. “The Lifemaster is a great option when buying a set of tires exclusive for snow removal isn’t in the budget or if you’re going be using your skid steer loader for more than just snow in the winter,” explains Hartzler. “The Trac Star will have the best performance in the snow, but they are not as versatile in dirt and mud. It’s a great option if you’re going to be running your skid steer loader on hard surfaces all winter, and they will allow you to get more life out of your standard dirt tires.”
Tracks for Winter
“A lot of contractors never consider swapping out their tracks on their compact track loaders in the winter,” says Hartzler. “The ones that do view it as an investment that will help them get the best performance from their machines in the winter, while extending the life of their tracks. Tracks designed specifically for snow will have more biting edge. A good set will have double the biting edge when compared to the typical block pattern found on most compact track loader tracks. The larger biting edge will provide better traction and help prevent the machine from sliding from side to side when turning or pushing snow.”
The most popular snow track that MWE sells is the Bridgestone Polartread, which was designed with snow removal applications in mind. If a second set of tracks isn’t in your budget, Hartzler says you may want to check out the Camso BBE tread track. “It’s a high-quality option that will perform well in snow and a wide range of working environments.”
Equipping your machine with the right set of tires and tracks this winter will increase your productivity, improve operator safety, reduce wear and tear on your equipment, as well as give you extra time to enjoy the season.