FTS Tire Treatments
MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2011
By Travis MimsI am often asked which treatment is best for a particular track or situation, and since I am not an experienced racer and have a ton to learn on this subject, I thought I would research F.T.S. and their products and see if I could make some sense out of the mysterious alchemy of tire prepping. After reading their information on their website and working with some of their products I, and a whole lot of questions to Tom and Hunter and Jody, it actually starts to make some sense. In fact, the guys at F.T.S. have taken much of the guesswork out of choosing the proper prep. To begin with, there are only two basic choices for the initial treatments, Hard Track (HT Series) and Tacky Track (TT Series) It is up to you to decide the prevailing condition of your track, and don’t make the mistake of visualizing your favorite tracks' ideal condition. Try and give an honest opinion of the condition most likely to be encountered. I asked about the definition of Tacky and for the purpose of tire treatments, it can describe anything from damp, soft, wet, loose or sandy. Simply put, anything that is not dry and hard will be better suited with TT treatments. I think that the Hard Track is self explanatory from dirt to clay to asphalt.
Now that we have HT Series and TT Series understood and what type of surface they apply to, it is time to treat some tires. For this, let’s pretend that we have a new set of tires and they have been cut, sanded, stroked, sacrificed to and whatever else is done before they are mounted or chemically treated. Both HT and TT have an Inside Solution that is designed to be cold rolled from 18-36 hours inside the tires with 1-3 oz. of prep in each tire. The more prep that is put inside (and/or outside) the tire, the greater the effect will be from that prep. The middle of the road is 2 oz. in the LF and RS tires and 1 oz. in the LR. The LR should always be the hardest tire on the kart with the least “bite” and the LF should always be the softest with the most “bite”. “Bite” is a loose term used to describe the grip a tire will provide when a given prep is used. After the initial inside treatment, depending on circumstances, you may be finished with inside prep. Now you want to begin to treat the outside of your tires. There are four products available, HT Series1, HT Series 2, and TT Series1, and TT Series 2. Depending on which choice you made (HT or TT) you can begin to treat the outside with either 1 or 2. *REMEMBER* Series 2 is stronger and more aggressive than 1 in both HT and TT products. There is not room here to try and describe all the different techniques in use. One technique that I observed is that after the inside treatment, the tires were kept in a shaded cool environment and given a once a day wipe with either Series 1 or Series 2. That was started 7 to 10 days before race day.
I also know that some will do another cold roll inside treatment 3 - 5 days pre-race if they are not satisfied with the tires progress. I am blown away at how someone can smell and feel and squeeze and judge tire differences and can usually tell you to within a point what a durometer will read. To those that may not know, a durometer is basically a gauge that has a pointed tip that is pressed into a tire a short pre-determined distance and it gives a number reading on how easy (or how hard) it was to do so. It is useful in that it gives a person a scale to go by when comparing effectiveness of different treatments.
The softness of a tire dictates the optimum operating temperature of the tire; IT DOES NOT NECESSARILY DEFINE HOW MUCH BITE A TIRE HAS. You soften a tire to match temperature conditions. Colder conditions will usually warrant a softer tire, and conversely, hotter conditions will require a harder tire.
That is the bulk of the F.T.S. Lineup and it covers a wide range of uses. But what do you do on race day when you need some more bite from your tires? You break out the F.T.S. Slight Bite or the F.T.S. Black Bite. These two products are designed to be outside wipes and can be effective on both hard and wet tracks. They are not abrasive and both will give you more bite in your tires. Black Bite is the more aggressive of the two. The instructions say that both can be used for "firing a tire" which simply means adding extra bite initially to help bring the tire up to its operating temperature. Remember, you add pre race wipe to give the tire initial grip, or “bite” to make up for lack of bite in the track itself. Use more when the track has less bite, and less when the track has more bite. Normally, dirt tracks gain bite as they “come-in,” a term used to describe a track that is gaining grip as more and more karts lay down rubber and or the sun and heat bakes the clay. If calcium chloride is put on the track prior to the race, expect the track to be slick until the track starts to come-in. Once a calcium track comes-in, it will have considerably more bite than the same track would if calcium was not used, and it will remain more consistent until weather conditions change (night comes) or it starts to dry out and break up.
All of the above can be used on all the types and brands of racing tires on the market. There is, however, one brand of tire that warrants its own witch's brew. I am talking about the Maxxis EL of course. No matter if you love it or hate it, it is a fact of life for racers in some regions and classes and tracks. Fast Tire Solutions has approached the EL tire with 2 products; the first is EL Elite Inside, for inside cold rolling. The second is EL Elite Conditioner which can be used as both a tire roll and an outside wipe. Slight Bite and Black Bite are then used at the track to “fire off” the tire. (Check out ARC's catalog items 9860 and 9861 for a proven EL tire prep formula using F.T.S. products)
Last, but not least is Fast Tire Solutions Tire Wash. It is water based cleaner that comes with its own spray bottle and it cleans rubber as well as anything, but will not destroy the tire treatments used on the tire. Everyone knows that tire cleaning is just a part of life when racing dirt tracks and FTS Tire Wash can be used either with or without water and wiped dry. It can be used with any of Fast Tire Solutions' products.
Tire treatments for the Maxxis EL Tire
- EL Elite Inside
- EL Elite Conditioner
Tire Treatments for other kart tires.
Hard Track Tacky Track
- HT Inside TT Inside
- HT Series 1 TT Series 1
- HT Series 2 TT Series 2
Pre-Race Wipes and Tire Cleaner
- FTS Slight Bite
- FTS Tire Wash
- FTS Black Bite