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Pick the Perfect Short Course Tires

Even though the short course segment is still young, there are an awful lot of short course tires out there. In fact, there are so many different brands, tread patterns and compounds that even an experienced racer can get a little overwhelmed by all of the choices. Read these tips, broken down by track conditions, and you’ll be a lot closer to finding the right tires to start with. To keep things simple, we’re using tires from Pro-Line Racing as our examples, but this info will help you find the right tires regardless of what brand you prefer for racing such as AKA, JConcepts, Losi and Panther.

Loose, Loamy Dirt. If the dirt is loose, a taller tread is needed to dig into the dirt. A tire like Pro-Line’s Caliber work well on this type of soft dirt. If the dirt is sticky, a tire with a lot of space between the lugs may be needed so that the dirt doesn’t pack into the tread but instead gets flung out. Tires with multi-layer treads like the Caliber also work well when a track first brings in new dirt that hasn’t fully compacted yet.


Hard-packed Surface with Loose Dirt on top. Here a tire with too tall of a tread with feel like it’s floating around, so a medium-sized tread works best. Good examples are Pro-Line’s Bow-Fighter and Blockade tires. If the dusty top layer is noticeable, try a tire like the Bow-Fighter. If the there is dust or a loose top layer in some spots or if the track conditions change but are mostly dry (just not muddy), try a tire similar to the Blockade.

Hard-packed Dirt with Some Dust on Top. If the track your running on is fairly hard packed, but doesn’t get swept clean of loose dirt and doesn’t have a noticeably “clean” groove around the whole track, you’ll need a tread with a little bit of height to get down to the surface. Pro-Line’s Sniper is similar to its Hole Shot, but designed to have that slightly taller tread.

Outdoor Hard-packed and Blue-groove Conditions. If the track surface is hard-packed, a tire with numerous small lugs will be able to work best. Pro-Line’s Hole Shot works well when there isn’t loose dirt to have to dig into. The numerous small lugs provide a lot of surface area and a lot of grip on the smoother surfaces.

Indoor Hard-packed and Clay. While tires that often work on hard-packed outdoor tracks may work indoors, usually tires with low bar shaped treads mixed with equally low but-traditionally-shaped lugs will provide a lot of contact with the track and good forward and side bite. An example would be Pro-Line’s Suburbs.


Tire Tips

> Soft compounds offer the most traction, but wear faster

> For bashing, run the hardest compounds available as they’ll last longer

> Cold weather racing requires soft compounds

> You don’t have to run the same tires front and rear; sometimes it’s helpful to run tires with less grip up front on a 2WD short course truck

> One-piece wheels are lighter and better for racing

> Check out RC Truck Stop‘s article on gluing tires








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  1. Hi Matt!

    Thanks for another very useful article.
    I own a Slash 4×4 and i’m looking for the best tire choice for indoor carpet track. What about Slicer M2 to Front and Suburbs to rear?

      1. The slicers do work very well on almost all conditions,, but as Matt stated be sure to check with your local trac as most of them have not adopted the use of them as they are not a ROAR aproved tire.

  2. see i like my 2.2 gladiators on my stampede which i dont race or anything but they are really good tires and they are about 1 old and they are about half worn but still grip really well

  3. Great Article. I run on a very loose unmaintained track and my 2WD RC10T4, RC10GT2 and RC10B4 RCs are all running the Calibers since this is the most aggressive tread I could get for my 2.2 rims in the rear. I really needed more traction in these light trucks but this was the most aggressive I could find.

    The TMAXX and Revo I run the Traxxas Talon tires they seem to work better then others I have tried.

    For my short Slash 4×4 VXL short course truck I went with the Proline Badlands because this track is so loose the Calibers would not surfice for the traction I was needing with the power the VXL motor puts down on the tires. I also went with the Bead Lock rims to put more weight on each of tires. It may not jump as high or far but is sticks to the track.

  4. Hey I have researched this topic a lot and I still don’t know the answer. Is a softer compound rubber like the m4 better than the m3??? please help

    1. GREAT QUESTION! The answer is . . . not necessarily. M4 is softer and stickier than M3 and thus provides more traction. Traction is great, but you need to keep a few issues in mind. M4 tires wear much faster. Not only will this cost you more, but a M3 tire with minor wear could handle better than a M4 that is bald. Another issue is that super soft compounds actually don’t work well with certain tread designs. What happens is certain taller lugs bend and fold over too much and the treads don’t dig in and grip like the should and/or the tire feels squirmy. I hope this helps understand the difference in compounds. If you have any more questions, please let me know.

  5. good article i personnally use most of your tips when buying my sct tires so its nice to see first that im on the right track secondly that this info is getting to the masses which will improve racing

  6. I’m new to the sport & I’ve been running indoor on carpet. As soon as the weather breaks we will go outdoors, I’m not sure what kind of track conditions I will find. There is more than one track in my area & my LHS guru suggested I might want 3 different sets of tires, or more. Just wondered what your 3 picks might be and would that cover most conditions for outdoor tracks

    1. Hi, James. I can’t really give recommendations unless I know what the track surface is like and, like you said, you won’t know until you get out there. To start, I suggest you pick up a set of Pro-Line Bow-Fighter in M3 and JConcepts Goosebumps in their Green compound. I find these tires work fairly well on most outdoor tracks.

    1. You’ll do okay with those tires. The “best” tires will depend on the track surface and your own driving style. Those tires are as multipurpose as race tires get. Good luck and have fun.

  7. Hello Matt , Im just have a question,how is the ECLIPSE SCT tires? in a store in san diedo ca, they told me is almost the best tire in lose dirt when the track is dry, but i dont know….

    Thanks so much

    1. Interesting question. The Eclipse SCT tires are included with Losi’s SCTE. Usually, stock tires are not ideal for racing, but this tire might be one of the few exceptions. I used these tires on a track that was fairly dry with a loose top layer. It wasn’t loamy, but it was slightly dusty or silty on top. I was amazed how well the Eclipse SCTs worked, so they may work for you as described by the hobby store. You never know if a tire will work for you, but I’d say picking up a set of the Eclipse SCTs is worth taking. Good luck.

      1. Hi Matt , I really aprecciate your answer it’s help me a lot , today I will race with those tires, I’m going to see how they work ..

        In your huge experience what is the best tires for

        Dry track

        Semi wet track

        Wet or loose track

        Sorry for how I explain but I’m new in this hobby ,but I’m ready to learn lol.

        Thanks 😉

        1. Hi, Mario. I went straight to the experts at Pro-Line for some insight to pass onto you. Below is what Pro-Line’s Gerardo Gonzalez suggested:

          For dry tracks try Blockades. For semi-wet tracks use Holeshots and wet or loose tracks, go with Tazers. Compounds vary depending on ambient temperature. Above 85 degrees, use M2; below 85 degrees, use M3. If it’s below 60, then M4.

          That’s straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say. Not only is Gerardo a Pro-Line employee, he is an expert on their products and heavily involved in their product development, so he knows these tires and their uses inside and out. He is also a national-level racer, so he has put the above advice to use.

  8. Ok…so I have an sc10.2 Factory team kit. Run proline powerstroke shocks with 2nd softest springs. 13.5 novak ballistic and a gtb2 esc. Spektrum dx3s radio. Currently am running 30 weight shock oil on all 4 corners. Proline blockades on all 4 corners in an m3 compound. Track is normally drier than the mojave desert and the sun beats down on it all day. My issue is the back end wants to come ariund to meet the front like no forward bite either…hardly any side bite either. Shock are mounted in inside hole hole on top and outside on a arms. Ride height is 32mm F and 30 R. AE book says 30 F and 28 R. Tire issue?? Too much F bite? Turns hard also. 1 and 3/4 of lead behind the battery also battery is mounted back. Any good ideas. I have Calibers,Bowfighters and Block aids on renegade rims. There is my rig and setup. Please help. Thank you.

    1. I see that you run the same tires front and rear. That needs to change. Many short course racers do this, but it is atypical in other 2WD platforms, such as 2WD buggy and stadium truck. Start experimenting with different front and rear tire combos. You have too much front grip. Also, level out your ride height or even switch it so the rear is slightly higher. Try 35 weight shock fluid in front and a larger pinion gear (the larger pinion gear will be a big help). Use the largest pinion you can get away with without overheating.

    2. You can also tray adding in some rear toe and some rear anti-squat to make the rear end more stable when on power. Also adding some front toe in can add some push to the truck’s balance. Since the RC10 has tons of turning response, a little push isn’t going to hurt unless on an extremely tight circuit.
      Also, Matt’s advice on putting tires with more grip in the rear and less grip in the front is also going to help hook the rear end up and induce some push in the truck. You will notice it more when turning at speed, but the benefit for stability under power makes it worth it though!
      Last but not least, smooth throttle application! You can adjust higher end transmitters to help with this.
      I am currently running on a outdoor track in Texas that can be very hard and dry with a loose dust surface that drives like an ice rink at 2pm! I have found that for my 7 year old son’s SC10 it works well with medium compound Duratrax (yeah Duratrax) Lineups on the front and soft compound Proline Calibers on the rear. I am also running 5 degrees of rear toe-in and 5 degrees of anti-squat (stupid I know). With that I have taken all of the extra lead off of the truck.

  9. Thank you for the info. I tried the larger pinion gear and yes that seemed to help. Gotta find that sweet spot. We travel so a notebook will have to be on top of the list. Thanks again. We will give it a shot.

  10. i have a traxxas slash What tires do i get for a very soft dirt track right now i have the stock tires

  11. Hi Matt, I just read this article and your other article on the Hobby Hangout in New Milford. Hobby Hangout is about an hour away from where I live and I may be going there to do some races in the future (I’m a beginner). My question for you is what would be the appropriate tires to use on the indoor turf track there for a shortcourse truck? I can easily find turf tires for buggies but I can’t see to find ones for shortcourse trucks. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

  12. I am working on building a figure 8 type dirt track in my back yard made with black dirt. The top and bottom of the 8 are straight across (42′ long) striaight diagonal line to the other end of the “8” and back around again. I am planning on making the turns well banked and also risen 2 or 3 feet to maintain speed coming off the corners. The intersection of the “8” will have. One straightaway jumping over the other straightaway to avoid any potential crashes. Lanes will be 6′ wide as it will just be me and my 2 boys playing on it. Looking for tire suggestions as we all only have the stock tires at the moment. My truck is 6 years old with the BF Goodrich MT’s about half worn and my 2 boys just got brand new trucks for Christmas which came with the Kumho’s. The trucks are all 2wd Slashes with brushed motors. My truck has the Proline wide suspension kit installed on it with Pro line adjustable shocks. The boys’ trucks are purely stock.

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