Tires play an important role on any racing vehicle - they’re the only part of the car or truck that actually contacts the racing surface. They’re particularly vital on a 1/10-scale 2WD buggy, which uses relatively narrow tires to control the most agile off-road vehicles in RC. Along with the vehicles to which they’ve been fastened, the tires used in the 2WD off-road category have transformed incredibly over the last 30 years, to suit the ever-changing world of competition.
Looking back at three decades of tire evolution paints a picture of the changes in track conditions, especially when considering the tires that manufacturers chose to represent their upper-echelon racing vehicles in press photos and box art. Up until the last half-decade or so, most manufacturers included a set of tires with even their top racing kits - typically a conservative choice for the vehicle’s intended environment. Though they knew hardcore racers would probably toss them in favor of the hot choice for their home track, the included tires would at least provide drivable traction and decent wear.
To find out just how much tires have changed since the birth of off-road racing, I dug through forums and web archives to find 31 years of photos and info to look at the tires Team Associated has included with their vehicles. With over a dozen different 2WD buggies spanning all the way back to the original RC10 in 1984, the choice to investigate AE’s best buggies was a no-brainer.
1984 - RC10
Tires: Associated Champion for original 1.7-inch wheel
With the RC10 modeled after single-seat racing buggies of the time, it only made sense that Team Associated would include aggressive knobby tires fit for digging through soft dirt. The tread was a bit larger than scale, of course, but was necessary to dig through sand, clay, and mud. The tires were hard and the rims trapped the air inside the tire, so foam inserts weren’t necessary.
1989 - RC10 Graphite
1990 - RC10 Championship Edition
1990 - RC10 Team Car
Tires: Lower-profile Champion knobbies, now for a 2.0-inch wheel
The next three versions of the car included a similar knobby-style “Champion” tread, though they were molded to accept a 2.0-inch wheel by shortening the sidewall - the lower-profile tire provided a cornering advantage.
1992 - RC10 Championship Edition (Updated)
Tires: Late-era RC10 Championship Edition kits began including Pro-Line XTR-compound Flat Stubbies or Step Pins to fit 2.175-inch wheels
Toward the end of the Championship Edition production run, Team Associated began including Pro-Line XTR-compound Flat Stubbies or Step Pins that were made to fit the new 2.175 wheels. Though tracks in the early 90s were still very loamy and tended to get rough, the smaller tread of the Flat Stubbies and Step Pins was enough to get around the track, and provided more consistent handling in harder-packed sections. They also included foam inserts, which were an advantage over pneumatic tires.
1994 - RC10 Worlds Car
Tires: Pro-Line XTR-compound Flat Stubbies for 2.175-inch wheels
Pro-Line’s Flat Stubbies were also the choice for the RC10 Worlds Car, especially since they were the tire that Brian Kinwald used to win the 1993 IFMAR Worlds.
1995 - RC10B2 (and RC10B2 Sport)
Tires: The RC10B2 included XTR-compound Flat Stubbies, while the B2 Sport included harder-compound XTM Step Pins
The Flat Stubbies were used again for the new RC10B2, which was the first RC10 to use a molded plastic chassis. A lower-cost version of the RC10B2, which included bushings and other cost-saving measures, included a more basher-friendly tire - the Step Pin, molded from a harder XTM-compound rubber.
1997 - RC10B3
2000 - RC10B3 Factory Team
Tires: Though some of press photos of the Factory Team show the car with Pro-Line 2.2-inch Bow Ties (check out the second photo), both versions of the kit came with M2 compound 2.2-inch Holeshots.
The jump from Flat Stubbies to Holeshots was a big one - and the wheels had also grown slightly as well. By this time, swept outdoor tracks were the norm - and indoor tracks were trending toward hard-packed clay. M2 compound rubber, which had surged in popularity among racers over the previous couple of years, was significantly softer than the previous XTR compound as well, which netted a huge advantage.
2003 - RC10B4
2006 - RC10B4 Race Spec RTR
Tires: Pro-Line 2.2-inch Holeshots in M3 compound.
Over a half-decade later, Team Associated again chose Holeshots for their new RC10B4 - though now, they were made of softer M3 rubber. They were even used on the RC10B4 Race Spec RTR, after the first-generation RTR suffered from hard, slippery stock tires.
2010 - RC10B4.1 Factory Team
2012 - RC10B4.1 Factory Team Worlds Car
Tires: Pro-Line Holeshot 2.0 in M3 compound
Both top-shelf versions of the B4.1 used the new 2.0 variation of the Holeshot, molded in M3-compound rubber.
2013 - RC10B4.2 Factory Team
The B4.2 Factory Team was the first top-level Team Associated 2WD buggy not to include tires. The car used for press photos was equipped with Pro-Line Suburb rear tires.
2005 - RC10B4 RTR and RTR Special Edition
2010 - RC10B4.1 RTR (Brushed and Brushless)
2013 - RC10B4.2RS RTR
Tires: The Race Spec RTR was the only one to include Pro-Line tires. The other RTR versions of the B4-based ready-to-runs included Team Associated RTR tires.
2013 - RC10B5 and B5M Team Kit
Like the final generation B4.2 FT, neither version of the new 5-Series buggies included tires. The press photos were snapped with the first version of the JConcepts Barcode tires, marking the first time a Team Associated 2WD buggy was pictured without a Pro-Line or in-house RTR tire.
2015 - RC10B5M Factory Lite
Like the Team Kits, the B5MFL does not include tires. The press photos are shown with JConcepts Dirt Webs.
When jumping from the original 1984 Champion tire tread to the 2015 JConcepts Dirt Web, there’s an incredible difference in the tires included with Team Associated’s 2WD buggies. When viewed step-by-step, though, these photos show a gradual change from loamy dirt to packed surfaces, as the cars got faster and better equipped to handle more horsepower.
Special thanks to www.rc10talk.com and Team Associated for the photos.