Forums General Counties Cars Discussion Radial tyres for Somerset

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    I intend to change over to radials on my Somerset, starting with a pair on the back wheels.  I can’t find any positive recommendations about size, especially aspect ratio in recent posts  Any advice would be very welcome.  I recall back in the day when tubeless tyres were introduced that garages blithely fitted tubeless valves to wheels which were intended for tubes and I don’t remember any mishaps.  Maybe there were special valves intended for the changeover period available at that time?



    Hi Jac,

    I rarely come onto the Forum these days but was here to Renew Membership and saw your post. I appreciate it was posted some time ago and you probably have your answer but here, for what it is worth:

    I had a Somerset for many years, along with several Austins. (I’m down to just having my ’16’ now  – 35 yrs I think.) I went through the change to Radial tyres in the ’70s and used the then common FX4 Taxi tyres. (They were actually called ‘Taxi tyres’ at that time.) I had them fitted all round and they were a massive improvement  – without doubt. I’d heard (and have since) that they would make the steering heavy; would cause premature wear on the track rods etc. etc. Not only did I not find that to be true but for more than a decade, other than greasing the joints had no malfunction at all – anywhere on the steering/suspension. I would advise anyone to make the change.

    As for my Austin ’16’ – I fitted that with those same tyres when I bought it  – late ’80’s I think, it has had Radials ever since. It’s been used regularly, still is – out most months of the year and that too is much better on Radials.

    Also worth pointing out whilst I’m at it:  My local tyre place, used for 40+years, had always advised me to put tubes in the ‘Tubeless’ tyres on my old cars  (I’ve had several other old motors alongside the Austins)  Their point was the rims would leak /weren’t originally designed for ‘Tubeless’,  along with a few other reasons. I followed this advice for many years – really had no reason not to.

    One day, as I say many years down the line; a very knowledgeable Lecturer in Automotives  and a friend, asked me why I would do this (fit tubes). He then stated the obvious!  Manufacturers of Tubeless tyres, at their launch in the ’50s, wouldn’t launch them into a marketplace, then make a requirement that people fit modern wheels to accommodate them – they made them for the existing market.

    Needless to say, I first made a trial on just one wheel but quickly found that not only did they not leak air when fitted to my standard ’16’ rims, but leaked less air than  the wheels with tubes fitted!

    Furthermore, the reasonably regular punctures my tubes suffered – as a result of the ridges inside ‘Tubeless’ tyres that chafe the tubes – ceased.  Since fitting the tyres direct to the rims, as originally intended by the manufacturers, I’ve not had one puncture (probably 5 years now).

    Obviously this doesn’t apply if your rims are not in reasonable condition ( but that would be the case with a modern rim – if it is damaged it’s likely to leak air) Also of course it won’t apply to wire wheels.

    If anyone doubts this advice, have a look at the advertisements of the time when Tubeless tyres were launched by the various tyre manufacturers – you will see their original advice.



    Richard Hughes

    You want 175 R16 tyres for the Somerset. Austone are a good choice as they don’t say ‘taxi’ or ‘cab’ in big letters on the sidewall. They used to be used on FX4/Fairway type London taxis. Extremely hard wearing and they hold the road better than crossplies, but at the expense of heavier steering at parking speed.

    I’ve decided to keep my Hampshire on crossplies as I prefer how they look, and the steering is definitely lighter than my Somerset which is shod with taxi tyres.

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