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Semi-slick tyres: half-way between leisure and competition

Sport Published the 29/07/2011 by Daniel

Available in various qualities, the semi-slick tyre is suitable for the track while remaining certified for road use. Disadvantage: it offers mediocre performance on wet surfaces.

Semi-slick tyre Copyright © : Jean-Guillaume Thyere

Used in racing, for rallies or hill racing especially, semi-slick tyres are also good for amateur race-track driving. They feature special rubber and a tread with fewer grooves than an ordinary sports tyre. The aim is to privilege grip by increasing the contact patch between the rubber and the track. Despite these features, it remains certified for road use.

The rubber on semi-slick tyres is specially adapted for extreme driving conditions.

  • The grip helps stability and speed in bends.
  • The braking distances are shorter.
  • The tyre holds its speed over time.
  • The rigid sidewalls limit deformation in the tyre during changes in direction.

The limit of semi-slick tyres is the rain. Due to the reduced number of grooves, they have difficulty evacuating water and lose performance on wet surfaces.

Different types of rubber

Semi-slick tyres are available in super soft, soft and medium rubbers. The rubber should be chosen according to the driver’s usage:

  • A hill racing driver for example will prefer soft rubber, as they will need a tyre that heats rapidly for optimal grip from the starting line.
  • A track driver will prefer medium (or hard) rubber for resistance in long and difficult driving conditions.

The lifespan of semi-slick tyres 

It is difficult to estimate the lifespan of racing tyres as there are many factors at play: driving style, car weight and power, track surface, type of rubber used, outside temperature, driving conditions, etc.

A driver who does sessions of over 20 minutes will wear his tyres much more quickly than someone who returns to the pit when his tyres feel too hot.

Another parameter: pressure. A badly inflated tyre (under or over) wears more quickly and unevenly than a correctly inflated tyre.

To check tyre wear, examine the wear indicators present on the tread (as for an ordinary road tyre) and sometimes also on the sidewall.

Semi-slick tyres



  • Road holding
  • Heat rapidly
  • Shorter braking distances
  • Endurance
  • Sidewall rigidity
  • Certified for road use
  • Less costly than slicks
  • Limited lifespan
  • May need a second set of rims
  • High cost price
  • Considerable stress on the axles and the body

Témoin d'usure sur un pneu Semi-slickCopyright © : Jean-Guillaume Thyere