It’s almost impossible to watch TV these days and not see some advertisement for an automotive product — or the latest Hollywood movie — with sporty cars drifting sideways around corners at high speeds. Seeing an ag tractor do that, however, is unusual to say the least. But if you log onto Nokian Tyres’ website you can watch a modified Valtra T234 tractor fitted with Nokians’ Hakkapeliitta TRI winter ag tires do exactly that on a snowy test track.
The YouTube video is a promotion for the Guinness Book of World Records title the company recently claimed for the fastest tractor tire speed ever achieved. The Valtra tractor equipped with Hakkapeliitta TRI tires logged a verified track speed of 130.1 kilometres per hour.
You may be wondering if this is just another in the long line of crazy stunts Europeans are fond of taking on to set a world record relating to farm equipment, like, say, the latest one which saw the most manure spread in 24 hours.
Actually, the Hakkapeliitta TRI tires were just introduced in 2014, and Nokian is emphasizing their exceptional capability to handle high speeds, which is a feature all tire manufacturers are increasingly building into ag tires these days — just not crazy fast ratings like that.
As farm machines get bigger, heavier and faster, the demands those characteristics put on tires is increasing, which challenges companies to come up with new technologies to make ag tires more capable.
Nokian’s Hakkapeliitta TRIs aren’t your average tractor tire. They are designed specifically for winter conditions, and they don’t use the standard chevron-pattern tread bar design. They use a lug tread more common on truck tires with extensive siping for grip on slippery surfaces.
The company, which prides itself on its history of building winter tires for all kinds of vehicles, tested the tires at its “White Hell” proving ground. (No, not Saskatchewan in the winter, their facility in Finland.) It put world champion rally driver, Juha Kankkunen, behind the wheel of the modified Valtra T234 to set the world record.
“I have done top speed tests earlier with several cars,” says Kankkunen, in the Nokian press release. “This was the first time with a tractor, and we immediately got a world record. The tires and tractor worked really well, even though the weather was challenging,”
The Hakkapeliitta TRI tires will likely appeal more to urban contractors that use tractors for commercial snow clearing operations than run-of-the-mill farmers, but if our prairie winters continue to be as long as they have been for the last few years, we may all need snow tires on our tractors to get into the fields for spring seeding.