In the world of tires, there’s an ongoing demand for that ‘perfect tread pattern’. In the 90’s, racers had one or two sets of tires to cover almost all track conditions. Today, racers have boxes and boxes of tires to specifically meet the demands of hundreds of different track conditions. For indoor off-road, clay and hard packed tracks, Pro-Line Racing released the ION tread pattern in 2WD Buggy Front, 4WD Buggy Front, and 2WD/4WD Buggy Rear tires. Pro-Line hooked us up with the molecular new Buggy tires to try for ourselves!
The Pro-Line ION tires feature a VERY low tread which include alternating bar style lugs throughout. The tires are designed to be “race ready”, meaning no necessary break-in time before they start working. The M4 compound I tested is Pro-Line’s Super Soft, intended for cool weather and/or climate controlled indoor racing, and Pro-Line also offers a clay-track specific compound labeled “MC” for true high grip indoor clay tracks.
Testing a tire starts with mounting it up. The Pro-Line ION tires include open cell foam inserts. These inserts work well for some, but for us, it is well worth trashing the open cells and spending the extra money to purchase closed cell inserts. Closed cell inserts are stronger, feel more consistent, and 95% of the time is the #1 choice for racing. The IONs fit nicely on the standard 2.2” wheels, and in conjunction with the Pro-Line closed cell foam, provided a very good feel. There was no ‘dead area’ or empty gaps as the tire formed snug over the insert and wheel. There was no flashing, excess material, etc. to cut off; simply clean, punch holes, mount, and glue!
Our test track for the IONs is a rather tight and twisty indoor off-road track. The track is smooth with medium to high traction, wet, with light dust on the edges–not a textbook “clay” surface but certainly smoother than any outdoor track. The M4 IONs provide excellent forward bite, the car feels very stable in a straight line, and the car corners smoothly and consistently. The low tread height works best with more moisture to keep the track surface packed and grippy. As the day wore on and the track dried, we preferred a taller tread tire to achieve the same stability and smooth handling the IONs provided early in the day on the wetter track. Despite being such a soft compound, the tires show little wear after a day’s worth of racing. Assuming we continue running on the same sort of track surface, we expect to get multiple nights of club racing out of a single set. Overall we were very pleased with the Pro-Line ION M4 Buggy tires, and we wouldn’t hesitate to go into competition with IONs at any track that has a packed and grippy surface.