Competition Tires: The How and Why of Heat Cycling and Tire Shaving

Seasoned or novice autocrossers and road racers may have some questions about the benefits of heat cycling and tire shaving. The first time a competition tire is used is the most important. During that run, its tread compound is stretched, some of the weaker bonds between the rubber molecules will be broken, which generates some of the heat. So before putting your competition tires into action, take a look at the key features and benefits to heat cycling and tire shaving:

Heat Cycling

Heat cycling applies to R-compound competition tires. To take full advantage of the tire's durability and traction, there's a required break-in process. By heating the tires up in a mild and easy environment, this allows them to cool down again and the rubber bonds to become stronger. As mentioned earlier, the weaker rubber bonds in the tread compound are broken. This is a good because the tires cool down and reattach in a more uniform manner, which results in more consistent strength and resistance for the tires to break again. This rebonding process occurs during the critical cool down period of 24 to 48 hours. Tire Rack offers a heat cycling service for $15 per tire. It's also possible to heat cycle competition tires yourself, however you must be careful not to overstress the tire (no hard cornering, acceleration or braking during this process). Next, you'd need to remove the tires from the vehicle so they can cool down and rebond without a load on them.

For more information on heat cycling, read "Competition Tire Heat Cycling Service."


Tire Shaving

Most competition tires call for a tread shave to maximize capability and longevity. I know it may sound counterintuitive stating removing tread depth results in longer wear, but it's true. With a racing slick, there's no tread design whatsoever, just a contact patch that acts as a single unit. With no tread blocks or water channels, there's no squirm of the individual pieces. While you need these design features for wet traction to channel the water out, they're not your friend in high-performance, dry only situations. By reducing the tread depth, you do a couple things to help with performance:

  • Reduce tire's weight
  • Reduce tread squirm
  • Less heat generated

Tire shaving is recommended for competition tires for dry events that start at 6/32" of tread. However, it's also important to remember that once used, all tires will be much less effective during the next competition season. Therefore, we recommend that tires be shaved to a depth that's sufficient to last for no more than one competition season. If it's very important to you to do well in the one event you run a year, a tire shaved to about 4/32" will further enhance your performance. You can learn more about tire shaving by reading "Shaving Tires for Competition."


Sunday, March 3, 2013 by Tananchai Trakulthong

How much do you charge for shaving Dunlop Z2 205/50/15 to 3/32" and heat cycling? I need 8 tires.
Monday, March 4, 2013 by Hunter

We charge $15 per tire for heat cycle.
We charge $25 per tire for shaving.

Friday, March 22, 2013 by Bill

Do you shave racing tires that you don't sell? My formula requires Dunlop 9092 tires that are special ordered.
Friday, March 22, 2013 by Hunter

Hi Bill,
Sorry, that is not a service I can offer you.
Monday, March 14, 2016 by Bruce

Do Hoosier A7 tires benefit from heat cycling if to be used as track tires (light car), in longevity of tread or grip?
Monday, March 14, 2016 by hunter

Absolutely, the A7 is a perfect candidate for heat cycling to increase longevity and grip
Monday, August 29, 2016 by Jay


Do you offer heat cycling on tires that I don't want shaved? Thanks.
Friday, September 2, 2016 by Hunter Leffel

Hi Jay,
Yes, we do offer heat cycle without shaving
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Steve adams

Can you shave 44x18.5x15 dick cepek fun country tires that are new,but out of round. I am writing this email from ANC ak. If I can get the there, can you handle tires that size ?
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 by Tire Rack Team


We are only able to shave tires sold directly from us. Sorry we are unable to assist you at this time.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by Jason Lester

Will normal high performance y rated tires benefit from heat cycling service? I plan on racing the standing mile so I will be at speeds in excess of 180 mph.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Tire Rack Team


We typically would not heat cycle a tire with a UTQG of 200 or higher as there is probably no benefit, though it cannot hurt it. If you were running an R-compound tire with a UTQG of 40 then yes the tire will have more consistent traction over the life of the tire.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018 by Nick

Would pilot sport cup 2 tires benefit from either of these services done to them?
Thursday, January 11, 2018 by Tire Rack Team

Nick, we typically heat cycle tires with a UTQG of less than 100 but there can be a marginal advantage in lap times and tire wear with some cars with the UTQG180 Cup2. Shaving would have a little more advantage in dry conditions but it must be decided if the slight increase in times on the track is worth the loss of tread life. Click below for more information on both.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 by Jeff Hurckes

Last season, I ran a set of Rival S 1.5s without getting them heat cycled, and they experienced rapid wear and corded after only half a season. Would heat cycling this tire or an RE-71R be of any benefit for these autocross tires?

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