Rolling Resistance - Have you ever wondered what this is?

Rolling Resistance (RR) is a measure of the force that must be overcome to roll or pull a wheel over the ground. It is affected by ground conditions and load — the deeper a wheel sinks into the ground, the higher the rolling resistance. Internal friction and tire flexing also contribute to rolling resistance. Experience has shown that minimum resistance is 1%-1.5% (see Typical Rolling Resistance Factors in Tables section) of the gross machine weight (on tires). A 2% base resistance is quite often used for estimating. Resistance due to tire penetration is approximately 1.5% of the gross machine weight for each inch of tire penetration (0.6% for each cm of tire penetration). Thus rolling resistance can be calculated using these relationships in the following manner:


  • RR = 2% of GMW + 0.6% of GMW per cm tire penetration
  • RR = 2% of GMW + 1.5% of GMW per inch tire penetration

It’s not necessary for the tires to actually penetrate the road surface for rolling resistance to increase above the minimum. If the road surface flexes under load, the effect is nearly the same — the tire is always running “uphill.” Only on very hard, smooth surfaces with a well compacted base will the rolling resistance approach the minimum. When actual penetration takes place, some variation in rolling resistance can be noted with various inflation pressures and tread patterns.