ZR vs R tire – What is the Difference?

The tire can provide you with many exciting things about itself thanks to the information provided on its bead. Letters and numbers are unique for every tire and depend on the manufacturer and tire’s purpose.

So what is the difference between a ZR and R tire?

The ZR letter combination refers to a tire`s speed rating. At the same time, the R letter stands for radial tire construction.

If we dig deeper into history, the ZR inscription was used for high-performance tires which could withstand speeds faster than 149 mph.

Modern vehicles easily handle this speed limit, so the necessary usage of ZR indication has been suspended and changed to a much easier speed rating marking.

It is worth mentioning that the R letter on a tire also means a speed rating of up to 149 mph.

Why Are Tires’ Speed Ratings Different?

In manufacturing a tire, various factors are considered, such as the vehicle, its weight, and the road surface for which it is intended. An important point is a maximum speed that the tire can handle.

Depending on the vehicle, and driving conditions, there is a need for tires with different performance. To meet these criteria, tires with varying speed characteristics are being developed.

Let’s consider the following example.

In most cases, tires with a high-speed rating are sport tires developed to provide the driver with control and grip at high speeds while delivering maximum performance.

Usually, high-rated tires (ZR) and used on dedicated racing tracks, while tires with a lower speed rating (R) are intended for everyday usage and applied on convenient vehicles.

What Vehicles Should Use ZR Tire?

Tires with a ZR rating are mainly applied to sports or high-performance vehicles. Usually, if the car handles speed faster than 149 mph, it requires the application of ZR tires.

What Vehicles Should Use R Tire?

Tires with an R rating are widely used on conventional vehicles. The required speed rating for R tires is up to 149 mph, considering appropriate conditions. Tires with R usually emphasize practicality and daily usage over the highest speed capability.

What Are the Distinctive Features of ZR and R Tires? Good To Know

It is crucial to understand the difference between ZR and R tire types. However, it may sometimes be confusing to learn the ropes.

The table below will provide you with the most critical aspects of each tire type so you can easily distinguish them.

Tire TypeZR TireR Tire
Speed RatingTypically rated for speeds over 149 mphTypically rated for speeds up to 149 mph
ConstructionTypically has a stiffer sidewall for improved handling and stability at high speeds.
Typically has a more traditional construction with a softer sidewall for a smoother ride.
Offers improved handling and grip at high speeds but can be less comfortable for everyday driving
Offers a good balance of performance and comfort for everyday driving
AvailabilityAvailable in a more limited range of sizes and can be more expensive than R tires.
Available in a broader range of sizes and often at a lower cost than ZR tires
Recommended UseBest suited for high-performance driving, track use, and sports cars
Best suited for everyday driving and moderate performance driving
Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, Pirelli P Zero, Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R

Michelin Defender, Goodyear Assurance
ZR and R tire types comparison


Rating ZR was applied on tires to provide high performance at maximum speeds (over 149 mph).

Tires rated with R are intended for convenient vehicles, primarily for practical daily driving rather than reaching high speeds (up to 149 mph).

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