Tesla Radio Flyer traction mod using a mountain bike tire! In this project we cut up a 26″ mountain bike tire and mount the tread onto the rear wheels of a Tesla Model S electric car for kids. Since only the rear wheels are powered, I didn’t see any need to add any traction to the front wheels.
This will clearly leave some small holes in the plastic tires, but the traction gains should be worth it!
If you’ve ever had your own Power Wheels or bought one for your kid, you’ve likely seen some plastic tire spin. These tires just don’t seem to get traction. I’m still amazed over the years that Power Wheels (and now also Radio Flyer) haven’t gone to another solution. Some people have used rubber exercise bands to combat this problem, however, I wanted to try something that should give more grip.
Here’s the tire I used, a relatively cheaper 26″ mount bike tire that regular costs around $20. I found it at Rite-Aid of all places and it was on clearance for 75%, so I got this for less than $5.
Using a small t-square as a guide, I used an exacto blade to begin cutting into the tire.
This tire had a steel bead at the edges, no way an exacto blade will cut through it and my wire snips weren’t much better. Bring on the angle grinder!
NOTE: Always you proper safety precautions when using power tools such as angle grinders.
The width of this particular tire was wider than the Radio Flyer tires, so I cut it initially with multiple exacto blade passes. This took a while, so I went back to the angle grinder and placed the tire on a 2×6 piece of wood so I wouldn’t cut into the table. If you consider this method, be sure to do so in a well ventilated area and where a mask. You will get some rubber burning.
A better approach might have been using a scroll saw, although I’m sure the blade would quickly get “gummed” up. I no longer have a scroll saw, so I used what I had available. A scroll saw (or even jigsaw) should give a straight cut as long as you can keep a steady hand.
Installing the Bike Tires
For starters, go ahead and take advantage of the folding mirror functionality on the Tesla Radio Flyer. I placed the Radio flyer up on it’s side to put the new rubber onto the tires. This gives easy accessibility and movement of the wheel.
Initial mockup, while not perfect, the sizing looks good.
I ended up using sheet metal screws, screwing them in at the low spots of the tire (and not on the raised tread).
Continuing around the tire adding more screws.
Wherever the tread was a bit loose, I added more screws.
Tesla Radio Flyer Traction Mod Complete and Ready to Run!
Both sides are done! We already got some grass loosely stuck to them.
Side shot of the new tread. Overall, it’s fairly clean.
And looks better than rope in my opinion. Should be a lot better functionally too.
What I Would Do Differently Next Time
Tires are not easy to cut. If I did this all over again, I would measure the width of the Power Wheels or Radio Flyer plastic tire and head over to my local bike shop. Ideally, there’s a tire out there that would be the appropriate width and therefor not require a lot of excess cutting to get the correct width.
At least in my experience, Power Wheels typically have a much wider tire. The Radio Flyer wheel is fairly narrow and might be harder to find a bike tire of the appropriate width.
More Posts on Fabville!
Be sure to check out more of our Tesla articles, but on a larger scale!
For information on the Tesla Model S for kids by Radio Flyer, visit the link below: