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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tire Ride. What is important?

I was recently asked my opinion of Michelin tires for giving good ride. The person started with some statements to the effect that Michelin was the best manufacturer in the world and only recently had other tire companies managed to make tires that would keep their belts attached. 

This is my reply:
Not sure if I completely agree with some of your statements. I agree that Michelin will tell you that they are the best in the world but sometimes I think they say that in an effort to justify their price which many times seems to be the highest in the world.

Here is list of top 5  tire manufacturers in the world from 2012 based on sales.
Clearly the ability and technology to keep belts attached is tested severely in NASCAR (Goodyear), Indy CAR (Bridgestone/Firestone) and F1 (Pirelli 2011-2014, Bridgestone 1996-2010 ).
Does Michelin make good tires? Yes they do, but so do a number of other companies. Painting every size and type tire from any company with the same brush, is just as invalid as saying that since GM made the Vega, today's Cadillac is not so good or that since the Bugatti Veyron is the fastest car in the world they are the best in the world.
I think for large heavy duty tires with 100+ psi inflation, the sidewall is almost irrelevant for day to day ride comfort. I believe the tread area construction plays a much larger part in ride comfort than many believe.

I have heard from some Class-A owners that do use truck tires, and they say they have no problems with the ride of their tires. Having personally done ride evaluations on prototype GM, Ford, Mazda, Toyota, Fiat, and Honda cars and some trucks, for both short 2 to 8 mile evaluations as well as cross country 10 car multi week evaluations, I can tell you that tires are part of the equation but so are springs, shocks, suspension bushings, seat mounts and even wheel design.
 I once did a back to back comparison using the 4 same tires on the 4 same positions on a new Lincoln with the only a change being the style of the cast aluminum wheels and I could feel a ride harshness difference in the first mile of the evaluation. I was definitely surprised but was also convinced.
When people say "I changed from 5 year old abc tires to new cba tires the ride changed". I say why are you surprised? Your tread depth tripled among other changes, so of course the ride changed. You simply can not do a tire ride evaluation without comparing New abc tires to New cba tires on identical road under identical conditions. You certainly are not doing a valid comparison if you try and compare "long haul" tires from one company with "regional service" tires from another company. I bet than less than 10% of Class-A owners have bothered to compare tread depths when they compare tires. Most simply shop on price. Some on availability and others on company name but they seldom differentiate on type tire. They had good luck or bad luck with a tire from one company a number of years ago, so they paint all sizes and type tires from that company with the same advantages and disadvantages.
You might as well compare the ride of a Chevy Impala to a Cadillac STS (both made by GM) and ask why one is different from the other as to use the experience from someone in a Winibago 34' front gas to a Monaco 38' diesel pusher.  You need identical chassis, identical age, usage and  miles on the shocks and identical loading along with identical tread depth while driving on the same road to make a valid comparison. Oh yea, be sure you have the AC and radio off too as noise and ride comfort are related at certain frequencies.
Tires are not simple black round things. They are complex bag of compromises with ride, wear, noise, traction, fuel economy, handling, Ozone, heat resistance, and price being the interacting variables.

1 comment:

  1. Based on the recent reviews of the 2014 Chevy Impala by Consumer Reports, you might have to change your comparison of an Impala to a Cadillac STS.


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