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It’s time for a tire change

Winter tyres


Here is what the main tire manufacturers are offering to deal with low temperatures and snow-clad roads

Dino Collazzo

As winter approaches the time to drive down to a tire dealer for the seasonal tire change approaches too. The 15th of November, in fact, is the set date, by law, when all drivers are obliged to replace their summer tires with winter products or, alternatively, carry approved snow chains on board. Choosing the most suitable tire for the winter guarantees better grip, braking and comfort when roads freeze or are covered with snow or ice. Here is a run-down of what manufacturers are offering for this winter season.



The Japanese company's new winter product is the Blizzak LM005, designed to cope with all typical winter driving conditions, ice, snow and wet roads, and clinched the European "A" class label for grip in extreme conditions. The Blizzak LM005 stems from a combination between an improved compound, made using Bridgestone's Nano Pro-tech technology, and a new tread design. The compound boasts a high silica content that improves performance on snow or wet roads. The silica, in fact, ensures that the compound of the tire has an elastic behaviour even at freezing temperatures, thus ensuring grip and traction in almost any condition. The use of Bridgestone's new nano-selective technology, combined with Nano Pro-tech, further improves the tire's silica dispersion, enabling Blizzak LM005 to ensure consistent performance throughout the winter. The other new feature is the tread. Increasing the number of grooves in the shoulder improved the tire's grip on snow and ice and optimised the contact pressure of the tire's shoulder blocks when braking. The full/void ratio in the central area of the tread allows for greater water drainage and snow trapping. In addition, the use of zigzag grooves allows snow trapped in the grooves to stick to the snow on the road. In short, Bridgestone engineers managed to come up with a combination of 2D sipes in the centre and 3D sipes in the shoulder area of the tread pattern provide excellent braking performance for reduced stopping distance on snow and ice covered roads. In addition, on larger sizes longitudinal grooves are used to maximise water drainage. The 3PMSF (3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake) certification and M+S marking make the Blizzak LM005 compliant with all European winter regulations. The Blizzak LM005 is available in 116 sizes (from 14'' to 22'').



For the 2019 winter season, Continental offers a wide range of tires. The ContiWinterContact TS 800 (125-195 tread width, 13”-15” rim, Q/T speed ratings, aspect ratio 50-80) has an elongated honeycomb design that guarantees greater stiffness maximising contact with the road and handling on dry roads at low temperatures. The ContiWinterContact TS 810 S (175-265 tread width, 15”-19” rim, T/H/V/W speed rating, aspect ratio 40-65) has a ribbon structure in the centre of the tread. Thicker sipes and groove bottom spacers allow the sipes to remain open when in contact with snow. The same applies to the ContiWinterContact TS 830 P (tread width 195-305, rim 15”-21”, speed code T/H/V/W, aspect ratio 30-65), whose large number of blocks and sipes on the shoulders create a multitude of gripping edges. The ContiWinterContact TS 850 (tread width 155-225, rim 14”-17”, speed code T/H/V, aspect ratio 45-80) features a greater number of sipes which create a “wiper” effect on the tire in order to remove the water film that forms on the ice. Continental engineers have made the sidewall more flexible so that less energy is lost. The new WinterContact TS 850 P (115-315 tread width, 16”-21” rim, T/H/V/W speed rating, aspect ratio 30-70) boasts a large number of longitudinal blocks and sipes producing more gripping edges. In addition, the PowerSipes technology used in the outer blocks of the tread, contributes to increase tire stiffness. Furthermore, Continental produced a line of winter tires for AWD SUVs: the Conti4x4WinterContact (215-275 tread width, 16”-19” rim, T/H/V speed rating, aspect ratio 50-65) and the ContiCrossContactWinter (175-295 tread width, 15”-22” rim, Q/T/H/V speed rating, aspect ratio 35-85).


CST Tire

CST Tires launches its new MedallionWinter WCP1, a winter tire designed to meet the demands of the European market. The 3D tread blocks, arranged in a longitudinal interlocking jigsaw pattern, connect to the sipes improving the behaviour of the tire by reducing its deformation and increasing its performance. More generally, the 3D zigzag sipes guarantee a perfect grip through corners allowing a car to “rapidly” accelerate even on snow-covered and / or icy roads. Another feature of the new CST MedallionWinter WCP1 is the silica-rich tread compound able to reach the optimum working temperature quickly and maintain it over time, improving grip even in the harshest conditions. The CST MedallionWinter WCP1 tire displays standard M + S marking as well as the alpine pictogram (Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake -3PMSF). The MedallionWinter WCP1 is available in sizes ranging from 155/65 R13 to 245/40 R18.



For the next winter season, Falken expanded its tire range with new sizes. The latest model in the Eurowinter HS01 line is available in 111 sizes, from 13 to 20 inches, aspect ratios ranging between 35-70 and T/H/V/W speed ratings (190 - 270 km/h). This winter tire is suitable for driving on snow, ice and wet roads, and is resistant to aquaplaning. Previously, in late 2017, Falken added the Eurowinter HS01 SUV for large vehicles to its product portfolio. Developed with Advanced 4D-Nano technology, this tire is available in 37 sizes, from 16 to 21 inches, with 35-70 aspect ratio and H/V/W speed ratings. This season sees the debut of the Eurowinter HS01 Runflat which, in the event of a puncture, allows you to travel for about 80 km at a top speed of 80 km/h thanks to the "limp-home mode". The model is available in seven sizes from 17 to 21 inches, aspect ratio 35-50 and H and V speed ratings.


Giti Tire

For the winter season Giti Tire offers the GT Radial WinterPro2, a tire designed for compact and medium sized cars, as well as for small SUVs and available in 36 sizes with 13”-17" rims and T, H and V speed ratings with aspect ratios between 155 to 215 and 50 to 80. Another winter tire is the GiTiWinter W - there is also a SUV version: Giti Winter W1 Suv – thanks to its new compound allows grip at low temperatures and the tread block design reduces the risk of aquaplaning. For commercial vehicles, Giti offers the Maxmiler WT2 Cargo.



The American firm renews its range of UltraGrip winter tires. The UltraGrip Performance+, UltraGrip 9+ and UltraGrip Cargo are suitable for compact vehicles, small city cars and commercial vehicles. The dry and wet performance of the UltraGrip Performance+ is linked to two important technologies: TractionProtect Technology, which introduces a new resin-containing compound that improves the tire's ability to deform and regain its shape, and WinterGrip Technology, which consists of a new mix of compounds that provide greater elasticity at low temperatures increasing grip on snow and ice. In the UltraGrip 9+ range, Goodyear used its Mileage Plus technology to protect the tire from damages and detachment of rubber pieces caused by adverse road conditions. UltraGrip 9+ also boasts the company’s WinterGrip Technology. An improved tread pattern and compound are the new features of the new Goodyear UltraGrip Cargo for light commercial vehicles. The introduction of UltraGrip Performance+ will be gradual, with more than 60% of the sizes available as well as all sizes of UltraGrip 9+ and UltraGrip Cargo.



Winter I*Cept Evo2 and Winter I*Cept RS2 are the winter tires offered by Hankook. The Winter I*Cept Evo2 features a silicon compound that allows traction on snow and wet as well as reduced rolling resistance. The large steel belt ensures greater tread stiffness. Hankook engineers have increased the number of grooves on this tire to increase grip in the snow while the introduction of 3D sipes has been planned to minimize the movement of the blocks. The same applies to the Winter I*Cept RS2, whose side-groove design promotes effective lateral water ejection. In addition, the use of a new flexible tread design increases the contact area in cold weather.



The latest addition to Michelin's winter collection is the Michelin Alpin6, designed for drivers who travel in all weather and road conditions and often face abundant snowfalls. Michelin Alpin6, according to the manufacturer, maintains its performance even when the tread is close to the legal wear limit (2 mm of tread depth). The ground-breaking performance of the worn tire, still according to Michelin, stems from the introduction of a new tread pattern, which evolves and regenerates as the tire wears thanks to two main innovations. The first is the 3D self-locking droplet-like sipes. These allow the grooves to appear and widen as the tire wears out, increasing water and snow drainage. The second innovation concerns the bi-compound tread. In this case the compound changes with the wear of the tire, adding softness to the tread. The Alpine 6 has a different easy-read wear indicator that uses percentages: 75%, 50% and 25%. The new Michelin Alpin 6 range is currently available in 32 sizes plus a further 26 sizes from May 2019. Aspect ratios  go as low as 225 mm, but others are available in the Michelin Pilot Alpin range.



The WinguardSnow tire is now the third generation of this series. Compared to its predecessor, the Winguard Snow’G3 is an HP winter tire designed for superior performance in snowy conditions as well as on wet and dry roads. A new silica-based compound has been used in the Winguard Snow'G3 and the number of sipes has been increased to maximise water and snow drainage. The Winguard Snow'G3 is available on the market in 25 sizes. One of Nexen's new features is the Winguard Sport 2 Suv, a winter UHP tire designed for SUVs and manufactured using a new compound that improves performance on snow and wet surfaces.



Nokian WR Snowproof is the company’s premium winter tire, designed to cope with the different weather conditions of the winter months. The Nokian WR Snowproof was created using a new rubber compound: the AlpineGrip; an innovative mix that combines the compound commonly found in Nokian’s Hakkapeliitta, resistant to the freezing northern winters, with a compound suitable for milder climates. Its composition is the result of the union of natural rubber, silica and functional polymers. The arched tread pattern has been designed to remove snow and mud between tire and road surface. Tread block sipes with variable contours and depths create a dense Tailored Siping mesh that allows lateral and longitudinal grip in deep snow. Rigid shoulder blocks also feature sipes to improve traction. The Nokian WR Snowproof is available in speed categories Q (160 km/h), T (190 km/h), H (210 km/h), V (240 km/h) and W (270 km/h) and its complete size range includes 55 products from 14 to 20 inches. The range of Nokian’s winter car tires includes the Nokian WR D4 and Nokian WR A4. All together almost 150 sizes are available covering the vast majority of vehicles on the road.



For the winter season Pirelli offers its new UHP Zero Winter. A tire that shares the same development stages of its summer “brother”: from technical choices to type-approvals with car manufacturers. The goal, right from the beginning of the project, was to offer owners of supercars and high-end cars the same driving sensations expected of a P Zero. The engineers at Pirelli identified various technical solutions, such as compound and tread design, in order to adapt the tire to the kind of conditions common in winter. The tread pattern is asymmetric, with an outer shoulder that can withstand lateral force when cornering and an inner shoulder filled with sipes as well as criss-cross grooves to maximise traction and braking on snow-clad roads. The central part features rigid tread blocks to facilitate steering and three longitudinal grooves to enhance water expulsion. The tread compound works in a wide temperature range thanks to the use of new materials. The range of sizes go from 225 to 315, for 18" up to 22" wheels. The speed rating ranges from V to W.



Triangle offers in Europe its asymmetrical winter UHP SnowLink PL02. The 3D design of the high-density sipes and the three circumferential grooves improve aquaplaning resistance and water drainage. SnowLink PL02 is available for cars and SUVs with speed ratings from H to W for wheels up to 20 inches. In addition Triangle offers its SnowLion TR777. The V-type directional tread with a straight centre rib has been designed to be easy to handle regardless of the conditions, whether wet cold, in mud or snow. The silica compound allows the tread to adapt to low winter temperatures. The SnowLion range consists of speed rating going from Q to V, aspect ratios 45-70 and 13” to 18” wheels. SnowLink LL01 is Triangle’s proposal for the Winter Van segment. The high density of the sipes allows for greater traction, while the robust design of the tread blocks provides a high load capacity and a wider contact area with the ground to increase mileage.



For the winter season, Yokohama offers its BluEarthWinter V905. The V905 features three innovations: the tread pattern, the compound and the type of structure. The design was created to maximise grip on snowy and icy roads. At the same time, the wide oblique grooves and directional design allow water to be drained easily and snow to be removed from the tread. Another new feature is the compound, enriched with Silica End-locked, which provides suitable performance over a wide range of winter temperatures. Added to this, Yokohama's patent technology Orange Oil, uses oil extracted from the peel of citrus fruits to make the V905's compound more elastic, so as to have a greater contact surface on wet and dry ground. Featuring the BluEarth mark, which identifies Yokohama's eco range, the V905 applies low-impact green technologies. The BluEarthWinter V905 is available in 123 sizes, from 15" to 21" wheels.

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