So this year I’ve been able to ride my bike a lot later in the season than other years, but sadly I know it’s all about to end. Last weekend we got a glimpse of what the weather is supposed to really be like and with snow on the horizon it looks like bike season is almost over.
Check out www.michelinman.com, which has an innovative new tire selector that guides you to your decision based on driving style.
That all said despite the fact that winter is over it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be on the lookout for things that can help you; a big thing in that regards is the right winter tire. I actually believe in snow tires even in places that aren’t the sixth snowiest in the country, according to the Daily Beast’s 2010 report. The way I look at it is that snow tires are pretty much free, as long as you plan on keeping your car for a while. Yeah, that might sound kinda crazy but look at it this way… What season damages your expensive all-season tires the most? Umm that would be winter. The ice, salt, snow, potholes, etc – plus the increased chance of an accident – all eat away at all-seasons far more quickly than the other three, far more benign, seasons. So if you keep your car 100,000 miles and that would normally require 2 or three all-season replacements, then sneak in a winter tire there and the number of tire swaps should actually stay the same AND bring you safer road conditions. Oh yeah, the safety. It’s actually more important than the savings, truth be told… The tire I’ll be looking it is the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, a studless Ice and Snow tire that is aimed squarely at climates like ours. Sure I could have gone with a more performance oriented Michelin, like the Alpin, but the X-Ice is a tire that will be way more available for the cars that most of us drive.
Like I said I’ve always believed in snow tires – I just have never bought the Michelins because I thought they were a little pricey. They are among the more expensive snow tires out there – about $25 more a tire than the Blizzaks I usually get (on my car – in some cases the Michelins are the same price or even less), but I figured there must be a good reason why there were so consistently ranked number one.
The tires arrived straight from Michelin just in time for our first decent snow of the year last weekend. I got myself over to Dunn Tire on Peach and Adam was able to get me swapped out in no time. Maybe my old tires were lousy or worn, but I swear the X-Ice tires actually handle better on the pre-snow roads better; they handled and braked well, were rather quiet and didn’t negatively impact my gas mileage. The next morning though, when I awoke to about four to six inches (probably 3 inches; I always exaggerate that sorta thing) of snow I eagerly jumped in the car and went for a drive. Right off the bat I was VERY impressed. While I was aware of the snow I felt like the tires were helping me pull one over on the car. Acceleration was fine, predictable with no wheelspin, cornering was excellent and braking was superb. The Michelin X-Ice Xi2’s gave me a tremendous sense of confidence on the road that morning – I can’t wait for some deeper snow to try them out in that. When I got back home I took my buddy’s all-season equipped Prius (yep!) and took it out for contrast. Even though the Prius’ Yokohama Avid Touring’s are well reviewed for light snow, there was absolutely no comparison – none at all. The Prius – a normally very stable car and a fine automobile – shook and shimmied its way up the hill on Steretannia towards 90 and while we got back in one piece just fine it certainly wasn’t carving its initials in the snow.
I also compared it to the Blizzaks that I usually love. After testing out the Prius I drove a vehicle equipped with Blizzak WS70’s – a very, very good snow tire. As I have for years, I loved the characteristics of the Blizzaks. I have to say though that the Michelins were, in my opinion, better in most areas. Were they $100 better? I guess that depends on you. They handled better, stopped better and made less noise on dry pavement. I know the Blizzaks are almost untouchable in deeper snow so I look forward to comparing them a little more when the time comes but as of right now I am very comfortable with the Michelin X-Ice Xi2.
Michelin puts out extremely high quality tires. I love their High Performance Pilot Sport All Season, which is ideal for performance cars as well as their excellent Grand Touring tire, the Primacy MXM4. Now I can add another tire to the list of Michelins I would recommend freely – the X-Ice Xi2. Michelin (or their Ad Agency) is very smart in putting so much emphasis on safety and the importance of the passengers that ride in your vehicle. “Because so much is riding on your tires” – Michelin’s former catch-phrase (http://daryllang.com/blog/3196) – definitely speaks to me; in my size the Michelin would be less than the price of dinner for four more. It makes me think really…