09 October, 2018

Winter tyres .... are they worth it?

Winter tyres really are worth their weight in gold because not all tyres are created equal. 

As you will probably know even the smoothest of road surfaces, at a microscopic level, have peaks and troughs and the reason you get grip is because the tyre moulds around the peaks and troughs, creating grip. 

Standard tyres are designed to operate in warmer climates. When the weather turns and the cold weather sets in, your standard tyres do what every product does, they get cold and they lose some their flexibility which in turn reduces your tyres ability to mould around the peaks and troughs and you lose grip. 

Winter tyres are designed with the colder weather in mind and so even though it gets cold, the winter tyre compound is supple enough to mould themselves around the peaks and troughs, maintaining that grip. One other added benefit of winter tyres, particularly for snowy conditions, are that they invariably have sipes on their tread. Sipes are essentially little holes cut in to the tread of the tyre (the road facing section) and these sipes have an essential purpose. 

During wet weather where it allows water to temporarily hide in the sipes meaning that the tread touches the road, rather than the water being squashed and pushing back against the tyre, something called aqua plaining, but in snowy conditions, snow gets in to the sipes and everybody knows snow sticks to snow. This in turn means that the snow on your tyres, sticks to the snow on the road, creating that same grip because the snow you have in your tyres grips the peaks and troughs of the snow on the ground, increasing grip. 

In terms of brands to use, I'd always suggest using premium brands if you have the choice, particularly the likes of Michelin, Goodyear etc but they're not always that affordable. I have recently come across a website called TyreTest.com. 

It's run by a tyre wholesaler called Delti, which is a company that sells millions of tyres every year and on that website they have literally thousands of reviews for all manner of tyres. If you can't afford a premium tyre, my advice would be to visit that website and read the reviews. Users are the best authority on tyres and their feedback can be invaluable when deciding which tyres to purchase.