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From digest.v7.n409 Thu Oct 9 12:28:16 1997
From: Satch Carlson <>
Date: Thu, 09 Oct 1997 08:08:44 -0800
Subject: Winter tires...again? Already?!/satch

Jake Steijn says:

> I think you are going to hear from a number of sources that Bridgestone
> Blizzaks or Hakkapilita (mumblestuff cause I never could get it right - some
> Finnish tire) are the best...

Why a guy with a name spelled "Steijn" cannot figure out the spelling of "Hakkapeliitta"---a simple Finnish word meaning "Let it snow let it snow let it snow"---is beyond me. The thing to remember is that the University of Norway, among others, is noted for testing winter tires: Seems to me the last Hot Set Up that I can recall was the Gislaved Frost II. . . the Hakkas fell to third or fourth niftiest, along with the way-cool Michelinos. Ah! But! Remember, these are people looking for TRACTION, not road-surface preservation, so we're talking about STUDDED radials. . . and Michelin does not send their studdable donuts across the pond. The butt-heads.

As for unstudded winter tires, I have no personal experience with the highly-touted Blizzaks, but I have heard others talk about their awful dry-tarmac performance. I HAVE run a few sets of Michelin Alpins---that's Michelino's version of the hydrophilic ice grabber using a zillion tiny sipes---on ice and snow and dirt and gravel and wet asphalt and dry tarmac, and I liked them a lot. . . but unless you reserve them for the icy months you will wear them out right pronto. Especially if you decide they ought to work just fine in the Press On Regardless Rally. Which they will. . .

Now, then: Brother Steijhln (some of those letters are silent) mentions fat-boy tires in snow. Heh heh heh. Big surprise for those mullets who think wide is better. . . For snow, you want the skinniest tires you can find (SAAB used to run winter rallies on tires that were 3 1/2" wide!) to cut down THROUGH the snow and find something hard to grab onto. . . and studs to do the grabbing.

A caveat: Driving con brio, con gusto over the ice and snow is indeed what we were meant for, but remember that drift angle is a factor of traction. Studded and non-studded tires alike WILL fall out from under you in the corners, which is to be expected, anticipated, and enjoyed. The big difference is what they do AFTER they come out: Studded tires are constantly clawing their way back into the ice and asphalt, while unstudded tires, once they lose their grip, seem perfectly content to remain in a traction-free environment. Some of us who have become used to the car's "coming back" at a certain point in a drifting arc have discovered that our subconscious assumptions, formed from way too many years spent sideways on studded Hakkas, need some adjustment. This discovery is usually a traumatic epiphany indeed. . .

Your opinion may differ. Ask me if I care.

satch carlson

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