Goodyear launches a new tire, but is it a Michelin beater?

Sat, 07/02/2011 - 23:32

This week, the folks from Goodyear in Akron, Ohio hosted a group of roughly 40 tire retailers and automotive media for their launch of the brand-new Assurance TripleTred All-Season tire. Admittedly, this was my first press event for tires, and I was intrigued to learn exactly what it is that Goodyear does with all that rubber.

The two-day event began Monday with a travel nightmare due to inclement weather, but the skies were sunny and clear by Tuesday morning when the real fun began. Our group split up for the day’s various activities, including a tour of Goodyear’s NASCAR manufacturing facility, some time on the test track, and even a ride in the Goodyear Blimp! See photos from the ride here. Watch my video of us landing in the airship here!

Stepping on the gas and purposely putting yourself in a skid is against everything I’ve ever learned as a driver, but that’s just what we did when we got to the closed course near Goodyear headquarters. After three laps on the Goodyear tires, we went back for three more on a competitor tire – Michelin’s HydroEdge.

The Assurance TripleTred All-Season tire held the ground. That’s because of its tread technology, which incorporates three zones that perform in dry, wet, and icy conditions. Goodyear’s Evolving Traction Grooves – the first design element of its kind for tires in North America – enable the tire to keep its stickiness even as the tire wears.

How does it grip so well? Each tire is made from a compound that includes volcanic sand and glass fibers, which increases the tire’s micro texture to improve holding power in wet and wintry conditions. With 22 initial size offerings, there’s pretty much a tire available for everyone.

As the tire ages, the outer layer of tread blades become shallower and eventually wear down so that additional blades beneath them open up to help evacuate water from the tread. With more than 100 of these grooves on each tire, that’s pretty good “assurance” that with 40,000 miles on your wheels you’ll still stay firmly planted on the road no matter what the weather conditions.

Now, I’m no tire expert, but I can vouch that during a 40 mile-an-hour skid on a soaking-wet street (read “hydroplaning”), those TripleTred’s stuck to the pavement like glue. The others? Well, let’s just say that I missed a few orange cones coming out of that waterlogged turn.

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