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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Sipping is "everything" for snow traction...a lot of folks think that the deep tread of a tire is what does the work in snow, but alas, it's actually the little, narrow sipes that provide the grip. The best winter focused tires have those sipes full depth so that they maintain their grip as the tire wears beyond about half way...a point that some tires lose the sipes entirely.

Siping tires for winter use was a commonplace thing here years ago. Not sure it's legal anymore?
 

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Siping tires for winter use was a commonplace thing here years ago. Not sure it's legal anymore?
I think you'd be hard pressed to find shops that even have the capability to modify tires, legal or not, at this point. Even shaving is hard to come by for folks who want to "replace just one". So for winter use and snow traction, getting a tire designed for that clearly is the way to go.
 
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Siping tires for winter use was a commonplace thing here years ago. Not sure it's legal anymore?
As @Jim_in_PA noted, it's much less common here in the colder parts of the lower-48, now. My belief is that this is mostly because of the gain in popularity of winter tires over the last decade in particular.

This is really the busy-season for tire retailers and tire-shops. A LOT of money is made for the industry during these months, thanks in no small part to modern winter tires. ;)

Steering and stopping are the main attributes for safety IMO. That's what will keep you alive
Absolutely agreed - AWD/4WD gives the "go now" advantage only. Not that tires don't have much to do with this (I linked back to some fun examples, here: 1st time Buying tires for snow), but this is much more immediately apparent when the driver starts to brake and/or turn.

For a direct comparison: the Michelin Primacy MXM4 that was the stock rubber on our 300S AWD in 2017 were much better than these...and that's a big family sedan. In the three years we had it, I never felt the need from a safety standpoint to change the tires for the roughly 8 weeks of winter we see.
About 15 years ago, Russian enthusiast testing sources started to notice not insignificant differences in tire performance based on sizing as well as vehicle characteristics. This was then quickly also picked-up on by Scandinavian and other European testing houses - and is now commonly controlled for (as well as details published) in these highly regarded overseas tests. It's actually not at all uncommon to see "the same tire" in one fitment, as-fitted on one vehicle, to test towards not insignificantly different outcomes when one or both of those factors are changed, often impacting not only the raw scoring (via differences in quantified data), but also even in final overall placement.

This is the main reason why in enthusiast discussions, I often will ask participants to look deeper than just the name of the product that's burnished on the sidewall. ;)

That ties into my position that Subaru could easily have done a tad better...especially given their chops in the AWD arena.
Overall, I agree with this sentiment - and it's one that's of-course shared by a not insignificant portion of colder-weather Subaru owners, which is reflected in @visorvet 's post in this thread, and to an extent, also my old friend @beanboy 's.

That said, from what little I know of the industry as a lay person who was lucky enough to have given a peek into it at one point, the task of developing an OE-fitment tire is a complicated, multivariate task, and given that the single most likely area of complaint of the vast majority of owners (read: not enthusiasts - which we all are, here, simply by the matter of our participation, we're a skewed demographic) of the average (read: not "performance") passenger vehicle or SUV will be that of cabin NVH, it becomes not so hard to imagine why the performance of many OE tires fall short of enthusiast expectations.

In harking back to @beanboy 's post above (The Falken and the Snow), those OE Bridgestone RE92s sucked up so much hate in virtually every online Forum, particularly in terms of winter-weather capabilities. Yet, when I asked my wife what she felt about them (at the time, they were also OE on the '05 WRX) after her first winter (and driving on them in 8-inches of fresh powder in late April!). She actually said that it was among the best that she'd ever experienced. 🤷‍♂️ The real reason? She's home-grown here in the rust-belt, and with no pretensions of being a "sporty driver" (yes, I know, she drives a WRX, but to her, the car is just a point-A to point-B means....I'm the car nut 😬), she drives very conservatively, as most native-snow/ice drivers tend to do, when the slippery stuff is on the roadways.

We should remember that for most of what we see here on the Forums, it's definitely seen through the eyes of those who are not the average owner/driver. The data is biased from the git, and what's more, for those of us who actually take the time to compose (TL;DR) posts (repeatedly) 😅:ROFLMAO:....well, that says even more!
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I'm not as good with breaking out sentences in the copy and paste quote arena :)

I have these questions and comments @TSiWRX

Please point me to some data that the intent for siped tires and snow use is to hang onto snow rather than bite for traction and then clear it, That's contrary to my old head's way of thinking. I might even see some smoke coming out :unsure:

I ran the Artic Altimax tires on our 06 Passat 4-Motion the 1st year they came to this country. They were OK, but not nearly as good as Blizzaks. It was my first foray away from Blizzaks. However, They wore like iron! I wore them year round for the 2.5 years we had the car. Kind of reminded me of the Wranglers I had on the work trucks. The stock rubber on the Passat was absolutely useless! ...yes maybe even worse than the Falkens. I'm a equal opportunity tire basher :)

I disagree about the reasoning Subaru may have used for coming up with a lesser tire. Everything is relative. Our 300S AWD had a better tire. It's RWD 300 counterpart came with a far lesser tire for snow. Our Ridgelines both came with a better tire right out the box. Not great, but much better. Subaru only makes AWD these days. They should have done better IMHO. I also think that AWD Subarus have far more 'traction' in snow country than sun country. They're big around here for 50 years now. ...again meriting a better stock tire.

At the end of the day, I'm accepting of what is. I come to car forums to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly from an unbiased position. I also come to learn and have already. I appreciate the discussion! I don't have brand bias. I've had as many as 4 stripes in the garage at once although I will say currently there only two. Subaru and lots of MOPAR HP :)
 

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I'm not as good with breaking out sentences in the copy and paste quote arena :)
No worries - I'm on old Forum user, so I know all the tricks! :p ;)

I have these questions and comments @TSiWRX

Please point me to some data that the intent for siped tires and snow use is to hang onto snow rather than bite for traction and then clear it, That's contrary to my old head's way of thinking. I might even see some smoke coming out :unsure:
This was something that also defied my own understanding at the time, but it came from a genuine tire engineer, so I asked him a couple of follow-on questions (as you are doing now - but specifically, he pointed to the void-size -to- rotational speed behavior [winter sipes versus A/T and M/T tread void design, with the easy example being size], as well as the then known-to-me fact that ice at significantly below-freezing temperatures actually can approach the friction coefficient of concrete roadways), and it started to make sense.

That said, unfortunately, the only ready reference I was able to easily find is:


^ I say unfortunately because that resource also uses an empirical example instead of a more solidly factual one. :giggle: I'm in full detective mode, gimmie a bit, I hope to return with more. 🧐

Meanwhile....

The common understanding is that the winter sipe design flexes apart upon roadway contact in order to offer "more bite," but it is almost never explained exactly what it is that the tire is "biting into" (it's been pointed out to me that the language of the claims tend to be very carefully constructed - near universally [regardless of manufacturer], claims read/say that the sipes "dig deeper and harder into snow and on ice" while "channeling away water and slush from under the tire" - neither ever actually mentions the roadway surface itself). Empirically, on heavily snow, ice, or hardpack-covered roadways, we understand that the tire isn't really "biting into" and contacting the roadway surface, but rather, that there is just additional frozen precipitation that it's "walking over," as illustrated in this monster of a winter tire thread, on NASIOC - The Winter Tire thread- all winter tire questions go here !!! - NASIOC (with the introductory post by TireRack's winter tire specialist, Luke). I honestly don't remember if we ever got into the snow-on-snow discussion, there, but it's possible.....

I ran the Artic Altimax tires on our 06 Passat 4-Motion the 1st year they came to this country. They were OK, but not nearly as good as Blizzaks. It was my first foray away from Blizzaks. However, They wore like iron! I wore them year round for the 2.5 years we had the car. Kind of reminded me of the Wranglers I had on the work trucks. The stock rubber on the Passat was absolutely useless! ...yes maybe even worse than the Falkens. I'm a equal opportunity tire basher :)
Yup. Me too. I have no allegiances. (y)

The dual-layer Blizzak models suffered from what some would suggest to be excessive wear of that top, near-magical layer - it's a compromise (much like anything else ;) ) - and has long been something that Bridgestone's competitors specifically attacked. At the North America introduction of the current generation of Michelin "Studless Ice & Snow" tires circa the 2008-9 winter season, the host featured comparable winters shaved to half-tread-depth: and this is precisely at this tread-depth where Bridgestone's proprietary compound is no longer present.

And once the dual-layer Blizzaks have worn past that ~half-way point, the magic dissipates (essentially a double-bogey of return to a more common winter compound, plus the now considerably less tread-depth) - which is why Bridgestone has tried to incorporate more full-depth features, starting with the current-generation WS90.

In terms of the General Altimax Arctics, without studs, their lack of top-tier compounding (combined with rather stagnant tread design: they are a copy of the old - but highly venerated - Gislaved Nordfrost 3) that stays pliable at ever-decreasing temps is likely what you felt as the difference between the two. Without studs, the majority of ice traction thus falls to compounding, and here, the Altimax Arctics simply could not match what Bridgestone throws at its R&D of ever-better refinements for its dual-layer Blizzak line. 💸💵💰

But as you noted the Altimax Arctics wore very well - and this is also thanks to its compounding and physical architecture: in being a studdable winter, both of those features need to take into account the need to "anchor" studs. Indeed, typically, "studdable winters" as a winter-tire sub-genre tends to wear not inconsiderably better (i.e. have longer treadlife) versus "Studless Ice & Snows. Similarly, we can also see the more robust nature of the compounding and physical architecture of studdable winters play out particularly in dry testing, where the less robust compounding of the "Studless Ice & Snow" tires often leads to not only quantifiable deficiencies in performance (i.e. longer stopping distances - https://www.tyrereviews.com/Article/2021-Studless-and-Studded-Winter-Tyre-Test.htm this is a very recent test, but I've talked about this many times over the years: Studded vs Studdless Winter Tires on Forester?, and Wasting money on studded tires?), but also empirically in visible tread block damage.

I disagree about the reasoning Subaru may have used for coming up with a lesser tire. Everything is relative. Our 300S AWD had a better tire. It's RWD 300 counterpart came with a far lesser tire for snow. Our Ridgelines both came with a better tire right out the box. Not great, but much better. Subaru only makes AWD these days. They should have done better IMHO. I also think that AWD Subarus have far more 'traction' in snow country than sun country. They're big around here for 50 years now. ...again meriting a better stock tire.
It's not so much that the tire is "lesser" in every way - rather, it's just "lesser" in the manner that we want it to be :p:poop:, when there's wintry frozen precipitation on the ground.

The OE Falkens fare well in terms of both straight-line hydroplane resistance as well as in stopping distances (in the dry, which is what I can recall off the top of my head, the Ascent fares better than class average), both of which are in-part attributable to the tires. Similarly, it's not common to find complaints of cabin road/tire noise.

I've only been privy to a peek at what resources one tire-maker threw at their halo product, where that manufacturer worked so tightly hand-in-hand at homologation (forgive the outside link, but I wanted to be sure that readers of this thread are familiar with this term - What is a homologated tire ?) that each brand not only supplied a test vehicle for that purpose, but also even together trained specialized, dedicated test-drivers in order to properly "tune" the characteristics of that tire. I don't for a minute doubt that these companies wouldn't give the same thought to tires which they are fitting to mainstream production vehicles.

Absolutely, I agree that these Falkens could do better in the slippery stuff - but I don't know what they may have to give up, in order to do so. :)

At the end of the day, I'm accepting of what is. I come to car forums to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly from an unbiased position. I also come to learn and have already. I appreciate the discussion! I don't have brand bias. I've had as many as 4 stripes in the garage at once although I will say currently there only two. Subaru and lots of MOPAR HP :)
Same here! It's my daily fun - and where I also hope to learn something, too! :)

Oh, and I'm going to be really jealous if you say that you've got a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk parked beside your Subaru! :cool:
 

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Please point me to some data that the intent for siped tires and snow use is to hang onto snow rather than bite for traction and then clear it, That's contrary to my old head's way of thinking. I might even see some smoke coming out :unsure:
My understanding is that the sipes catch the snow and then the snow sticks to the snow for better traction...but I can't point you to a reference. Not everything in life works "logically"... LOL
 
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^ @Jim_in_PA - give my follow-up posts (#25, 26, and 27) a read. ;)

-----

Also, I found -


^ From a quick read of this article (which is now a decade down the line from when that patent was granted to Pirelli Tires), it seems that the actual friction comes not necessarily from what's picked up in the treads, but the "ploughing force" of the snow surrounding the sipes.

I then spent $25 and accessed this article, which was cited as a reference in the one above.....

S. Ripka, H. Lind, M. Wangenheim, J. Wallaschek, K. Wiese, B. Wies; Investigation of Friction Mechanisms of Siped Tire Tread Blocks on Snowy and Icy Surfaces. Tire Science and Technology 1 March 2012; 40 (1): 1–24. doi: https://doi.org/10.2346/1.3684409

^ The ice traction stuff was way beyond my college physics understanding (I'm a biological scientist, for crying out loud! :ROFLMAO:), but in terms of snow traction, it seems that the "snow on snow" friction is better explained as a shearing force - the tread element (sipe) penetrates the loose, powder snow (void) and shears the compacted snow ridge (formed from tire contact pressure) off - thus enabling the generation of more friction. [ It was interesting also to me that this shearing force is dependent on both tread element size as well as the speed at which this interaction occurs. ]

So it is "snow on snow," but not in the way we necessarily envision it.....

There seems to be a seminal work by Browne, dated 1974 (Browne, A.L., 1974. Tire traction on snow-covered pavements. In The Physics of Tire Traction (pp. 99-139). Springer, Boston, MA.), but I seem to only be able to find the ~$90 ebook. My institution doesn't have access to this one, either, and I didn't want to spend any more of my wife's money (I meant my money!) today. 😅
 

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I think some of this stuff is really fascinating. Like snow traction on tires. We envision a tire gaining traction like how we intuitively see it -- physically clawing through it. But in many cases, the physics are acting on a much smaller level than the macro "brute force" stuff we see in our minds. Good stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Absolutely, I agree that these Falkens could do better in the slippery stuff - but I don't know what they may have to give up, in order to do so. :)

Oh, and I'm going to be really jealous if you say that you've got a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk parked beside your Subaru! :cool:
Can't see how the Falkens would be giving up anymore than the tires I listed above. It's all relative. Would have been nice giving a little bias to AWD conditions to make the system shine a little better

...not a Trackhawk....but the same engine in another car. That's my daily driver in the summer. Golf clubs in the trunk all season. 16.5 CF trunk and seats 5 very comfortably. The ultimate sleeper!

:)
Bingo - Pirelli's 1999 patent application -


:)
Good find! I skimmed the article to find this:

The task of these narrow cuts, more simply called “sipes” is substantially that of picking up and efficiently retaining the snow, since friction created by snow against snow is, as known, greater than friction of rubber on snow.

I'll take Pirelli at their word. It answers my question although I had no clue that was the case. I've got some good size P-Zeros in my garage. 355/30ZR19s :)

Almost forgot......I've dealt with Luke at TR several times over the years. Nothing recently, but in the 'old' days
 

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Good find! I skimmed the article to find this:

The task of these narrow cuts, more simply called “sipes” is substantially that of picking up and efficiently retaining the snow, since friction created by snow against snow is, as known, greater than friction of rubber on snow.
Hmm...I was at least close! LOL

I'm appreciating this conversation including TSWRX's document research...being married to Professor Dr. SWMBO has me ingrained to the value of such. She does manage to keep me in the standard of living I'm used to while she teaches others how to do proper research now, instead of being hot and heavy doing it herself. :D
 
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Can't see how the Falkens would be giving up anymore than the tires I listed above.
Bite thy tongue! Bite it!!!! :ROFLMAO:



...not a Trackhawk....but the same engine in another car. That's my daily driver in the summer. Golf clubs in the trunk all season. 16.5 CF trunk and seats 5 very comfortably. The ultimate sleeper!
A hellaciously uproarious kitty?! I'm still jealous!😈

Good find! I skimmed the article to find this:

The task of these narrow cuts, more simply called “sipes” is substantially that of picking up and efficiently retaining the snow, since friction created by snow against snow is, as known, greater than friction of rubber on snow.

I'll take Pirelli at their word. It answers my question although I had no clue that was the case.
It seems like after the initial study folks in the industry just simplified it to "snow on snow" - which, I don't blame them, is pretty much at my level of understanding. That empiric example of the snow on the bottom of a sled really made reasonably nice sense to me, as I've been on the (self-inflicted) end of that pain-stick.😅

The physics of it. even though it's above my head, is very interesting, though, even for what little I understand.

The $20 (or was it $25) that I spent really didn't add that much to my understanding, there, but blew my mind open at just how truly complicated ice traction is to crack. I can't remember which year's or which source's winter testing it was where they decided to forego ice testing altogether, given that they were having trouble controlling for various factors. In reading through that particular paper, I stand in awe of what tire engineers have to work through to give us the next season's best. o_O
 

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Oh hey, I'm just seeing this thread. Hey there from the Grand Rapids area. Can confirm the OEM Falkens are nearly worthless in even SW Michigan winter. We got the Ascent in January '19, and while my wife was thrilled at how much better it was than the minivans we'd gotten used to...she was disappointed that it was still pretty squirmy. When the Falkens wore out, we put on a set of Goodyear WeatherReady all-seasons that have been great -- I actually have a set on my old Mercury boat of a grandpa-car and they took it from scary to ok in the snow.

And we don't need much more than a/s tires down here. We lived near Traverse City for ten years and could have used dedicated snows there....and that's got NOTHING on your UP snow. Dang, man. I remember the blizzard of '95/96 -- 100" of snow over 5 days...Nat'l Guard plowing I-75 up by the Soo..and Buffalo, NY hogging the news because they got all of 36". 🙄
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Oh hey, I'm just seeing this thread. Hey there from the Grand Rapids area. Can confirm the OEM Falkens are nearly worthless in even SW Michigan winter. We got the Ascent in January '19, and while my wife was thrilled at how much better it was than the minivans we'd gotten used to...she was disappointed that it was still pretty squirmy. When the Falkens wore out, we put on a set of Goodyear WeatherReady all-seasons that have been great -- I actually have a set on my old Mercury boat of a grandpa-car and they took it from scary to ok in the snow.

And we don't need much more than a/s tires down here. We lived near Traverse City for ten years and could have used dedicated snows there....and that's got NOTHING on your UP snow. Dang, man. I remember the blizzard of '95/96 -- 100" of snow over 5 days...Nat'l Guard plowing I-75 up by the Soo..and Buffalo, NY hogging the news because they got all of 36". 🙄
Yes, I remember that too. The National Guard was called to the Soo. Very unusual for our area. The picture above I posted was from that event I think. The Soo got more! Just a few years ago in the spring we got 5 feet over 8 days or so from about April 5th to the 10th. Another time back in the late 80s we got close to a 2 footer the 2nd week in May. One thing about weather events like that in the spring is that the sun is higher, the ground is thawing, and the road surfaces have some heat in them. It disappears in a matter of days. Flooding and run off is more the issue then

Yes, I do get quite a kick out of how the 'news' plants themselves someplace for what we consider a minor snow event. As I stated above a 12 incher here doesn't even warrant much conversation...just another day in the life UP here. :)
 

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First driving impressions on snow and ice yesterday. The tires definitely aren't cut out for icy conditions.. At all. We got to experience two conditions on 11/21. A little snow (30F) which was icy below and proved to be a little greasy heading into where we watch football. Steering and stopping were greatly reduced. The ABS kicked in almost immediately. On the way home, the temp had dropped and a few inches had fallen. The tires did better in snow. I'll get to play more when we get some real snow. It's hard to assess the capabilities of an AWD system when the tires are the weak link. Such was also the case with our Ridgelines, although the stock tire on them appears to have been a little better in similar conditions.

This morning here is 17F. Snow has fallen overnight and our subdivision roads are covered. Chill factor is between zero and 10F. Once winter sets in here, neighborhood roads seldom see pavement again until spring. The weather stats show about 14 inches have fallen here this year. In 2014, we had 46" by now. You just never know UP here :)
Get Blizzaks!
 

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Get Blizzaks!
Often discussed when a dedicated winter tire is indicated for the vehicle owner's geography...and then the question switches to "which" Blizzak. There are multiple models. There are also very worthy competitors.
 
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