Snow Tire Debate --- Studless vs. Studded

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Posted by Eric Stewart on January 11, 1999 at 10:54:15:

This message was also posted in the great "Michelin Arctic Alpin Debate":

Let's inject a little experience vs. conjecture into this debate. I bought some Arctic Alpins for my wife's van, size 215/70QR15. I have owned Nokian (formerly Nokia) snow tires for the better part of 10 years but understand that you have to buy a tire which is going to be a good match for your expected conditions. We live in a rural area and I drive into town every day with a roundtrip of 100 km. My car, a Honda CRX Si, has Nokian H-rated studless winter tire which I find to be a perfect match for the icy, snow-packed and occasionally snow-covered roads that I daily commute on. I have a second set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta 1's, size 155/80QR13 which I have in reserve for the BIG ONE. I think I am qualified to say that the studless tire is the better all-around tire as it preserves most of the stability of a good summer tire while providing real grip in the winter ice and rutted roads. The Hakka 1 is my choice for winter driving in extremus...especially on such a light (850 kg.) car. The trade off with the Hakka 1 is its squibby sidewall and harsh ride.
How about the Arctic Alpin's? The Michelins are, also, a good all-around winter tire. They are quiet and have excellent BITE and seem quite competent on ice and slush. They are also on a very heavy (1800 kg.) FWD minivan. To the person who says they know their tires...sure the Michelin is the same tire as the Maxi-Ice in Europe. Your point? You went on to say that only the Scandinavians know about winter tires. Well I agree that there is a certain halo effect around the Scandinavians because of their climate but most of their tires have been based on studded technologies because they operate on little or no restrictions against studded tires. Studless tires, a recent innovation, enjoy a longer development life in North America and are not banned for use in some jurisdictions as are studded tires. The Michelin Arctic Alpin is a Scandinavian-designed, studless snow and ice tire which in European magazines' testing rates *above* the Blizzak in ice grip and *below* the studdable Hakka 1 in other criteria. If, as I do, you weight these results so as to skew your selection criteria to the most dangerous condition you are likely to face, then an ice tire which is also quite competent in other conditions is a very good candidate. I could have bought the Hakka 1's (size 205/70QR15) for the same price as the Michelins but decided on the Michelins for the reasons noted. I've only had them a short time but they certainly seem to do the job.

Thanks for the bandwidth,

Ottawa, CANADA

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