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Tire Decisions 16/17

Joined
27 July 2007
Messages
7,502
Location
Denver, CO
Starting to think about tires for my S-Zero project and I'm stuck. I could really use the forum's input here. Here in Colorado, it is almost always sunny and dry, meaning you can drive your NSX essentially year round. The challenge is that temps can vary between 100+ F and 10 F, especially in the mornings, when it is usually cold. I used Yokohama's S.Drive tire on my previous NSX, which managed pretty well across all conditions. The compound was hard enough to resist cracking in very cold temps (though you still had to take it easy on cold mornings and roads) and soft enough to deliver fairly crisp and responsive handling on the track. It also worked well in the rain and even in the slushy spring snow we get here up until May. In truth, I really liked those tires. But, I have been forum-shamed for years about it. The gist of most of the comments is that the S.Drive is an inferior tire not worthy of the NSX and only R-comp and Extreme tires truly bring out its handling characteristics. But years and years of use on the track and street tell me that's internet BS. I've been fortunate to have driven many different NSXs, and many of them had those R and Extreme tires. To be honest, I couldn't tell that much difference. Perhaps the turn-in responsiveness was a little better, but it wasn't earth shattering to me. So I really kinda want to go with the new ADVAN Fleva, which is the updated S.Drive. But, now I have this fear that I'll be missing out on the "real" NSX experience, especially since my S-Zero will be used more on the performance side of the spectrum than my prior 1991 daily driver. Still, I want to drive the car year round and don't want to deal with carrying a second set of tires/wheels for when it gets cold, which in Colorado can happen any morning 9 months out of the year.

Assuming I cave to internet peer pressure, here are my thoughts so far:

Bridgestone RE-71R (205 fronts): The King. Probably closest to the original tire spec of super sticky rubber and very rigid sidewalls. Serious concerns driving below 40 degrees F due to reviews about the compound being easy to heat, which also means it will probably crack easy under 40 F.

Hankook RS-4 (205 fronts): Nearly as good as RE-71R, much more durable on the track, but harder to get hot. Also bonus is that 205 fronts are as wide as the 215 OEM tires. Some reviews indicate it can be used (carefully) below 40 F without cracking (maybe due to tougher compound?)

Conti Extreme Sport (205 fronts): Billy Johnson approved. Seems like the best all-around performer. Harder tread make it fit more closely to the S.Drive for cold temp tolerance.

Falken Azenis R-615K (215 fronts): More of an autocross tire. Very sticky, but gets greasy after a couple of laps. Scary wet traction. Reviews say it's also scary in the cold.

I'm kind of leaning toward the Contis based mostly on Billy's review, but should I really just get the ADVANs?
 
Hmm, decisions decisions!... I can only offer my 2 cents here, but I had the S Drive on a different car (E30 M3) and personally, I did not like them at all, so would steer away from them or the replacement assuming it's similar. I'm no race driver by any stretch of the imagination, but to me they seemed very uncommunicative and not confidence-inspiring at all, to the point where I recently went back to my OEM wheels with 615K's on them and the driving experience has greatly improved on that car.

On the NSX, I have the RS4's (in the 205/245 sizing) and have been really happy with them over the last 2 years I've been running them. While I've heard they are not as grippy as the RE-71, they're perfectly fine for my limited driving ability and have worn very well so far (the main shortcoming of the RE-71 from my understanding / research when I was shopping, is that they wear pretty quickly). The caveat though is I don't typically drive my car in sub-40s temps. But, I think if you're looking for a 200TW type tire with good grip that wears well on the street, the RS4 is a nice choice.

If you're set on driving year round in CO in sub-freezing temps pretty often and when it's wet out, I'd consider the ECS. But, if those scenarios aren't incredibly common, I'd just go for a 200TW tire and enjoy it. Either way, a good problem to have. :D
 
Hmm, decisions decisions!... I can only offer my 2 cents here, but I had the S Drive on a different car (E30 M3) and personally, I did not like them at all, so would steer away from them or the replacement assuming it's similar. I'm no race driver by any stretch of the imagination, but to me they seemed very uncommunicative and not confidence-inspiring at all, to the point where I recently went back to my OEM wheels with 615K's on them and the driving experience has greatly improved on that car.

On the NSX, I have the RS4's (in the 205/245 sizing) and have been really happy with them over the last 2 years I've been running them. While I've heard they are not as grippy as the RE-71, they're perfectly fine for my limited driving ability and have worn very well so far (the main shortcoming of the RE-71 from my understanding / research when I was shopping, is that they wear pretty quickly). The caveat though is I don't typically drive my car in sub-40s temps. But, I think if you're looking for a 200TW type tire with good grip that wears well on the street, the RS4 is a nice choice.

If you're set on driving year round in CO in sub-freezing temps pretty often and when it's wet out, I'd consider the ECS. But, if those scenarios aren't incredibly common, I'd just go for a 200TW tire and enjoy it. Either way, a good problem to have. :D

Yeah, I'm leaning more toward the Contis. They are getting rave reviews all over- comparing favorably to the Pilot Super Sport, which I had on my GT-R and loved. Also several reviewers saying they are good to go in cold weather too.
 
I do wonder about the whole Extreme Performance = never below 10 C thing. That seems to be a standard bit of language that Tire Rack adds to all the tires Tire Rack lists as Extreme Performance which as far as I can discern seems to be any tire with a UTQG wear rating around 200. In fact, as far as I have been able to determine the whole extreme performance / ultra high performance / .... is inconsistently used and does not appear to be a manufacturing standard, more of a marketing nomenclature used by (some) retailers. The UTQG does have a temperature / speed rating for tires; but, it is an upper rating and really more of a speed rating. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell the DOT and UTQG are silent about low temperature operation.

Note that the UTQG tread wear rating number can be gamed for marketing purposes. If a tire tests out at a number higher than it appears to be legally acceptable to stamp it 200 if the manufacturer is targeting a market where the rating might be a perception of stickiness - wears fast so it has to be sticky!

Despite what Tire Rack indicates about Extreme Performance tires, the Bridgestone Canada website has a winter/ice/snow performance bar for the RE 71R which is around 80% of peak implying that they do not forbid cold weather (below 10 C) use. Personally I can't see the snow thing. I would check out the individual tire manufacturer websites or email them to get their response on what guidelines they provide on low temperature use for the particular tire (forbid versus not recommend versus OK; but, reduced performance). If you want to drive the car in temperatures below 10C a manufacturer who gives you an OK versus don't even think about it might alter your decision on the tire. That depends on how much 'you' value cold weather operation.

Finally, two things. I would be cautious about extrapolating performance results from other cars, particularly front engine / front mid engine cars to the NSX. Even on an NSX, what works well with a particular rim width may not work well with a different rim width depending on what temperatures the tire rubber likes to work at.
 
I have driven RA1 below freezing without sliding off the road..I have been driving the conti 6's which is the current oem on the new nsx below freezing again without sliding into the woods...
 
I do wonder about the whole Extreme Performance = never below 10 C thing. That seems to be a standard bit of language that Tire Rack adds to all the tires Tire Rack lists as Extreme Performance which as far as I can discern seems to be any tire with a UTQG wear rating around 200. In fact, as far as I have been able to determine the whole extreme performance / ultra high performance / .... is inconsistently used and does not appear to be a manufacturing standard, more of a marketing nomenclature used by (some) retailers. The UTQG does have a temperature / speed rating for tires; but, it is an upper rating and really more of a speed rating. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell the DOT and UTQG are silent about low temperature operation.

Note that the UTQG tread wear rating number can be gamed for marketing purposes. If a tire tests out at a number higher than it appears to be legally acceptable to stamp it 200 if the manufacturer is targeting a market where the rating might be a perception of stickiness - wears fast so it has to be sticky!

Despite what Tire Rack indicates about Extreme Performance tires, the Bridgestone Canada website has a winter/ice/snow performance bar for the RE 71R which is around 80% of peak implying that they do not forbid cold weather (below 10 C) use. Personally I can't see the snow thing. I would check out the individual tire manufacturer websites or email them to get their response on what guidelines they provide on low temperature use for the particular tire (forbid versus not recommend versus OK; but, reduced performance). If you want to drive the car in temperatures below 10C a manufacturer who gives you an OK versus don't even think about it might alter your decision on the tire. That depends on how much 'you' value cold weather operation.

Finally, two things. I would be cautious about extrapolating performance results from other cars, particularly front engine / front mid engine cars to the NSX. Even on an NSX, what works well with a particular rim width may not work well with a different rim width depending on what temperatures the tire rubber likes to work at.

I have driven RA1 below freezing without sliding off the road..I have been driving the conti 6's which is the current oem on the new nsx below freezing again without sliding into the woods...

Thanks guys. The main issue is that most mornings in Colorado between October and May are bright, sunny...and freezing! About 35-40 F. I think I'm going to go with the Contis. Apparently they did a lot of work stiffening the sidewall on those tires, which makes it similar to the original AO22/RE010 attributes.
 
Back on the fence again. I'm thinking about my oil pan- even with a baffle, the current 200TW tires all will push me well over 1.0 G at the circuit. This car is going to be light with at least 40 whp over stock. I may just go with the Advans to help keep the G's down. They are 0.93 max versus 1.0 for the RE-71R.
 
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