worn tyres they've got to stop
By inventing the OptiGrip tyre, Goodyear has solved the age-old dilemma of reduced wet weather performance in worn tyres. The secret is in the second compound, as Matt Low reports
It's hard not to be a little cynical when a tyre company demands that the minimum tyre tread depth on our tyres be raised from 1.6 to 3mm. After all, while there's certainly an improved safety factor to consider here, analysts estimate that this measure would, overnight, improve tyre sales in the UK by 20%.
However, there is an exception. Goodyear disagree with the lobbying of some of their competitors and unlike most of their rivals, they've also been tackling head on the problem of reduced wet weather performance in worn tyres. The resulting tyre is called OptiGrip.
Independent tests carried out by the German organization TUV SUD Automotive have shown that against two leading competitors, a Goodyear OptiGrip shows better straight aquaplaning resistance after 12,500 miles than brand-new competitor tyres, will deliver 20% shorter braking distance on wet roads after 18,000 miles and also, after 18,000 miles, will stop an incredible 20% shorter than its two leading competitors.
The secret of this increased performance is in the 'SmartWear' technology which features two specially designed compounds. The top compound, which has a sipe design with 3D interlocking technology in the upper section of the tread blocks, offers tread design stiffness that contributes to dry handling performance and high mileage. Here's the clever bit. As the top compound wears, more of the bottom compound is progressively exposed to the road surface. This second compound is designed for increased grip in the wet and maintains a performance that's amongst the best in class for wet braking and handling performance throughout the entire life of the tyre.
What does all this mean for the end user? Well, in financial terms, it means you won't have to change your tyre as often as you might with other brands, as the OptiGrip maintains high performance levels throughout its entire life. This should lead to considerable savings over time and more money in your back pocket. True, for a state-of-the-art tyre like this, you may well pay a premium over less advanced brands, but despite the initial outlay, you won't be forking out on new tyres in a hurry.
"When braking at 40mph, the Goodyear OptiGrip tyre will bring your car to a stop around three car lengths earlier than competitors. Enough said.."
The second, and perhaps more pertinent, advantage of the OptiGrip is the safety factor. Despite this tyre's hi-tech features, Goodyear had the average consumer in mind when designing it. Looking at the results of TUV SUD's testing, it doesn't take an F1 technician to realise that in wet weather conditions, the OptiGrip is just about the best in the business at bringing your car to a safe stop. This will tick a few boxes with family drivers who value the safety of their passengers above all else.
After 18,000 miles, the OptiGrip shows 20% shorter stopping distances on wet roads. This means braking at 40mph, the OptiGrip will bring your car to a stop around nine metres earlier than competitors. That's roughly about three car lengths. Enough said. Above 40mph, the results are even more significant.
We had the chance to put these claims to the test in a recent handling evaluation against leading rivals and as a result, I could give you pages of statistics. The bottom line is however, that they stack up and we'll be reviewing our tyre choice policy on our long term fleet as a result. Of course, it won't be long before competition springs up from other manufacturers but as it stands, it's hard to argue with Goodyear's claim that their OptiGrip is the safest way to travel throughout the lifespan of your tyre.