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Goodyear unveils a new solution for worn tyres

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Can a worn tyre perform as well – if not better – than a new tyre? Yes, according to Goodyear.

The tyre manufacturer has just launched the OptiGrip, which is aimed at the family and car fleet markets.

It claims the OptiGrip not only has excellent performance when new, but retains that performance when worn – hence the working title WAGAN (worn as good as new).

It’s all down to the tyre’s appearance changing during its lifetime.

The tyre’s SmartWear technology features a dual-layered compound and hidden grooves.

Over time, as the tyre tread wears down, the second layer of compound and the grooves start to appear.

The grooves open up new water evacuation channels, aiding aquaplaning resistance, while the second compound offers increased wet grip, which helps when braking in the wet.

Different approach

Rival manufacturer Continental, along with road safety organisation Brake, argues that the solution to worn tyres is for the government to raise the minimum legal tread depth from 1.6mm to 3mm.

But Goodyear believes it has found a different solution with the OpitGrip.

The SmartWear technology which the OptiGrip tyre uses has been several years in the making.

“It took us a few years to develop because we had to understand how to bring together the right package,” explains Percy Lemaire, research development engineering and quality project leader at Goodyear.

“We did five times more test combinations than on the usual product.”

The tests looked at braking on dry and wet surfaces, aquaplaning, handling, rolling resistance and noise pollution at various stages in the tyre’s life.

Tests were also carried out by an independent organisation, Germany’s TÜV SÜD Automotive.

Surprising results

The tyres were tested after 6,000 miles, 12,000 miles and 18,000 miles.

In wet braking, the biggest difference between OptiGrip and competitor tyres was seen at 18,000 miles where the OptiGrip tyre achieved a 20% shorter braking distance.

It stopped 11 metres sooner – the equivalent of three car lengths.

And what surprised TÜV SÜD Automotive was that the OptiGrip actually performed better in the wet after
18,000 miles than after 12,000 miles.

Of course, this SmartWear technology doesn’t come cheap, with retail prices starting at £95 (including VAT).

Put to the test

Fleet News was invited to test the OptiGrip against Continental’s Sport Contact 3 and Michelin’s Primacy HP tyres. We tested new tyres (8mm) and worn tyres (buffed to 3mm).

On the test track

Test one: Curved aquaplaning

Two Mercedes-Benz C-Classes, fitted with 17-inch tyres, were used on 500-metre laps of a circular track.

Part of the track was flooded, the idea being that at certain speeds the car loses grip when it hits the water.

The test measured how far the car deviated when it did so.

For consistency the cars were limited to 43mph.

I tested the Goodyear tyres first and then the Continental, and found that the latter did move to the right more.

On one lap Goodyear aquaplaned 1.88 metres, while Continental recorded 2.92 metres.

Test two: dry handling

This test was designed to show that the OptiGrip performs as well in dry conditions as in the wet.

I was sent out in two Peugeot 308s – one fitted with new 16-inch Michelin tyres and one with Goodyears.

The track, which was 2.8 miles long, had a wide variety of corners with one replicating a roundabout and another a tight bend requiring second gear.

Unlike the curved aquaplaning test, it was near impossible to tell the difference between the two makes of tyre.

Test three: wet handling

Peugeot 308s were used for this test, along with Audi A3s.

The Peugeots were fitted with worn Goodyear, Michelin and Continental tyres, while the Audis had 17-inch new Michelin and Goodyear tyres.

The wet track was just over a mile long and cones had been positioned on one of the bends to replicate a flooded motorway sliproad.

The Goodyear tyres excelled in these conditions with virtually no spin on the slippery corners.

Michelin also performed well, with Continental lagging slightly behind.

Test four: straight aquaplaning

This was a demonstration only. Volkswagen Golfs, fitted with worn Goodyear and Continental tyres, were driven in a straight line by professional test drivers.

One side of the car was in 9mm of standing water while the other side was in the dry.

The wheels in the water were spinning while those in the dry had maximum grip.

A GPS device measured the speed and sensors measured the wheel rotations.

The smaller the difference in wheel rotation between the front tyres, the better the aquaplaning resistance. Goodyear tyres were 6% better in this test.

Test five: wet braking

For consistency, automatic braking was used in this test.

We had to hit 53mph when the car entered the wet area.

Four Volkswagen Golfs were used, fitted with worn and new Goodyear and Continental tyres.

Surprisingly, a worn Goodyear proved to be better than a new Continental in more than one instance.

Conclusions

Goodyear’s OptiGrip tyres certainly had the edge over Continental’s Sport Contact 3, but I would like to have seen more comparisons between the OptiGrip and Michelin’s Primacy HP tyres.

Test days like this one, unfortunately, can only provide a snapshot of the tyre’s performance.

The findings of TÜV SÜD Automotive (which did include Michelin in all the tests) were impressive and it will be interesting to see rival manufacturers’ response to the OptiGrip.
 

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