Monday, 29 October 2012

Hello Winter

Its that time of year again. I changed the wheels on the Golf at the weekend, from the factory delivered 17" alloys with fat low profile summer tyres to my set of winter tyres on 16" steelies.  
This is my third winter using specialist cold weather and snow rubber on the daily driver-  in my case Continental Winter Contacts in 205/55R16. I also enjoy the bonus of a very noticeable improvement in ride delivered by the deeper sidewalls - it was the first time I'd used them with the uprated Bilstein B12 kit fitted to the car earlier in the year, and the combination works together brilliantly. 

Call me an old f*rt, but I sometime wonder of the grip provided by rubber band tyres is worth it.

I became a winter tyre believer one afternoon shortly after I'd had them fitted for the first time. A sudden dump of snow left the Sussex roads surrounding my place of work a treacherous rink of fresh snow and hard packed ice. At the bottom of a nearby hill there was a long line of cars waiting while various vehicles struggled to the top. The hill itself was a mess; cars and vans in the ditches, others trying to drive up the verges, and progress only possible when groups of desperate drivers and passers-by pushed. And even then I could see some pedestrians struggling even to stand up on the icy slope. 

As I drove slowly down the hill I tried the brakes, expecting the feel and hear the chuntering sound of the ABS system. There was no chuntering, the car just stopped. I tried again - a little faster - with exactly the same result. From the driver's seat I'd estimate the grip available was similar to that expected on a streaming wet road. 

I had a stress-free drive home, enjoying the looks of offended mystification on the faces of other drivers as I slipped past them tracking straight and true while they hung on to their wheels for grim death.

If UK drivers fitted winter tyres at the on-set of the cold weather, the utter predictability of this happening every season would be much diminished.


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