Tyre vs Tire Or Summer vs Winter

Pics as follows:

  • 2017 Mini Clubman jacked-up for tyre change
  • Michelin CrossCountry all-weather tyres; the ones with the sticker on the top tire
  • Bridgestone “Run-Flats” with around 5000km on them after being removed and now in my basement on top of a flat/folded moving box ready for sale or whatever else their fate has in store (size 225/45/R17)

First, dear worst-reader, for worst-moi, after all these years living within the Germania  tribe of #Eurowasteland, it’s “tyre” and not “tire.” Coming from an American expat that may not sound like much to you but according to (expat) folklore it is an indication of having gone native. Thank you for letting me get that out of the way.

I can’t remember ever considering changing from summer tyres to winter tyres while living in my beloved & missed #Americant where I owned three cars (before expating). Usually the vehicle you consumed determined whether or not you had season oriented tyres. Keep in mind that I grew up on the mid-Atlantic coast, which has a fairly mild climate. Although we had snow once or twice a year and ice more than that, the costly idear of actually changing tyres for seasons…? Whaaaaaaa? I mean, get this. #Americant is a country that still allows krappy, cheap retreads. Ever wonder why #Americant highways are so polluted with exploded tyre rubber? Ever get caught on a motorcycle riding behind a tractor-trailer going sixty-five mph and one of its retreads explodes? Seriously. Retreads shouldn’t be allowed on public roads. Nomatter. I’m waaaaay off subject.

I’ve been tickled, don’t you know, with our new Mini Clubman. In fact, every time I get in it and take off, I can’t help but say to myself: wow, this is a great little car. We’ve put a bit more than three thousand kilometres on it so far (we bought it with two thousand kilometres). And although we’re pleased with it, there is still one major thing left to do. As the lawmaking goes in #Eurowasteland, winter tyres are mandatory now. And although it’s a bit early to worry about snow season, we’re about to embark on a trip to Croatia with our big-little Mini. That means we’ll be crossing the Alps in Austria in late September. I know. I know. I’m sure it won’t snow then, plus, the summer tyres will be fine in Croatia but… I’ve got to get winter tyres anyway. How ’bout doing so now and thereby killing two birds with one stone?

Did you know, dear worst-reader, Germans are brake-drivers. That’s is, they drive their fancy, leased, German engineered and sometimes über high-powered cars with their brakes. Unfortunately, with the current state of Autobahns, there isn’t much choice to drive fast anymore because you’re constantly driving through construction. The good news is, because of the enormous cost of driving a car here, people are going with smaller, less powerful, less heavy and less super fast vehicles. That means, people don’t need to change tyres all year round–if they go with so-called all-weather tyres–which are nothing more than detoxed (if you will) winter tyres. Hence the two birds I’m gonna get with one stone, don’t you know.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a review of tyre brands. Even though I picked the Michelin brand, I could have easily gone with Goodyear or Bridgestone or Continental, etc. The only thing that was important to me was to get a major branded tyre. There are a lot of tyres out there to choose from. But I will never forget changing from a cheap brand of tyres to a major brand a few years back and boy was there a difference. That said, the price difference between major brand to non-major brand isn’t enough to sway my prejudice to the cheaper tyre. So Michelin it is. But first a few thoughts on the run-flats.

The Mini came with Bridgestone “Turanza” summer run-flats (RF). Some years ago, I had a run-in with run-flats on a drive from Stuttgart to Munich. Half way through the drive the onboard computer of the Mercedes notified me I had a flat. At a rest top I checked the tyre. It didn’t look flat to me. At the time I had not idear what RF tyres were. So I got back in the car and drove the remaining distance to Munich. When I gave the car to the leasing company to deal with the “flat tyre” notification they asked how long I had driven on the flat. “What flat,” I said. The guy explained the RF concept to me–all the while holding back any (deserved?) ridicule of stupid American drivers. The only problem is, I was stuck with that car for a while and it needed a new tyre–NOW. The guy said it would take three weeks to get the same brand tyre. Whaaaaaa? I had to drive two days later from Munich to Köln–with that car. “No problem,” the guy said. So he replaced the tyre within twenty-four hours with another sub-brand RF tyre.

Go ahead, dear worst-reader. Call me a stickler. I’m spoiled. I want better. With that in mind, I don’t care what you think (of me). So get this: I can’t stand the idear of driving a four hundred horsepower Mercedes Benz on the fcuking German Autobahn for hour after hour and that vehicle not being in tip-top performance condition. Running three Continental branded RF tyres with one no-name RF tyre–that had a totally different tread profile, as well–just pissed me off. But of course I went with it. I was working for the man. I could only bitch (rant) at the world so much. Did the Mercedes drive differently? Of course it didn’t. Did it look different? Well, yeah, kinda, on account the profile of the one tyre was different. But I don’t care. In fact, I might even tolerate two different brands front and rear but… three brands to one? No. No. No. (Talk about provoking my tourettes.)

Anywho. RF tyres cannot be repaired if they’re punctured. They have to be replaced. That means, if I don’t have to, I don’t want to be in the predicament again where I have to wait (for weeks) for a tyre maker to deliver me the right tyre or have to then choose between buying a brand new tyre that doesn’t fit to the other three. But there’s one other thing.  RF tyres are extremely uncomfortable–even with the proper suspension. You see, RF tyres have something akin to metal lining in their walls. That’s how you can drive on them if they go “flat”. The metal lining prevents the tyre from buckling completely so you can continue (at limited speed, of course) without the wheel rims ruining everything. But then… Those metal walls, when filled with air, are as hard as rock.

The Mini Clubman is pretty bumpy and unnecessarily uncomfortable with the RF summer tyres it was delivered with. Also, the Mini is far from being a performance vehicle. The Bridgestone tyres are simply too much tyre for this car. With that in mind, the significance of “performance” only plays a role, IMHO, with vehicles that can also deliver that performance. By-the-buy, don’t get me wrong, I’ve since learned that the BMW 1.5litre, three cylinder turbo-charged power plant is a lot stronger than I thought it would be! But the Mini still does not perform in a way that requires anything more than solid, well built, good running tyres. Although I’ve only gone a few kilometres with the new Michelins, I have already noticed how much more comfortable the Mini is now. And. Since the tires are all-weather, I definitely killed those two birds.

-Rant on

T

PS Did you catch that last expat mis-spelling?

Published by

Tom

Just another expat blogger.

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