Wednesday 3 October 2012

Road - Getting a grip on Winter

It’s official, Winter has arrived. Forget Summer and Autumn, we’ve gone from wellingtons to wellingtons with no sandals or flip-flops in between. Just as the first clunk from the suspension heralds the need for new shock absorbers, either that or you’ve just run over a taffic warden, so the arrival of the first Press Release regarding Winter tyres must signify that either the tyre manufacturers have a glut of Winter tyres left over from last year’s milder than expected cold season, or they know something we don’t.

Across northern Europe many countries are introducing a Winter tyre ‘policy’ whereby vehicles must be fitted with Winter tyres once the temperature dips below a certain level, and below 7 degrees is being mooted as the breaking point. 

This rule of thumb is not seen as adequate since temperatures can rise and fall again unexpectedly so a number of countries are considering the introduction of specific dates with the 1st of October being cited as the ideal time to switch from standard tyres to the knobblies.

So far the great British Government has resisted the idea of compulsion, but if the idea gains ground across Europeland it will only be a matter of time before the Euro legislators cast their eyes across the water.

Whatever, it’s a good idea to fit Winter tyres. It’s not just the tread that’s different, the actual rubber mix is different too so that it copes better in colder temperatures. These tyres also offer better grip when the roads are wet, because they clear more water quickly, and that’s something we get a lot of up here – wet roads.

When the new ‘Jaggy Bunnet’ website goes live (it’s getting very close now!) there will be an article on Winter tyres on it.

In the meantime, Continental has become the first this year to launch its new winter tyre range. The ContiWinterContact TS850 will replace last season’s ContiWinterContact TS830 and promises to provide better grip on wintry roads, shorter braking distances in the wet, enhanced handling and extended mileage. They also reckon it will give a further reduction in rolling resistance.

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