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BF Goodrich Launches G-Force Rival Extreme Performance Tire 24
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, BF Goodrich g-Force Rival, Editorial, Kurt, Technical, Tires on 01 24th, 2013
BF Goodrich's new Rival extreme performance tire
BF Goodrich's new Rival extreme performance tire

BF Goodrich’s new Rival extreme performance tire

Tires may be one of the most overlooked components on your car. When plotting upgrades, most enthusiasts think “more power” first, followed by a stiffer suspension and more aggressive brakes. Tires, if they make the cut at all, are often relegated to the bottom of the priority list.

In terms of added performance, tires really should be at the top of your modification list, because the right set of tires can have more of an impact on lap times (or handling in general) than any other mod on the list. Tire maker BF Goodrich has been preaching this gospel for decades, and its products have long been a favorite of both racers and serious drivers alike. When a company like BF Goodrich says they have an important new product, we tend to listen carefully.

That product is the g-Force Rival extreme performance tire, which is meant to bridge the gap between its street-oriented g-Force Comp-2 and its competition DOT-approved racing tire, the g-Force R1. With a Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) rating of 200, the Rival will be eligible for any racing series that requires UTQG ratings of 140 or higher, while still being suitable for street use.

Like the g-Force Comp-2, there’s a lot of science behind the design and construction of the g-Force Rival. To reduce sidewall flex and maximize grip, it uses BF Goodrich’s Performance Racing Core construction, which includes a stiffening band in the tire’s sidewall. The company’s Equal Tension Containment System (ETEC) ensures an optimum contact patch shape at speed, which helps increase driver confidence at the limit.

The MX-5 Cup car on the skidpad

The MX-5 Cup car on the skidpad

Even the Rival’s unique tread pattern has some serious engineering behind it, with features like the Extreme Tread Edge (ETE) which wraps the tread compound farther down the tire’s sidewall for maximum grip at the tire’s limit. Lateral Draft Angles of the tread ensure that the tires blocks and ribs don’t “stand up” under high g-loads, which promotes better grip and longer tire life. Chamfers do the same thing at the edge of the tread, ensuring that the tires feel as good on lap 10 as they do on lap 1.

Buyers want tires that look good, too, which is why the Rival features things like saw-tooth tread edges on the lower shoulder and claw grooves across the tread, though both ultimately help with grip as well as appearance. The Rival will come in two basic designs, with tires over 265mm getting a four-rib design and tires under 265mm using a three-rib design.

All the science and marketing material in the world isn’t as valuable as a test drive, so BF Goodrich arranged for us to visit New Orleans Motorsport Park and drive the g-Force Rival against other BF Goodrich tires and against the competition in a series of events. Kicking it off for us was a skidpad drive in a Mazda MX-5 cup racer, comparing the BF Goodrich g-Force Comp-2 to the Rival and the BF Goodrich g-Force R1.

The WRX STI Wearing g-Force Rivals

The WRX STI Wearing g-Force Rivals

On the skidpad, we saw around 1.05 g with the street-oriented Comp-2, but that quickly jumped to around 1.16 g with the Rival and 1.2 g with the R1. The biggest difference in feel was between the Comp-2 and the Rival; put another way, the Rival felt like a racing tire, but with a larger window of forgiveness when driven at the limit.

Using up tires and brakes, all in a day's work

Using up tires and brakes, all in a day’s work

The next event was a short-track autocross in the Subaru WRX STI, which compared the Rival to the Hankook Ventus R-S3 and the Toyo Proxes R1R. We drove the Rival first, which meant our performance would be the worst since we hadn’t learned the course. The Hankook R-S3 followed, and the difference was immediately obvious; the Rival turned-in quicker and provided better lateral and longitudinal (braking) grip. The Toyo performed even worse than the Hankook, and we were quietly screaming “stick, you bitch” as the Toyo-shod STI plowed through ever corner we took. Confidence-inspiring, the Toyo was not, and its chewed-up tread at the end of the day was evidence that it really wasn’t in the same league as the Rival.

The Mustang FR500 at speed

The Mustang FR500 at speed

The next event was a full-on track drive in the Mustang FR500 racer, benchmarking the Rival against the Falken RT-615K. New Orleans Motorsport Park has a front straight that’s nearly one mile long, so we were able to generate some serious velocity in testing both tires. While the Falken was good, the Rival was better, providing much more consistent feel on successive laps. The Rival was more forgiving of our ham-fisted driving (which we blame on it being an unfamiliar race car on an unfamiliar track), too, which is a definite confidence-booster for those just starting out in motorsports competition.

The Mustang FR500, on the gas

The Mustang FR500, on the gas

The final event was a long-course autocross in the E46 BMW M3, again comparing the Rival to the Hankook Ventus R-S3. Perhaps because it was a more familiar event for us, this is where the Rival’s advantages really stood out, allowing us to brake later, carry more speed into corners and get on the power sooner. When the Hankook tire reached its limit, the transition from grip to oversteer (or understeer) was abrupt, and we found ourselves having to fight the car to get a decent run. The Rival gave us no surprises, delivering predictable grip and a much more forgiving loss of traction when its limits were exceeded.

To call us impressed is an understatement, since we have nothing but respect for the tires we benchmarked the Rival against. If we autocrossed regularly, we’d be mounting up a set of Rivals on dedicated wheels just for competition, since they were noticeable faster than the tires we drove against. Judging from the end-of-day wear on the Hankook and Toyo models, they’ll last considerably longer, too.

An E46 BMW M3 tests the Rival's limits

An E46 BMW M3 tests the Rival’s limits

It’s worth pointing out that the Rival was designed to deliver maximum dry grip, which means it’s sub-optimal in the rain. While it’s also reported to be a good choice for damp conditions, it’s not a full-on rain tire; if you’re hardcore enough to run a separate set of wheels and tires in the wet, BF Goodrich recommends its Comp-2 tire for this application.

The BF Goodrich Rival will be launched in 15 sizes, with The Tire Rack handling initial distribution. More sizes are planned for the future, so you may need to be patient awaiting a tire that fits your specific needs.

Disclaimer: BF Goodrich flew us to New Orleans, put us up in a fancy hotel and gave us permission to drive fast cars on a racetrack. If if they hadn’t we still would have been amazed at the performance of its new Rival tire.

Hyundai To Offer Performance Tire Option On Veloster 24
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Hyundai, Hyundai Veloster, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Kurt, News, Tires on 08 24th, 2012

The weak link of any car with sporting intentions, generally speaking, is the tires that it’s saddled with from the factory. When you think like an automaker, this makes sense – adding stickier rubber costs significantly more that cheaper tires purchased in the thousands, and then there’s the issue of customer satisfaction to deal with.

Early Acura NSX buyers filed suit against Honda when they realized that the stock high-performance tries on the NSX only delivered around 10,000 miles of tread life. Since then, manufacturers have shied away from giving us the good stuff, unless its sold in an add-on “summer tire” package.

According to Autoblog, Hyundai will soon offer up a summer tire package for its sporty Veloster. The word comes from none other than John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America’s President and CEO, who insists that stickier rubber has been in the planning stages for Veloster since the car was released.

For an additional $1,200, Hyundai will sell you a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires (as long as you have the 18-inch wheels), which are capable of 0.94 gs of lateral acceleration, compared to 0.82 gs from the base Kumho Solus tires. Stopping distance on dry pavement is cut from 135 feet at 60 mph to 121 feet, which is probably the best way to sell your significant other on the idea. If you need more justification, consider this: Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires are what we run on our own cars at Automotive Addicts.

Shave Two Seconds A Lap In The Scion FR-S: Video 2
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2012 Scion FR-S, Automotive, Kurt, Scion, Tires, tuning, video on 07 2nd, 2012

When it comes to making cars go faster, most enthusiasts immediately think of adding horsepower. While horsepower gains can result in significantly lower lap times, adding big horsepower usually costs big money. Another way to make a car faster is to lighten it, but there’s only so far you can go with a car you drive every day. Pulling out the rear seat and removing all sound deadening may sound like a good idea, but driving a car like this on the street gets old, quick.

One area often overlooked by enthusiasts is tires, which have the potential of making a significant improvement in a cars handling ability. In the case of the Scion FR-S, the stock tires are aimed at comfort and longevity, not at grip. Adding a stickier tire in the same size was enough to lower the FR-S’ lap time at Spring Mountain Motorsport Ranch by a full two seconds, and we suspect that adding lighter 17-inch wheels may have helped even further.

Plus sizing the wheel, though, had an opposite effect. When Road & Track switched to 18-inch Advan wheels over the stock 17-inch wheels, it took them 0.6 seconds longer per lap than with the stock wheels and stickier tires in the stock size. We don’t know if the Advans were heavier or lighter than stock (which makes a difference on acceleration), but Road & Track says the taller wheels were enough to change gearing and slow the car’s acceleration.

Lighter wheels and stickier tires are one of the first things we upgrade on a performance -oriented car. Not only does this pay dividends on the track, but it also helps on the street with shorter stopping distances and added grip for sudden lane changes. Before you think about adding a tune or bolting on a turbo kit, we’d suggest you consider upgrading tires as your budget allows.

Bridgestone Revisits The Airless Tire 9
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, News, Technical, technology, Tires on 12 9th, 2011

Bridgestone's airless tire concept. Image: Bridgestone

If you’re a car person with access to the internet, you’ve received images via email of a concept airless tire built by Michelin in the early ‘00s. Depending on which version of the e-mail you received (and we’ve seen dozens), the tire was either under development, awaiting production, or headed to a showroom near you in the coming months. While the idea was sound, the technology proved to be both expensive and impractical to develop further.

Michelin may have abandoned the idea, but Bridgestone hasn’t. The Japanese tire giant is showing a prototype of its design for an airless tire at the Tokyo Motor Show, and it’s actively pursuing development with the intent of bringing such a product to market. As you can see in the images, the concept is fairly simple: a series of directional spokes, made of thermoplastic resin, replace the air in a conventional tire. The tire wold be bonded to the wheel using some sort of fastening system, and at end of life all components would be recyclable.

Bridgestone's airless tire concept. Image: Bridgestone

Such a tire would have both advantages and drawbacks to conventional tires. Since punctures wouldn’t really matter (unless tread cords or tire spokes were damaged), the need for a spare tire or inflation kit is eliminated, saving both weight and space. As the tires require no air, the only potential maintenance would be an occasional visual inspection.

On the downside, the handling characteristics of such a tire are completely unknown, and it’s likely that airless tires would weigh more than conventional counterparts. Special wheels would be necessary, limiting the availability of aftermarket wheel options. Finally, it’s unlikely that “airless” tires could be produced as cheaply as conventional tires, adding to the cost of replacement.

We don’t think you’ll be seeing these on production cars any time soon. Still, we’ll admit to being fascinated by the technology, which could be the first significant advancement in the industry since the invention of the pneumatic tire. If we get a chance to drive a car on airless tires, you’ll be the first to know about it.

Will Tire Tread Scanners Keep Roads Safer? 30
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Police, Technical, Tires, Vehicle Safety on 09 30th, 2011

A few months back, Malcolm and I were headed north on I-95 after a Southern Automotive Media Association meeting in Miami. We were driving at around 75 miles per hour, in a steady rain and moderate traffic, when the minivan next to us spun.

The whole thing happened too fast to be puckering; one minute, the van was alongside us, and the next the driver was looking out his windshield at the side of my car. No one was hurt, and the van suffered only minor damage. Traffic was slowing ahead, and the minivan driver most likely tapped his brakes. What caused the spin? My guess is bald tires on a wet road.

Years ago, most states required annual vehicle inspections to certify that cars were safe to drive. Thanks to apathy, budget cuts or the idea that requiring repairs would put an “unfair financial burden” on drivers with limited income, annual inspections have largely been eliminated. The result is that many cars on the road today aren’t safe at 35 miles per hour, let alone double or triple that. Scope the tires of cars in a shopping mall parking lot, and you’ll see what I mean.

Motor Authority and AutoExpress report that a German company, ProContour, has developed a tire scanner, designed to spot unsafe tire tread depth. The scanner uses a series of high speed cameras and lasers to record and measure tread depth, at speeds up to 75 miles per hour. Tires that show wear to 1.6 millimeters, over the central 75 percent of the tread, would trigger an alarm at a nearby police checkpoint. Drivers would then be stopped and issued warnings or fines.

There’s no plans yet to implement them on this side of the pond, but officials in the U.K are currently debating the benefits and drawbacks of installing the $67,000 scanners. While the scanners have the potential of increasing road safety, they also have the ability to generate revenue for local governments. As with speed cameras, we suspect the technology will be more about money than about safety.