2 weeks of snow, winter tyres were worth it

There has been so much snow up in Scotland recently, every day seems like we have had a blizzard blowing with another foot of snow arriving.  Respect to the local councils though, they are well and truly geared up for this and have snow ploughs and gritters everywhere keeping the roads reasonably clear.  We seem to be lucky on our road, despite it being a private estate in the middle of nowhere, someone comes and grits and ploughs the roads a few times a day, as well as clearing the pavement.

What is a problem is flying the very first flight of the day, it means I have to leave the house by 5am and this is before anyone has turned up to plough the roads.  It was for this very reason, as well as wanting to take advantage of the ski slopes here, that I wanted to have winter tyres fitted to the BMW. Anyone that owns a rear wheel drive BMW and has driven it in a snowy winter will know exactly what I am talking about.  They are just hopeless and you really wonder what on earth you were thinking when you bought it as it slowly skids at a tangent to the direction that you want to travel.

I have used winter tyres before, I lived in Sweden for nearly two years where it is the law to have them from October to march.  The tyres there are also ice tyres, so not only do they have a special compund and tread, they also have tungsten carbide tips in them to bite into the compacted snow and ice.  I can’t describe the level of grip that is achieved from these tyres, it’s virtually like the snow and ice is not even there.  The local mentality in Sweden is the opposite to that in Britain, if it starts snowing early and you haven’t yet swapped your tyres, you will find that no one will get in a car with you for fear of certain death. Whereas in the England, no one thinks twice about driving the whole of winter in their summer tread and then wonder why they get stuck as soon as the snow falls.  The answer people seem to think especially in the south of England, is to have 4WD.  This is all well and good and may give you a bit more chance of getting moving from a standing start, but they are the exact same as a regular 2WD once they are moving and are just as likely to slide into a ditch.  I once had a guy in Woldingham try to get up a hill behind me in his X5, a truly useless 4wd machine if ever one was invented, I was on my mountain bike with snow and ice tyres and he lost grip and ended up sliding all the way back down and hitting a wall then had the audacity to blame me for not making it.

I did my research on winter tyres and decided that the Hankook Icebear W310 was a great value product.  It had come in the top 5 in several autobild tests in Germany and they also came in the size for my car.  I spoke to a guy about fitting them and he would swap them over onto my alloys for a bargain price, so in the end I just bought the tyres and not a set of wheels.  I ordered a set of 4 from oponeo.co.uk. At first thought you feel it is a bit of a dodgy Eastern European website, you are ordering tyres from Poland and they in turn could be sourced from any other country.  However, the order process is really simple and they turned up on my doorstep 3 days after ordering.

I got thewheelspecialist.co.uk in Aberdeen to fit the tyres for me, they did it straight away and only took 20minutes, it took me longer to load and unload the car of tyres between the garage and my flat I think.  It was when I was at the wheel specialist that I realised a lot of people in Aberdeen use winter tyres and I found this encouraging.

I have to say, the levels of grip in the snow are incredibly impressive and they have saved me on black ice on at least 2 occasions.  I can confidently drive up hills and around bends at speeds I wouldn’t dare attempt with the summer tread I use, braking is also highly effective.  The only worry is that others around me will not have them and someone will run into the back of me 😦  not only are they could in the ice and snow though, they are far better in the cold and wet and through standing water because of their big multi tread design.

If you are thinking about winter tyres, I highly recommend the Hankook Icebears from Oponeo.  If you own a rear wheel drive car then you should definitely have a set of these, or a front or 4 wheel drive one for that matter.


~ by globalste on January 17, 2013.

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