It seems the right time of year to bring up snow tyres. For those of you who live in sunnier climes, this is a moot point, but for those of us for whom the early morning commute means blasting through fresh snow, snow tyres are a must-have item.
For years, M+S tyres (mud + snow) were nothing more than a super-blocky tread. They sort of worked, but once the tread blocks were full of compacted snow, their performance fell off dramatically. In the last few years there's been a revolution in snow tyres with more 3-dimensional tread, more deep siping and stickier, softer rubber compounds. The current generation of purpose-built snow tyres, like Bridgestone Blizzaks and Firestone WinterForces are nothing short of amazing to drive on. I've fitted some of the WinterForces to my OE wheels. I'm fortunate that I have aftermarket alloys, so I have two sets of wheels - the aftermarket ones with the all-weather tyres, and the OE Honda jobs which now have the snow tyres on them. For the last couple of days I've been having a complete blast on the slick, snowy roadways of Utah. I kid you not - the current generation of snow tyres are simply incredible in their performance. On all but the hardest of hard-packed snow, it's like night and day compared to all-weather tyres. Acceleration and cornering performance is way up as is braking performance. Not the same as dry road performance, obviously, but a whole lot more confidence-inspiring than regular tyres.
The WinterForce tyres can be fitted with studs but I've opted not to. So if you live in the snowier parts of the world and haven't tried the current generation of snow tyres, I would seriously recommend you do.
Have a Merry Christmas, and a wonderful new year.