New Commuter Tires

In an effort to maintain it’s daily driver part of the equation, I’ve replaced the OEM Contipro Contact tires ahead of time.

I’ve done this for several reasons – the biggest being that I wanted to stretch the gearing a little bit. I do a lot of highway driving between events, and not only will I get better mpg, it will correct the speedometer, which reads about 3mph too high at highway speeds. It took me a while to actually pick a size and tire, but I’m very pleased with my choice: Continental PureContact w/ EcoPlus Technology in 195/65-15. For the 15″ wheels, it was difficult to find a tire that would give me the extra height I was looking for without going too much wider. Originally I was avoiding a 195mm width tire because my setup last year was 195/55-15 ZII’s on the same 15×5.5 wheel, and they were completely pinched on the wheels. However, 195/65-15 was the only way I was going to get a significantly taller setup. In retrospect, I’m glad I went with this size. It didn’t occur to me until I saw these tires in person that the ZII’s run very wide, and the PureContacts were not that much wider than the Contipro Contacts, and don’t bulge too badly. In this size, the diameter is 24.98″ and speed variance is 4.10% too fast. In other words, I should pick up about 2.5mph at highway speed, putting the speedometer at just about accurate, but still reading a touch low – which is perfect. For comparison, the stock size is 23.96″ – 1″ shorter. The race tires I run sit at 24.07″, not far from the stock setup. 205/45-16, my next setup, is 23.26″ – over an inch and half shorter in diameter. Anyway, I’m very pleased with how the sizes turned out.

The tire itself seems to be a very good one. Regrettably I’ll have to update this post later with actual driving experience, as I haven’t mounted them yet. It looks like they are of the same DWS series (though not the “DWS” tire), which, by experience, have performed very well in the wet and light snow. I don’t need my commuter tire to be grippy, just a decent all-rounder. One nice feature is that as the tire wears, the stamped “DWS” starts to wear off, the “S” going first – signaling that is only good for Dry and Wet – then the “W” will wear off, signaling that it is best only for dry conditions. With a treadwear rating of 700, this should take some time. I’m hoping that the increase in rolling resistance from going with a wider and heavier overall tire will be offset by a few things: 1, the increase in height, and thus the RPMs I will be at at highway speeds. Every car has a sweet spot for MPG – this MINI’s seems to be around 55mph or so – I should have effectively bumped that up somewhat. 2, the increase in width isn’t that great especially when considering that these are still mounted on 5.5″ wide wheels, which play a large part in determining the contact patch. And 3, these have “EcoPlus Technology,” which seems to have to do with Continental’s proprietary composition of the tire. Time will tell if it does improve my MPG. At the very least it will help the speedometer and odometer, which alone is worth it for me.

The tires are stated to come with 10/32nds of an inch in tread – about 8mm. I’ve measured the tread at right about 8.5mm all the way down, so this seems about accurate. By Tire Rack’s survey, these tires are rated #2 in all grand touring all-season tires, and the highest rated grand touring all season in 195/65-15 (the top rated period being a Pirelli). It’s gotten excellent marks in wet, dry, light snow, as well as treadwear and noise. The ride comfort should also improve, from the tire itself and from the extra cushion from the tire in general. Consumer reviews are also great, so I have high hopes for these tires as a commuter tire.

Driving Impressions:

Got the tire/wheels on the car today and took it for a quick spin. You can really feel the increased height from the larger diameter wheels. They really fill up the wheel well. The ride is slightly better but the car is still fairly stiff to begin with, so it doesn’t feel like I’m floating on clouds, but marginally improved. I would say the same for the road noise at highway speeds, just marginally improved. Again at highway speeds, I could feel the increase in diameter, allowing me to travel “slower” by the speedometer. Steering is slightly number and the overall grip is about what I would expect from these tires. It feels like there’s more body roll. Overall, nothing to complain about with these tires. I wish I had them during the monsoon we had on Saturday, but I’m sure I’ll get a chance to test them out in some rain soon enough – apparently these tires really shine in the wet. Overall happy with the purchase!

Big thanks to SPS for ordering the tires, as well as mounting and balancing. Please check them out for all your SOLO and tire/tire service needs! Pics of the new tires below!

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