315/75R16 ice radials

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Mar 27, 2003
Fernie B.C.
I am going to get a set of these http://www.yokohamatire.com/pdf/geoit.pdf . They are special order here so I should have them in about a week. We get alot of snow and ice at around the freezing mark making for very slippery roads and hwys. I will report back as soon as I test them. BTW here is a pic of my driveway in winter.
They were $190 cdn each. I may be paying a little more as I ordered them from our towns local auto parts store. Sometimes you must support the little local guy so he in turn supports you.
I ran into the manager of the tire shop in town I've dealt with for ten years . I asked him about Weld wheels and also tires .... I found it interesting that he would tell me that I would be further ahead to order my tires and wheels from the US and have them all shipped to my house or his shop for that matter . He stated strongly that I would save $$$ . He was even gracious enough to offer to mount and balance them for me , even though he's seeing no profit for this non-sale .

Maybe I'll check into something like these tires , and have them and the welds shipped up to here . Sweet . MTRAT I'm on the North shore of Superior , and with the dumb lake effect I can relate to the ice and snow ... hell the worst drive of my life was this April driving home from Toronto ... the last 3 hrs of my journey around Superior were constant white knuckle ... never again ... never again .. :slap:

Oh well , at least I don't have to settle for Canadian tires or wheels ; they might end up as sh!tty as our birfields ... :flipoff2: :flipoff2: :flipoff2: :p
Aren't those kind of wide for ice? When I lived in ice country we ran a taller skinner tread in the winter. The fat tires displace all of your weight and make you slide all over the place.
gin, what you say is generally true. However a true ice radial is a different dog. Softer stickier compound and tons of sipes tend to create alot of grip. With a somewhat wider tire as there is more tire to use the gripping ability. Increasing the number of gripping points with a wider tire, (up to a point) seems to work better than the older way of getting more pressure on the ice with a narrower tire. Plus with a vehicle of over 6000lbs there is alot of pressure per sq in of contact surface. A regular or old style winter tire cannot even begin to compare to a true ice radial.
"Slick" surfaces have less roughness, less edges for rubber to conform to and grip. More pressure (skinny tire) helps push the rubber into those edges. It can also create edges by imprinting the tread into the surface. It also helps stabilize the surface by compressing it, allowing it to take more sheer force without breaking up. More tread edges help the rubber conform and help imprint more edges. Softer rubber helps the rubber conform.

Wider tires "float", help on surfaces that collapse or displace under the weight of the tire. The tradeoff is you lose the pressure that creates some grip.

There's some technical data on a snow plowing site, I'm on the road so I can't find it now. I'm running siped 265 Coopers, they did well towing a trailer on ice, frozen rutted ground, and slick highways.
A buddy of mine helped run the Michelin ice driving school in Steamboat Springs, CO for several years, and this info comes from him and their research with Michelin.

For a given tire size, having a greater percent of the footprint be rubber (vs voids) causes a lower PSI in the tire footprint. This reduces the creation of a thin layer of water atop ice from pressure as the tire's weight bears down on it and creates momentary "heat". This layer of water happens on hardpack snow as well, and is really what reduces the available traction dramatically. As noted above, ice deforms to the tread a bit as you pass over, but the water layer can offset the gripping edges traction significantly.

So, Michelin's ice tires (Alpin, Alpin Pilot, etc) have smaller voids and large rubber surface area. The softer rubber compounds at low temps have been covered above, and they further reduce pressure areas by easily conforming as the footprint passes over. Of course, the treads also have a lot of siping edges for mixed conditions.

The worst tires on ice are traditional snow tires with their huge voids. Next would be a modern mud tire for the same reason. I drove on studded siped mud tires for years out here and had great luck, but on glare ice they were not ideal. He explained why. Turns out the studs provide an improvement of grip on ice, but also create a circle of rubber around the stud that is not firmly in touch with the ice for a bit of an offsetting loss. The net effect is an improvement, but some tire dynamics impede. He suggested attention to proper tire pressure was critical to let the studded area deform, and noted that truck tires with studs don't deform as nicely as "softer" studded car tires. The LT tire carcass is too stiff to allow the studs to be pushed in a bit, where the passenger carcass will - restoring some more rubber into contact while retaining the grip of a stud buried in the ice surface.

On the other hand, the Alpins on my Subaru seem to be too extreme in lacking voids. They're incredible on ice/packed snow, but evacuate poorly on slush and deep snow at speed. The Alpin 4X4 on the 80 has a much more open design and is incredible in every condition I've encountered.

He noted that these newer studless designs are far superior in typical emergency conditions like we all see on The Weather Channel footage - ice glazed highways or a huge patch of ice coming up to a stop sign. Frankly, that's my worst case scenario too. They are also superior on a hardpacked snow road. When you get into deeper unconsolidated (untracked) snow (more than 3 inches), the advantage starts to shift to a mud tire/ traditional snow tire configuration. For typical suburban road driving (plowed or tracked snow), best service is from studless.

It was an interesting conversation (2 hrs) and led to me replacing studded muddies last Winter with the new studless designs.

Thanks for the info Doug. For those who have never driven a vehicle with a true ice radial, and live in snow country, you owe it to yourself and your family to try them.
When I was at the tire store the owner just got back from tire school.
One question that was asked was
" Which tire will have more rubber on the ground, a wide tire or a tall skinny tire?"
The answer is "They will both displace the same amount of rubber on the ground."
This is with the same model tire on the same vehicle.
It is simple physics, the tall skinny tile will have a narrow longer foot print.
The wide will have a wide thin foot print.
What this means, you can dig (skinny)or paddle(wide).
What this means for ice, I have no idea.

The question posed " Which tire will have more rubber on the ground, a wide tire or a tall skinny tire?" is not the one to ask for winter usage. To understand why, imagine you're looking up at a glass plate as the same size tires drive over them. One is a Mud tire with lugs and lots of spaces, the other is a racing slick. Which will have more surface area in contact with the glass (the corollary to your "more rubber on the ground)? Obviously, the slick.

Their footprint will be roughly the same size, but the mud tire will have a few lugs placing high PSI on the glass, while the slick will have more evenly distributed much lower pressure across the entire footprint. Total pressure (and average pressure) is the same, but the mud has areas of high pressure and areas of zero pressure against the ground, which will cause transitional melting and ride constantly on a self-made layer of water atop ice or hardpack.

So, you didn't ask him the right question. Poor sap.

][quote author=IdahoDoug]
It was an interesting conversation (2 hrs) and led to me replacing studded muddies last Winter with the new studless designs.


Doug , Really informative writeup .... thesis quality :p :p . Can I ask what you are referring to as the new studless designs ?

all this talk of snow/ice driving means only one thing..
[glow=red,2,300]ARCTIC TRUCKS[/glow] TIME!

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I hear the Truxus MTs and ATs are killer on ice and snow as well...just throwing it out there based on what I have heard...

Of course, this is coming from people in Georgia...not exactly the snow capital.
Sean - the ice radials sound good (I've always been a ice radial fan from a far). The one thing I've heard negative about them is how fast the soft rubber wears.

Do you have multiple sets of tires for your truck and only plan on running in the winter?

How long do you expect them to last?

Given your conditions up in Fernie, I too wouldn't care about spending $$ on tire wear and would focus on keeping my family safe.

Down here on the coast "usually" there is little problem with snow and ice but it does happen. It's usually on ski trips that I hit poor conditions.

I've thought about running 2 sets of tires/wheels. One LTX set (or whatever) for soccer mom driving but in prime off-roading/fishing season running a set with more aggressive tread.

I wonder if I those Geolanders could do double duty on ice/snow and off-road work and would use my LTX tires for everyday driving.

I run the ice radials only from late october to late april. The rest of the time I will use my MTRs. I have used Blizzak winter dueler ice radials on some mild-moderate off road. Work about the same as an allterrain tire. They suck in mud, turn into slicks. I have a friend who was too lazy to take his ice radials off his maxda 626 for the summer. He burnt about 1/2 the tread life, but he is a VERY aggressive, fast driver. My wife is on the 5th winter with her Blizzak winter duelers and they hardly have any wear with about 15,000 miles. BTW I am looking for a set of 5 lexus wheels. Oh, and when i lived in Vancouver I drove on the sidewalks when it snowed. Much safer. :D :D :D
No cruiser content but it fits the topic...

Have a BMW M5 that runs a ski rack and Blizzaks in the winter. (Pre cruiser set-up...) Was up in Kelona BC a few years back visiting familly and skiing. They were getting snow in the valley and the place we were staying was glued up the side of a long steep hill.

3 Vehicles at the bottom.

BMW M5, 205-65-16's Blizzaks 70% limited slip. 50-50 weight distribution.
1996 Dodge SWB 4x4, 31-10.50 BFG RMT's open diffs.
1996 Ford Aerostar 235-75-15 studded snows all 4 corners, open diff.

Only 1 of the above vehicles made it up the hill...

If somebody would have described how well a true winter radial worked to me before trying them myself I would have called bulls***. Had studs on the M5 before the Blizzaks and the Blizzaks are much MUCH better.

A note on the above event, we chained up the Aerostar and it still wouldn't go up the hill. Blame that on an open diff and poor weight distribution.
Can't pass up this opportunity to ask a question of our noted experts on the physics of tires on snow and ice...

In 1980 I was transferred to Green Bay, WI. Hoping to not be there long and not being much of a conformist, I kept my 1976 Triumph TR6 as my daily driver. To make a long story short, I was there for three winters. Had the stock Michelin RedLines (definitely not a winter tire).

Lived about 20 miles outside Green Bay on the shore of Lake Michigan. Only 2 year round homes on the road. Probably the last road in the county to get see a snow plow.

Never got stuck! Was that pure luck? Dumb luck? or some magical confluence of tire size, design, and light weight of car that kept that thin layer of water from forming and ruining my day(s)?


Was referring in generic terms to the current crop of winter compound tires that have been out for a few years. Blizzaks, Alpins, etc. Around here where steel studs are allowed and common, these are referred to as "studless" winter tires because until recently if you had winter tires they had studs in them.


I'd say simply good driving and a good handling car. Heck, I lived on the DOWNWIND (read "lake effect snow") side of Lake Michigan and got through various winters with a Triumph Spitfire, Fiat X1/9, Capri II, etc with worn stock rubber. My brothers and I used to head out to roam the streets every time there was a Blizzard warning requesting all nonessential vehicles remain at our home. It was our 'essential' duty to get out there and keep the roads clear! :D Winters were a constant 4 wheel drift.

The difference for me is that today my wife and I are carrying around a couple of wonderful kids, and there are roads around here that have dropoffs that will kill you if you lose it on a curve.

But yeah, a TR6 (always wanted one) on 15" wheels at a time when full size chevs were on 14s would be a pretty good snow rig if you don't mind the snow drifting around the interior, or the constant fear of Mr. Lucas rearing his ugly head!


I remember that when I couldn't get through a drift on the first try, the trick was to back out in my tracks and try again (and again and again) always staying in my original tracks.

You mentioned lake-effect snow. I lived in South Bend, IN for 2 winters and had to keep an 8' long pole handy to poke in the drifts to find the TR6.

At least we didn't have to build stairs to the second story like the Upper Peninsula (MI) folks do.

Drive safely,


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