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Thread: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

  1. #21
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    I used to live in Minnesota (5 yrs ago now), but I had an s2000 with Dunlop WinterSport M3 tires on it. With the LSD, that thing was a tank in the snow. Never once even thought about getting stuck, and I DD'd it for three winters.


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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by Clockwork Mouse View Post
    The only important aspect of a winter tire is that it's designed for winter temperatures, snow, etc. when it comes to traction. The width doesn't matter because the contact area is the same (wide and short verus narrow and long) on the same car (pounds per square inch). A narrower snow would be more energy efficient because it passes through the snow easier.


    I like everything you mention here, except the last sentence re "passing through snow easier", at least in practical terms.


    A quick and dirty search shows me that the difference in width between the narrowest 981 compatible snow tire and the widest compatible is about 2 inches. What you're suggesting is that we'd see a difference in snow performance between the two sizes. I say "no", but am still seeking data either way to confirm.


    While I might agree that a pizza-cutter-sized tire would theoretically cut through deep snow better, I'd not want the corresponding traction.


    I love your first sentence though:
    "The only important aspect of a winter tire is that it's designed for winter temperatures, snow, etc. when it comes to traction."


    That part has indeed been proven.


    Still looking for a scientific-ish test. If you find one, plz post. Otherwise, I'm sticking with my stance of "winter tiresicon work", but width - for a given vehicle - is irrelevant.

  3. #23
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Long and narrow is better for winter. It cuts through the snow easier.

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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by jim@tirerack View Post
    Long and narrow is better for winter. It cuts through the snow easier.

    Thanks for chiming in Jim.


    Can you point me to the data on tirerack.com that supports your comment? There seems to be a fair amount of data on your site, but sadly nothing about this.


    If you're aware of a side-by-side test I'd love to see it.

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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Great discussion here. I think it is interesting that there is no hard data to back up the premise of a narrow tire being better in snow. I think one aspect not yet mentioned is the tire's ability to evacuate water/slush. Assume we have two tires with identical tread patterns, compound, etc, but with one tire being 6" wide vs 8" wide for the second. Also assuming identical road conditions and speed (rotational speed of the tire), the narrow tire would be more effective as evacuating water/slush because:

    1) the tire contacts less water/slush to begin with due to its more narrow footprint, and therefore needs to expel less material as it rotates

    2) the effective distance the material has to travel from the center of the tire to the edge is shorter for the narrower tire, meaning the "pump" is more effective

    On an icy surface, I don't think it matters, as 0 grip times any width = 0 grip.

    I know this isn't data, but I think if you look at the snow tires run in WRC, it's telling that there is something to the theory:



    They wouldn't run tires that skinny if there wasn't good reasoning.
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by jim@tirerack View Post
    Long and narrow is better for winter. It cuts through the snow easier.
    Having spent winters in CO and ID. this was always the prevailing wisdom. The wider the tire the more "snowplow" effect which was not a good thing.
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by whoosh View Post
    Great discussion here. I think it is interesting that there is no hard data to back up the premise of a narrow tire being better in snow. I think one aspect not yet mentioned is the tire's ability to evacuate water/slush. Assume we have two tires with identical tread patterns, compound, etc, but with one tire being 6" wide vs 8" wide for the second. Also assuming identical road conditions and speed (rotational speed of the tire), the narrow tire would be more effective as evacuating water/slush because:

    1) the tire contacts less water/slush to begin with due to its more narrow footprint, and therefore needs to expel less material as it rotates

    2) the effective distance the material has to travel from the center of the tire to the edge is shorter for the narrower tire, meaning the "pump" is more effective

    On an icy surface, I don't think it matters, as 0 grip times any width = 0 grip.

    I know this isn't data, but I think if you look at the snow tires run in WRC, it's telling that there is something to the theory:



    They wouldn't run tires that skinny if there wasn't good reasoning.


    Great points, and thanks for applying logic instead of regurgitating the "thinner is better" argument.


    Re slush, I like your thinking here, but then I came across this listing for these Bridgetstones.
    http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires....omCompare1=yes


    Specifically, they mention that the channels are especially good at water & slush clearance. (I understand there could be a certain level of marketing slant in this.) Note that these are offered in some crazy-large sizes.


    This tells me that - at least with this particular tread pattern - there is some scalability to slush-coping abilities. (Again, assuming their claims aren't just marketing BS, but instead implies some actual testing.)


    As for the rally reference, that's a great argument, and has come up in other forums as well. I make no case against studded tires as the ultimate grip in snow (not pavement), but it is an apples-to-oranges argument.


    However, those tires are indeed narrow, and that's of massive interest to me. Of course, after scouring WRC and affiliate sites, I found nothing re the reasoning.


    I do know that these specialty tires are expensive. Very expensive.
    It also looks like they simply aren't offered in a massive array of sizing.


    My take is that they are using a size that simply works as they need. Adding width to a studded tire adds no value, and if it were available it would only add expense.


    That's actually my theory all along. I've been suggesting that wider winter tiresicon aren't noticeably different in snow conditions than a thinner one that still fits your vehicle.


    And... if most of your winter driving is on pavement, then wider tires can give additional grip.

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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by bybybmw View Post
    Having spent winters in CO and ID. this was always the prevailing wisdom. The wider the tire the more "snowplow" effect which was not a good thing.

    Thanks for the input, but as I've mentioned, there has been no testing I can find to prove this.


    I've lived in Montreal, which probably gets the most snow in NA of any metro area, aside from Buffalo perhaps. I'm N of Toronto now, and still do a decent amount of snow-based driving.


    However, I personally have never been in a position to test the same winter tire, in different widths, on the same vehicle. No one has.


    So, while I take your point as the prevailing wisdom with tires, it seems to me to be completely unproven. Also given that the roads are clear most of the time (even in Montreal), then a thinner tire may actually give you less grip than an equivalent wider one with a larger contact patch.


    As always, if you find a side-by-side test, please post it here. I'm dying to see one.
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    I am in the UK, and I just put on some winter tyres.

    Rather than go with the convention of downsizing to smaller rims, I decided to use 20" winter tyres.

    The biggest sizes Porsche offer for my car for winter use are:
    235/40R19 front, 265/40R20 rear - winter

    I'm using instead:
    235/35R20 front, 265/35R20 rear - winter

    Although these are correct sizes for my car if using summer tyres, since I have effectively gone down a non-OPC route with my Winter tyre choice, the tyres are not N-rated. But boy, are they expensive! I'm using Pirelli Sottozero Serie II.

    Winter tyres (like all specialist tyres) are expensive compared to their same-sized summer equivalents.

    I think, therefore, that the main reason why traditional winter tyre options always use smaller rim diameters, with narrower tread widths is down to basically just one thing....

    It's not traction on wet roads, it's not performance in snow, it's not contact patch size (although all of these may make a difference in the real world), it's really mainly down to cost and availability!

    A set of 18 inch wheels and winter tyres from Porsche is relatively affordable. A set of 20 inch winter wheels and tyres would probably cost well over 5kGBP which is around 8k USD.

    Unless you live in a place where you need winter tyres for the majority of the year, you would not likely make such an investment.

    In my home climate, we need winter tyres for really only 4.5 months out of 12.

    That said, winter options are available in many of the larger rim and width sizes. They are just very, very expensive! I actually bought used (nearly new) to save considerably in this regard.

    The market perception of winter tyres is not really as a sexy feature or as bling - more of a utilitarian accessory. Like the guy earlier said, stiletto heels vs. snow shoes! Therefore small rims, narrow tyres, and minimal cost are par for the course with most manufacturer's winter options.

    Conversely, the market perception of summer tyres is all about high performance and looks, with big rims, wide tyres, and low sidewall profiles attracting the customers.

    But this is changing nowadays as winter tyres become more popular with performance car drivers, and Tyre manufacturers are now offering high-performance winter variants in larger sizes. The only downside, of course, is they are at a premium compared to their equivalent summer companions.

    In the UK, winter tyres are becoming more commonplace, although are not required by law. Our country literally stops at the first sign of snow, so hopefully I will be able to make progress with my new (used) Pirelli winters when the inevitable white stuff falls....

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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Here's a picture of my 20 inch winter Tyre setup, just to prove it can be done......!!
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by phlegm View Post
    Great points, and thanks for applying logic instead of regurgitating the "thinner is better" argument.


    Re slush, I like your thinking here, but then I came across this listing for these Bridgetstones.
    http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires....omCompare1=yes


    Specifically, they mention that the channels are especially good at water & slush clearance. (I understand there could be a certain level of marketing slant in this.) Note that these are offered in some crazy-large sizes.


    This tells me that - at least with this particular tread pattern - there is some scalability to slush-coping abilities. (Again, assuming their claims aren't just marketing BS, but instead implies some actual testing.)
    I think there's a certain level of marketing BS in there, but let's assume what they say is true and their pattern is effective at clearing water & slush. The question still remains whether a narrow section width version of that tire would be better than one of the wider width versions of the same tire. They don't give any data either...

    I think you're right on with how scalable the pattern is, which to me means you must also take speed, temperatures, snow/slush density, etc all into account as part of the calculation. E.g. if a narrow tire can move 10 liters/sec and a wide tire 7 liters/sec, but the most your driving conditions ever warrant is 5 liters/sec, then you can safely run any tire width you like. I totally agree with the notion that at that point, the wider tire will serve you better when driving on dry surfaces.

    Quote Originally Posted by phlegm View Post
    As for the rally reference, that's a great argument, and has come up in other forums as well. I make no case against studded tires as the ultimate grip in snow (not pavement), but it is an apples-to-oranges argument.


    However, those tires are indeed narrow, and that's of massive interest to me. Of course, after scouring WRC and affiliate sites, I found nothing re the reasoning.


    I do know that these specialty tires are expensive. Very expensive.
    It also looks like they simply aren't offered in a massive array of sizing.


    My take is that they are using a size that simply works as they need. Adding width to a studded tire adds no value, and if it were available it would only add expense.
    My post of the WRC winter tire was more about the width than the studs. Studs are really only effective on ice. There may indeed be practical considerations regarding tire width and studs; maybe that can be the next area of research once non-studded winter tire width is settled.

    The use of narrow tires in WRC goes back as far as I can recall, to the days before the FIA ever instituted any kind of spending limits on team budgets. So if a wider winter tire was an advantage, you can bet the teams would run whatever the regs at the time would allow, cost be damned. The sizings would then be limited by whatever was the most functional size for the time, as race teams would not be interested in equipping their cars with a tire that would impede their performance.

    Speaking of regs, here is what F1 has to say about the difference between Intermediate and Full Wet tires:

    12.6 Specification of tyres :
    12.6.1 An intermediate tyre is one which has been designed for use on a wet or damp track.
    All intermediate tyres must, when new, have a contact area which does not exceed 280cm² when fitted to the front of the car and 440cm² when fitted to the rear. Contact areas will be measured over any square section of the tyre which is normal to and symmetrical about the tyre centre line and which measures 200mm x 200mm when fitted to the front of the car and 250mm x 250mm when fitted to the rear. For the purposes of establishing conformity, void areas which are less than 2.5mm in depth will be deemed to be contact areas.
    12.6.2 A wet-weather tyre is one which has been designed for use on a wet track.
    All wet-weather tyres must, when new, have a contact area which does not exceed 240cm² when fitted to the front of the car and 375cm² when fitted to the rear. Contact areas will be measured over any square section of the tyre which is normal to and symmetrical about the tyre centre line and which measures 200mm x 200mm when fitted to the front of the car and 250mm x 250mm when fitted to the rear. For the purposes of establishing conformity, void areas which are less than 5.0mm in depth will be deemed to be contact areas.

    They want teams to run a more narrow wet tire than intermediate. Given that these tires are run for safety, I think there is something to it...
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by temporarychicken View Post
    Here's a picture of my 20 inch winter Tyre setup, just to prove it can be done......!!


    Wow, those are the best looking "winter" tires/wheels I've ever seen.

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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    I believe the answer to the question may reside in this book, specifically in section 3.15.3:

    Analyzing Friction in the Design of Rubber Products and Their Paired Surfaces - Robert Horigan Smith - Google Books

    The ebook price is over $60. How much is the answer potentially worth?
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by whoosh View Post
    Speaking of regs, here is what F1 has to say about the difference between Intermediate and Full Wet tires:

    12.6 Specification of tyres :
    12.6.1 An intermediate tyre is one which has been designed for use on a wet or damp track.
    All intermediate tyres must, when new, have a contact area which does not exceed 280cm² when fitted to the front of the car and 440cm² when fitted to the rear. Contact areas will be measured over any square section of the tyre which is normal to and symmetrical about the tyre centre line and which measures 200mm x 200mm when fitted to the front of the car and 250mm x 250mm when fitted to the rear. For the purposes of establishing conformity, void areas which are less than 2.5mm in depth will be deemed to be contact areas.
    12.6.2 A wet-weather tyre is one which has been designed for use on a wet track.
    All wet-weather tyres must, when new, have a contact area which does not exceed 240cm² when fitted to the front of the car and 375cm² when fitted to the rear. Contact areas will be measured over any square section of the tyre which is normal to and symmetrical about the tyre centre line and which measures 200mm x 200mm when fitted to the front of the car and 250mm x 250mm when fitted to the rear. For the purposes of establishing conformity, void areas which are less than 5.0mm in depth will be deemed to be contact areas.

    They want teams to run a more narrow wet tire than intermediate. Given that these tires are run for safety, I think there is something to it...

    Hmmm, this is very interesting. I'm actually not sure what to make of it.


    So, if I read between the lines is it saying that F1 teams would like to run something different, but are being limited to narrower widths for safety?

    Or, is this just establishing fair play ground rules, so that no team can gain advantage through additional width?


    I suspect I'm overanalyzing this.
    Last edited by phlegm; 11-07-2013 at 07:53 PM.

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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by whoosh View Post
    I believe the answer to the question may reside in this book, specifically in section 3.15.3:

    Analyzing Friction in the Design of Rubber Products and Their Paired Surfaces - Robert Horigan Smith - Google Books

    The ebook price is over $60. How much is the answer potentially worth?
    Ha! Now we're getting somewhere! I checked the preview, and snow is specifically addressed as well.


    Shows as $111.96 in Canadian dollars - another example of nonsensical Canadian pricing. (The MSRP for a new Cayman is $10K more in Canada, while USD is @ 1.04-ish currently, but I digress.)


    Tempting.

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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Quote Originally Posted by phlegm View Post
    Great points, and thanks for applying logic . . . . {massive snip}

    That's actually my theory all along. I've been suggesting that wider winter tiresicon aren't noticeably different in snow conditions than a thinner one that still fits your vehicle.

    And... if most of your winter driving is on pavement, then wider tires can give additional grip.
    All good points, . . . I've tried taking a quick walk with google and the internet on the "length vs. breadth" winter rubber proposition, and failed to stumble on any concise logical engineering supported exposition of the "thinner is better" - so . . . .

    How about walking back the cat on just the general proposition of tire width - why does everyone seem to assume if a factory suggested 265 section with is "good" for the stock Cayman's rear fitting (so far universal across the 987.1, 987.2 and the new 981 platforms) why would 285 or 295 be "so much" better?

    As one point of departure, I'd also point out raw tire theory states a tires contact "patch" is largely solely a function of the car's weight on each wheel/axle and tires air pressure, not tire width or diameter.

    At least theoretically, all section width is supposed to do is change the shape but not so much the size, of a tires contact patch.

    On a dry track, one claimed benefit of "wider" section width is it provides more surface area, all other things being equal, to keep a tire running cooler and, assuming one can through setup distribute track wear evenly across the whole surface, make the tire capable of lasting a bit longer with more material to wear. One detriment is wider tires, usually having more material tend to be heavier - and that's both in rotating and suspended mass which makes the additional weight a double whammy performance wise.

    Last, I'd also throw out, at least on the 1st generation 987.1 ('06 - '08) I believe either the factory handbook, or the Porsche "Tequiment - Accessories for Cayman S" guide that came with the car "suggested" 255 to be a good section width for rear fitment & as I recall, Porsche sold a set of wheels/rims in which the rear rim was @ 1/2" narrower (i.e. 9" vs. 9.5") to better accommodate the narrower tire - although I think that might have been for additional safety in fitting other auxiliary traction aids - like (oh the horror) chains!

    So all that said, specifically with regard to the WRC tires - WRC use certain driving techniques not widely suitable for everyday, commuting to work, taking the kids to school etc. i.e. things like the Scandinavian aka "Scandi" Flick etc. FWIW, in my experience some what contrary to more commonly or popular descriptions of those more suited for the racetrack or rally course, the Scandi is NOT a faster way around a corner, but IME it is a way to SLOW a car that is otherwise going way too fast, down so that it can make the corner - one uses the turn to SCRUB OFF speed, and in that regard I'd argue what one is doing is turning a Narrow Tire contact patch sideways (tangential) to the line of attack to get more surface area involved in control, something that tends to work the other (wrong) way around for Wide section width tires.

    Last, and oh yeah, a narrow tire does, IME do a better job of digging down through "loose" stuff, like gravel to gain better purchase on the harder, packed substrate that usually lies below the loose packed stuff. Oddly (or not so odd) this doesn't, again IME, hold so true for heavy snow & in particular ICE. I find, spinning tires on snow &/or ice tends to produce heat, which makes water, which in cold temperatures further lubricates the underlying strata and generally re-freezes into a WELL POLISHED even slipperier version of the original snow & ice surface. In that case I suppose one could make very limited circumstances argument for a wider tire, spreading heat out over a wider surface, so long as it didn't produce melt might have a small traction advantage over the longer narrow contact patch of the narrower tire.

    Last but not least, tire compound (especially) and tread designs (lots of edges, both mechanical - sipes etc. and chemically, silicone H20 repelant and the Blizack "magic bubbles" or the Dunlop tire, I think, imbedded nylon studs etc.) make huge differences. There's a great C&D article on the devil in the detail - see 2009 Winter Tire Test - Comparison Tests if you're interested. It's a bit dated, but it does include coverage of an earlier generation, the Ice-X2 Michelin "magic" rubber tire. Unfortunately the article is rather silent on tire rubber Size vs. Pleasure

    My 2 cents before Friday AM coffee.
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Great post, mlpor.

    I had the thought re: section width vs contact patch and weight/tire pressures. I think you have to go to a significantly more narrow tire (and corresponding increase in tire pressure) to see an actual change in contact patch area. So debate between a 265 section width vs 255 is wasted brain cycles. 265 to 195 would be a different decision, and one where I think the 195 might be super in deep snow (begging the original question here), but a total dog when you got out to dry pavement.
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    Whoosh, you are in Colorado - get thee to Steamboat BWDS. We're renting the facility (well at least 1/2 of it) for four days, Thursday 23 January thru Sunday the 26th, 2014.

    May have some shared seats available for qualified drivers in a couple of '91 Audi 200 TQ fitted with Blizzacks or Haka RSi. See, e.g.


    - Steamboat S4 Audi event: 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZBBH8ENX_I from the OldFastOne11

    - BWDS March 2011 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLme1US6A8o

    - BWDS 2011 – R32 Day2 Session1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bkSPL1qiq0 (Jeff)

    - 2010-02 Scott chasing Hackl – URQ & 90 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfxjwHWuTzA 3:20

    - 1.38 simple 2000 TQ & Snow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySYtfwHJyhw + Silver sedans


    Cheers,

    Or go learn from some of the Pros, sign up for BWDS's "Fifth Gear" two day advanced skills program, www.winterdrive.com
    Last edited by mlpor; 11-08-2013 at 09:40 AM. Reason: add bwds link
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    BTW for fun (it can be a long down load as the original file is, I believe, on a somewhat slow server) pull off and watch a copy of the Senor Hirst's BWDS Bond parody at
    - Hirst's, 2013 Steamboat Opus,

    http://www.meadowcreektire.com/video/20130129_SteamboatIceDriving/Steamboat%202013_Hirst_OliverHirst_960x540.m4v


    Currently a "Blush" 2014 981 PDK CS. Past a Silver '06 MT Cayman S; a '08 R8,a Basalt 2010 DFI/PDK CS, and a now gone, but lots of '04 Rx8.

  20. #40
    whoosh's Avatar
    whoosh is offline Porsche Activist
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    Re: Winter Tires: Wide vs Narrow

    ^^ thanks for the links! looks like a blast! And just after first of year when my PTO for the year is replenished.
    '15 Macan S | '06 Cayman S - Sold | '00 S2000 - Supercharged, race suspension, etc.

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