Monday, January 24, 2011

Product Review: Hankook iPike W409 Winter Tires

With all of the popular options out there in the Winter Tire category I'm sure most of you have heard of Bridgestone Blizzaks or Pirelli P-Zero Nero M&S's. Hankook's lineup, outside of some odd barely DOT approved track tire, usually doesn't come up in conversation as a tire brand to get your hands on. Thankfully I was exposed to Hankook's iPike W409 Winter Tires randomly through the gent I bought my e30 from initially. He lived in PA, notorious for bad winters and more importantly bad winter roads, thus he had a some 185/70-14 rubber wrapped around some 14" steelies. After about two weeks of acquiring the e30 last January, the weather really opened up and I found out how good these tires really are. If you aren't from the US' East Coast and don't know about the record winter bombing we received in 2010, look it up.

On dry tarmac, steering response is a little lethargic, but I attribute that mainly to the tall sidewalls of this specific tire size; I'd say it's loosely comparable to any high-mileage designed all season road tire, size for size. Grip is good during braking as well; of course a tread patch of 185mm plays a role here too, especially for anyone coming from a 215mm or larger tread width summer tire (as usual, you should always factor details like these into your driving style). In the rain these tire do a fine job directing liquid to either side of the tread, as this tire benefits from larger than traditional groves between the tread blocks. These large pathways and chunky, ribbed tread blocks are what make the Hankook iPike W409 transform your vehicle into such a surefooted goat on sloppy surfaces. In addition, tire noise at 70mph is very good for one of winter spec.

On the snow and slush the Hankook iPike W409 shines like a New England lighthouse. While I'd say I'm an above average driver when it comes to handling bad weather at speed behind the wheel, I don't think anyone would have a problem with car control at reasonable rates of progress with a solid coating of snow on the ground. My experience comes from a memorable 50 mile drive to work, through the second large winter storm we had last February, on I-95S. Lets just say I reached the speed limit on multiple occasions while driving over a fully packed/coated (2-3 inches) road surface, during the snow storm. The stretch of highway I was on near home was actually pretty good, relatively even everywhere, but by the time I got to the Columbia (MD) area it was a gd cluster. The highway exits were horrible and by the time I got to our complex, I was plowing through ~6 inches on the way to my parking spot. And even though the usual death blow occurred against my will (coming to a complete stop), twice, the W409s dug in and got me going each time with relative ease.

As I've preached after this experience last year, a limited slip and snow tires can handle about 80% of what you'll run into, and you'll get another 10-15% with driving skill and bad weather experience. I just bought a set of these for my wife's (fwd/open diff) car in December to get her where she has to go for the next couple months. I had her drive through some moderate slush during the first snow we had here in MD before Xmas and she had no issues. The Hankook iPike W409s come highly recommended. I got her set from Discount Tire, a company from whom I've bought countless sets of tires and wheels over the past decade, but feel free to shop for the best price you can on the web.

No comments:

Post a Comment