Why Tyre Testing Takes Time (and Money!)

During 2018, Tyre Reviews relaunched its YouTube channel, with a moderate amount of success. Views were strong, engagement was high, and there was demand for further tyre related videos which I have promised to create.

Now, a few months on from the last published video, comments are starting to appear on YouTube asking if I'm ok, if I've given up on tyres, and whether we'll ever see the promised videos. Well the good news is I am perfectly fine, I will NEVER give up on tyres, and the videos will come.

They just take time to plan, execute and edit.

Why Exactly is Tyre Testing so Difficult?

Comparative tyre testing, if done properly, is a very specific art. It's not like reviewing a car, which can be largely be done on the open road. Nor can you just turn up at a track day and time yourself, as that's forbidden, and traffic would mean you would never get consistent laps through the day. Throw in the complexities of wet testing, where you have to have perfectly consistent water depth through the entire test, and you realise any data from a rainy day is useless for a full objective test.

Tyre testing needs a dedicated facility. Only a handful of these exist in the world, and they're in very high demand.

Further, proper tyre testing isn't a rushed process. Take for example braking tests. You don't just do one braking test on each set of tyres, as no matter how good you are, there are always variances in you, the car, the ABS system, the wind etc. You have to do at least 8 runs, delete the outliers and average at least 5 of the closest results. If you're comparative testing more than a couple of tyres, you then need to start calculating the evolution of the surface as the temperature changes and the surface rubbers in, and of the cars braking systems as they heat and wear, which means you need to run a control tyre every third run.

 

In short, if you're testing ten different tyre patterns, you can be doing upwards of 130 braking tests for dry braking,  and another 130 runs for wet braking. You generally don't do as many handling runs for dry and wet handling, but laps take longer than braking runs and you still need to calculate car, driver and track evolution, so it's another hugely time consuming process.

Winter testing adds even more complexities, where you have to regrade the snow between handling runs in order to ensure the surface is as close as possible for each tyre, ensuring good data, and occasionally pull a vehicle out of a snowbank.

Restrictive Seasons for Testing

The other big issue for  tyre testing is weather, and temperature.

For summer tyre testing, we have to ensure warm dry conditions, as we can wet a dry track but not dry a wet track. This means we can't do any summer testing until March in Europe, and the season ends around September.

Winter testing is even more specific, as it's possible to have the "wrong type of snow" for Central European all season and winter tyres, so the window is tiny. Plus, the facilities are so far north, often inside the arctic circle, the lack of light to film becomes an issue during the winter months.

Costs

Aside from the obvious costs involved in using these incredibly large, expensive, high-demand, test facilities, there are other costs involved too.

Car hire costs are expensive, but not as much as the insurance required for extreme use. Testing ten different tyre patterns? That'll be 100 tyres as you need ten of each set (four wet testing, four dry testing, and two for rolling resistance / backup.) Then there's a lot of fuel, and at least one set of brakes. Oh, and you can't be fitting tyres during a test as the tyres need to be mounted and settled before testing, so that's ten sets of matching wheels. Then you need people to mount all these tyres, change the wheels, marshall the tracks, support the tests. The list goes on.

And we still haven't discussed paying, and flying at least a two person film crew to a location like the arctic circle for 4 days of filming in -20c. Plus all the insurance involved with flying drones, filming near fast moving cars. Eating food. Sleeping.

Testing in 2019

In short, tyre tests take a long time to orginse, are complicated and are extremely expensive. But that doesn't mean we won't be doing any tyre testing in 2019, in fact this year will be the busiest and most exciting year for tyre testing yet!

Across 2019 we will be covering all the new tyres, including the exciting new Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport range, and performing our very own, and worlds first, maximum performance tyre test on video. These tests have already been months in the planning, and are still months away from filming, but they will be a new level of tyre information and detail.

There's also some exciting plans for all season and winter tyres later this year, and some less complicated, more real world tests of road and track tyres, so if you're not already subscribed, please subscribe to the YouTube channel, and above all, please be patient.

If you have any question, or suggestions for future tyre tests, please feel free to ask below.

 



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