Tire choice is tough. Do you stick with the proven OEM tires (for better or for worse) or do you trust the reviews of random folks on the Internet? I’ve been sitting on the fence for months on end, while my 2007 Honda S2000 has been tucked away in the garage, waiting for a new set of tires.
I’ve always wanted to test a new set of tires before buying them. Even better, test one set of tires against another. So when BFGoodrich invited me to drop in on their “Are You Driver Enough?” tour at Giants Stadium, in the New Jersey Meadowlands, “where the mosquitos are as big as airplanes,” I jumped on the opportunity.
The cross-country Are You Driver Enough tour was created to allow tire store employees to become familiar with BFGoodrich’s g-Force™ Sport COMP-2™ A/S ultra-high performance all-season tire. Each event featured twin autocross courses – one wet, one dry – with Ford Mustangs and Scion FR-S as the test mules. The cars were fitted with g-Force™ Sport COMP-2™ A/S ($449.16 for a set of four at TireRack, $379.16 after mail-in rebate) and a competing tire. At the Meadowlands event, it was the Continental ExtremeContact DWS ($538 for a set of four).
Slaying cones is hoot when you’re driving someone else’s car and are encouraged to drive it to the limit.
I’ve had the good fortune to own three S2000s over the years and I’ve always kept them stone stock (despite my son’s urging to bolt on a supercharger and a lowering kit). Needless to say, these little beasts go through tires quickly. Like a metronome, I always opted for the OEM Bridgestone Potenza RE050 max performance summer tires.
The S2000 uses staggered sizes, with 215/45R17 in the front and 245/40R17 in the rear. The Potenza RE050s are rather pricey and I’ve decided that it would be crazy to opt for the OEMs this time. TireRack lists a full set of RE050s at $889.74 before a $70 mail-in rebate. I gave some thought to going the inexpensive high-performance route, with Sumitomo HTR Z IIs ($299.30 for a set), but I’ve decided to switch to an all-season tire, rather than a max summer tire.
While I gave a tiny amount of thought to going with low-rolling-resistance all-season tire, fuel economy surely isn’t the driving factor with the S2000. Although Bridgestone and Michelin make tires in the right sizes, they’re grand touring tires and are not appropriate for a high-revving four-wheeled motorcycle.
So why put an all-season tire on a roadster? While my car is rarely out in wet weather and is not driven in the winter, two occasions scared the daylights out of me.
The first time was way back, and it’s what made me want to keep the car in the garage on rainy days. I was driving my first S2000 to Cleveland in August 2002, to catch a Springsteen show at Gund Arena with my son. The tires were a bit thin, we hit a whole lot of rain outside of the city and the car got real squirrelly. Never was I so glad to roll into a hotel parking lot.
The second time was the rare exception to “I never drive it in the winter.” I had to fly out of Newark to get to the Detroit Auto Show a few years back. I was in a rush to get to the airport, didn’t check the weather forecast, and had no alternative way to get to the airport.
A winter storm rolled through while I was in Detroit and I flew home the night after the second media day to a big decision. Do I drive the S2000 home – down the NJ Turnpike – in a snowstorm on summer tires? Needless to say, it was the most insane white-knuckle drive I’ve ever taken, but someone was looking out for me that night and I made it home unscathed.
Even with both of those crazy rides lodged in the back of my mind, I still opted for the OEM summer tires on the last tire swap. I wanted high-performance tires on the car for the beautiful days when I drove it. I worried about the trade-offs of switching to an all-season-tire.
Putting the g-Force™ Sport COMP-2™ A/S through the test convinced me.
It happened on my first set of passes in the Scion FR-S on the wet autocross course. The first two passes were on the g-Force™ Sport COMP-2™ A/S tires. I pushed it harder than I normally would in the wet and the car was rock solid. Then we switched cars and I blew through a set of cones on my first pass with the Continentals. It was a whoa moment.
I had never experienced a direct comparison between two different sets of tires on identical cars. The impression was indelible. Slain cones tell the tale.
I put the Mustangs to the test on the dry course after that. While both tires performed well, the BFGoodrich tire appeared to have a slight edge in braking. The company claims that the g-Force™ Sport COMP-2™ “stops up to 15 feet shorter on wet roads and up to 5 feet shorter on dry roads.” After experiencing it first hand, I’m not one to argue.
If all goes well, I’ll post a video about the complete experience once we slap a set of tires on the S2000. I want to put them to the test in the dry and the wet (and possibly in the snow, down the road).
– by Daniel Gray