Bridgestone WS 70 winter tire
Bridgestone WS 70 winter tire . Click image to enlarge

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Article and photos by Michael Clark

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Bridgestone Blizzak WS 70

Somewhere near Steamboat Springs, Colorado – If it’s good enough for the shuttle bus, it must be good enough for your car.
As the latest wave of automotive scribes awaited the driver at the Yampa Valley Airport, I couldn’t help but notice the Blizzak skins on the bloated Econoline. “We swear by them,” said the driver. “Not at ’em.” In the world of things Round and Black, it’s hard not to come across the Bridgestone Blizzak name. I’ve had the opportunity to test many of Bridgestone’s winter-specific tire line, including the current DM-V1 model for SUV-spec applications. This jaunt would involve a visit to the U.S. location for the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, just outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
In many respects, the new WS70 is a deluxe version of the current WS60. Familiar technologies abound, such as the NanoPro-Tech rubber compound, which looks akin to DNA chains on the Powerpoint presentation. This proprietary formula is able to provide the proper mix of high cis butadiene rubber for cold weather flexibility, and silica for wet surfaces and improved rolling resistance. There is improved stiffness to the compound in warmer temperatures, removing the ‘squirmy’ feeling that some winter tires exhibit on warm pavement. As most Canadians know, winter conditions, and temperatures, are subject to ever-increasing variances of extremes. (Thanks again, global warming.)

Bridgestone WS 70 winter tire
Bridgestone WS 70 winter tire . Click image to enlarge

Water continues to be the enemy of traction and braking on ice. Removing that thin film of water is the job of Bridgestone’s Tube Multicell compound. As the tire wears, microscopic tubes are revealed, which wick away water from the contact patch, in addition to providing thousands of biting edges. For the WS70, the compound now includes metallic bite particles. Don’t worry; it’s not the incessant drone of studded tires of old. The particles ‘scratch’ the surface of the ice, assisting with grip improvements. The tread width has been optimized, favoring elongation over width. It’s a plus for snow and slush. Four main grooves appear, up from three on the WS60. Why should your tires be so groovy? Simple; snow sticks best to snow. The more snow your tire can hold, the more grip you’ll achieve on snowy surfaces. Three-dimensional siping optimizes the tread block stiffness, as well as the contact area. Within the sipes are rubbery support bar elements, which assist in keeping the sipe gaps open for swallowing snow, and revealing more biting edges as the tire turns.
Instead of a leisurely street test, the Bridgestone team’s first point of demonstration call was an indoor ice rink. Toyota Camry testers were equipped with the Bridgestone WS70s, and Michelin’s X-Ice Xi2s. (This was accompanied with the usual auto scribe murmurs of ‘Where’s all the other tires?’) As expected, the Bridgestones trounced the Michelins in stopping tests, in some cases stopping as early as a sub-compact car length before the Michelins ceased to roll. Of particular note was a stopping test conducted with the WS70’s on one side of the car, with the Xi2’s on the other. The Camry didn’t rip itself in half, though the expected slide of the car simply drove home the WS70’s performance.

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