Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter Tires
Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter Tires. Click image to enlarge

Originally published February 12, 2013

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Last fall I attended a Sailun tire event for their Z4+AS all-season passenger car tire. Unlike most tire manufacturers, Sailun was not there to prove their tire was best on the market. No, instead their goal was to prove their tire was just as good as the top brands, while being significantly cheaper to purchase. After a day of testing, I couldn’t tell the difference between the Sailun and its competitor and was so impressed with the quality to price ratio, I immediately looked into buying a set of their winter tires for my 1990 Miata.

The tires I purchased (yes, purchased!) were four Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 tires sized 185/60R14. These were mounted on the stock rims of my 1990 Miata. I really had no idea what to expect from these tires as they are relatively new to the Canadian market and there wasn’t much information online about their real world performance. I had no idea if in moderate snow my car would get stuck or be perfectly fine. It was a great unknown.

Since there would be no other tire brand to pit the Ice Blazer against in this test, and since Sailun’s goal is to be a cheaper alternative to the established makes, I figured the test should be a simple pass/fail proposition. If these value tires worked on my 24-year-old rear-wheel-drive Miata with no ground clearance, no weight, no ABS, no traction control and no stability control, then they would be more than capable on a modern vehicle application.

Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter TiresSailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter TiresSailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter Tires
Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter Tires. Click image to enlarge

As I waited for the first significant snowfall of the season, I had a chance to test out the tire’s cold-weather abilities on dry roads. The Ice Blazer WST1 has a very similar tread pattern to that of the Hankook Winter i-Pike studdable winter tire. Like the Hankooks, the Ice Blazers are unidirectional and feature different tread pattern elements to optimize winter weather traction.

In the dry, the tires behave as expected and provide great straight-line grip and decent cornering grip, unless temperatures rise well above zero where they become soft and squishy; pretty much like any winter tire. The tires produce a fair amount of road noise and send vibrations up through the chassis of the vehicle. Although this is a common trait for winter tires, it felt more excessive with the Sailuns than usual.

Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter Tires
Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter Tires. Click image to enlarge

When we finally received a good dumping of snow, it was tire-testing time. On December 26th, roughly 18 cm of snow fell in my town, which, when combined with blowing snow and tire ruts, was deep enough to exceed the Miata’s ground clearance and send snow over its hood at times. If the Sailuns could keep me in control and out of the snow banks, they would pass the test.

I began with the car parked on my unplowed side street, which features the additional challenge of a minor incline. Forward momentum in nearly 20 cm of snow took a moment or two to get going as the vehicle wasn’t just fighting the slippery conditions, but also dragging its underbelly on the snow. Sure enough, though, with careful throttle control, the Miata began to creep forward and soon, it felt like there was no stopping the little Miata – well, other than the brakes. To help this rear-wheel-drive vehicle gain traction, the Miata’s mechanical limited slip differential kept sending power back and forth from side to side looking for the tire with more grip. With two Sailun winter tires fighting for grip, the slippery road didn’t stand a chance. I attempted dead-stop-starts on several different roads at different incline angles and not once did the car refuse to go forward.

Related articles
Northern Exposure: Winter Maintenance for Maximizing Mileage
Tire Review: Pirelli Winter IceControl Winter Tires
Feature: Winter Tires vs. All-Season Tires
Feature: Winter Prep Checklist

Manufacturer’s Website
Sailun Canada

Photo Gallery:
Winter Tire Review: Sailun Ice Blazer WST1 Winter Tires

Equally impressive was the vehicle’s cornering grip. Light to moderate snow did not cause any sliding or understeer washout. Sure this has as much to do with the Miata’s light weight and near perfect weight distribution, but without good winter tires the car would still slide out of control on slippery corners. In the really deep snow it would take a lot to get the car to slide forward as the tires would just dig into the snow and turn the car.

When it came to braking, I was a little more hesitant. I wasn’t sure what would happen when slowing the Miata down on icy surfaces, but ended up being pleasantly surprised. The tires gripped amazingly in slush, ice and snow. When braking or cornering, I could at all times feel how much grip was left in the tires over different slippery surfaces; important in a vehicle lacking the safety aide of anti-lock brakes.

Overall the control and confidence I felt driving on these winter tires far exceeded my expectations, so I guess it is safe to say they passed the test. I went from worrying about driving the Miata in the snow to reveling in each new snowfall. Now the only question that remains is: how will they hold up over the long run?

Connect with