The winter season has already hit, we experienced the first snow of the year, frost and other December pastimes. That’s why we went to the Proxima tire service in Králové Hradec again to see specialist Milan Krupička, this time to talk about all-season tires, from general history to the predicted future.
One of the pioneers of year-round footwear is the Goodyear company, which was one of the first to bring it to the market and spread it. After Goodyear, Pirelli also joined, but many were waiting for the year-round footwear to become a bit trendy. And as it happened, Bridgestone, for example, also entered this field.
The first models of all-season tires were essentially derived from winter tires. As it was de facto their modifications, with the layman’s eye you would not be able to distinguish the original winter from the old type of all-year-round.
In addition, each manufacturer approached the all-season tire a little differently. While one company produced the footwear more for the winter season, another company adapted the tire construction more for spring and autumn.
And many times it was also about interesting experiments, as in the case of the first year-round footwear from Firestone (a cheaper offshoot of Bridgestone). Milan Krupička recalls that this rubber was created in such a way that the manufacturer took the skeleton of a non-winter tire, used a specific rather non-winter compound, but made the tread in the profile of a winter tire.
Furthermore, all-season tires began to develop in smaller sizes into compact cars that had R13 or R14 dimensions, typically Felicia, Fabia cars… At that time, all-season tires began to be created for them, which, according to the manufacturers, were supposed to handle the so-called urban winter.
Independent of the targeted development of all-year shoes, all-year footwear has also entered the initial production of some car manufacturers, especially for SUVs and vans. Not, of course, so that customers in land rovers or vans do not have to change their shoes, but so that the cars in question have better traction off the road, i.e. on gravel, dirt roads and other unpaved surfaces.
Such tires were also suitable for wet conditions, and even proudly wore the M+S (mud + snow) emblem, but their construction was more for mud (mud) and not for snow (snow). Inappropriate footwear for winter. However, the real revolution was yet to come.
A great French victory
It was the French concern Michelin that developed and presented in Europe in 2015 the first mass-produced all-season tire, which was designed as an all-season tire from the beginning. The name of the tire is certainly familiar to you – Michelin CrossClimate.
And what Michelin started, other renowned manufacturers followed, which is why modern all-season tires are quite similar across established well-known brands, and it is also usually true that new types of all-season tires are developed from the beginning as all-season tires.
Although today’s modern all-season bikes are made primarily for wet use, there are still differences between the types of individual manufacturers. Again, one type of footwear is more suitable for summer, another more for winter.
Many models of all-season tires today also have the Alpine shield logo with a flake, so they are also accepted as winter tires in neighboring Germany, while in our country only the M+S symbol and its variations are sufficient. However, this does not apply universally, even today you can buy, for example, a Pirelli all-season snowmobile, which does not have the logo of the Alpine shield with the flake, but has the M+S marking.
It should be specified that with Pirelli this is mainly due to the fact that these are often tires intended directly for specific vehicles, where according to the homologation rules the given tire must be on the market in an unchanged version for at least 10 years.
As part of cheap non-branded all-season tires, they currently exceed those that are based more on winter design. You can thus buy a decent cheap all-year-round, which will work solidly the first winter, but in the summer it will be a noisy, unstable suffering. In addition, watch out for the rapid loss of properties of cheap footwear!
(Dis)advantages of year-round footwear
All-season tires have several interesting advantages, but a number of equally significant disadvantages. It is therefore up to the scales to compare whether it is more appropriate to change shoes or ride on all-year-round ones.
In other words, if you only drive all-year tires, you usually don’t go to the tire repair shop every six months, where they will check your tires and be able to detect defects or broken car geometry. They will also balance your bike, clean the mounting surfaces, replace the air valves, and adjust the pressures. By the way, almost no one checks the tire pressures in a modern car with TPMS, because most drivers rely on these valves.
Also, if it is a reasonable tire repair shop, they will put a tire with a better tread on the back, which they reasonably justify as a prevention against rear axle skidding, which is more difficult to manage and more dangerous than front axle skidding.
Forgoing a visit to a tire repair shop and using all-season tires will save you some money, but it will also remove the control mechanism, because few people regularly check all the tires from the inside, remove the wheels to prevent the rim from sticking to the landing surface and to balance or check the tightening of the wheel bolts.
Last but not least, regardless of (non)visits to the tire service, year-round wear is always a compromise, because it does not achieve the same properties as a comparable summer or winter tire. For that reason, especially due to crisis situations (sudden sharp braking, evasive maneuvers, etc.), for now, together with Milan Krupička, we still recommend changing to summer/winter shoes and leaving all-year shoes only to the second or third car in a family that more or less only drives around town. And when there’s a winter blitzkrieg outside, they just don’t go out.
Although the interest in year-round footwear for cars and commercial vehicles is slowly growing in our country, on a global scale, we as the Czech Republic, i.e. the whole of Eastern Europe, are still rather changeable, and not year-round, compared to the West. However, this trend can also overwhelm us over time.
And probably not because people would start to buy all-year-round shoes from premium brands in abundance, which are more expensive, but mostly developed for use all year round. And not because the motoring public starts to save money and buy cheap non-branded all-year shoes, which are based more on winter footwear.
It is assumed that the segment of all-season tires will expand and develop, as it still has great business potential, newly stimulated by the advent of electromobility. This is because it is a rapidly developing segment, where there will be cars from city ones to utility vehicles to off-road vehicles, i.e. a lot of cars potentially wearing year-round footwear.
Last but not least, year-round footwear is strongly pushed (not only by low prices) by online tire sellers who are riding the current Internet wave, on which people are trying to solve more and more common tasks. Furthermore, due to the development of vehicles, the tires themselves are getting bigger because cars have to look a certain way (design – the wheels make the car) and they have to have bigger brakes because they are generally heavier than years ago. After all, which new car has 13-inch or 14-inch wheels from the factory? 16-inchers are becoming the new standard.
This allows developers, for example, to develop a so-called intelligent tire compound that changes its properties according to temperature. Such a discovery would in turn push all-season tires up the popularity ladder and give its creator a really fat bundle of fragrant banknotes.
And what about you? Do you ride on all-season tires, or do you switch to summer/winter tires for the season? Vote in the poll below!
I ride all-seasons.
I change shoes or ride only in summer/winter shoes.
A total of 0 readers voted.