WARNING Note from microtopia: Defender is for passenger cars and SUV's, seek professional advice on weight loading for light trucks and full vans. The Eurovan came with a light truck rated tire: The Agilis. GoWesty claims defender is suitable for the fully loaded (6.000 lb) Westfalia. (Which fully loaded WILL hit 6,000 pounds or more (including passengers and luggage).
Article from tirerack on testing defender vs:
"We pitted four high mileage all-season tires against one another on our test track and Real World Road Ride to see which one could claim to be the best: the Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology, Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season, Michelin Defender and the Yokohama AVID Ascend. With both the Michelin and Yokohama models being brand new, would either have an advantage over some all-season veterans?"
Consumer Reports also rated Defender Tops: (Subscription required past landing page: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/tires/buying-guide.htm
Link to stock Eurovan Michelin Light Truck:
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Pennies On The Mile: Michelin Defender Tires Aim to Save Fuel, Last 90,000 Miles
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The folks at Michelin recently paid our offices a visit to give us a technical rundown of its latest tire, the Michelin Defender. Though the full impact of the engineering wizardry that went into Michelin’s new standard touring all-season may be lost on most consumers, a few things caught our attention.
Michelin’s data showed that car owners were keeping their cars longer, meaning vehicles on the road are racking up more miles and conceivably going through more tires than before. To appeal to this increasingly common customer, Michelin launched its Defender line of standard tires earlier this year, which lasts longer and nets better fuel economy compared to the tires it replaces. The Defender has a 90,000-mile/6-year treadlife warranty, and replaces the previous Harmony and HydroEdge series. Michelin says the tire’s silica-based compound offers good all-season grip and stopping performance, while also providing low rolling resistance for higher efficiency and longer service. Though the compound itself was fascinating, the Defender’s innovative tread design is what sets it apart from its predecessors.
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One thing Michelin had to explain to us was the advantages and disadvantages of sipes, the grooves cut into a tire’s compound that make up its tread pattern. A sipe creates an edge that can bite into a surface, providing better grip especially in snow or dirt. Sipes are also good at removing water from the contact patch, and help prevent hydroplaning. But cut too many sipes into a tire, and the tread begins to lose rigidity. Michelin attempts to address this problem with its Intellisipe Technology, which strengthens the tread by molding the sipes in a way that interlocks the tread blocks. By doing so, Michelin can cut many more sipes into a tire without sacrificing rigidity. This feature by itself isn’t new, but Michelin combined it with its Variable Thickness Sipes (VTS) technology, to further stiffen the Defender’s tread.
With the addition of VTS, a series of lateral ridges that vary in thickness get molded into the inside walls of the sipes. Michelin showed us an illustration of a cross-section of one of the Defender’s many sipes—blown up by what must be hundreds of times actual size. Seeing this made clearer how the two technologies increase rigidity, and also made us wonder how this thing is molded. Even if that process wasn’t a closely guarded secret, we’d probably struggle to wrap our minds around its complexity. With its stiffer tread, the Defender has the same rigidity with less mass, always a plus when it comes to cars.
All of this unseen tech helps the Defender exceed the performance of its predecessors, Michelin says. The tire maker claims the Defender can outlast its direct competitor Continental Pro Contact Eco Plus by up to 21,000 miles, while also being able to outbrake the Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring by up to 31 feet in the wet. Michelin also claims the Defender can save up to $250 in fuel over the life of the tires, based on a 90,000-mile test against competitor Yokohama Avid TRZ.
Shows and explains:
How much closer new package will be to fenders
How it will affect brakes and suspension
How it will fill out the wheelwells
See how a new wheel/tire package will affect the fitment
Compare possible upgrades to your OEM setup
See if you can use wider wheels/tires and HOW MUCH wider
See how far new package will stick out comparing to OEM
See which offset you really need
Currently, no new cars come with Defender as original equipment, and Michelin instead hopes to attract customers shopping for their first set of replacement tires – and if the 90,000-mile rating is accurate, it might be the only set of replacement tires they’ll need. Michelin says the Defender will offer more technology, but remain within the same price range of its predecessors. Tire makers themselves do not set prices, but Michelin says a standard size like 215/55R15 might cost about $125 per tire on average. With the range of sizes offered in the Defender line, Michelin says the tire will cover 93 percent of the market.
Typically, if it’s not super-sticky, high-performance rubber, we’re not all that excited when new tires come out. But Michelin has some interesting ideas in the Defender, and if the tires can truly last up to 90,000 miles in the real world, the company might raise an eyebrow or two.
Often referred to as the profile or series, the aspect ratio of a tire is determined by dividing a tire's section height by its section width when the tire is: inflated to maximum air pressure, mounted on the approved measuring rim, and under no load.
Tires, regardless of size, can make a difference in fuel economy through the construction of the tire. The effect on fuel economy is not monumental, but prevalent. The quality of the tire determines the thickness and stiffness of the sidewall of the tire. The more material used and the stronger the bead in the sidewall of a tire reduces the flexing of the tire. The stiffer sidewall makes a world of difference in handling since the tread patch remains in contact with the road surface even in hard turns. With a soft sidewall tire, serious flexing or bending toward the opposite side of the turn are experienced. When this happens, much of the footprint is not in contact with the road and the vehicle is, in essence, close to riding on the sidewall. This flexing effects fuel economy. The stiffness of the tread is another factor. More and stronger steel belts also help in keeping a flat footprint.Sizing of tires:
The numbers on the side of the tire represent tire sizes. For an example, a 225/60/16 embossed on the side of the tire translates to 225, which is the width, 60, which means the tire is 60% as tall as it is wide, and 16 is the size of the wheel that it fits on. Tires can be purchased that are either wider or narrower than original while still keeping the same height, which is the most important. To increase the width of the above tire, simply increase the first number, which is the width by two increments to 245. Drop the second number, which is height to width ratio by one increment to 50, and keep the wheel size the same. Now a 245/50/16 is the same height as a 225/60/16, but wider. Conversely a 205/70/16 is narrower yet the same height.Effects of tire size:
The width of a tire makes no discernible difference in fuel economy. Width however makes a huge difference in the handling of a vehicle. The wider the tire, the larger the footprint on the road. Height of a tire makes a major difference and can adversely effect the operation of the vehicle. The height of the tire changes the final gear ratio. All late model vehicles are set up from the computer to transmission for a certain size tire for the proper gear ratio. A change throws all computations off. The speedometer and speed sensors will not send the correct speed signal to the transmission and shifting points will change. If the tire is higher, the torque level will be reduced as well as the RPM at speed. Many areas will change and conversely if the tire is smaller, the reverse will take effect.Load rating on tires:
It is always a good idea to check the owner's manual or a tire guide at a tire store for the recommended load rating for the vehicle. Tires all have different load ratings. A tire with a lower load rating would be hazardous.Determination of acceptable increase in width:
The owner's manual or the tire guide is the best source for this information. The manual shows a chart with widths that will fit under the vehicle without interference when turning or hitting bumps on a rough surface. If a tire is too wide, it will strike the inner fenderwell and rub in a turn and the rear tires may interfere with the fenderwell when on a rough road.Offsets for wider tires:
On many vehicles, if a wider tire will not work because it protrudes from under the fenderwell, a new wheel with a different offset can be purchased that will keep the tire under the fenderwell by moving it in a certain amount.
Excerpt from TireRack article:
June 9, 2012
What We Liked: Excellent wet traction and reassuring handling
What We'd Improve: A very small increase in dry grip
Conclusion: A well-balanced touring tire
Latest Test Rank: 1st (tie, pending winter test results)
Previous Test Rank: 1st (August '11), 2nd (July '10)
What We Liked: Very good ultimate traction
What We'd Improve: Reduce tread noise
Conclusion: A capable tire for drivers who put a priority on traction
Latest Test Rank: 3rd (pending winter test results)
Previous Test Rank: 2nd (July '11)
What We Liked: Good road manners and responsive handling
What We'd Improve: Wet traction
Conclusion: A refined and good handling tire, especially in dry conditions
Latest Test Rank: 1st (tie, pending winter test results)
Previous Test Rank: Not previously tested
What We Liked: Reasonable road manners
What We'd Improve: A large improvement in wet traction
Conclusion: A smooth riding option for drivers who do not emphasize wet grip
Latest Test Rank: 4th (pending winter test results)
Previous Test Rank: Not previously tested
2012 BMW F30 328i Sedan
A tire with a lower aspect ratio responds to lateral force more effectively than a tire with a higher aspect ratio. The aspect ratio affects steering stability. Generally, the shorter the sidewall, or the lower the aspect ratio, the less time it takes to transmit the steering input from the wheel to the tread. The result is quicker steering response. Aspect ratio also affects the tread contact patch. As a rule, a low profile tire produces a wider tread contact patch. This wider tread contact patch creates a stiffer footprint that reduces distortion and provides improved cornering traction. Aspect ratio also impacts ride. A low profile tire usually has a stiffer ride than the standard aspect ratio of 75 or more.
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
What's in a name? Mr. Shakespeare would say it doesn't really matter. But most marketing execs will tell you that a product's name can make or break even the best invention. New tire designs are often marketed with this same strategy, where the product's name is intended to convey something about its attributes. And with names like Ascend, Assurance or Defender, many of today's newest Passenger and Standard Touring All-Season tires have been given strong names in hopes of striking a chord with consumers.
All that marketing strategy may sound good in theory, but how do these tires drive out in the real world? To find out, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive on a group of four Passenger and Touring All-Season tires with strong product names - the Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology, Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season, Michelin Defender and Yokohama AVID Ascend. Our evaluation used 2012 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 215/60R16 tires mounted on 16x7.5" wheels.
What We Learned on the Road
Our 6.6-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.
Out on the road all four tires delivered good overall ride comfort. On our test cars the Michelin Defender held a small advantage over the Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology. Both tires felt taut and controlled without any undue harshness. The Yokohama AVID Ascend and Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season also rode well, but displayed a little more jounce and jiggle immediately after larger impacts.
The Defender did the best job minimizing tread pattern growl and impact noise. The ProContact with EcoPlus Technology also did a good job at limiting both, with only a small amount of tread noise. The AVID Ascend was right behind with minimal tread pattern sound and only a modest amount of ping or ringing sound when encountering sharp impacts. The Assurance TripleTred All-Season rounded out the group with a moderate amount of tread pattern growl. We anticipate this tire's aggressive tread pattern will pay dividends when we conduct winter weather testing in the coming months.
The Defender also felt very responsive, with a reassuring and direct feel in the steering wheel. Our team also liked the crisp initial steering response of the Assurance TripleTred All-Season. The AVID Ascend and ProContact with EcoPlus Technology followed with smooth steering response and predictable handling.
What We Learned on the Test Track
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, a 5-cone slalom and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.
During the abrupt maneuvers on our track in dry conditions the Michelin Defender and Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season both displayed quick, crisp steering response. The Defender felt a little more nimble while the Assurance TripleTred All-Season showed it has a fair amount of ultimate grip. The Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology was just a little slower to respond to driver inputs, but always felt composed and reassuring. Close behind was the Yokohama AVID Ascend with just a little less overall responsiveness and traction than the others.
Things were more clearly separated in wet conditions, where the ProContact with EcoPlus Technology's combination of composed handling and good overall traction helped it lap our course in the shortest time. The small overall traction advantage but slightly less precise handling of the Assurance TripleTred All-Season put it very close behind the ProContact with EcoPlus Technology. Somewhat back from these two was the Defender, which felt a little slippery when it reached its traction limit. Trailing the others by a fair margin was the AVID Ascend, which struggled to find traction.
Fuel Consumption Results
Due to a technical issue we are not able to publish fuel consumption results for this test.
Driving In Winter Conditions
We will conduct subjective and objective tests in the snow and on the ice in the coming winter season. Stay tuned for the results once testing has been completed.
Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology (Standard Touring All-Season): The ProContact with EcoPlus Technology is Continental's Standard Touring All-Season tire developed for coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles. It is designed to enhance driving pleasure, save fuel and maintain wet braking grip while providing long wear and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season (Passenger All-Season): The Assurance TripleTred All-Season is Goodyear's premium Passenger All-Season tire developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans and minivans looking for confident, all-season traction. It is designed with three unique tread zones to provide year-round drivability and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Michelin Defender (Standard Touring All-Season): The Michelin Defender Standard Touring All-Season tire has arrived to serve the drivers of family cars, minivans and small crossover vehicles looking for tires that will provide a confident driving experience that helps protect those they care about most. In addition to enhancing vehicle fuel economy by meeting Michelin Green-X low rolling resistance objectives, Defender tires are designed to deliver extra long wear, comfortable driving characteristics and all-season traction in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even in light snow. Read more.
Yokohama AVID Ascend (Standard Touring All-Season): The AVID Ascend featuring T-speed rated sizes is Yokohama's first mass-produced Standard Touring All-Season tire line in the United States using Yokohama's Orange Oil technology and branded with their BluEarth eco-friendly identification. Developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles, the AVID Ascend is designed to blend long treadwear, low rolling resistance and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.