Keep in Contact
Although the occasional taste of watery sunshine is giving us renewed confidence that, yes, summer is approaching, Continental is already looking ahead to the coming winter with the release of its new ContiWinterContact TS 830. And while the not so frigid past months may tempt us to scoff at the idea of separate tyres for the colder months, Conti’s decision to bring the TS 830 to our shores reflects the tyre major’s confidence in the handling and safety benefits its winter tyres can deliver, even in the UK.
Intended as a replacement for the TS 810, the new range will initially be available in popular 15 and 16-inch sizes and approved for speeds up to 240km/h. Conti reports that the TS 830 offers further improvements in terms of driving safety, mileage performance and rolling resistance over the TS 810 – in wet condition testing the TS 830 handled the aquaplaning longitudinal and lateral, handling and circle dynamic tests 4 per cent better than the TS 810. Dry weather braking and handling tests revealed 5 per cent better performance, while braking and traction tests in ice conditions revealed that the TS 830 was a significant 7 per cent superior to the older tyre. The new range also recorded 6 per cent better mileage.
These improvements have been made possible through changes to the tread structure, a modified sidewall design and new polymer compounds in the tread. In the development of this new tyre, the emphasis was on braking and setting off in typical wintry conditions, as well as on rainy, wet roads. Matthias Seng, the tyre developer working on the TS 830, thus designed a directionally orientated tread pattern divided into distinct centre and shoulder regions. The tread centre was developed to provide grip on ice, whilst the shoulder section ensures high braking performance in snow. The tyre’s central tread area features more than 100 large lugs and densely packed sipes, offering numerous gripping edges on icy roads. The tyre shoulders are characterised by the many smaller lugs and fewer sipes, providing gripping edges for optimum road holding in snow.
“In the shoulder section we have over 100 lug edges and a total sipe length of 30 metres across the entire tread,” commented Seng. “These are very high values that provide best grip in snow and ice.” The contact patch on the TS 830 tyre is even larger than on the previous model, ensuring larger numbers of effective gripping edges for road contact. Thanks to the functional sub-division of the different sections, Seng believes that the conflict that usually occurs during development between grip in snow and grip on ice was substantially reduced.
In regards to the sipes, they have been designed to provide very good longitudinal flexibility combined with high stiffness during cornering. This allows for a faster steering response and higher cornering speed – both important when confronted with unexpected obstacles that have to be swiftly avoided. Driving in the rain is made more secure through the rapid drainage abilities of the directional tread pattern, which ensure that water and slush are dispersed from the ground contact patch effectively. Conti adds that the tread’s directional orientation allows the tread elements to be arranged in a way that generates very little tyre/road noise.
The use of silica compound in cold weather tyres is a given, and Conti calls their particular variety “H.A.F.T.”, short for Hydrophilic Adhesion Fluid Technology, a compound containing a grip enhancing additive that creates a bond between the rubber and the thin layer of water behind the grip edge. Conti reports that the compound used in the TS 830 not only provides extra road holding in snow and ice, and on wet roads, it also reduces rolling resistance.
“We managed to improve driving characteristics in snow and ice by up to 7 per cent, whilst on wet and dry roads we outperformed the tyre’s predecessor by up to 5 per cent,” said Mr. Seng. Conti adds that the TS 830 is their first tyre specifically developed to support driver assist systems such as ESC.
Production of the ContiWinterContact TS 830 will start in summer 2008, ensuring that the tyre is available from dealers in good time for autumn. The initial range will consist of 18 sizes for 15 and 16-inch diameters in widths between 185 and 215 mm, and cross-sections from 65 to 55.