Bridgestone OE run-flats now on par with conventional tyres – test
Run-flat tyres have often been blasted for the inferior comfort they deliver, however a recent European test gives hope that puncture avoidance may no longer equal a harsh ride. German motoring organisation ADAC and Austria’s ÖAMTC put four Bridgestone run-flats to the test, and found one to offer comparable ride comfort and fuel consumption to an equivalent standard tyre.
Referring to its inaugural run-flat tyre test in 2002, which it claims was the first such test performed anywhere in the world, the ADAC reported “marked deficits in comfort and fuel consumption”. Returning to run-flats in 2013, the ADAC and ÖAMTC put Bridgestone’s ER300 RFT Ecopia, ER300 RFT, S001 RFT and LM32 RFT up against comparable standard tyres; the motoring organisations noticed that since the 2002 test the “weaknesses of the run-flat system seem to have been remedied”.
Tests were carried out using a BMW 1-series with size 205/55 R16 H tyres and V/W3 and a Golf VI with tyre size 225/45 R17 W4. Bridgestone’s latest generation original equipment tyre, the ER300 RFT Ecopia, was deemed comparable to the equivalent standard tyre in four of the five tested areas – dry and wet handling, comfort and fuel consumption. In terms of the latter two parameters, the ER300 RFT showed improvement over the previous generation BMW OE tyre, the ER300 RFT. The older model performed better in wet performance testing, however. The replacement market S001 RFT and winter LM32 RFT both delivered comparable fuel consumption to their respective standard equivalents, while comfort was inferior. The winter tyre was also shown to have comparable braking and traction qualities in ice and snow, plus comparable snow handling. All tyres performed significantly better than standard tyres in the breakdown running capability parameter.
“In comparison to conventional tyres, the externally indistinguishable reinforced sidewall run-flats now have equal performance, while the previous generation performs relatively poorly in terms of comfort and (fuel) consumption,” states the ADAC test report. “The improvement in run-flat performance primarily results from the ambitious specifications set out by the vehicle manufacturer. Comfort performance still needs to improve for replacement market and winter tyres, however.”
José Enrique Gonzalez, Bridgestone Europe’s director of consumer marketing, describes the importance of run-flat tyres for Bridgestone as follows: “Tyres with run-flat technology are very important for the company but even more so for the end-user. These ADAC and ÖAMTC tests clearly show that enormous progress has been made versus the original RFT tyres from the late nineties: not only in terms of comfort but almost in all performance areas. Consequently, our latest tyre with run-flat technology performs as well as a conventional tyre. This was also translated in an increase in sales, both in the original equipment and replacement markets. In original equipment BMW and Mercedes are the main car manufacturers who apply RFT tyres with our latest technology. Regarding the replacement market, this tyre concept has become increasingly popular which translates in a sales increase of 39 per cent over the last three years (2009 to 2012). We believe that for the next five years, the market for tyres with run-flat technology will continue to grow by 23 per cent.”