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Review: Bridgestone Blizzak WS70

The Ice Dancers

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70

Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70

Tire Rack
Bridgestone's Blizzak line of winter tires has a long-established and well-deserved reputation for reliability and grip in all winter conditions, and the WS70 is no exception. The successor to the highly regarded Blizzak WS60, the WS70 is clearly an improvement. Although opinions vary somewhat as to its exact placement, the Blizzak WS70 definitely earns a place among the top tier of winter tires, although the dry-road performance does leave something to be desired.

Pros
  • Excellent snow performance.
  • Extraordinary grip on glare ice.
  • Good wet road handling.
Cons
  • Very loose dry-road performance.
  • 'Squishy' handling.
  • High treadwear.

Technology

The primary fashion accessory for winter tires this year seems to be a high-tech rubber compound with an excruciatingly fancy name. For Blizzaks, this is the NanoPro-Tech Tube Multicell Compound, which would be ridiculously funny if the concept behind it wasn't actually pretty cool. The rubber compound contains thousands of microscopic tube-shaped voids distributed throughout the tread, which creates a tiny hole where the tube intersects the surface of the tire. These holes help to draw water away from the tire's contact patch, as well as providing microscopic edges that help to grip snow or icy surfaces. Even distribution of the tubes throughout the tires ensures that new holes are continuously opening up as the tire wears. In addition, the compound is enhanced with particles of silica. Some tire buffs have also suggested the presence of tiny flakes of metal in the rubber, although Bridgestone has apparently been unwilling to confirm or deny such rumors.

As with the Dunlop Graspic DS-3, the high-tech compound is present for only 60% of the tread depth, giving way to a more standard all-season compound for the last 40% of wear. Twin steel belts inside the tire are reinforced by a spiral winding of nylon to increase rigidity at speed. The tread blocks are cut in the classic zigzag three-dimensional siping pattern originally pioneered by Nokian and now used by nearly every snow tire on the market.

Performance: Ice Rink Versus Real-World

Conforming to the basic expectations for any Blizzak tire, the WS70 has tremendous grip on snow and ice, placing it at or near the top on nearly every tester's list. A good many testers and reviewers consider the WS70 to be the best snow tire on the market today. I disagree. Many testing organizations evaluate the grip of winter tires by driving cars on ice skating rinks, which is especially convenient for evaluating new winter tires before any snow has actually started to fall. Under these conditions, the WS70 usually turns in test data that is far superior to all other winter tires. Acknowledging that this is the case - and that it very probably has a great deal to do with the fancy-named rubber compound - is not at all difficult. I do, however, keep in mind that the only people I ever see driving their car on an ice rink are testing snow tires. In the real world, ice surfaces are generally not so uniform unless you spend a lot of time driving behind a Zamboni. Real-world handling on snow and ice is superb, by all means, but there are still a few tires that I consider better overall.

In addition, the WS70 seems to have both wear and handling issues on dry roads. Soft sidewalls and a soft rubber compound combine to give these tires a very loose and “squishy” feel on pavement, especially in warmer weather. The same factors seem to allow for accelerated treadwear, according to many of my customers.

The Bottom Line

The Blizzak WS70 is quite simply a good snow and ice tire at a pretty good price. If not for the unfortunate dry-road handling I would place it among the greats. In any case, it is still a tire I would not hesitate to take into the worst of winter conditions with some confidence.

Available in 42 sizes from 175/65/15 to 245/50/18
UTQG Rating: None
Treadwear Warranty: None
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