Dedicated Summer Tires or Ultra High Performance All-Seasons: Positives and Negatives

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 by Marshall Wisler

Perhaps the single most prevalent question I get on a daily basis involves tire performance groups and which one is correct for a particular customer. Although many drivers mandate performance as a needed trait, they also desire longer treadwear and softer road manners. As with all things, there's seldom a free lunch and trade-offs exist within tire groupings.

Summer Tires

For drivers looking for handling and maximum dry grip, a summer tire will deliver these traits the best. Featuring firm sidewalls and soft tread compounds, these tires flex less and give up grip after an all-season has already lost its poise. For track use, autocross or extremely aggressive street driving, a summer tire is the most suitable option. Depending on the grip level desired, we have arranged our summer tires into several categories including: Extreme Performance, Max Performance and Ultra High Performance. Of these categories, Extreme Performance Summer tires will be the softest and for the most hardcore of street tire applications. These tires feature very soft tread compounds that are more designed for extreme grip levels than treadlife. Following Extreme Performance Summer, both Max Performance Summer and Ultra High Performance Summer tires offer longer life and are a bit more street friendly. 

To summarize, here are a few positive and negative traits of summer tires:

Pro:

  • High grip level while cornering
  • Harder bite during rapid acceleration
  • Excellent turn-in response
  • Very stable at high speeds
  • Suitable for autocross and track use

Con:

  • Not intended to be used in temperatures below 40ºF
  • Sacrifices treadlife in exchange for grip

Several tires that express these traits are:

Ultra High Performance All-Season Tires

In contrast, Ultra High Performance All-Season tires are scaled down versions of the summer tire line. While featuring reasonably strong and stable sidewalls, these tires are topped with a harder all-season compound that makes the tire suitable for varying temperature ranges. Due to this harder compound, ultimate dry grip will not be as high as a dedicated summer tire. It's not until these tires are pushed to their limits that most drivers will notice a difference.

To summarize, here are a few positive and negative traits of Ultra High Performance All-Season tires:

Pro:

  • Suitable for year-round use in northern climates
  • Includes biting edges for snow traction
  • Good turn in-response that mirrors that of a summer tire
  • High speed ratings
  • Longer treadlife

Con:

  • Lower ultimate grip level than summer tires
  • Not suitable for autocross or track use

Several tires that express these traits are:

Comments on Dedicated Summer Tires or Ultra High Performance All-Seasons: Positives and Negatives

Monday, March 3, 2014 by Aaron:
Is there a difference in ride quality between Summer Tires AND Ultra High Performance All-Season Tires?
Wednesday, March 5, 2014 by marshall@tireack.com:
Aaron,
Typically summer tires have higher speed ratings and stiffer sidewall construction. This will sacrifice road comfort to a degree compared to an all season.

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