Saving at the pumps doesn't necessarily mean losing on performance
PHOENIX, Arizona – Heat waves shimmering off the hot tarmac, a group of automotive media gathered at Firehawk raceway watched two identical Honda Civics free-roll down gigantic Hot Wheels-style ramps. Since we're here to learn about the newest Bridgestone Ecopia EP422 low rolling-resistance tire, we're only marginally surprised to see the Ecopia-clad Civic coast to a stop about 25 metres further than the vehicle clad in conventional Bridgestone Turanza tires.
So then, what better way to demonstrate the tire's effectiveness than to have the cynical and world-weary press experience the difference through their own exertion and aerodynamics (or lack thereof)?
We're directed towards a fleet of oversized tricycles; those painted silver are clad with conventional Bridgestone Turanza tires, while the trikes painted a vivid lime green are – you guessed it – clad with environmentally friendly Ecopias.
Clambering aboard the silver trikes, the whistle blows and we pedal furiously towards the finish line, lifting our feet off the pedals and coasting once over the line. The spirit of competition flourishes as several riders crouch, jockey-like, in order to reduce their aerodynamic drag. Despite the many differences in both technique and driver weight, all of the trikes coasted to an eventual stop several yards from the fence.
Repeating the exercise onboard the green, Ecopia-equipped trikes, I notice a discernible improvement in overcoming inertia; in other words, it's easier to get moving from a standstill to a brisk pace. During the coasting portion, several of us not only reach the fence, but end up shooting through a gap and eventually rolling to a stop not far from the track's entry gates.
Bridgestone claims the Ecopia EP422 offers 36 percent less rolling resistance than the compared Turanza. We certainly came away convinced by the 40 to 50-metre difference in our tricycle test.
So how is this relevant to the average driver who wants an economical tire, but without sacrificing safety and performance?