Unusual I know, but since it’s been a while, and since I haven’t posted anything in quite a while – I thought I’d post something non-IT related: Tyres.

Yep, those things we hate to spend money on, and those things that tend to need replacing when you least expect it.
Normally, I wouldn’t bother posting about such a mundane topic, but any time I try to do research on a topic, and it’s hard to come by – I feel the need to make it easier for someone else to find the same information I spent a long time researching.

The car in question that needed tyres is my 2001 MY01 Subaru Liberty (Legacy) RX 2.5L Manual.
For the record the tyre size is 205/50/R16
Unfortunately (and yet also somewhat fortunately) this size quite limits what I could buy. Most of your run of the mill el-cheapo tyres are simply not made in this size or profile. Although this is a massively limiting factor in respect to price, it does ensure that you can’t really get a ‘bad’ tyre.

I really, really liked the Dunlop SP3000 Sport that came with the car when I bought it. They were extremely grippy in the dry, reasonable in the wet, they were very comfortable and balanced. Their biggest let down was longevity – these things didn’t last 30K Kilometres. I’ll admit to being a ‘spirited’ driver, but it’s not like I’m doing burnouts and drifting around corners.
Despite their problems, they have been extremely fun, but unfortunately they no longer make them in 205/50/R16 🙁

From what I found at my local tyre shops the absolute cheapest tyres that fit (and none of them had any in stock) were the Bridgestone MY02 at AUD$135 each, and although they are massively cheaper than many others, they seem to have a very ‘average’ rating across the internet. It also didn’t help that no one had them in stock.

My closest tyre store was Beaurepaires and they didn’t really have all that much in stock in my size (none of them really seemed to stock much in my size actually). Before I got there I had decided to get one of 3 tyres: the Bridgestone Potenza RE002, the Dunlop SP Sport MAXX and the Dunlop SP Sport FastResponse (depending on recommendation from the tyre guys).
I got none of those.

From reading reviews and posts, I believe the RE002’s would have been slightly better (performance wise) than the SP3000’s I had, and think the Sport MAXX would have been the closest match to the SP3000’s. The FastResponse was only an option because it’s the cheapest.

But of course they didn’t have ANY of those tyres in stock. None of them.

Luckily I had done research on the two they DID have: the Goodyear Eagle F1 Directional 5 and the Dunlop SP Sport MAXX TT.
I didn’t really consider either because of their relative price difference to the others.
Luckily, the guesses I found regarding pricing turned out not to be quite accurate.
Something that really bothers me about this industry (in Australia at least) is the availability of pricing information.
Out of the 5-6 mainstream tyre fitters in Australia, only one had prices quoted directly on their website. The only way to get information from the others is to call up and ask, or use their online enquiry forms – both of which I’m sure will put you on their mailing/phone list.

I ended up going for 4 x Goodyear Eagle F1 Directional 5 for $212/tyre with balance, fitting and alignment; which is actually quite a bit more expensive than the SP3000’s I had before ($160/tyre).

2-3 months in and I’m impressed, but not overly so.
I was told by the tyre expert that the Eagle F1’s are a slightly harder rubber but also should be just as grippy as the SP3000. I made a calculated gamble that for the extra price I should make up the difference in longevity; only time will tell.

So far here are my findings (all of this will be based on a comparison to the SP3000’s as they are the only ones I’ve had on the car):

Ride/Comfort: I found to be quite good; I’d say about the same level of comfort when hitting bumps. Certainly it’s just as good taking on a bumpy dirt road at speed.
Dry Cornering: As good as BUT, it just doesn’t feel the same as the Dunlops. They will take you around just about any corner at speed, but it just doesn’t feel as planted, as stable. It’s quite hard to describe what it is that’s different but it just doesn’t feel like all 4 tyres are working in unison to provide the most grip.
Wet Cornering: Quite a bit improved over the Dunlops, I feel much safer in the wet and I’ve not seen them slip yet.
Wet/Dry Braking: Very impressive in both wet and dry conditions. They’ve already prevented an accident.
Noise: I would say they are a little noiser, but that’s to be expected with brand new treads.
Economy: No idea honestly, I’m not one to measure my fuel costs, I just fill up when I need to. But judging by the amount of times I need to refill a month, I would say it’s slightly better than Dunlop.