New Shoes for the MINI
The MINI got new shoes today (this is the third set of tires on the car in its life).
Here’s the history:
- Pirelli eufori@ Run-Flat (OEM) – Pretty good tires, but they wore really quickly. By 20,000 miles they were done for. One of the four had a persistent super-slow leak (it would take weeks before it lost enough air for the “low tire pressure” indicator to light up, and since they were run-flats, you could never tell by looking at them that they were low). I ditched these when I replaced the set because replacement run-flats are too expensive; it would have cost well over $1,000 to buy a new set for the car.
- Falken Ziex 512 – Switching to the Falken non-run-flat tires made a slight difference in the handling characteristics of the car. It was a little less harsh (the run-flats are really stiff) and seemed somewhat more responsive (the Falkens are quite a bit lighter than the OEM run-flats). I got about 33,000 miles out of these, which is great. In the last 10,000 miles they got noticeably louder and developed a bad case of cupping and wear on the inner edges of the rear tires. The odd wear is probably due to the wheels being slightly out of alignment, but the shop where I took the car tells me that Falkens are prone to cupping. By the end, the Falkens were quite loud.
- BFGoodrich g-Force Sport – Admittedly, I’ve got all of 50 miles on these tires now, so you can take my comments with a grain of salt, but I’m stunned at what a difference they made in the road manners of the car. It feels like the car lost 500 pounds (this is a car that only weighs in at about 2,300lbs)! Turn-in is much crisper, and steering feel is lighter and more responsive. The car rides smoother and is MUCH quieter than it was before. If my experience long term is anything like the initial impressions, I’m going to be VERY happy with these tires.
The tires weren’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination — just shy of $600 mounted and balanced — but when you’re buying tires in this size (205/45×17), you have to expect you’re going to drop some dough. Sports car tires don’t come cheap. But these were comparatively inexpensive at about a buck-and-a-half a piece, and they seem far superior to the old Falkens (which were about the same price…$125 each or so).
So…if you’re looking for replacement tires for your MINI Cooper S with the Sport Package, take a look at the BFGoodrich g-Force Sport.