If rank yourself as any level of a petrolhead, then you know the value of using a quality tire on your car or truck. A brand that has been quickly climbing the ranks since 2014 is Sailun Tire. This value brand has been lurking calmly and patiently deep in the shadows of companies like Michelin and Pirelli. With that said, those companies are not their competitors. Sailun exists to ensure people like you are I are using safe and reliable tires on their vehicles rather than settle for fly-by-night brands or even worse, used tires. Given that the tires on your vehicle are single-handedly the most important safety feature choosing a good, reliable solution is paramount.
Atlanta Tire Testing Event Hosted by Sailun
Over two days, Sailun hosted roughly 40 tire retailers, distributors and fellow members of the press for a blind performance comparison. The test drive session, an endeavor unheard of from one of the value brands, was designed to highlight the tire engineering and design capabilities of the company.
Sailun set up two sets of vehicles – a pair of Chevrolet Impalas and a pair of BMW X3’s. Each vehicle was shod in identically-sized tires from Sailun and a top brand in the industry. The markings on the sidewall were shaved off and unless you made a deliberate effort to study the tread pattern you wouldn’t know what tire you were driving on before setting off. Each attendee was given two runs of the tight autocross-style track set up in a pair of large parking lots at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The first run would be at moderate speeds to evaluate the noise level and ride comfort of the tires and a second lap put the pedal to the metal and test the handling and road-holding limits of the test subjects.
Why Test All-Season Tires on an Autocross Track?
You may be wondering, is this a false comparison? Are they bidding a tire that is intended to offer longevity and quiet ride against a tire designed for all-out handling and performance? I can assure you, as was revealed at the end of the day, the tires were matched in design and purpose, with only a massive cost advantage in favor of the Sailun solution being the difference between the two.
So, why push tires that are likely to spend their lives commuting to work or the grocery store? Where a tire shows its mettle is in an emergency. Having to brake and swerve suddenly to avoid a child running into the road from between two parked cars isn’t an unlikely scenario. When emergencies happen, braking distance, road-holding and predictability are top of mind. Stopping 5 feet shorter or swerving two feet further to the left could be the difference between a scare and an ambulance ride.
Autocrossing at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Up first, I was in car one – a black Chevy Impala. I set off from a stand-still towards a watered-down patch of asphalt where we were instructed to perform an emergency braking test. I proceeded into a 180-degree left turn, then a 90-degree to the right into a six-cone slalom at whatever speed I could muster. At the end of the slalom, I was greeted with a U-turn to the right, followed by a faster left and right and more hard braking. A U-turn to the left fed into a tighter five-cone slalom then a tight 180-degree turn to the right and a hard right-left-right combination that ended with a high-speed stop. The tires offered no complaints and the performance was very reasonable for a good-sized family sedan. I returned to the tent and swapped into car two to repeat the run. In this car, as soon as I hit the gas on the way to the wet section, the tires squealed in protest. Wet braking took noticeably longer and the response to steering inputs was slower and more reluctant over the course of the run. The peak cornering forces weren’t the same as in car one and had it been timed; my lap would have been noticeably slower.
After lunch and second brief and educational information session from the Sailun marketing team, we went back to the track and I got my turn at the BMW X3’s. The same thing happened. Car one was reasonably responsive and surefooted. Car two plowed hard and howled through the corners and there was wheelspin from the front inside tire anytime the boost from the tiny engine finally sprung to life. I registered my feedback on their iPad voting system and the day was done.
We regrouped for a run-down of the scores. In every category – noise, handling, braking and predictability, the Sailun Inspire All-Season Performance Tire on the Impala’s equaled or beat the performance of a top tier tire costing roughly 1.6 times as much. The Sailun Terramax HLT on the BMW X3 crossover SUV’s equally outperformed tires that cost twice as much as the top tier solution on the second car.
Sailun has no aspirations to dethrone Goodyear or draw business away from BF Goodrich. Their target is to grow through absorption of the 20% of the business at the opposite end of the spectrum that goes to nameless, low quality, potentially dangerous and unreliable solutions.
If you are looking for a tire that won’t break the bank, comes with a mileage and (in many applications) a road-hazard warranty from a company that will be in business for the life of those tires (and beyond), the choice is extremely clear. The fact that these tires offer performance and longevity levels that rival the kings in the market is not only astonishing, but it also puts into question why some of those tires cost twice as much. Before you consider used tires or a brand that may not exist next month, I implore you to get a quote on a set of Sailun tires. Based on my introduction to the brand, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their value and performance.