Both the Michelin X Ice Snow and the Bridgestone Blizzak tires have different variants, where although you can not go wrong choosing any for winter performance, there are still some key differences to look out for. Let’s check them out!
The Bridgestone Blizzak has 2 variants, the Blizzak WS90 and its predecessor, WS80. Both are 3PMSF rated, and out of them the WS90 does things better overall in terms of grip and handling.
The Michelin also has 2 variants here, where the Michelin X Ice Snow has better traction values, showing superior snow grabbing capabilities and lateral traction compared to Michelin Ice XI3 (which is more oriented towards hard packed snow).
Although we would be covering all tires here, we are going to talk and compare the better key players first.
Bridgestone Blizzak Ws90
Michelin X Ice Snow
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
The Blizzak WS90 characterizes a directional tread pattern having a distinct continual, crisscross rib in the mid (highlighted with blue) with two broad grooves on its sides, multi-directional zigzag sipes, and disjointed grooves that are created due to traction slits along the shoulder lugs.
The continuous rib increases the rubber to road contact and is surrounded by blocks with deep notches and offset sides (having similar siping pattern but at an angle here).
Deeper channels and full-depth sipes remove water and provide good aquaplaning resistivity over the wet and icy road as well.
A relatively smaller void ratio reduces its snow traction in comparison as a lower number of grooves account for less snow evacuation capacity.
Michelin X Ice Snow
Michelin X Ice Snow tire also has a directional tread design with 5 circumferential grooves, 2 types of sipes, an angled arrangement of square-shaped blocks, and relatively smaller shoulders.
The void ratio is higher in comparison, leading to a lesser contact patch which eventually reduces the on-road grip of the tread.
Grooves along with a unique siping pattern which includes rectilinear wide sipes and multi-directional zigzag sipes, provide reliable ability to wipe away water and resist hydroplaning over wet and icy tracks, however, lesser depth of voids makes it less efficient than the competitor in this respect.
Larger void ratio provides effective evacuation of soft snow through the tread and accounts for its better snow traction as compared to its competitor.
Blizzak WS90 vs Michelin X Ice Snow
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 has a better capacity to grip dry roads strongly as more of its surface area is touching the road directly.
It covers a braking distance of only 88 feet when it stops from 50 mph speed on a dry track.
Over the wet and icy surfaces, deeper grooves, full depth, twisted sipes wipe off water and account for superior traction.
It has a wet decelerating distance of as little as 128 feet when stopping from 50 to 0 mph. On the ice, it covers 31 feet when coming to rest from 12 mph.
However, on snow-packed pathways, narrow grooves decrease its evacuation capacity and lead to reduced snow traction, comparatively.
When going from 25 to 0 mph it covers 51 feet over a snowy lane.
For Michelin X Ice Snow, wider grooves minimize contact patch, as a result grip of tread on the dry surface is reduced.
It has a relatively large braking distance on roads. Its dry stopping distance is 92 feet when it stops from 50 to zero mph.
Although it has sipes and grooves to minimize hydroplaning yet its channels offer comparatively less space for water removal, resulting in decreased grip on a wet and icy road in comparison.
Its braking distance on a damp path is 136 feet when brakes are applied from 50-0 mph while it covers 31.7 feet when stopping from 12 to 0 mph on icy surfaces.
An elevated void ratio gives it the favor of better traction on snowy paths as more voids are available for evacuation of snow from the tread.
On snow-covered paths, it shows a relatively minor braking distance of 46.4 feet when stopping at the speed of 25 mph to zero mph.
Both are M+S and three-peak mountain snowflake rated.
FYI: The following video is really recommended, (if you are confused about these tires still).
The Blizzak WS90 performs better with respect to steer handling over the dry road as its shoulder blocks are relatively larger and traction marks over them form a disjointed groove, accounting for firm traction while taking turns.
Discontinuous longitudinal grooves along with deep lateral channels and in-depth sipes provide enough space for the removal of water, resulting in stable traction as the automobile moves around the corner on a wet/icy road.
When it comes to dry handling on-road, Michelin loses from the competitor as its square-shaped shoulder lugs are comparatively smaller and offer limited traction over turns.
Full-depth sipes and lateral grooves among shoulder lugs scrub off water, offer dependable traction while cornering over wet or icy paths. However, a lower depth of grooves makes its performance lesser than the contestant.
Hydroplaning Resistivity comparison
Both of these tires are competent for resisting hydroplaning due to the distinct design of voids and sipes.
However, the Blizzak WS90 takes the lead due to increased depth of its grooves, for tested sizes, its tread is 1.5/32’’ deeper than its competitor, (on average).
Water is quickly wiped off by its wider grooves and multi-directional zigzag sipes, resulting in better aquaplaning resistance.
The crisscross structure of the internal rib further enhances its water wiping ability.
On the other side, the Michelin X ICE presents dependable slip resistivity because its grooves, wide linear sipes, and zigzag sipes are proficient in wiping the water away from the road.
Nevertheless, it stands behind in the competition as its relatively narrow grooves have decreased space available to hold water due to their lesser depth in comparison.
Rolling Resistance Comparison
Blizzak come across more friction while rolling than its opponent as the contact patch is higher due to narrow grooves.
Its tread have a large surface area in direct contact with the pavement, utilizing more energy to roll over, hence, additional fuel is expended.
ICE SNOW has a compact contact patch due to the higher void ratio which eventually leads to a lower rolling resistance in comparison.
As the surface area of tread touching the road is quite limited, less hysteresis (energy loss) is caused while rolling and its fuel efficiency is also superior to its contestant.
Drive Comfort and Noise
WS90 presents more noise on road due to the enhanced depth and straight-line structure of central grooves.
Although its void ratio is comparatively low yet its grooves are deeper and linear, offering vast room for collision, resonation and reflection of wind particles, leading to loud sound while rolling along.
However, an enhanced contact patch and enhanced biting ability of tread lead to better traction and standard comfort while driving on road.
Although the Michelin X Ice Snow has higher void ratio than its competitor, its lugs are arranged in a V-form design, and grooves among them are formed in such an orientation, so that sound waves passing through them automatically cancel each other and less noise is produced as a result.
However, a massive void ratio and less contact patch tend to minimize its road traction, hence, it offers comparatively less comfort on hard paved paths.
Durability and Tread Life
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 has a twin compound structure which is utilized for its tread composition; the first 55% contains NanoPro Tech multicell complex with hydrophilic properties and enhanced traction capacity over snow while the rest of 45% features Bridgestone’s winter standard compound.
Still, its tread wears down quickly as it faces high rolling friction due to the increased contact patch of the tread.
On the other hand, the Michelin has used its innovative EverGrip technology for the composition of Michelin X Ice Snow, which employs rubber inclusions and Flex-Ice 2.0 compound for enhanced tread life and traction over snow and ice.
Owing to this sturdy tread composition and low rolling resistance due to the larger void ratio it wears down slowly and keep on many seasons.
40,000 miles of manufacturer’s tread wear warranty proves its extraordinary durability among other winter specialized tires.
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 vs Michelin X Ice XI3
The Bridgestone Blizzak here again has narrow grooves, and its crisscross central rib is wide and continued circumstantially, making the contact patch of tread higher, therefore, the hold of tread on the surface is firm and better in comparison.
On the other hand, the Michelin Ice XI3 characterizes a tread having five circumferential and numerous lateral grooves among curved and rectangular lugs, prominent zigzag sipes, and tiny dimples.
The presence of a relatively higher number of grooves makes its contact patch lesser, leading to reduced grip on paved tracks.
However, traction over wet is improved to some extent in terms of hydroplaning resistivity (provided by wide grooves).
Compared to Blizzak WS90, the Michelin XI3, also features less aggressive shoulder blocks, lacking traction notches.
Let’s see how this affects the on road traction for these tires.
Road Grip Comparison
Coming to rest from 50 mph on the dry road, while testing, the the Bridgestone Blizzak covered only 89 feet this time.
Deeper and wider grooves along with full-depth crisscross sipes account for better grip on wet because water is wiped off efficiently through these slits.
On a wet road, it stops from 50-0 mph with a braking distance up to 124 feet while the braking displacement for the icy road is 30.4 feet when braking from 12-0 mph.
Over the surfaces covered with light snow, WS90 lacks behind slightly as with narrower grooves less snow is trapped (snow to snow contact increases friction, so it’s better than rubber to snow).
When the vehicle stops from the speed of 25 mph over the snow, its braking distance is measured 51 feet.
Michelin XI3 shows lesser grip on dry paved tracks as an increased number of grooves reduces the surface area of tread in contact with the road.
Tread finds it difficult to grip strongly on the dry road due to a minimal contact patch.
Its dry braking distance is 94.5 feet when going from 50 to 0 mph.
Although sipes, dimples, and voids provide hydroplaning resistivity by removing water from the wet road, the decreased depth of grooves limits its grip on these surfaces below its competitor.
Its braking distance on a wet road is 131.50 feet when stopping from 50 to 0 mph and braking distance over ice is 32.20 when stopping from12-0 mph.
A large void ratio maximizes snow traction because it provides the effective capacity to throw out snow and slush while moving ahead.
Coming to rest from 25 mph its braking distance in the snow is 49.90 feet which is better than its counterpart.
When it comes to dry handling, the Blizzak WS90 here again gives superior performance owing to its large shoulder lugs.
Traction notches on lugs further enhance biting capacity to maintain firm traction as the vehicle steers along the corner.
It can provide better handling on the wet road due to deep grooves formed by notching patterns and full depth multi-directional sipes over the shoulder lugs to wipe out water and offer good steer response.
Steer handling offered by Michelin XI3 over the dry road is lesser than its competitor due to smaller shoulder lugs.
The limited contact patch of shoulders cannot maintain traction while turning along the corner.
Shallow grooves minimize wet traction, leading to a reduction in steering control while taking turns over wet roads.
Resistance against Hydroplaning
Both tires have efficient siping patterns for the removal of slippery liquids, but a higher depth of grooves makes WS90 perform superior in terms of hydroplaning resistance.
In comparison, water squirms out quickly through its zigzag sipes and deeper grooves, crisscross texture on the middle rib act like an efficient water wiper and further enhance slip resistance over wet and icy surfaces.
Michelin Ice XI3 offers a good protection from hydroplaning as its voids along with wide zigzag sipes and dimples over lugs make removal of slippery liquids, possible.
However, its comparatively shallow grooves (there is a difference of 1.5/32’’ in tread depth for the tested size) account for lesser hydroplaning resistivity than its competitor.
Blizzak WS90 faces high rolling resistivity in comparison as it has a higher contact patch due to a lower void ratio.
As a large area of tread is has contact with the ground, more hysteresis (energy loss) is caused, and large amount of fuel is used to roll smoothly over the surface.
Michelin XI3 can roll over the road relatively easily as its contact patch is reduced by the higher void ratio and there is less rolling resistance to overcome.
As less energy is used for rolling, its fuel average is also improved as compared with the contender.
Comfort and Noise
Over paved tracks, WS90 is a noisy tire as sound waves find a lot of space for reflection and resonation in its deeper voids, making much noise.
However, due to superior traction abilities, it offers standard ride comfort on road.
Ice XI3 produces less noise in comparison as its relatively shallow grooves have less space for resonation of air particles.
Thus, it offers quieter and more comfortable driving on road.
Durability and tread wear
Blizzak is less durable than its competitor due to two reasons; first being its tread composition and secondly, it wears faster as it faces more rolling resistance due to higher contact patch.
The dual-compound framework is integrated for the composition of its tread in which the first 55% consists of NanoPro Tech Multicell polymer, offering hydrophilic property and better snow and ice traction, and the lower 45% is Bridgestone’s standardized winter compound.
It wears down faster, especially after the consumption of Multicell compound, and does not come with any treadlife warranty from its manufacturer.
Michelin MaxTouch Construction makes XI3 last longer than its competitor. Its strong tread compound wears gradually, lasting for many seasons.
It is backed by a treadwear warranty up to 60,000 kilometers which makes it stand out in terms of durability among other tires.
In case you are wondering about the Blizzak ws80. We compared it separately here: Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 vs Michelin X Ice XI3