In the world of winter tires, Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 and the Michelin X Ice XI3, both stand as two of the industry’s leading products, each with unique design features and performance characteristics.
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 is features a robust grip, excellent traction and superior handling, when it comes to wet and icy surfaces, thanks to its wide, crisscross central rib and deep, narrow grooves. On the other hand, Michelin’s Ice XI3 stands out with its higher number of interlocking channels, which offer superior resistance to hydroplaning. Moreover, they also account for better (on-road) snow traction as well.
Side Note: Michelin X Ice has 2 variants, and a better one is actually X Ice Snow. Compare that with Blizzak WS90 instead.
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.
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.
Side Note: In case you are wondering about the Blizzak ws80. We compared it separately here: Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 vs Michelin X Ice XI3
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.
Take Home Points
In conclusion, both snow tires offer exceptional performance attributes, that make them ideal for dry, wet and winter conditions, though there are some key differences between the two, that we found and analyzed above.
The Blizzak WS90 demonstrates superior grip and handling, particularly on wet and icy surfaces, while the Ice XI3 stands out for its lower rolling resistance, increased fuel efficiency, and greater durability.
In terms of noise and comfort, the Ice XI3 also edges out its competitor by delivering you with a quieter ride. And yes, worth reminding, you also get superior hydroplaning resistance with this tire as well.
So which tire suits you best? Hope you know that by now.