Advances in both the chemical formulation of the rubber and the tread design have enabled Japanese tyre maker FALKEN to create a new road tyre that provides both wet weather grip and better fuel efficiency. Until now, tyre engineers have struggled to offer lower rolling resistance and the highest levels of wet weather grip, finding attributes to be usually mutually exclusive.  To be able to achieve this challenging balance, Falken had to look at alternative ways to reduce the heat and therefore the energy required to deliver the desired grip performance required for a European premium tyre.

The solution was to use silica in combination with long, modified polymer chains, a new rubber compound has been developed which reduces excess heat generation and therefore, rolling resistance. By using silica in combination with long, modified polymer chains, the new rubber compound reduces excess heat generation and therefore, rolling resistance. The result is a 3.8 percent fuel saving compared with a non-optimised tyre. The strain characteristics of silica have the additional effect of increasing the contact area and grip for the same tyre diameter. Enlarging the contact area also provides car drivers with an additional benefit. By reducing the contact pressure, the tyre’s operating life is also extended, a handy advantage for the vehicle’s running costs.

Falken’s engineers also looked closely at using the tread pattern to get better wet weather performance. The answer was a total of four wide tread grooves in the tyre cap design to allow for efficient water deflection and achieve superb hydroplaning resistance. Additionally, the staggered sipes integrated into the first tread block at the shoulder break up the water film more effectively than conventional tread patterns.

Like its predecessor ZIEX ZE912, the new ZIEX ZE914 comes with tread wear indicators to precisely monitor tyre wear. The Falken “Special Eyes” indicators change shape with increasing wear letting drivers know when it is time to rotate the tyres to maximise tyre life further. The “Special Eyes” change shape twice: from round to square and ultimately to a smooth surface.

The ZIEX ZE914 will be available in ten sizes with speed ratings of V, W and H at launch.

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