Can fast tires also be quiet?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Oct 31, 2022 | tires, Maxxis, GRM+, 200tw, Victra VR-1 | Posted in Tires & Wheels , News and Notes | Never miss an article

Photography by Chris Tropea

Performance tires have traditionally traded speed for comfort. After all, does a little hum on the highway matter when you’re clipping apexes?

But we noticed something while driving on the Maxxis Victra VR-1: For a 200tw tire that has performed well in our track tests, it’s still rather quiet and civil around town. So we asked questions–like what causes a tire to be loud and, without giving up trade secrets, how do tire companies mitigate those noises? 

[200tw Tire Test: Valino and Yokohama Take on Favorites From Hankook, Maxxis, Bridgestone and BFGoodrich]

There is a difference between road noise and pattern noise,” explains John Wu, an engineer by training and now director of product strategy at Maxxis. “Road noise is what you hear when the road is coarse and you hear this ‘roar’ inside the cabin. 

Pattern noise,” he continues, “is usually a more cyclic howl that you hear when the road is glass smooth. It’s especially bad on mud tires, as I’m sure you’ve heard them on these big, lifted trucks driving down the highway.”

Reducing that pattern noise, Wu explains, is a big concern when designing tires for road use: “Pattern noise has been proven to cause driver fatigue, and certain frequencies can resonate with interior parts, causing even more annoyance.”

A true slick, he notes, produces the least pattern noise. It’s the tread needed to provide wet weather performance that creates that howl: “The strategic placement of grooves determines how quiet a tire is. The location, shape and dimensions of each of the grooves will have huge influence on the pattern noise. Other things such as profile, mold design and other factors all play a role as well.”

A Tire Rack tech piece shares more on the process: “If every tread block (pitch) featured the exact same size and shape, each one would generate the exact same sound tone and intensity as they rolled through contact with the road. This would result in all four tires contributing to an unpleasant monotonous tone.

In order to keep that from happening, tire designers use computers to sequence multi-pitch tread designs that subtly vary tread block size and shape to randomize the road contact and resulting noise. They also offset circumferential block placement of neighboring ribs to reduce noise by aligning lateral grooves with adjacent tread blocks.”

Every tire segment has different levels of acceptance,” Wu explains, “so our engineers and product planning team set targets for each new product accordingly. For the VR-1, we designed it to be a true street tire–therefore, our engineers didn’t pursue dry performance at all costs but made sure the tire worked well in the rain, wears well, heat cycles well, rides well and isn’t too loud.”

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msterbeau
msterbeau New Reader
6/10/22 2:46 p.m.

Civilized?  Pffft...  

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe PowerDork
6/10/22 5:44 p.m.

If you are running 200tw tires, tire noise is the least of your problems. 

 

Thought it is nice to know that you can run them to and from an event and not be droned out of your car. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/10/22 6:20 p.m.

True story, it was time to put new tires on our Civic Si, and on the way back from JG & Duck Tire Svc. I was like, these are way too quiet for 200tw.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/11/22 2:00 p.m.

Still not understanding how a mostly smooth tire can be "loud".  I mean, I hear enough people mention it to accept that it can be a thing, but I don't get it.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/16/22 11:47 p.m.

I can't hear anything above the sound of my Miata exhaust. 
 

 

NickD
NickD MegaDork
6/17/22 6:12 a.m.

The Nexen N Fera SUR4G were really quiet on the road and they didn't tramline at all, despite the pretty aggressive alignment my car had on it. The downside was that they were also absolutely silent when you were driving the car hard, there was no noise until you were overdriving the car and it just chewed them to bits.
 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/17/22 10:27 a.m.

In reply to NickD :

Yeah, somewhere there's a desirable point between quiet and talkative. Some communication at the limit is appreciated. 

te72
te72 Reader
6/21/22 1:23 a.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Personal experience with R888R's on an LS400 tells me that they have a weird hum to them that is not exactly pleasant. Even at low speeds, so I don't think it's so much the wind creating it in this specific car's case. Too big a smile on my face autocrossing a big car like that to really care, but yes, it's a thing. A weird thing, admittedly.

 

Other unexpectedly civil tire? Kuhmo V730, in the ubiquitous 205/50/15 Miata fitment. Drove it 500 miles round trip for an autocross last year, and was pleasantly surprised at how quiet and rain worthy it was, in new condition. Now that it's had a half dozen events on it... I suspect it wouldn't do as well in the rain. =P

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/21/22 6:38 a.m.

In reply to te72 :

When I look at the V730 tires that have more than a half dozen events on them, they sure don't look like they would work on the wet. The outside 2/3 is a slick. 

They're good tires for dry autocross though. I've driven on them for a few events in my friend's 19 civic sport, and I was impressed. He trailers it to events, so not much street driving. 

Cactus
Cactus HalfDork
6/21/22 12:32 p.m.

If you have unmuffled side pipes, all tires are quiet.

Karacticus
Karacticus GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/21/22 12:48 p.m.

If your HPDE run group tracks after the Spec Miata group, it won't matter how quite your tires were before you took the track. 
 

After three quarters of a lap of pretty severe extra rubber rumble, I threw a chunk of rubber at a car as I pointed him by that looked like it could have been a roof shingle. 

te72
te72 Reader
6/22/22 8:52 p.m.

In reply to Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) :

Doc, at that point in a tire's life, you're right. When new though, I was able to drive across the state (Wyoming) and back, in pretty heavy rain on the way back too. Didn't miss a beat even at 70+ mph. Would probably make a decent street tire for a couple years, if you're like me and only get 3-4 months of decent weather.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/22/22 9:39 p.m.

Tire howl is a real thing.  I can't believe some of the tires some spec as OEM.  My Civic Si is all tire noise right now.  My wife's Tiguan was the same way.  When we changed tires on her car at 30k miles it was a totally different and better car.  Updating the tires on my Colorado also helped quite a bit.  I will be doing Continental All Terrain Contacts on my wifes new Tahoe in another 25k miles or so too. 

aw614
aw614 Reader
8/2/22 1:43 p.m.
te72 said:

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Personal experience with R888R's on an LS400 tells me that they have a weird hum to them that is not exactly pleasant. Even at low speeds, so I don't think it's so much the wind creating it in this specific car's case. Too big a smile on my face autocrossing a big car like that to really care, but yes, it's a thing. A weird thing, admittedly.

 

Other unexpectedly civil tire? Kuhmo V730, in the ubiquitous 205/50/15 Miata fitment. Drove it 500 miles round trip for an autocross last year, and was pleasantly surprised at how quiet and rain worthy it was, in new condition. Now that it's had a half dozen events on it... I suspect it wouldn't do as well in the rain. =P

Interesting about the V730 being more civilized, I had the previous V720 and those roared like I had a bad wheel bearing. 

te72
te72 HalfDork
8/2/22 2:55 p.m.

In reply to aw614 :

Might also be the car. My Miata is all stock in regards to suspension, so no additional NVH from poly or solid bushings, plus it's a soft top. It's not exactly a quiet highway cruiser to begin with. Perhaps those same tires on a different car would be unbearable.

Rotorav8r
Rotorav8r
8/2/22 9:27 p.m.

In reply to te72 :

I can second the V730's. I have 255/275's and they are quieter than my Michelin PS3+'s.  

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