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Old 1st July 2009, 16:29   #1
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Default Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives

Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives-dsc03610.jpg
‘Fun to drive’ is a term that ranks highly in my book. While its definition may be different for each driver, I believe that 100 percent of team-bhpians would agree with me when I say ‘driving on the limit’ is fun.

It is the same as walking along the edge of the cliff with the fall on one side fully aware that you can get killed if you make a wrong move. You run the risk and you get the rush. Simple!
Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives-dsc03589.jpg
I was used to driving my Baleno shod with modest 185/65R14 Good year GT3s when I felt the need to upgrade to wider 15inchers. 185mm is reasonably wide but grip is more a character of the quality of rubber than the quantity. These hard compound tyres are just about mediocre in grip and it was easy for the engine to overcome it. All full bore starts were accompanied by wheel spins that made a comeback while shifting to second. While cornering, they would scream at the top of their voice to let you know you are pushing them too much and then they would lose their grip and the car would go into a slide. Which can be quite tricky to correct and dangerous when you can’t.
Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives-dsc03598-copy.jpg
I have been driving around with these tyres for some time that I have got used to it. The procedure is like this- Choose a wide road, approach the corner fast, lift off the accelerator and turn hard into it. Then you can sense the rear coming out at which point you turn the steering in the opposite direction just as to keep the front wheels pointing in the direction you want to go. If all is well, you will come out of the corner with your tail stepped out and a wide grin pasted on your face. Get it wrong and you could spin out and end up mostly facing the direction you came from. And that is if you don’t hit anything. Once I had got an idea of the danger, I have been trying to master this. In fact, I was doing it so much that it was even bordering on the side of fun.
Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives-dsc03601.jpg
Anybody who has driven a go-kart would swear that it was opposite locking in corners that was more enjoyable that going flat out through them taking the correct line. You appreciate the directness of the steering, realize the amount of actual throttle input required etc when you correct a powerslide. The front wheel drive Baleno’s steering is not as direct as in a go-kart and you can’t even powerslide it, but is fun nevertheless.

I was overstepping the limit of adhesion between road and the tyres and enjoying every bit of it. It may not be easy to bring it back to the correct line, but when you do, the rewards are plentiful. Till you get to the point of sliding, you get pulled outwards by the centrifugal forces. When your tail gets sliding, you feel the yaw acceleration vector. This second phenomenon which made physics classes dull, takes an interesting dimension when it comes to the fun factor you have in the car. Sure, it is not the fastest way out of corner but who is in a hurry?
Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives-dsc03579e.jpg
Coming back to the tyres, the Goodyears were good for this kind of driving. It isn’t good for fast driving and you feel the lack of outright grip when you are trying to be as fast as possible, say when you are catching up with someone running grippier rubber. You can’t have as much speed through corners as you want and you can’t even brake very efficiently. You have to work double hard by sliding the tail and correcting it but still it won’t work very efficiently outside hairpin turns. It is a technique that you could deploy as a party trick to impress your friends. Or for the fun factor associated with it!
Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives-dsc03606.jpg
I am sure many of you would have enjoyed this feeling when you were into the last legs of tyres at which time, you were sliding your car in an effort to be fast. You would have loved to keep it that way were it not for the liking for high speeds and in the interests of safety.

With two years of sliding around precariously, I decided to play it safe. So on fellow bhpians’ recommendations, it was Yokohama S drives. And on shopkeeper’s recommendations, it was 205/50R15s, the widest the Baleno could accommodate without rubbing. I am not the type who speed up to 160kmph on every possible occasion; 100-120kmph is my ceiling. 195s would have been fine but I decided to go one step further because if I found the 195s lacking in ‘grip’, I would be in tears. They say, 205s are overkill in a stock car and would only add up to the unsprung mass, but at high speeds (if I need to), it would definitely help. And it should definitely help in the braking department.
Getting to grips with the Yokohoma S drives-dsc03609.jpg
After changing the tyres, I was more concerned about the steering getting heavier than anything else. I have driven the car with 165 straight from the showroom to the tyre dealer and felt the steering delightful and light, changed over to 185s and found the steering effort increase but still acceptable and I couldn’t believe what it is with 205s now. The steering feels as if the power steering has stopped working. At moderate speeds, it is ok, but at parking speeds, it is too heavy for my liking. Minus one for the wide Yokohama S drives, then.

I felt that the engine seems to have become less powerful. It now has to deal with the additional drag of the tyres. It used to spin its wheels during start ups at anything above 2000rpm, but now I need to gather more revs if I want that. That also means additional loads on the clutch. What about the second gear wheelspins that accompanied quick shifts near the redline? I need to live without that as well.

Then as I returned home on the same road, I couldn’t help but wonder how the surface got damaged all of a sudden. It has been barely three hours in the tyre shop and the road seems to have lost its smoothness. Aah…the low 50 profile is to blame here! There was too much tyre noise inside the cabin too. In fact, after some unexpected jolts I was looking through the rear view mirror to see if there really was any imperfection because I failed to see any. The Baleno which was gliding over potholes was now crashing into them. I used to take through broken roads without giving second thoughts but now I must be more careful.

So the tyres which were supposed to make me faster were in fact slowing me down.

Not really because, on the positive side, the braking was awesome. It wouldn’t lockup even if I stood on the pedal at about 80kmph. It is like having ABS without the pulsating brake pedal. I could now brake late and scrub down speed much faster before entering the bends. And I don’t really have to reduce my speed that much because I now have a lot more grip. I could now take corners at 85kmph that would have been catastrophic at over 50kmph.

I could make more violent mid-corner corrections to avoid something which normally would upset the chassis and cause it to go wayward. Even lane changing manoeuvres are tighter and more manageable.

The wet grip is phenomenal. I don’t really know if it is the width or the tyre pattern or the rubber compound that does the magic, but the combination really works! Aquaplaning is now reduced drastically and there is sufficient braking force and traction to inspire you to push it further.

I live in a place where people look at fast young drivers like the ‘anti-christ’. And just adjacent to my house is a corner that is a sweeping 90 degree right hander. Earlier on the Good years, I had to reduce my speed to 60kmph to avoid any tyre squeal as reports of my ‘reckless driving’ would come straight to my home. The last time I did 90kmph and all I had to do was keep the engine revs low. People who would otherwise step back in terror at something with a screaming engine and squealing tyres weren’t even looking when same thing went past them at 90kmph. It is interesting to note that most people associate tyre squeal to very fast driving. So I am now safe from the bad boy image while doing much higher speed.

Another noticeable difference is that earlier, there used to be some inside wheel spin in Baleno which made it nearly impossible to exit the corners in full throttle. Now even if I try hard powering out of a sharp bend, there is nothing but a more vigorous pull at the front end.

The Baleno also feels more stable in a straight line at high speeds too. At 140kmph, it feels as if it were doing 110 kmph on the previous tyres.

As for the Fun factor, I am missing out on the cheap thrills like wheelspins, the controlled tail slides etc. It is transition from yaw acceleration to more centrifugal acceleration. I must adapt a more conventional driving style to drive this car quickly now. The other day, I made a wrong entry on the pocket road to my house. The reason was that previously I used to handbrake briefly before taking the sharp left turn where the rear wheels would lock up for a second and I could turn 90 degree without shedding the speed much. I did the same, except that the rear wheels didn’t lock up. I ran wide but fortunately, I could brake and stop without hitting anything.

Besides, I believe there is something like the grip developed by a supreme combination of suspension and the chassis. Drive a car like the Ikon/Fiesta against a Corsa/ Verna and you would know. The weight of the engine, the rigidity of the chassis, the stiffness of the suspension, the amount of compliance built into it all give the car a certain level of grip. It is best enjoyed at a certain speed. You realize it by the balance of the chassis and its poise in corners. Cars with not so much grip from the tyres are mostly just as fast due to this. Even if they aren’t as fast, they are definitely more fun.

You can make any car faster by putting wider tyres but to make it fun, that is not enough. Even a car with uncommunicative steering will feel instantly better as you upgrade the tyres. But there are certain things the chassis would normally communicate in an ideal combination of tyre grip and chassis requirements. All I have done here is to mask the communication channel with more grip from the tyres. Earlier it would tell me when I should ease off from the accelerator and when I should turn in. Now the tyres are generating far more grip than before and I needn’t listen. I can turn whenever I want and it would oblige. It is like a blanket which covers the chassis’ inabilities so that it appears to be very capable. It is not real.

Worst of the lot is the steering feel which I feel has lost its charm. Now the steering feels much heavier and the feed back is also different. Earlier it used to be a girl with soft palms but now is more like a heavy man shaking hands with you. It feels stubborn and unfriendly. It is now like a servant who obeys without protest.

For ‘on the limit’ driving, I am not into it any more. On the older tyres, it was much easier to reach the limits. There was a sense of fun when it was losing the grip, you were opposite locking and regaining control. Now it is all gone. Or it is still there but I will have to try harder.

On the whole, it just got faster !
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Old 1st July 2009, 17:39   #2
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Well, this just answered my question on the other thread. Superb read
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Old 1st July 2009, 18:16   #3
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Vivek,

You've kept this car very well! Congratulations! Fantastic read on your experience with the S Drives. aspect ratio of 50 is indeed low buddy. But what fantastic road manners the Baleno must be exhibiting.
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Old 1st July 2009, 19:16   #4
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vivek that's a nice review there pal. Couldn't agree any better with the braking part ,the car feels stable at speeds over 140 kmph, yeah I have pushed it really hard. However I still find the suspension inadequate to take corners at speeds in excess of 80kmph.
The best thing about these tyres is that they stay planted to the road and never complain.

Quote:
Worst of the lot is the steering feel which I feel has lost its charm. Now the steering feels much heavier and the feed back is also different. Earlier it used to be a girl with soft palms but now is more like a heavy man shaking hands with you. It feels stubborn and unfriendly.
Care to explain this part? I ask is only coz I have done a fair bit of driving on these tyres and I felt the steering to be a tad bit lighter in comparo to the other Goodyears and Apollo's I have used. Oh and btw am running 205's in the front.

Last edited by rjstyles69 : 1st July 2009 at 19:17.
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Old 1st July 2009, 19:43   #5
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Wonderful report Vivek as usual. The pics are great too.

Your post answers pretty much all the questions such as ride quality expectations post the upsize etc.

Enjoy the new feel and drive safe bro.
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Old 1st July 2009, 20:09   #6
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good review, I had asked a few questions on the other thread but all that is answered here.

Good that you are enjoying, but the ride comfort still makes me thinkg 195 vs 205s. Only time will tell how impulsive a buy its gonna be.
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Old 1st July 2009, 22:36   #7
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So the road noise according to you is less on S drive ? Heavy steering feel with broader tire is something I would not want to have. Presently I am thinking of 185/65 R14 for my upgrade of Fiesta stocks. Your suggestion greatly appreciated !
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Old 1st July 2009, 22:43   #8
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You have good writing skills

I have 205/55/R16 Yoko S-Drives on my Mondeo, they are nowhere near Michelin PP2's when it comes to road grip. But they do perform well around corners.
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Old 1st July 2009, 23:19   #9
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Lovely review though I don't quite agree with the conclusion. The S-Drives are strictly OK tyres. My only experience with them is on a Swift ZXi and on it ABS would kick in every time i even gently touched the brakes.

If you really like pushing it, the PP2 or Neovas are far far better.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 07:02   #10
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The Michelins are expensive and the neovas even more. In addition, the Neovas make you much slower in a straight line and last 1/3rd as long as the S drives.
The S Drives seem to be the most practical option right now for the enthusiast on a budget.
Cornerning, braking, traction and wet weather grip are all far far better than the spindly potenzas that I used to think were the best VFM/performance combo.
I still feel that feedback was better on the potenzas, or maybe, after running 30k on them, I'm so used to them that I feel the feedback is better.
On corners, I do push pretty hard, and the S drives hold very well, its me that loses my nerve, not the tyre.

I do have doubts about prolonged high speed runs on S Drives though(120kmph and above for 10 minutes or more) I had one experience where i was doing a constant 140-160 through sweeping bends and long straights keeping up with another mad bhpian in an LPG swift. Towards the end of that section, the car was very skittish, and i had to back off for a few minutes. Forgot all about it and speeded up back to 160 again on the same drive and everything was fine.

The wierd bit is, i took the car to 170 for a few seconds the day before that and it was rock solid. it seems to be the prolonged high speeds that the tyres dont like. short bursts are handled very well.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 10:34   #11
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Vivek.
So much for just a set of tires...
Amazing writing skill and a great eye for clicking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjstyles69 View Post
Care to explain this part? I ask is only coz I have done a fair bit of driving on these tyres and I felt the steering to be a tad bit lighter in comparo to the other Goodyears and Apollo's I have used. Oh and btw am running 205's in the front.
Thats because u are using different rims for different set of tires.
Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
Lovely review though I don't quite agree with the conclusion. The S-Drives are strictly OK tyres. My only experience with them is on a Swift ZXi and on it ABS would kick in every time i even gently touched the brakes.
At what speed ?
But still, i find it hard to believe that ABS would kick in with just a gentle touch of brakes, even with JKs it shouldn't.
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Old 2nd July 2009, 11:36   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpzen View Post
So much for just a set of tires...
Amazing writing skill and a great eye for clicking.


I was also wondering if I had to spend so much on just four wheels.

But for some reason I do feel they are worth the money though
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Old 2nd July 2009, 11:43   #13
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Great writeup Vivek. A very different kinda review of the S Drives!
I could identify with your cornering experiences. I enjoy the odd fast corner myself in m,y PP2-shod Lancer. Much more fun than a straight line run
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Old 2nd July 2009, 13:37   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivekji05 View Post
‘Fun to drive’ is a term that ranks highly in my book. While its definition may be different for each driver, I believe that 100 percent of team-bhpians would agree with me when I say ‘driving on the limit’ is fun.
hey, that's a bit of mad driving. Definitely mad. wet grip should be good. As Ripper said, high speed endurance may not be that great. watch out. enjoy the new grip.

Last edited by Technocrat : 3rd July 2009 at 12:01. Reason: Please avoid quoting entire text of a post specially when its on same page. Thanks
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Old 2nd July 2009, 15:02   #15
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Pretty predictive.
Especially since you're comparing 205mm Yokohama S-drives to 185 Goodyear GPS 2.
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