Hands up if you really care about tires. Anyone, anyone? Truth is only those with petrol coursing through their veins really seem to care deeply about what tires they put on their car, even though more people should.
As the old saying goes, tires are the only part of the car contacting road. The importance of these rubber circles cannot be stressed enough.
But what is a consumer to do? There are countless choices out there spanning a price chasm that could swallow a small city. The first thing to do is set priorities. What is it you want the most out of a tire? Performance? Longevity? Value? Once this has been established, it is time to perform some research.
If value for the money is at the top of the priority list, it will soon be discovered that tires can be lumped into three basic pricing categories. There is tier one, which features the household names like Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone. Tier two offers mid-price tires from recognizable names like Hankook, Kumho and Cooper. Those really looking for a deal however will most likely venture into tier three – the value tire tier.
Not All Tires Are Created Equally
Buyer beware. Quality, research and development can vary vastly from one company to another. One tire could be some cobbled together pieces of rubber while another could have painstaking developed and engineered. A company that falls into the latter is Blacklion.
Based out of China, Blacklion tires are made by Jinyu, part of the Sailun Corporation. Sailun is an international company with engineers and test facilities worldwide including North America. All of the tires are built in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and the company claims product quality matches that of popular tier 2 tires.
The BU66 Champoint
To see if this is true, we decided to put the tires to an extended test. The tire we would evaluate is the Blackpoint BU66 Champoint. This is Blacklion’s ultra-high performance all-season tire meant for sportier sedans and coupes. Not a full-blown sports car tire, the BU66 features an asymmetrical tread pattern with the inside tread portion designed to expel water while the outside tread with large sections of rubber to give optimal grip on dry surfaces. The tires are rated at AA for traction and A for temperature; the highest possible ratings. They feature a silica compound and come in V, W and Y speed ratings. And like most modern tires, there is a built in rim protector.
1. The Blacklion BU66 Champoint is available in 18 sizes.
2. The tire is rated at 300 treadwear, AA traction and A temperature
3. This is Blacklion’s ultra-high-performance all-season tire.
We installed a set of 215/45R17 tires on a 2008 Suzuki SX4 Sport Sedan. It may seem like overkill putting high performance all-season tires on such a car, but the SX4 does come standard with Dunlop SP Sport tires, which is exactly the kind of tire Blacklion is targeting.
The tires were installed with 42,262 miles on the Suzuki’s odometer with the tire’s tread depth measuring in at 9.5/32nds. The tires asymmetrical tread design looks appealing enough, but the Blacklion and Champoint letter on the side of the tires is rather large. You’ll have a hard time hiding the fact that these are tires from a discount brand.
Quiet and Soft
On the road we immediately noticed how quiet the BU66 Champoints are. Blacklion makes a big deal of how the tread pattern was designed to limit road noise and it pays off. In fact, they actually seem quieter than the Dunlops they replaced. Fuel economy in the SX4 has always been bad considering its modest size and power and the Champoints did not improve this any. On the flip side, the tires did not make it any worse either.
For a sportier tire, the sidewalls felt a bit soft and roll over a bit more in the corners than I would like. However, the soft sidewall leads to a much smoother ride. Comfort gained vastly outweighs the slight loss in road grip. In the wet, lateral grip is great with braking and accelerating adequate for this class of tire.
Shortly before we took the tires off of the season, temperatures were approaching 32 F. These tires were no longer in their proper operating zone, but didn’t become “blocky” and feel like four squares like some other high performance all-seasons do.
When the tires finally did come off, the Suzuki was reading 47,418 km on the odometer. We put over 5,000 miles on these tires and re-measured the tread depth; just over 8/32nds in the front and just under 9/32nds in the back. This seems to live up to the tires 300 tread wear rating. We would guess a 25,000-30,000 mile life expectancy from these tires wouldn’t be hard to achieve with proper care and rotations.
The Blacklion BU66 Champoint is available in three 16-inch, eleven 17-inch and four 18-inch sizes. The tire is not perfect, but no value tire is. The point of the BU66 was to be just as good as the “tier 2” tires at a lower price and here, they definitely succeed. For more information and local pricing, visit Blacklion Tire Group.