We needed another car in the household and it had to be simple, inexpensive to operate, and safe. Given my success with Honda Civics in motor racing, Honda is always on my short list. One Facebook message later and we’d arranged the purchase of a Honda Civic sedan.
Since it came from our favourite Honda dealer, services were up to date and the car met both local safety regulations as well as Honda’s used car standards. That never tells the full story, particularly when you have an unusual fetish for the way in which a car handles.
Overall, the car was quite good, but the tires didn’t provide the driving experience I was looking for. The Motomaster tires that came fitted to the car felt very heavy on each corner of the car and they made a lot of low-frequency road noise, the kind of noise that’s annoying and wears you out on a long road trip.
Even though they passed in Ontario safety inspection, they didn’t seem to be very good. It seemed like there was a little bit of rolling vibration with the tires themselves. As well, grip in both the wet and dry was very low, and the tires offered little feedback to the driver.
To be fair, these Motomaster tires were date-coded from six years ago and while they met our local safety standards, they were junk, in my opinion. In short, these American-made Motomaster tires were tired. (We’ll discuss the subject of driving on old tires another time, but in general, for your own safety, it’s best to replace tires that are five years old or older.)
Conveniently, the easiest way to improve your car’s performance is with a set of new tires, and that goes for any vehicle. Also, conveniently for me, I’d met Darren Bossence of Sailun Tire while co-hosting the Dave’s Corner Garage radio show.
I mentioned my tire dilemma and Bossence immediately offered to provide a set of Sailun Atrezzo Touring LS tires for testing. (Disclosure: While Dynamic Tire, the company that represents Sailun in Canada, provided the tires, I paid for the cost of the installation, as well as a second set of OEM wheels for the car.)
Over the years, I’ve raced nearly every brand of racing tire and driven nearly every OEM tire imaginable, but haven’t had any experience with Sailun. For my application, I was looking for a quiet and comfortable all-season tire, and this set of tires would only be driven during spring, summer, and fall. Winter tires are your friends, my friends.
The tired Motomaster SE All Season tires were the OEM size, 205/55-R16, and were replaced by the same size Sailun Atrezzo Touring LS. Street price on these Sailuns is typically under $90.00 each in Canada.
Since I was using a second set of OEM wheels, I was able to test the tires back-to-back on the same day, on the same driving route, in the same weather.
Initially, I found the Sailun tires to be much more compliant and were superior to the Motomasters under braking. Additionally, I noticed that the Sailuns made the Civic feel much lighter and agile, with better steering feel.
What’s also interesting is that all the low-frequency road noise was gone, clearly a result of the old Motomaster tires, and I could actually hear much more from the car, whether it’s the sound system or the Civic’s little four-cylinder engine.
Where the Motomasters had horrifically low grip in the wet, the Sailuns were a refreshing change, offering much more lateral grip and traction under braking in the rain. Comparatively, the Motomaters were like hockey pucks in the wet, and it’s the kind of difference that can be described as night and day.
Given that the road noise of the Motomasters bothered me, I was also curious about how the Sailuns would impact my ears. With that thought in mind, I brought along a sound meter and discovered my impressions were founded in science.
The Motomaster tires produced an average of 87 decibels between 80 and 100 km an hour on the highway. After installing the Sailuns, I took the same route and recorded an average of 83 decibels at those same speeds. Those numbers don’t seem like much on the screen, but four decibels is a significant difference to the ear.
Long story short, even though the Motomasters were entirely legal and met our local safety standards, it was clear after the switch to the Sailuns that running those six-year-old tires was downright dangerous and they simply needed to be thrown out (well, recycled, to be honest). The old Motomasters had much less grip in every driving condition and felt like lead weights at each corner of the car compared to the Sailuns.
Overall, new tires from Sailun were an easy way to improve the handling of this Honda Civic and I’m most impressed with the increase in braking ability in both the dry and wet. Again, even though they’re an all season category tire, they’re only used in the summer on this car.
These Sailun Atrezzo Touring LS tires were a great way to improve the performance, safety, and NVH of this little Honda Civic.
Images courtesy of the author.