The Yokohama AVID Ascend is a Grand Touring tire that offers remarkable tread wear with, the company says, little or no sacrifice in grip. They are also made using orange oil and represents Yokohama's first foray into the mass production of fresh-squeezed tires.
Three years ago, Yokohama introduced a tire called the dB Super E-Spec, which offered a 20 percent reduction in rolling resistance without the usual corresponding drop in traction. The key: new technology using oil derived from orange peels to displace some of the petroleum that's typically used in tires.
Tires, like any manufactured product, are a compromise. In this case, the compromise is between traction, tread life, and rolling resistance. According to Yokohama engineers, tiremakers have always had to "pick one, blend two, or average three." But orange oil allows engineers to make the tire better in all three categories.
At first, Yokohama was slow to embrace this emerging technology; it offered the Super E-Spec in just four sizes. A racing slick that used orange oil followed, but the market was still quite small. Then, earlier this year, the company debuted the AVID Ascend, a new orange oil tire. The big difference now is that the AVID Ascend is available in 45 sizes and will probably fit your car. Here is a little primer on the tech to help you decide if these new tires are right for you.
The idea of using alternative oils instead of or in addition to petroleum in tires is not a new one. Yokohama has been doing so for 20 years and does it for different reasons depending on the application. In its ENV-R1 and ENV-R2 racing slicks, the company uses orange oil because it allows the tires to maintain a steady stickiness over more laps, resulting in a more predictable eventual breakaway. (In other words, the tire is more resistant to continued high temperatures.) The orange oil helps to stabilize the interaction of the natural ingredients in the tire with the synthetic stuff.
Should you look into the AVID Ascend when you go to buy your next Grand Touring tire? Yes, we definitely think so. These tires might not wipe your global conscience clean, or even smell citrusy fresh at your local mall, but they do drive well. They're very quiet on the highway and there's no indication of them being rock hard to get those remarkable tread wear numbers. Grip is there in the corners, and the steering feel is precise and weighty, without tramlining or any notable susceptibility to tracking in road ruts.
Tires, who knew that they would someday be using oranges to make improvements to them.
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