Review of the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80

King of Ice, and a Whole Lot More

ws80.png
Bridgestone's Blizzak WS80. Bridgestone USA, Inc.

When we reviewed Bridgestone Tire's Blizzak WS70 years ago, we said, in essence, that it was a good but not quite great winter tire. But the next generation in the line, the Blizzak WS80 (the WS meaning "winter studless") remains a major improvement and one of the best studless winter tires you can buy due to its tread compound. 

Technology

Here are a few of the latest technologies that went into making the WS80:

Optimized Footprint – The WS80 is specially shaped to optimize the tire's footprint and evenly distribute pressure across the tread for better grip and better water or slush evacuation.

Next-Gen Tube Multicell Compound – The specialized Tube Multicell Compound, which features tiny "Swiss cheese" voids throughout the tread, still comprises only slightly more than half of the tread depth. However, for the WS80, Bridgestone has added a “hydrophilic” (water-loving) coating, which allows the voids to suck up even more water.

Bite Particles – Much like other top-tier winter tires, the WS80's tread compound contains microscopic “bite particles” that add grip on sheer ice. Bridgestone will not say what these particles are, only that they are not walnut shells.

3D Zigzag Sipes – Zigzag siping patterns present multiple biting edges to the surface, while the internal 3-dimensional topology of the siping cut prevents tread blocks from flexing too much, decreasing both wear and “squishiness.”

Angled Tread Blocks – The internal band of tread blocks is set at a 45-degree angle to the spin of the tire. This technology is now used on most top-tier snow tires and really seems to work wonders at improving lateral snow grip.

Increased Block Edges – The WS80 has smaller shoulder blocks, which increases the biting edges of the blocks by 20 percent as well as increasing lug channels.

Bridgestone says that this increases overall grip by 10 percent. The shoulder blocks have a small sipe running parallel to the tire that is 3D-cut to improve lateral stability.

Micro-Texture Technology – The surface of the tread is artificially roughened for that last iota of grip.

Performance

When the WS80 was first introduced in 2014, customers were concerned that improvements to performance might compromise the spectacular ice performance that has long been the hallmark of the Blizzak line. Those concerns turned out to be groundless. Repeated runs on sheer ice proved unquestionably that the Blizzak is still the King of Ice. Straight-line acceleration and braking on sheer ice beat the other tires by a mile.

Then again, the only people who actually drive on ice rinks are tire testers and Zamboni operators. The real test is how the tire performs in mixed snow and ice conditions in the real world, and this is where the WS80 very clearly improves on its predecessor. The most obvious, in-your-face improvement is in lateral snow grip, which is quite simply superlative. Whether entering a turn or recovering from an induced slide, these tires catch at the snow like Velcro hooks, engaging with an amazing amount of authority and fighting for every last iota of grip.

Braking is also noticeably excellent.

The tires feel quite firm but very smooth on a variety of surfaces, with very little play in the sidewalls. Steering is precise with no hint of squishiness.

Bottom Line

The WS80 is a clear improvement over its predecessor, taking advantage of a large number of technological leaps forward that have been going on since the WS70 was introduced. Bridgestone has taken many of the best of these leaps and applied them to its own technological leap forward to make a tire that is more than the sum of its parts. Blizzak fans need have no fear that the King of Ice has lost a step in its rightful domain—it has not. Instead, it has taken a big step forward in terms of pure-snow and real-world performance that keeps the new Blizzak among the very best of winter tires.