Auto Service World
Feature   March 1, 2010   by Translated And Written By Michel Poirier-Defoy, Editor, L'automobile

Michelin LTX M/S2: Bibendum Redefines The L/T Standards

Carolina was the location where Michelin presented to a small group of select tire specialists and automotive journalists late last year the second generation of its legendary LTX M/S. The LTX goes ba...

Carolina was the location where Michelin presented to a small group of select tire specialists and automotive journalists late last year the second generation of its legendary LTX M/S. The LTX goes back to the early-nineties when it was designed for light trucks, but soon gained in popularity in the SUV segment of the market as these vehicles took on growing market share. The new LTX M/S2, available across Canada throughout the Michelin network will feature no less than 38 sizes.

Belts, siping and silica

While designing the LTX innards, the Michelin engineers added an extra steel belt, a feature that is also found in the off-road BF Goodrich Terrain tires. This added steel belt gives the LTX loading capacities reaching some 13,500 pounds when built to the 10-ply load E specs. This allows the new tires to cope more effectively with the stronger and heavier chassis designs on today’s new vehicles.

The tread design is quite similar to a winter tire with each block carved with the familiar sawtooth siping. Michelin announced it would add a winter compound formula for some sizes and turn the LTX into a full snow product by the fall. Four longitudinal ribs leave enough void area to provide plenty of grip to handle mud, snow and sleet. While light truck eight-and 10-ply rated sizes are still legal in Quebec — where Law 42 states drivers must place winter tires on their vehicles from December 15 to March 15 — Michelin wanted to make sure the new-generation LTX would be available with the snowflake-mountain logo to meet the new legislative requirements in the Quebec marketplace.

The tire’s tread design provides a smooth ride which has been a Bibendum trademark for ages, and the side blocks help reduce noise and vibrations.

In the last decade, the introduction of silica in the compound has become a household item for passenger products, enabling them to stop in shorter distances and providing a longer tread life. The new LTX joins the club and the overall contact patch is now larger and cornering ability is also improved.

On the road again

Out of Asheville, North Carolina, we traveled a few hundred kilometres on the famous Blue Ridge highway in the Smoky Mountains, a region where pothole is not a word in the dictionary. Our trek was a mix of four-lane highways, twisty and narrow back roads and city boulevards. It turned into a long windshield wiper test with rain pouring constantly — but the LTX M/S2 lived up to the promises made by Michelin.

Our final destination was Michelin’s test center in Laurens, a huge 4,000-acre Fort Knox sibling property where tires are put to torture and one must be credentialed to enter. We carried our own testing with the LTX M/S2 by matching it against its two familiar competitors — Bridgestone and Goodyear. On the wet braking strip, our Michelin mounted Silverado HD regularly took 10 per cent less distance to come to a full-stop, and on the figure-eight skid pad, it provided better lateral grip and its overall lap times were faster that its competition.

When we decided to really push the LTX to its limits, we experienced a lot of under steer and had to ease off the throttle to regain control. The competitors did the exact opposite, turning in easily but drifting sideways rally-style until the truck went around sharply. Still, it has to be said that the chances are slim that most drivers will ever push the tires to the same extremes we did on the test track.

The LTX M/S2 is available across North America in 38 sizes from 225/70R16 up to 275/60R20 in P-Metric (with three extra load) and 15 LT sizes from the very popular 235/85R16E up to 275/65R18E.


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