The other week I drove on the motorway for a short time alongside a Nissan Patrol shod with a set of Simex Extreme Trekkers, aka the Centipede. Man, what a noise they made. They sounded like a squadron of Zero fighters coming in low during the fall of Singapore in 1942 (not that I was there to actually know this, of course). Not crticising the Centipedes here, they're not supposed to be an on-road tyre and there have been many times off-road I've wished I'd had them. Ever since buying a set of asymmetric Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs earlier this year, I've become interested in tyre noise, as they're claimed to be fairly quiet on-road. While you'd expect them to be whisper quiet compared to the Centipedes, I was in for another surprise:
Recently, I had an opportunity to drive a bunch of Skoda models on a 12km road circuit south of Auckland. The route included long patches of our infamous coarse-chip pavement and I noticed how noisy the Skodas' tyres were on this surface. They were running a variety of good brands including Dunlop, Continentals and Bridgestone (lots of Europeans now come with Japanese-brand tyres). Later, out of curiosity, I drove the Jeep with the MT/Rs over the same coarse chip at the same speeds and, despite the Rubicon's lack of soundproofing, they were quieter than the low-profile street rubber. This was a measure-by-ear evaluation but the difference was easily discernible. I'm not suggesting for a moment the Skodas' soundproofing wasn't up to scratch either, as the VW-owned company makes beautifully engineered cars. I'm just reporting an unusual and interesting quirk of tyre design and compounding that may be more pure luck on this particular surface than a stroke of brilliance by Goodyear engineers but, hey guys, feel free to take the credit!