A long-running story has come to a close. Most member of the Ottawa Citroën club know that I have been looking for new tires for my 2CV for a while (OK, a very long while…. OK, OK, seemingly forever!). As we all know, 125×15 tires are not sold at every corner tire store in Canada.
In my search for new tires, I was more than a little fussy. I wanted the car to look right. For that reason, some of the easier options (Toyo, Nankang, Firestone) did not appeal to me. I wanted the look of the classic Michelin X. But real Michelins have become very pricey. To make matters worse, some members of the 2CV community in Europe have reported that the new Michelins tend to develop sidewall cracking much sooner than the originals did. Since I drive relatively few kilometers each year, there was a real possibility of only covering 10-15,000 km before having to discard the tires due to age.
Last year, I noticed that 2CV parts supplier Méhari Club Cassis in France had begun marketing their own brand of tires, made to replicate the look of the famous Michelin X. Reviews have been very positive, and sales volume is impressive. After consulting with Michel Larouche (MCC Agent for Canada), I took the plunge over the winter and placed an order for four tires. Luckily Michel had a large shipment of parts scheduled to arrive in Canada in April.
While I waited for my tires to arrive, Terry H and I built our Citroen-adapted tire mounting machine. See that story here.
Finally my four new tires arrived from Montreal, thanks to a friendly traveler who picked them up from Michel and dropped them at my home (thanks Eric van E!). After I got over the original excitement of seeing these lovely things (so black, so round, so soft!), I had a good look at them, comparing them to an actual Michelin, albeit quite an old one.
The tires appear to be well made, with no obvious blemishes. The tread pattern very accurately mimics the original Michelin X (see photo, original on left, MCC tire on right). In addition, the tread area has the proper slightly rounded profile (this rounded profile helps the tire maintain consistent contact with the road throughout the full range of suspension travel for which our cars are famous). The rubber of the tread area is pliable, without seeming to be overly soft. The sidewall of the MCC tire is firmer than the Michelin. This could affect ride comfort and/or handling. On the other hand, when pushed down from above, the tread area of the MCC tire deforms more easily than the Michelin, so that may offset the stiffer sidewall at least in regard to ride comfort.
The next task was to remove the old tires, and mount the new ones. Terry H and I got together to accomplish this milestone. We were removing a diverse collection of tires from my car. Including the spare, there were three Michelins and two Firestones. Two tires had tubes inside them, the other three were mounted tubeless. We discovered that one of the tubes had allowed moisture to infiltrate around the valve stem. That moisture had remained trapped, and had caused some rusting in the bead area, which needed to be cleaned up. All in all, an interesting mix, and a certain amount of unanticipated extra work to. All the more reason to be glad to be doing it ourselves.
Our tire-machine technique improved with each subsequent pass, and soon my car was sitting proudly on four brand-new shoes.
Of course, the day would not be complete without a test drive. Here are my early impressions:
- the ride is much improved (softer, deeper rubber absorbs road shock)
- steering is pleasantly light, and the steering wheel is much quieter in my hands (again, the soft rubber probably is absorbing shocks)
- the car is quieter over rough roads
- absolutely no vibration from wheel balance, up to 105 kph (so far!); to me, this confirms the general knowledge that 2CV tires usually do not require balancing.
So very positive impressions, and the car looked great.
Later that week, I participated in the club’s Spring Outing, and my satisfaction only increased. The car is now much more comfortable to drive, and I felt very confident under a variety of driving situations.
Honestly, I would love to try a back-to-back test between these 2CV-MCC tires and a new set of real Michelins. I wonder if I can talk anyone into such a comparison?