BFGoodrich is coming up with a new extreme-performance tire, the Rival. That category of tire is the last street-legal step before you go to the dark side with race-only tires. If you are looking for mind-blowing performance, you owe it to yourself to shop in that category. The usual suspects are the Hankook RS3, Toyo R1R, Yokohama AD08, Kumho XS and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup.
Until now, BFG’s most extreme street tire was the Comp-2. Launched in 2012, the Comp-2 tire received first place on TireRack’s ultra-high-performance tire survey, not bad.
Michelin acquired BFGoodrich in 1988, so while BFG tires are solely manufactured in the USA, BFG benefits from all the research and development Michelin can offer. Think about it, all the goodies at a lesser price and made in the USA!
The Rival offers a couple of very distinctive features that make BFG hope it will be the next big thing. To prove its worth, they invited us for a full day of torture testing against the competition. Keep reading for our impressions first hand.
UPDATE: BFG posted two new videos to promote their new Rival tire, check them out after the jump.
For those of you who like technical descriptions, graphs and schematics, please see the slides and the audio file. They show all the specifics of this new tire – the most distinctive feature being that added rubber on the tire shoulder.
Short Autocross - Subaru STI - BFG Rival vs Hankook RS3 vs Toyo R1R
We started the day on a triplet of Subaru WRX STIs fitted with 245/40R18 tires. First car was mounted with the new BFGoodrich G-Force Rivals, the other two were equipped with competing products aka Hankook Ventus R-S3s and Toyo Proxes R1Rs.
The Autocross track was small and ideal to test the behavior of the tires in sharp turns and hard braking. While all the three sets of tires are very competent and feel at home on the short track, the new BFG Rival brings an additional sharpness to the steering that the other two couldn’t match. After driving the three different configurations back to back and talking with the other journalist in attendance, everybody felt the same and ranked the Rivals on top of the other two.
For future buyers, the most telling test was the appearance of the tires after a couple of torturous runs. We started the session with brand new tires, our test group put 30 runs on the competing tires and 45 on the BFG Rivals. At the end of the exercise, the Rivals looked far better than their competition. The Hankooks looked decent but already showed a slight edge deformation while the Toyos looked like they had been on the losing end of a battle with a box of razor blades. I have to admit that the Toyos are the cheapest of the bunch, but after such a short number of runs, I’d be upset to see my tires looking so sorry.
Clear winner: BFG Rival with sharper handling and amazing resistance to tread wear. Keep in mind they are the most expensive tires of the group.
Hankook Ventus RS3
Toyo Proxes R1R
Skid Pad –Mazda Miata- BFG Comp-2 vs BFG Rival vs BFG R1S
You are all familiar with the skid pad exercise, take a car, lock the steering angle on the inside line of the circle and keep increasing but steady throttle until you reach the maximum lateral G-forces. This time around we only experienced the BFGoodrich brand, starting with the small brother, the BFG Comp-2, then the middle brother, the BFG Rival, and finished with the very serious and sticky BFG R1S.
The Comp-2 was very easy to control and smooth but gave lower lateral G-force results – roughly 0.8g. I wanted more, and slid into the BFG Rival equipped car. Rich of my first experience, I managed to get the car on the line a little better and play with the throttle so that it was not a total embarrassment, and that landed me a decent 1.16g of lateral force. Happy with myself I jumped into the final car, which was equipped with the BFG R1S confident that I could beat my earlier performance. Unfortunately, my driving skills fell short and I could not keep the tires at maximum grip long enough to get a reading better than 1.16g.
Humbled by the experience, I had to admit that the intermediate performance of the BFG Rival was a much better choice for me at this time and that I will certainly need a couple hundred more hours on the track to be worthy of the slicks.
BFG Comp2 Vs Rival Vs R1S
*Number one if you can master it
At the end of the autocross, I was convinced that the BFG Rivals had something going on with their “g-Control” sidewall inserts, which providing sharper steering, but I could not pinpoint what other elements were distinctive about them. After the skid pad test, I figured it out: smooth control! The BFG Rival made me feel like a better driver than its big brother the BFG R1S, which is a full-fledge slick tire.
Long Autocross –BMW E46- BFG Rival vs Hankook RS3
Now that I was more familiar with my new best friend, the BFG Rival, I was eager to get into the next game, hmm sorry … “exercise.” Behind our ready and brave E46 M3s, a longer autocross was offering its faster corners and high-speed slaloms. The bad guy was the Hankook Ventus R-S3 sized 245/40ZR18, same as in our previous test with the Subaru STI.
This time I was able to really enjoy the smooth control and sharp response provided by the Rival, so much that my first run was a little thrashy with plenty of squealing understeer and oversteer, a perfect example of hooninganism. I chose to keep the same hot headed spirit for my second run, which came in the Hankook RS3 car, to see if my overzealous style would be handled the same way.
The Hankooks were still keeping me away from the cones, but I had to work a lot harder and the adrenaline was pumping a lot higher as well. The Hankook Versus RS3 is a very good tire, but when you’re pushing the limits, you can feel that is it a tad behind the BFG Rival. Steering response is slightly slower and the they let the tail wag a little too much – not always a bad thing, but we’re not at a drifting competition.
If you ask me how much separates these tires, I’d say 10 to 15 percent. That is not much, but at the end of the run the BFG Rivals looked really good, while the Hankook started to show some sign of deformation on its edges.
To conclude, both tires provided great handling, but if it was my money, I’d fork the extra $19 and pick the BFG Rivals. They provided better and faster feedback and their resistance to wear was again impressive.
Hankook Ventus RS3
Racetrack - BFG Rival vs Falken RT-615K
With the festivities coming to an end, the grand finale was a battle on the NOLA Racetrack with fully prepped Ford Mustang FR500s equipped with the now-familiar 245/40ZR18 BFG Rival vs Falken RT-615K. The Ford FR500S is a very impressive car, fully caged and with straight exhaust making you feel that you are not worthy of placing your behind in the driver’s seat. During the high speed test, we had a professional driver to coach us around the track, but it is hard to push a car to its limit when you can only have two laps in it.
As much as I wanted to extract the most of the experience, my goal was not to crash the car, so I kept it pretty safe. When I came back to the paddock, I could not think of anything else other than me trying to find the next corner and make sure I was not turning the opposite way. Regarding which tire is the best tire, I’ll declare a tie on that one…
I hope our friend at BFG will offer us the opportunity to long-term test their products against our current set of Yokohama AD08, so that I can report on real high speed track feedback.
BFGoodrich was pretty confident in inviting us for a fun day at the NOLA Motorsport complex, putting its latest product head to head with the competition, but we now understand why. The BFG Rival stands out from the competition, offering smoother control, better feedback and the cherry on the cake, longevity!
The skid pad exercise was an eye opener for me, as this category of extreme-performance tires is what I am in the market for. I am not ready for the compromises of slick tires and I am still driving to the track anyways, so I still need something streetable. The BFG Comp-2 was a good tire, but the new Rival earns its place above it and in my next shopping cart!
GREENVILLE, S.C. (January 23, 2012) – BFGoodrich® today unveiled a new extreme performance tire called the g-Force™ Rival™. The tire will help BFGoodrich target a growing market of drivers seeking extreme performance tires which are versatile enough to be used in auto-cross and track-day events then driven home. The tires have a 200 UTQG Rating (Uniform Tire Quality Grade) which allows them to be used in racing where drivers must compete on 140+ UTQG tires.
“The g-Force Rival helps BFGoodrich fill a growing need in the extreme performance market,” said Andrew Koury, BFGoodrich brand manager. “From autocross to road course events, on street or the track, we want drivers to own it.”
The Rival complements a successful BFGoodrich launch of the g-Force™ Sport Comp-2™ ultra-high performance street tire which was introduced in February 2012. Unlike the mostly street driven g-Force Sport COMP-2, the g-Force Rival was designed for track level abuse while providing drivability on the street. The g-Force Rival is predictable, allowing drivers to turn faster lap times1, and turn heads on the street. Highlight features include:
· Razor-sharp reflexes - The Performance Racing Core™ (PRC) with a reinforced internal structure reduces sidewall flex for instant steering response.
· Designed to stick - Asymmetric tread with large, solid tread blocks on the outside shoulder to optimize cornering grip.
· Raise the limit - Extreme Tread Edge™ (ETE) design brings tread compound farther down the shoulder for increased grip in hard cornering and predictable feedback.
· Consistent grip lap after lap — Silica-infused competition compound delivers better grip from start to finish.1
· Street legal with a UTQG treadwear rating of 200 so you can drive to the track and back.
The Rival will initially launch with 15 sizes with rim dimensions from 15-20 inches and 205-335 section width. The product will be available through TireRack.com with pre-orders beginning on February 1.
Using motorsports as a proving ground for more than 40 years, BFGoodrich® Tires is involved in every type of racing, including sports car, drag, desert, dirt, rally and extreme rock crawling. BFGoodrich Tires combines technological expertise with vast motorsports experience, delivering a high-performance tire for every type of vehicle. Visit BFGoodrich Tires at www.BFGoodrichTires.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BFGoodrichTires or on Twitter at @BFGoodrichTires.