Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Winter Edge Tire

New MotoMaster winter tires promise an affordable and safe snowy drive

By Jim Bray
October 5, 2023

My son has just retired.

Not from his job, mind you (though I'm willing to bet he'd love that as well!), but from his aging winter tires to a brand new – and surprisingly affordable to these eyes – set of full winter tires from Canadian Tire. The new rubber appears to be a sequel to an earlier model because the folks at Canadian Tire have named them "MotoMasterWinter Edge II" so I assume these are an upgrade to an earlier version.  

I haven't dealt with Canadian Tire for auto service in many years, though we do shop their local stores quite often. It's interesting to see just how they've expanded their offerings, too, from "tires" to an amazing assortment of home and garden stuff, small appliances, you can just about name it. About the only thing I haven't noticed in a Canadian Tire store is a full grocery section like you'd see in places like Walmart. And that's okay with me.

But we've purchased our favourite clock radios there (they project the time onto your bedroom ceiling, feature battery backup, and automatically know when to change times for Daylight Savings, all of which are really handy in a clock radio that sold for less than 20 loonies). We've bought toys for the grandkids (and their grandfather, occasionally), found a little basketball we mounted on the antenna of my wife's SUV so she can find it better in parking lots (I'm so embarrassed!), we've bought innumerable garden thingies, etc. etc. etc.

But I hadn't considered using the stores to service our vehicles because I already have a relationship with technicians who specialize in German cars like my A4 Avant but deign to "slum" it with my sweetie's RAV4.

Then Canadian Tire's PR folks got in touch to tout the new tires, even going so far as to offer me a complimentary set to try. That said something to me about their confidence in the new product, but unfortunately neither of our vehicles is close to needing new rubber. My son, however, really needed some for his 2002 Lexus IS 300, so I asked if that would work and they agreed it would!

Needless to say, we were just as complimentary to the CT folks as their tires were for my son. More so, probably, since the tires didn't say anything nice to us at all. But the folks at the Beacon Hill (Calgary) Canadian Tire auto centre were very nice, quite professional, completely prepared for us (well, I'm not sure they had mace) and the job was done when they said it would be.

Anyway, the new MotoMaster Winter Edge II "builds on the success of MotoMaster's original Winter Edge tire by maintaining its excellent snow performance and improving its ice performance." Ice performance is really important to Calgarians because our City Idiots have a policy of snow removal by Chinook, which means they wait until one of our famous Chinook winds raises the temperature around here to above freezing, thereby allowing the snow to melt by itself and allowing them to spend the money they save on bike lanes and "Pride" crosswalks, etc.

Alas, the Chinooks only melt some of the snow on the roads and the rest turns immediately to ice upon the end of the Chinook, making our streets more like hockey or curling rinks than actual thoroughfares.

Winter Edge II

Which makes something like the Winter Edge II's purported ice performance darned important, especially in a rear-wheel drive vehicle like my son's Lexus sport sedan.

Here are a few other benefits of the tires, according to Canadian Tire's publicity materials:

  • * Strong handling performance: The three-dimensional sipe block provides superior control stability and minimizes block movement. ​
  • * Enhanced acceleration: Directional design/tread and the spiral booster structure prevents hydroplaning by draining snow and water.​
  • * Reduced snow accumulation: The grip in step shoulder design prevents snow accumulation while braking or accelerating.
  • * Better grip: The optimized soft compound in the ice-radial technology maximizes contact area and provides better grip on icy and snowy roads. 

The tires also meet 3PMSF certification standards for traction, temperature resistance, and handling on slippery surfaces (sounds like those tests would have been fun!). "3PMSF indicates a winter tire that can handle snowy and slippery roads, as well as low temperatures, and meets the minimum requirements for providing snow traction," the company says.

According to the company, they're also:

  • * Snow Peak Rated (the 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol indicates the tire is rated for Severe Snow Service. This is the acceptable standard for winter driving in Canada and provides improved safety on snow and ice.)
  • * Mud And Snow Rated (the M+S symbol differentiates an All-Season tire from a Summer only tire. While rated for light snow, they will not match a winter tire for traction or stopping distance on snow and ice.)
  • * Optimized soft compound in the ice-radial technology maximizes contact area and provides better grip on icy and snowy roads
  • * Available in 46 sizes spanning across passenger & CUV fitment (except, apparently for the 235/45/17's my A4 takes - and doesn't that just figure?), and in rim diameter sizes of 14 to 20 inches. And you can get them with an H or a T speed rating.
  • * The tire delivered significantly improved winter performance on both Ice and Snow–comparable to the top national brands–while maintaining a well-balanced performance across their testing categories.

Winter Edge IISo far, and wouldn't you know it, there has been no snow and/or ice on our southern Alberta roads, despite it being possible to have snow any month of the year. So, it looks as if these MotoMasters also take care of winter itself! I hope not: handbrake turns on snowy parking lots are a blast!

It has only been a week or so that Canadian Tire installed the tires on my son's Lexus, so all he can report fairly so far is some first impressions. And they seem impressive, especially at the very reasonable price of $190.99 per corner. Heck, I'm used to paying nearly twice that for my car's winters!

Anyway, so far, he says the tires glide well and are quite quiet. They also appear to handle very well, and there's no squealing (which, in my never humble opinion, means he isn't trying hard enough!).

I know many people prefer to use all-season or "all-weather" tires so they can have one set they can run all year. Here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, however, I've found we're served better by using all-seasons in the warm season and dedicated winters in the colder sections of the calendar. This is mostly because you never know when it's going to snow here and when the white stuff comes in June, July, August or September it's generally light enough that all-seasons are perfectly adequate, whereas summers might handle like a curling rock on the rink.

But we also usually get a couple of dumps each year that – especially given the quality of drivers' skills lately – can wreak havoc on the city streets. So, we still do our semi-annual changeover, except that instead of going from summers to winters, we swap our all-seasons for winters. And it has to date worked very, very well, allowing us to continue plowing through our unplowed streets while avoiding sliding idiots who shouldn't be on the roads anyway.

In their press materials, Canadian Tire also mentions that the tires are engineered for them by Hankook, a long-respected name in tires, and manufactured in the industrial powerhouse of South Korea. So, it isn't like they're being churned out by trained monkeys or child slaves (hopefully!).

Despite their comparatively low price, these Winter Edge II's seem more than up to the job and I'm confident they'll keep my son and his precious family safe when winter arrives. If anything comes up this winter that warrants further comment – positive or negative – I will update this piece. But I don't expect that'll happen, considering the state of the winter tire art these days.

And I must say "thank you" to Canadian Tire for giving my family the opportunity to try their new rubber. And I wish them luck with the new line.

Copyright 2023 Jim Bray

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