Tire Review: Hankook Winter iPike

By | March 25, 2011

**See prices on a set of Hankook Winter iPikes at Discount Tires here!**

Hankook Winter iPike Snow Tire

In November, 2010, I changed jobs. After a chance inquiry into a very small yet super successful startup company, fate had me relocating from boring Provo, Utah to exotic Park City. This was an awesome and radical change. Instead of college campuses there were ski resorts. Beaters driven by weird BYU students were replaced with Range Rovers and Porsche Panameras with walking botox specimens behind the wheel. And all that was great except for one major problem…well, two actually. Between my home in Sandy and my office in Park City was Parley’s Summit, a mountain pass that more often than not contained my second problem: snow.

We’re not talking a light dusting that makes school children giddy. I mean SNOW! The kind that knocks out the east half of the US and buries undeserving supercars with stupid owners.Hankook Winter iPike Snow Tire Tread Of course, the sensible vehicle for this daily wintery commute would be something heavy with all-wheel-drive. Perhaps an Audi Allroad, a Subaru Outback, or most Subarus for that matter. Or pretty much any truck. Or a horse. Definitely not a light-weight, rear-wheel-drive sports convertible.

With that in mind, I walked into my local Discount Tires to get a set of snow tires on my 2001 Mazda Miata, the

antithesis of capable winter vehicles. I’ll tell you right now that no amount of research online to find that one, reassuring forum thread that says “relax, Miatas are fine in the snow with the right winter tires” can quell the constant image in the back of your mind of you loosing all control, sliding into the ice-covered railing you were trying to avoid in the first place, and burning to death in spectacular fashion as you realize that all of the talk about snow tires transforming your sports coupe into HMS Snowworthy were wrong. Two long, boring hours and three expired ‘People’ magazines later, I drove away from with a new set of studded Hankook Winter iPikes. And as one could obviously infer from this review, I am still alive and well today, denoting complete winter driving success and my official choosing of a Miata over a horse for my choice of winter vehicle. So there’s the beginning and the end; what about the middle details? I’ll start with first impressions. Coming off of a set of summer tires, the iPikes felt squishy and unresponsive- like I had pencil erasers for wheels. But none of that really phased me because I wasn’t able to hear myself think. Studded tires are loud. Studded tires on a convertible are akin to taping a screaming infant to your ear and attending a Kiss concert at the end of the runway where Boeing 747s like to take off at LAX. It is so damn loud. But noise and responsiveness aren’t really the judging points of snow tires, now are they? To really give the Hankooks a breaking in I needed a good snow storm. And winter in Utah, being the mean, unpredictable mistress she is, didn’t give me that chance for weeks. Just more warm days and 747s until one morning in mid-December when mother nature just let it all hang out.

At first, the drive up to Park City was really unnerving. I’d no idea how the Miata would handle with the iPikes and it was the first time in my life that I genuinely thought the speed limits were far to fast. Turns out that before Parley’s Summit the roads were only very wet, a condition in which the iPikes handle wonderfully. It wasn’t until I neared Parley’s Summit that the road began to disappear under a white blanket. It was about then that I noticed the Miata still felt planted and not edgy or like it wanted to have me suddenly facing oncoming traffic. I did find out, however, that a bit of sudden acceleration would quickly have the Miata’s back end fish tailing and my credit card being billed for a new drivers seat cover.Hankook Winter iPike Snow Tire On Miata

As time went by though, I became very comfortable with the iPikes. With a fair amount of aware and safe driving, I never once felt out of control or at a loss of any vital traction. But scratch the safe driving part and things start to become just plain fun. Laying hard on the gas will assuredly  swing your back end out and allow for some really fun sliding around turns and corners. When your finished hooning or a rogue lamppost is approaching a lot faster than you’d like, simply let off the gas and the iPikes regain traction instantly. It is an ‘all-senses-on-deck’ kind of fun that nearly makes any summer tire sacrifice worth it. Rural lane changing drifts aside, the Hankook Winter iPikes are phenomenal tires. My winter commutes always left me feeling planted and stable, even in conditions where the roads were completely covered in snow. From simply an aesthetic, thus useless, standpoint, the tread is very aggressive and cool looking. But the tread actually has more than meets the eye. On a molecular level, Hankook says these tires have been specifically designed to function better in cold weather, giving grip on freezing asphalt, snow covered roads, and even ice. Hankook didn’t lie, although driving them in anything above 50 degrees will make them feel soft and significantly shorten their tread life. The iPikes are also designed to accept lots of inserted studs (insert Paris Hilton video reference from 2005), but unless your commute is entirely over a frozen lake in Scandinavia, a studless tire will work just fine. Going studless will also ditch the 747s and carnage to public roads. I’ll end with this bit of personal insight. There have been many times on my commute into work when a Subaru Outback or some lifted truck with the pair of fake balls hanging off the back hitch have slid off the road in a manifestation of overconfidence in 4-wheel-drive and all-season tires. Parley’s Summit shows no mercy those drivers. Meanwhile, I’m passing in my iPike’d Miata, a car that is assumed to be just as effective in the snow as Kirstie Alley would be running a weight loss center. I’ll stick with my ride, thank you. Verdict: Excellent choice of  snow tire, however, don’t opt for the studs. Snow Traction: 5/5 Wet Traction: 4/5 Price as tested: $480 (w/ mounting and rotation) Buy? Yes. If you’re looking for snow tires, these are the ones

Hankook Winter iPike Snow Tires On Miata


Moiz on October 3, 2012 at 6:20 pm.

Chad, this is the funniest piece on tire review I’ve ever read. To the point, punchy, and down right hands-on.

Chad on October 4, 2012 at 9:16 am.

Thanks, Moiz! Glad you liked it. I figured most tire reviews were probably….well, what you’d assume a tire review to be, so I’m glad you liked the “spicy version”.

Paul Letteri on November 29, 2012 at 9:22 am.

The Hankook-Ipike-409 I put on my wife’s Audi-A4 the are copies of th Worlds
Best tires Nokian-R. ,that being said for h money nine better out there for under $600 for 4 17 inch tires. The big difference with the Nokian apparent is much less rolling resistance quieter and the tread compound is much softer with mini sipes all through the tire ,But 35 percent more monies.

Gplate on January 3, 2018 at 7:03 pm.

I am forced to drive our 2001 Miata 6 speed this winter. We live in mid MI. Just put IPike 205 50 16 on the stock rims and love them. Got stuck in the driveway with the summer tires! The Ipikes are sure and safe. Plenty of bite and predictable slippage.

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