Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Review

The Japanese Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 offers strong performance in winter’s harshest conditions, where it’s one of the best, when it comes to icy terrains. But is this tire really for you? Let’s find out.

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Testing on Ice.

The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 delivers exceptional icy terrain grip, efficient dry braking, and impressive wet performance. While its snow traction could be improved, the tire stands out for reduced road noise and superior comfort. Overall, as a winter tire, the WS90 is one of the top choices, combining safety and ride smoothness.

Info on Sizes: The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 comes in 52 total sizes in 15 to 19 inches (wheels) with following specs.

  • Speed ratings: T or H.
  • Load ratings: SL or XL.
  • Tread depth: 11 or 12/32″.
  • Weight: 17 to 29 lbs.
  • Tread warranty: None.

Tread Appearance

The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 offers a sophisticated directional tread pattern, exemplifying top-tier tire design, when it comes to winter tire world.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90’s shoulders are laced with a lot of snow vices.

This tread comprises three distinct ribs, with the central one being continuous, featuring wave-like sipes and straight, interconnected slits seamlessly paired with in-groove notches.

The tire also includes V-shaped notches pointing outward, enhancing traction.

Similarly, shoulder lugs have notches facing both the central rib and along their sides.

Although the whole tread is filled with a lot of tiny wave-like siping. These notches connecting to longitudinal slits, further enhance the tire’s snow and wet performance.

While with wide lateral grooves, connecting the two circumferential channels the central most rib make with the shoulders, you get efficient resistance to hydroplaning, and those channels effectively throw out water in all directions.

Overall Winter Performance

How great a tire is in winter conditions, depends on it’s performance in two main terrain types, ice, and snow.

Let’s talk about them both one by one.

Ice Traction

This refers to the tire’s ability to grip and maintain control on icy surfaces. Icy conditions are slippery and offer very little natural friction. Effective ice traction relies heavily on the tire’s rubber compound and fine tread features.

So a good tire here is the one with a lot of biters, which can also keep those biters flexible (with harsh freezing temperatures).

Now Blizzak WS90 is one of the best when it comes to icy tracks, compared to other premium options out there, and this is all thanks to its intricate biters all over the tread.

The tire’s central most rib for example comes with V-shaped notches (that bite from all directions, due to their slanted positions), adding to the tire’s on central feel.

And yes you also get abundant siping here, with a mixture of interlocking tiny (wavelike) and linear slits. And both of these further add to the tire’s gripping/biting abilities on ice, combined.

Basically the V shaped biters (predominately) offer you with directional grip on ice, the lateral+longitudinal notches on shoulders, combined with zigzag slits there provide superb cornering abilities as well.

That’s because while central area defines longitudinal grip (braking), in terms of handling, the tire’s shoulder lugs are the key components.

And biters there (on shoulders), are positioned in a way, assuring improved grip from every angle, allowing for greater steering responsiveness along with lateral traction.

Note: Since the tire is the best performer on ice, I decided to add it to my list of top winter tires (stud-less). check it out.

Snow Traction

This pertains to the tire’s performance on snow-covered roads. Snow traction is about the tire’s capacity to dig into and bite the snow, as well as release it to prevent buildup.

In other words tires have to make an effective snow to snow contact here.

Snowflakes have unique interlocking arms, which really like to stick with other snowflakes, so its crucial that tires collect snow in their tread feature and form this contact, which generates more friction compared to rubber to snow contact.

Now the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 isn’t coming on top here, as it’s tightly packed, less aggressive tread pattern doesn’t catch as much snow, resulting in a lower snow collection efficiency.

Though, don’t get me wrong, the tire is still pretty great here.

To give you an idea, it only lacks less than half a feet, in the acceleration test, compared to the Michelin X Ice Snow (review), which is the top performing tire here.

Dry Performance

Dry traction is a critical component of tire performance, even when it comes to winter tires.

It depends on grip, (which gets determined by the extent of rubber contact with the road), and tire’s steering.

Moreover, the grip part is further divided in to two, the directional grip and the lateral traction. Let’s check them all out.

Dry Longitudinal Grip

This grip is the tire’s straight line grip and depends on mainly on how well the tire contacts the road from its central area.

But why central?

This is because that area makes the most road contact (as it has most weigh on it, as the tire rolls linearly).

That’s why with this grip being a directional metric, it makes sense why it’s measured by tire’s braking efficacy.

Now the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 truly excels in this domain

Its continuous central rib maintains consistent contact with the road, leading to reduced braking distances and quicker acceleration times in tests.

Consequently, this tire offers unparalleled braking efficiency among other premium winter options.

Dry Handling

Overall dry handling is the mixture of two key elements, overall lateral traction and tire’s steering feedback.

Here, the lateral grip of a tire, which reflects its overall sideways traction, largely depends on its shoulder lugs.

But why is that?

Well, these shoulders/sidewalls get to meet up with the road better, as the tire turns, so “how well” they meet with the road is significant.

And here, two things are judged. One, how well those lugs meet with the ground as the tire turns. And two, how much lugs bend, during.

And in both of these aspects, you get to see, the Blizzak WS90 has the upper hand.

It’s closed up pattern forms a greater contact with the ground, and with it’s lighter weight, its lugs don’t want to flex/mold too much as the tire corners.

You see, during cornering, most of the tire’s weight goes towards shoulders, and their bending limits the over and under steering balance, causing a delayed steering response.

Tread Longevity

Tread longevity hinges on the balance between rolling resistance and tread depth.

Now the irony here is that tread depth is inversely proportional to rolling resistance, though its directly proportional to tread life.

Meaning, greater tread depth although allow you to reach down to the legal minimum tread depth of 2/32″ (in USA), slower, it also leads to greater rolling resistance, as it makes lugs susceptible to heat and bending.

So tires need to find the right balance here.

Enter the Blizzak ws90.

The tire offers an innovative tread compound, which is considerably firmer and less susceptible to rapid wear compared to most top performing winter tires out there.

Where with reinforced foundations, and continuous running ribs, the 12/32″ tread depth allow for great tread life, relatively.

For Your Info: The tire is equipped with winter wear bars, which tell you about the 2/32″ tread depth mentioned earlier.

Wet Traction

Wet traction is dependent on the tire’s tread design and rubber composition, affecting two critical aspects of overall wet performance, namely, wet grip, and hydroplaning resistance.

Let’s take a look at both one by one.

Wet Gripping

Wet grip, similar to dry grip, relies on the amount of rubber in contact with the road. However, the presence of water creates a barrier, preventing full tread-to-surface contact and necessitating water displacement.

This task is performed by grooves and sipes.

While grooves expel the majority of water, providing hydroplaning resistance (discussed later), sipes handle the remaining water particles at a micro level.

These sipes basically having air in them, expel it out to create a suction effect, which sucks up water particles coming underneath, and this way, water is further cleared off the surface, and the tire’s rubber is able to form a more proper contact with the ground.

Now here, although most of the winter tires do great with a ton of siping, and their pretty soft thermal adaptive rubbers, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 still comes in the list of most efficient ones here.

This is because, this tire features a lot of both rectilinear and interlocking sipes, which soak up water particles coming beneath, in a better way.

And as they also get to have multiple angles to them, you also get superior gripping values, as the tire corners, for example. Water gets soaked up in the slits, and biters/sipes parallel to the direction of tire’s movement provide the needed grip.

Resistance to Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning resistance, is a phenomenon which happens when water comes in between the tire and the road. And this happens because water has to go somewhere (as it’s not compressible). So if it’s not going out, it would cause the complete loss of traction.

This is why tires have grooves, which channel out the water, preventing hydro or aquaplaning.

Now, Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 not only has the edge of it’s directional pattern, which naturally offers quicker water evacuation, but it’s thick central two circumferential channels combined with lateral voids on shoulders furthers that process too.

Moreover, the tire’s tread depth going up to 12/32″ is also pretty helping here, allowing for more water out at a given time (compared to many other winter tires with smaller average tread depth).

For Your Info: The overall wet performance is better on Continental VikingContact 7 (review), one of it’s direct competitor.

Fuel Economy

Fuel efficiency in tires is directly related to their weight and traction, both of which influence rolling resistance.

So why is that?

Well, as an example a bulkier tire with more aggressive tread voids tends to experience more lug flexing during tire maneuvers, as lugs have more pressure on them.

This flexing diverts energy from the tire’s actual rolling, resulting in wasted effort restoring lug shape or generating heat.

Now the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, with its streamlined and aligned ribs, although minimizes rolling resistance. It’s overall performance here can still be improved.

Though its still above average, and it makes sense given it’s compact tread design, which ensures energy is utilized for tire movement rather than unnecessary lug flexing.

Comfort Levels

Tire comfort is largely determined by two variables, road noise mitigation and vibration absorption. These factors are basically judged, looking at the tire’s construction.

Let’s discuss both these variables one by one.

Tread Noise

The primary source of this noise is air particles colliding with the walls of the tread, with the shoulder area serving as the main gateway.

So you can say, the smaller the shoulder voids, the less noise gets produced.

In this respect, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 scores pretty decent points with its relatively more compact design.

By keeping the shoulder voids small, it restricts the amount of air entering and hitting the tread walls.

But yes, it can still do a little better, I believe, even though it’s a lot better already compared to its predecessor, the WS80.

For Your Info: My tests show that the Goodyear WinterCommand is the quietest tire, comparing all top-tier winter tires.

Bumps Absorption

Tires act as secondary suspension system of a vehicle, since they are the first things contacting the bumps of the road. So how well they’re able to soak up the road imperfections is the key.

And this depends on the tire’s both internal and external build.

Now the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 is doing pretty great here, with its softer overall tread compound. Where the tire’s Multi-Cell compound and greater silica density (in tread) offers great absorption capacity.

Moreover, unlike many other tires in its category, the tire offer more tread depth going up to 12/32″. This technically gives more rubber for vibrations to settle down, before reaching the cabin.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 demonstrates appreciable performance across a range of conditions and metrics.

When assessing its winter performance, it showcases excellent traction on icy terrains due to its innovative tread design and features, though it could improve slightly on snow-covered roads.

On dry surfaces, it leads the pack in terms of braking efficiency and offers superior handling characteristics. While tread longevity is a balancing act, the WS90 strikes it well with its innovative compound.

In wet conditions, it presents efficient water displacement and maintains a good grip, thanks to its uniquely designed sipes and grooves.

Though the tire has room for improvement in fuel efficiency, it stands above average in its category, and its design promotes less rolling resistance.

Lastly, comfort is one aspect where the WS90 truly excels. With reduced road noise due to its compact design and superior vibration absorption from its soft compound and greater tread depth, it ensures a smooth ride.

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