The two industry titans of the tire market are Bridgestone and Michelin. Both companies have a long history and have brought many innovations to the market. With two such companies, it is difficult to determine which makes the better tire. Here, we will take a look at each company and their tire families in order to determine which fit your needs the best.
Founded in 1931, Bridgestone is some 40 years younger than Michelin, however; it has surpassed Michelin as the largest tire company in the world. Bridgestone was named after the founder; Shojiro Ishibashi (Ishi = Stone, Bashi = Bridge), in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan.
World War 2 was not a good time for Bridgestone, and the company took a major hit in both the literal and figurative sense when its headquarters was destroyed by allied bombers. Fortunately, the factories were untouched which allowed the company to bounce back relatively quickly, thus production restarted once the war was over.
There are three main aspects that can be accredited to the company’s success. Shojiro Ishibashi knew that the only way a Japanese company would be able to take the world stage would be to focus on technological innovations.
In 1946 Michelin invented the radial tire which changed the tire market forever. By 1967, Bridgestone developed its own radial tire. The importance of this was that Bridgestone didn’t simply copy Michelin’s design, but rather they reinvented the design in their Tokyo plant’s new Technical Centre.
The second great stride forward was one that took Japan by storm. The Deming plan, named after W. Edwards Deming, focuses on quality. Bridgestone’s company culture is centered around the Deming plan, which has given it the reputation of building high quality and reliable tires.
The final aspect which drove Bridgestone to success started in 1965. Having centered themselves in Japan as a leading tire manufacturer, Bridgestone took the next step and began a massive and aggressive overseas expansion campaign.
Their first expansion was into Singapore. This gave the company access to natural rubber so that they could increase their tire export capacity. After years of continued growth, the company now undertakes expansion campaigns like buying out competitors like Firestone.
Bridgestone had a successful stint in Formula One. The height of their success in Formula One was when they supplied tires to Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, winning many championship titles. Bridgestone almost usurped Goodyear as the most successful tire supplier in Formula One, however, they were not in the sport for long enough to do so.
Through their many years of experience, Bridgestone has developed some of the best high-performance tires on the market, along with other tire types. Today, Bridgestone is the largest tire manufacturer in the world with around 143,000 employees as of 2017.
Bridgestone’s Tire Families
If you want extremely high-quality tires, Bridgestone has what you want. The tires they are most well-known for are their high-performance tires, run-flats, and the Blizzak winter tires. Bridgestone also has a wide variety of passenger and light truck/SUV tires that can meet any need.
If you are looking for tires for a sports car or a high-performance vehicle the Potenza is your one-stop shop. There are six tires in this line which all have slightly different attributes. Their differences allow you to tailor your tire to your needs.
Potenza tires have an optimized contact patch which distributes pressure evenly, giving you excellent grip to deliver maximum power to the road surface. Advanced shoulder stiffness provides responsive steering unlocking cornering abilities from your vehicle.
The Alenza tire is Bridgestone’s premium highway and all-season tire. There is only one tire in this line. That is not an issue, as there really only needs to be one. The tire is made to be used with Luxury SUVs, CUVs, and light trucks.
The Alenza provides an excellent balance between dry, wet, and winter conditions, coupled with longevity and a smooth ride. Bridgestone gives the Alenza an 80,000-mile warranty which goes to show how much trust they put in their tire.In 2005 Michelin was at the heart of the US Grand Prix debacle which saw all the teams supplied by Michelin refuse to race due to safety issues. A year later with many more disagreements with the FIA, Michelin pulled out of the sport for good.
Michelin’s strategy is to “use technology and innovation to make its products and services stand out.” This has been the heart of the company from its very inception, and which led to Michelin’s many successes.
The Turanza is similar to the Alenza in usage and mileage but targeted at passenger vehicles and more on the touring side of things. There is also only one tire in this family but because it is more aimed at passenger vehicles, it is targeted at customers that want a smoother, quieter ride.
The Dueler is Bridgestone’s off-roading tire. It is made to be used all-season round and lasts for many miles. Bridgestone advertises all seven of their Dueler tires as being versatile, with responsive handling, ultimate traction, and armed with technologies that deliver durability and a good tread life.
The impressive Driveguard is Bridgestone’s run-flat tire. Though there is only one tire in this group, it is sold in many different sizes. Not only does the tire sport Bridgestone’s run-flat technology that allows you to drive up to 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 mph after a puncture, but it is also a comfortable ride in both wet and dry conditions.
Ecopia is Bridgestone’s eco tire. It is designed to have minimal roll resistance in order to save fuel. There are two Ecopia’s, the ECOPIA H/L 422 PLUS and the ECOPIA EP422 PLUS. They are both designed to give you a quiet and comfortable ride while saving fuel. The former is designed for SUV’s, CUV’s, and minivans, while the latter is built for sedans and minivans.
Blizzak tires are Bridgestone’s winter tires and are credited for singlehandedly eliminating the need for studded tires in Japan over one season. Most Blizzak tires are advertised as being quiet and comfortable as well as fully winter-ready, be it ice or snow.
Michelin Tires’ History
Though Michelin has lost the top spot to Bridgestone, they are by no means a second-rate tire company. Michelin has 132 years of experience in the tire manufacturing industry and has introduced many innovations that have revolutionized the market several times over.
The company was founded on the 28th of May 1889 by the Michelin brothers, Édouard and André. The founding of the tire company was done more out of a need for innovation rather than solely a monetary ambition.
Prior to the foundation of Michelin as a company, the brothers owned a farm implement business. One day, a cyclist came by the factory to have his pneumatic tire repaired. It took the brothers over three hours to remove and repair the tire.
Once the tire was back on the wheel, it needed to be left overnight for the glue to dry, as the tires were glued to the wheel. The next day, one of the brothers tested the tire, only for it to fail. Thus, the brothers set out to find a better solution.
That solution was the removable pneumatic tire. By 1891 the idea was patented which would change the tire market forever. As a testimony to their success, Charles Terront won the world’s first long-distance cycle race with the removable pneumatic tire, just a few months after the tire hit the market.
Some 40 years later Michelin introduced another innovative innovation. In 1934 the Michelin run-flat-tire hit the market. This was an important innovation at the time because roads were not the same quality as they are today, so flats were more common.
The run-flat tire was designed by building a special foam lining inside the tire that would support the tire if it were to be punctured. Though very useful, their most influential innovation was yet to come.
12 years later in 1946, Michelin introduced the momentous innovation of the Radial tire. The radial tire changed the tire world forever. The reason the radial tire was so impactful was because it took the strengths from two different materials.
The radial tire consists of two different internal structures. The first part is very similar to non-radial tires which is the nylon fibers. The nylon fibers run at 90 degrees to the tire rotation and extend from the sidewalls and through the tread.
The second component is the steel belt which runs in the same direction as rotation under the tread and over the nylon fiber, but does not extend into the sidewall. The two different components provide different strengths and attributes. The nylon fibers provide support to the sidewall but also flexibility so that the tire can absorb impacts.
The steel belt provides strength underneath the tread. The steel belt also gives the tire both rigidity and protects it from punctures, which provides increased performance and longevity.
Michelin also had a stint in Formula One which was somewhat successful. Teams took four championship wins with Michelin tire suppliers; however, Michelin later became the center of one of the biggest points of contention in Formula One history.
Michelin Tires’ Tire Families
Michelin has just about as many families and tires in said families as Bridgestone does. Michelin has set up their tire families in such a way to make it easily understandable for customers so that they can make the best purchase for their needs.
The Primacy tire has been designed to combine all-weather handling and traction for a quiet and comfortable ride. Michelin strives to make the Primacy tire as safe, reliable, and durable as possible. There are seven tires in the Primacy tire line, all of which are all-season apart from two of them which are summer-only tires.
The line covers a broad spectrum of vehicles from passenger cars and luxury performance cars to light trucks and SUVs. If you want a good reliable everyday tire, Michelin will have what you are looking for in the Primacy tire line.
Where the Primacy tire is the Swiss army knife, ready for any occasion, the Pilot is a scalpel that is specially designed for a specific task. This is why the Pilot tire family has sixteen members. There is a tire for every occasion with one thing in common, the goal is to unlock as much performance from your vehicle as possible for the correct situation.
Michelin’s Premier line only has two tires, one designed for sedans and one for light trucks and SUVs. Both tires are all-season but what sets them apart from Michelin’s other tire lines is their durability. These tires are advertised as long-lasting and staying safe as they age.
Michelin’s Latitude Tires have a wide variety of specialties among the six tires in this line. They do have a common goal in mind though and that is to give you the best choice of tire for your light truck, SUV, or CUV.
The Crossclimate is built to be a workhorse in extreme weather conditions, be it mud or snow. There are only four models in this tire family, but they cover all forms of vehicles. All four tires have the 3PMSF and M+S ratings.
X ICE has it all in the name. This tire is designed to give maximum performance in the most extreme conditions. There are three tires in this line with the biggest difference being the type of vehicle the tire is designed for.
The Defender only has two tire types the DEFENDER LTX M/S and the DEFENDER T + H. Along with their targeted markets of LTX M/S and T+H, they are also designed to last longer than most tires at an extreme of 80,000 miles tread life.
The Energy line only has three tires in the line and is only designed to be fitted to passenger cars and smaller luxury performance vehicles. The goal of this tire line is to take the technology which Michelin has developed to improve the gas mileage of the vehicle.
Michelin has not sacrificed performance or longevity to achieve their goal in energy-saving which makes this tire a good choice, especially for city drivers.
The LTX tires are built for the needs of today’s recreational and commercial drivers. Perfect for off-road adventures with all-season light truck tires, built to handle gravel with excellent all-terrain traction. Pick from one of the two tires in this tire line.
Differences Between Bridgestone and Michelin Tires
Bridgestone and Michelin have been in a development war for many years now, and both are consistently trying to out do the other. This means that their tires are extremely well matched. In some categorize one is better than the other, but for the most part it all comes down to personal choice.
In the high performance and winter tire categories, I want to say Bridgestone wins. Michelin has some really good all-weather tires that are built for more extreme weather fluctuations. All that being said, they are both so close in performance you should pick the tire that best matches your situation.
Both companies have availability worldwide so you shouldn’t have any issues finding the tire you want from either of them, so this is a dead-even draw.
Pricing is also very closely matched. Both companies are on the expensive side, however; on average Michelin is more expensive.
Once again, both companies are very closely matched. Bridgestone, however, is known to have the best warranties in the industry. By a hair’s width, Bridgestone wins out here.
Advantages of Bridgestone
- Fantastic high-performance tires
- Excellent winter tires
- Longer lasting warranties
Advantages of Michelin Tires
- More options for motorcycle tires
- Good all-season tires with a wide range of working temperatures.
Which Brand to Choose
It all comes down to your choice of brand name. Both companies can give you what you need for your situation. Keep in mind that the development war between the companies is never ending, which means that at any time one can come out on top.
When buying tires from either of these companies, I recommend you look up some reviews from both companies and compare them to see which is better at the time.