Tested: BF Goodrich g-Force Sport COMP2 Tires
Tires are a difficult item to shop for. You can test drive a car, and you can read a dyno sheet and hear a YouTube clip if you want to know which exhaust to buy, but when you buy a set of (probably very expensive) Ultra-high Performance tires for your sports car, you can’t return them after a full day of track testing and say they didn’t work. Tires can mean the difference between setting a record-breaking lap time and dying a very painful death inside a ball of metal that used to resemble a car. And when you buy a set, you’re stuck with them, even if they suck. That’s why I’m a big fan of tire tests. They are always at a race track, so you can push the tires to their limits, and they offer an opportunity to feel how a tire responds to your hands and feet, instead of reading a data sheet, marketing jargon, and user reviews on Tire Rack from people you don’t know or necessarily trust. So, when BF Goodrich invited me out to California Speedway to test their new g-Force Sport COMP2, I simply had to say yes. Hit the jump to find out how they (and I) did.
Full Disclosure: BF Goodrich wanted me to test their new tire so bad they put me up in a nice, yet
strangely religious hotel in Riverside, CA. They also fed me bacon, but not until after we were done
driving. Because if they had fed me that much bacon for breakfast, I would have immediately
declared their tire a winner and probably petitioned the Vatican to grant Sainthood to Sir Bacon of Goodrich.
The day started out well; I arrived at the track to find a fleet of brand-new sports cars, plenty of coffee, and several different test stations ready to go. There were VW GTI’s, Subaru STI’s, Dodge Challenger SRT 392′s, Mustang Boss 302′s, and Camaro SS’s, half of which wore BF Goodrich g-Force Sport Comp2′s (hereafter referred to simply as COMP2′s), and half of which wore competitor tires. The funniest part I learned almost immediately. These cars were all showroom new and none of them had more than 100 miles on them. They were about to suffer the hands of 40 journalists and ten or so professional drivers all day long. I feel bad for whoever buys these things in a year, with 2,000 of the world’s hardest miles on them. Anyway, on to the test.
The day started with a short presentation, in which BF Goodrich engineers explained to us what their tire is designed to do: It handles better in the dry; It handles much better in the wet; It puts power down better and it stops shorter. So basically, it’s better at everything. They tell us about all the new technologies in the tire, the stiffer sidewall, the new Silicon compound, and how in their preliminary testing with pro drivers, the COMP2 performed better than the competition. Who was the competition, exactly? The Yokohama S-Drive, Hancook Ventus V12, Kumho Ecsta SPT KU31, Cooper, and Dunlop Direzza tires. It’s worth mentioning that I wouldn’t shop a single one of these competitors when fitting tires to my own ride, but if you look at price points and tread wear ratings (the COMP2 is 340), they do match up, so the deck didn’t appear to be too stacked in the COMP2′s favor.
We were broken into four groups, each with ten journalists. I scored and had the coolest group, including Autoholics.com’s Rob Einaudi, Grassroots Motorsports’s Joe Gearin, MotorMavens.com’s Antonio Alvendia, and Bangshift.com’s Chad Reynolds, who I had met while he was announcing the Optima Ultimate Streetcar Invitational. More than a couple real
hooligans drivers in this group.
In a 1-minute dry autocross, we tested the dry handling against the competitors in Subaru’s and Dodge Challenger 392′s. In the AWD Subaru STI, the Comp2 showed more rear grip under braking than the Kumho Ecsta, but on dry surfaces with AWD, tires seem to matter the least. In the heavy, RWD Challenger’s, the difference in grip was immediately noticeable. The Hancook Ventus tires on our sample were no match for the reinforced sidewall in the COMP2, and I had to use approximately half as much steering input vs the competition on the autocross. Challenger’s suck at autocross to begin with, but with the right tires, it was certainly an improvement.
Next, the wet autocross, similarly laid out to the dry one, in Volkswagen GTI’s. The competitors tires would be the Kumho Ecsta and the Hancook Ventus, just like the dry. Though the Kumho proved acceptable, with decent grip under acceleration and predictable handling, the Hancook was an absolute sloppy mess. The car simply would not brake and turn at the same time, and felt like the sidewall would roll over. On the COMP2′s, I barely noticed I was driving in the wet, and the ABS kicked in less when confronted with a panic stop. (I remained annoyed that the DSG Equipped GTI would cut power every time I tried to left-foot brake to control understeer).
In the 0-60-0 challenge, we tested the COMP2 against the Yokohama S-Drive on V-Box equipped Dodge Challenger 392′s. We would accelerate to 60 mph then simply jam the brakes to full ABS engagement with the clutch on the floor. Our ten-person group experienced stopping distance improvements between 5 and 7 feet, while Rob Einaudi experienced a massive 13 foot difference, more than the length of an entire compact car. The numbers don’t lie, and 106 feet from 60 (COMP2) is a great showing for a 4200 lb car.
Finally, we were let (somewhat) loose on California Speedway’s infield road course in Camaro SS (Automatic) cars. Everyone in my group bitched about the headroom and lack of visibility, anyone over six feet had to drive with a 90 degree tilted head, and we all agreed Camaro’s suck in general, but I digress. Against the Cooper tires, the BF Goodrich COMP2 proved to be more predictable under braking, more consistent through corners with less steering input, and significantly grippier on corner exit. Everyone, including the pro drivers and myself, joked about how a car with BFG’s up front and Coopers in the back would make a ridiculously fun drift car. We also got a few hot laps with pro drivers in the Mustang Boss 302′s. Fun stuff for sure, but I’d already tested that car so I opted to go for a ride with Sarah, the cute instructor in the STI. I learned how to drive one fast on a track: chuck it violently into a corner and then mash the gas. I also learned that the cloth seats are much, much better than the leather seats in the “Limited” model I recently tested. And Sarah can drive.
Finally, after a day of friendly hooning on autocrosses and road courses, the real games began. Each group would compete with the other groups in a game of “Relay Autocross,” where the drivers would line up and do consecutive laps around a (new) wet autocross in the Volkswagen GTI, including driver changes, with the total team’s time showing the winner. Additionally, the fastest lap time of the competition would be awarded a free set of BF Goodrich COMP2 tires for their ride. Our coach would be legendary driving coach Terry Earwood, whose strategy was brilliant. He would handle all the gear changes for the driver change and release the first driver’s seat belt. So each time a driver got in, and put his foot on the brake while buckling up, the car would already be in gear and ready to go. Though this was a friendly competition with only one real prize granted for 40 people, the shit-talking commenced (especially by myself and Chad Reynolds, who gave me a fantastic compliment about how he was happy to be the second biggest dick there), and the hard driving began. At a bacon-filled dinner afterwards, the top 12 drivers’ names were posted along with their lap time. Our team (Yellow) put up an excellent 10:10 performance that, despite two small penalties was good enough to win. Now shall we see who won themselves a set of tires?
It seems that weight, in this particular racing event, was not a factor! That’s right, I clocked in the fastest lap time, at 41.91 seconds. This was a redemption of sorts for my dismal performance at the Optima Ultimate Streetcar Invitational, as you may notice the organizer’s name, Jimi Day, a couple seconds behind me. (Sorry Jimi, gotcha) It helps when everyone drives the same car (on good tires).
And there it is, except, not. The BF Goodrich g-Force Sport Comp 2 is an impressive tire, for sure. BF Goodrich promises excellent wear life, improved grip in the dry, improved braking, and significantly improved performance in the wet, and from what I can tell, they deliver on each one of those promises. Unfortunately, the widest tire they will offer when the tires become available in April is a 275, and my Corvette requires a 295. So I’m asking for some super-sticky R-Compound R1′s instead. Hopefully they come through with that and I’ll get to review them on my own car.
Want to know if the BF Goodrich g-Force Sport Comp2 will fit on your car? Size chart here.