Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Buckley, WA
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I've heard Pros & Cons about siping. More pros than cons, especially on wet, snowy, or icy roads.
It gives the tire tread more "biting edges", which is especially helpful on a mud tire where the treadblocks are big and basically flat on the road.
As for off-road traction, I don't know how siping effects performance.
An easy way to see this quickly and easily is to look at ANY modern studless snow tire. There are literally thousands of sipes built into the tire. Each tread block, no matter how small or large will have at least 4 or 5 sipes cast into the tire. I just bought a set of Michelin X-Ice Xi3 for my wife's Jetta last week (Thank you Discount Tire). This allows each treadblock to have all those additional 90 degree angles to grab onto the road surface, which is critical on the ice.
Besides snow traction, I've heard that siping also allows big tread blocks to flex easier, thereby reducing friction and heat, which equals tire wear. I don't know if it's true, but "supposedly" siping increases the tire's life. Seems hard to believe, but it kinda makes sense. I've never had the time or money to test two sets of tires back to back, siped vs. not, so I don't have any test results or personal data that would be anywhere near scientific.
All that being said- I plan on having my Trail Grapplers siped because I live in the Seattle area and it rains here just a little bit from October to July (LOL!), and I live in the foothills where it snows too.