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Avon ZZ3 is a great performance tyre that doesnt cost the earth yet offers superb handling in both dry & wet conditions. The ZZ3 is a directional, arrow-head shaped tread block with large grooves which do a great job of dispersing the water underneath the tyre to the outside. It is designed with high performance sports cars in mind and is available in a wide range of fitments to suit almost every vehicle. My tyres are 215/35/18 and are fitted to a modified 206 GTi 180. The handling is impressive, offering plenty of grip even in very wet conditions. They make the handling feel very predictable, even beyond the limit when you can feel the tyre starting to slide slightly, its all very well mannered and can be brought back under control easily & safely. The tyres also have a 'flange' rim protector which offers a slight amount of protection against kerbing your expensive alloys. Not only that, the tread pattern is very aggressive and looks great on the car. I wouldnt hesitate in recommending these tyres to anyone who is wanting a great performing, long lasting tyre which doesnt need a mortgage to fund.
It had to happen sooner or later. In 6 years of driving, I'd not experienced a single puncture so it was only natural that it should happen at the start of a 150 mile run up to Lincoln. I could have used the spare, but didn't fancy a 300 mile round-trip on a dreaded "space-saver" wheel so I needed to find somewhere that would fit and balance a new pair of front tyres. I ended up in a conveniently located branch of ATS only a few hundred yards from where the screw went through my tyre (a Goodyear Eagle which was getting worryingly close to the tyre-wear-indicator anyway). To cut a long story short, the screw had gone through the tyre close enough to the tyrw-wall that it was not considered a suitable candidate for repair. They didn't have any of the tyres I was planning to buy (Toyo/Bridgestone/Yokohama) so that left me with a choice of only Michelin or Avon as they didn't have any Pirellis in my size (195/55/15). Having heard some poor reviews of the Michelins in the past and noting the significant difference in price (the Michelins were going to cost £90 each as opposed to the Avons £45 each, both costs including valves but not balancing) I opted for the Avons. If I am being perfectly honest, I was a little wary about buying a relatively unknown brand of tyre, certainly it wasn't one that I had come across in earlier research. This was probably why I didn't feel too sure-footed as I drove away from the garage. But as the pair cost less than I was expecting to pay for a single tyre, I figured the worst thing that would happen was that I would replace them soon enough with the tyres I had been meaning to buy. So what's the low-down on the Avon ZV-1 then? According to the 'gumph' , the Avon ZV-1 is an H and V speed-rated directional tyre. It's directional tread pattern is designed to give improved water evacution (as are most directional treads) while the central rib confers improved steering respon se. The tyre design incorporates elements that help resist aqua-planing and very low-profile (45 and 50) versions incorporate a rim-protector to help prevent 'kerbing' of alloy wheels. They also use a high-grade rubber to improve the grip in the wet and claim to use a process which improves the uniformity and fit of the tyre. I can vouch for this last point as, when I finally found a place that could balance my wheels, each wheel needed only a single (small) weight to balance the weight of the valve. An important note at this point. These tyres are 'directional' which means they MUST be fitted on in the correct direction. This ends up meanig that there is a right and a left-hand wheel. If you put them on the wrong way round and go driving in the wet, it's as good as having no tread at all. The direction of rotation is indicated by a series of arrows on the sidewall of the tyre, just make sure they point the way the wheel will be turning when you are going forwars. On to my experiences with the ZV-1s then. They had a baptism of fire, no sooner had they been fitted than I set off for Lincoln. Two hours of driving on what can only be described as a 'greasy' A1 followed by an hour of twisty-turny, single-carriageway, country lanes in Lincolnshire. I am pleased to say that they got me there in one piece. For the majority of the A1 stretch I was quite happy driving 'with the flow of traffic' at around 80mph. The tyres felt stable in a straight line but when it came to changing lanes, although they didn't grumble about a change in direction, I didn't feel like they were with me 100%. On the one occassion where I did have to brake they were perfectly well behaved, even though the road surface was damp and greasy they retained their grip and the ABS was left uncalled. If I had to pick one gripe about the motorway performance of the tyres it would have to be the level of noise that comes through to the cabin, at a nything over 50mph there's a constant, dull rumble which is noticeably affected by the road surface. Cross-cut concrete roads are INCREDIBLY noisy through these tyres. Once I was off the A1, I was in to Lincolnshire proper and it seems to be all country roads, so the driving conditions went from one extreme to the other. If anything, the Avons seemed much more at home on the country lanes than the motorway. At lower speeds the road noise is much less noticeable. The steering response seemed much sharper and braking, even when the road was covered in mud, was a very grippy affair. And that was all in one run! They have now been on my car for over a month and clocked up somewhere in the region of 1,000 miles (and show very little sign of wear). In that time they have been driven in hard frost, ice, light snow, rain and bone-dry conditions. Each time they have behaved at least as well as the Goodyears I used to have on the front. In the frost and snow I felt surprisingly confident, there was much more grip than I had been expecting. On the ice nothing makes much difference and sure enough, on hitting a patch of black ice the width of the road, it was all I could do to keey the car travelling in a straight line. Handling in the rain is better than when the road is greasy, but the same can be said for most tyres. Handling in the wet is, however, significantly better than the tyres I used to have on the front. Whether this is down to the depth of tread that was left on them is the fact that the Avons are Directional tyres is difficult to say. Dry handling is fine, the car goes where you point it, accelerates without jitters and brakes in short order. On the balance then, I doubt I will change them right away for a set of better known 'rubber'. For the price, they have impressed me and the directional tread looks pretty good to boot. The next question really is "do I get another pair for the rear when they wear out?" or do I go and g e tthe tyres I wanted in the first place. It may all be academic as I am considering buying a set of wheels with holes in the middle so that I don't go through the 'centre-less wheel balancing nightmare' again, but I could ask for the new wheels to be fitted with Avons...
(Avon ZV-1) These are about as cheap as directional 'v-tread' tyres come (~£40 fitted from Bathwick Tyres). They look like they'd be the business in the wet. I had a pair fitted to the front of a Mondeo and the dry-weather performance was very impressive over the 'average' tyres which were previously on there. Very grippy, and quite laterally stable as well. In the wet, the performance wasn't as markedly metter than I'd initially hoped - on 'merely wet' roads they're not stunning, but once the real rain comes and big puddles appear, the tread starts working pretty well. I suspect other v-tread tyres will clear better, but for the money these are good. Once I had a full set of four I felt much safer under braking at motorway speeds. Wear rates aren't bad either - they seemed to last me longer than normal. Maybe partly because they slide less. I'm now trying to wear down the tyres on my Astra so I can buy some more :)