A sidewall puncture, leaky valve stem, or double blow out might be enough to lead any car owner into the rabbit hole of tire research.
Experience all three within a year and you might become an amateur tire enthusiast by default. After a streak of luck that could have made for a long-hauling Johnny Cash verse (with some mishaps coincidentally just a few miles from one of his former central coast homes), I thought I had done all the research there was to do. But I had admittedly never heard of the Rotiiva AT Plus Tires from Nokian, a winter tire specialty brand from the town of Nokia, Finland.
Their brand has a strong foothold in Nordic countries like Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden, but it’s also quickly growing in North America. Winter rubber is what they’re known for—they even lay claim to the world’s first snow tire with retractable studs. They also hold a few winter driving-related world records, further proving their commitment to (or, dare we say, obsession with) research, development, and testing. They have a 120-year history of innovation and technology on the snowy side of the business, but also feature everything from all-season passenger tires to heavy duty tractor tires fit for a 42-inch rim.
While there are certainly colder and snowier places in North America, I think I’ve found one of the more perfect testing grounds for winter tires right here in Sandpoint, Idaho: The Mountain Cutoff Road. With seven hairpin switchbacks in nine miles, an average grade of 5.5% and a couple turns rocketing up to 10%, tires are likely to spin at some point. After almost-daily trips up and down this season, it’s been easy to hone in on the slickest of places and when to let off the gas. Compared to the tires I was driving before, I’ve found less of both on the Rotiiva AT Plus.
In fact, these tires quickly devoured the delicious, steep-grade combination of hardpack snow, ice, oil, salt, and sand that our beloved mountain road serves up every morning. My previous rubber was great on gravel in the summer, but by no means employed any technology or innovation for the slush, snow, and ice found above the Arctic Circle. Nokian boasts that its products carry a “Northern devotion,” and after nearly a full season of wear and tear, it’s obvious that the Rotiiva AT Plus is most at home when the mercury drops.
Nokian Rotiiva AT Plus Tires retail for $120 to $180 depending on automobile size and model. Find out more on Nokian’s website.