Thursday, April 21, 2022

Continental MaxContact6 MC6 Review

Tire prices has increased again. This time pretty significantly and it fall right into my plan to change the existing Bridgestone Potenza RE050A that came with my wife's Subaru Levorg 1.6 GT-S. The tire has entered into the 7th year and it is high time to change it. Significant harder compound due to aging, and it is really not safe anymore to continue to drive on it for anything further than 50km/trip.

Before I go on further, the intend was really to change it in 2020 when the tire enters into the fifth year of service. Then as we know, Covid19 striked and life has never been the same. With only an accumulation of 3000km driven in those two years - mostly for groceries, we decided to pull the duration a bit longer to stretch money and also lifespan of the tire. 

Conti MaxContact MC6 from Continental Tires Malaysia
How deteriorated the Bridgestone were? Upon releasing the air from all four tires, crack lines appeared on the tire wall. If that is not telling enough on safety, I am not sure what or how else I can convince you to change your tires if they are more than 5 years old, even if the tread has more than 50% balance. The next few photos showed the condition of the tires.
Peels right off when i apply a bit of pressure using the end of a screwdriver

cracks

more cracks

crackssss

The Potenza has done only 33k km over the past 7 years, and the tread was still more than 50%. Infact, it looked as deep as it was new.
almost a 5mm deep tread left but look at the pittings
First, the performance of this Potenza when we first got the car. I truly believe this tire gave the ride the ultimate grip. With the Subaru Symmetrical All Wheel Drive and the Boxer engine low centre of gravity, plus the wagon being a tourer, the car handles like on a rail. Point the steering to the direction you want and it goes there, convincingly. No drama. The Potenza RE050A is a soft compound tire with treadwear of just 140. So we know that this tire is meant to grip - and despite that, lasted 30k km. Not bad at all.
140-A-A 

Made in Japan. Week 49, 2015.
The old tire has to go. Can't be used anymore for sake of safety. 

Why Continental MC6 and not Michelin PS4/s?
I had wanted to get the car shod with Michelin PS4s or PS4. The stocks for this tire however is scarce for the size I was looking for. The 225/45/R18 was available for both Conti MC6 and Michelin PS4/s - and the pricing was almost RM100 differences between each. My decision was narrowed down to these few factors:
  • How we drive the car
  • Which tire suit the purpose of the car
  • availability
  • price
While the Levorg on paper is capable of 168hp and 250Nm torque, it is a modest peformance car geared towards family usage. Being a wagon meant it can haul up pretty good amount of cargo (oh yes, the trunk is huge), we do not drive the car beyond the legal speed. We do not take it to the B-roads (winding back country roads) or take it to the track. So, anything the same specs as the original OEM Bridgestone Potenza RE050A will be more than sufficient. Based on that, the PS4/s (as they are two different tires ya, the PS4 and PS4s) doesn't really suit our purpose - or at least it is an overkill. It sounded like a good idea when I first thought about it, only to wake up and realised my "faster" days were over. I enjoy a stock ride, something more comfortable while being able to listen to Lite FM without much intrusion of the road noise.

With that, and motivated by the easier availability of the MC6, it was decided that I will shod these in to the Levorg. To start with, the MC6 is new tire from Continental. For this size, it is Made in Thailand. As the MC6 is touted as a performance tire by Continental, the specification itself was an upgrade from the Potenza. Priced at RM650 each, it was the least of the criteria I was looking at. 

The Continental MaxContact MC6
So I asked my good friend that runs a tire shop in Jalan Ipoh to help me order them, and I will head over to get it fixed once it arrived.
Search for Perkhidmatan Tayar Sing Yu Huat on Google Map
My friend managed to get me 4 of the MC6 which was manufactured on Week 12 of 2022. This meant, the tire is less than 2 weeks old. Talk about the tire being super fresh.
1222 - Week 12 of 2022. If you were offered cheap tire, always check the manufacturing date.
What does all these numbers meant?
The MC6 has a better treadwear and traction rating compared to the Potenza RE050A. To me, that is already an upgrade in terms of treadwear and traction. As expected for tire marketed as "performance", the temperature rating is A, anything less would be suspicious.
140 to 340, A to AA. It's a win.
Also, the load rating and speed rating of the MC6 (Y) is much better compared to the Potenza RE050A (W).
Speed Rating "Y"; up to 300km/h

Speed rating "W"; up to 270km/h
The load rating between the two tires is 91 and 95. This is the load or how much weight each tire can hold. 91 is at 1,356lb or 616kg, and the MC6 is rated at 95, at 1,531lb or 690kg. The weight support is pretty signficant as that meant, an additional theoretical weight of 280kg can be put on without risking failure - that is if your car can manage to move with that additional weight ;-)


There is an additional XL on the rating - simply meant "Xtra Load" capability
So, there we have it, the MC6 is a performance tire with 225mm width, at a 45% aspect ratio (of 225mm = 101mm height), 18 inch, with a decent treadwear of 340, with temperature dissipation A, and traction of AA. It can carry up to 690kg load each, and allow you to drive up to 300km/h safely. The additional XL on the tire simply meant the tire has a reinforced tire sidewall that allow for extra loads, super useful for a low profile 45 series tire. The XL rating also protect against mechanical damages.

Tread Pattern
Here is a photo comparison of the Potenza and the MC6.
MC6 on left. The left side of both tires is the "inside" of the tire (directional)
What is very obvious on the MC6 is the large channel which are asymetrical which maintain the tread shape under sharp changes of direction. It also has Stabliser Bar that you can see on the "outer" rib. Comparing against the Potenza RE050A, there isn't really not much differences but tire technology, material science makes the differences you can feel.
Installation is side specific. So make sure you check for installation before the mechanic fit them into your car. The MC6 "inside" has a clear indicator saying it is such. Make sure your mechanic "balance" your tires too, as this ensure the tire doesn't vibrate due to rotational and centrifugal force above 70km/h. Vibration is not good for mechanical parts, and more so not for safety reasons. 
Inside is clearly marked

The color line is actually manufacturer's way for QA/QC, Tire type or just their "bar code"
Coincidently, the color lines were marked on the "outside", so there are great way to visually quickly check for correct installation of inside and outside.
Checked
Your mechanic should also ensure correct lock nut locking torque which is 120Nm as overtightening would result in failure to be able to remove the tire should you have a puncture by the roadside. Your mechanic should also check against manufacturer's recommendation for inflation as that is essential particularly modern cars comes with TPMS or Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Ensure you set the TPMS once the installation and pressure has been set.
TPMS system
Once that is done, alignment takes place, the correct toe, chamfer and all setting should be specific to the manufacturer's specs as well. A good mechanic should know better to ensure all these with data - not just by "feel" when they do your alignment.
alignment in progress

Keep everything within the "green" zone will be ideal
Once all is done, go for a test drive to ensure the car steering vs direction of travel is to your expectations, and if not, ask the mechanic for adjustment. Sometimes, due to other factors like worn bushing or mechanical issues prior to tire change, there could be variation and that is completely expected.
First Drive and 300km later...
Fresh out of the workshop, the sky opened up and it was a wet drive home. The new MC6 offered way more comfort than the worn Potenza (expected), and the rattling in the tires went off almost magically. Fresh rubber does makes all the differences. Braking on the wet, despite the tire to be new/fresh was very assuring. Water ponding was not felt (the sudden nose dive as you drive into a pond of water) and steering response reminds me of how the car behaved 4 years ago when we go it - like riding on a rail.

Sporty stance came standard. 2-fingers gap on the fender
On dry road, the noise were minimal. It was quiet. What used to need volume 16 on the radio is now audible even at volume 12. That is significant. Rolling resistance was low as well as I felt the car went off zippier with same throttle responses. And dry-braking was simply awesome. Cornering on the Jalan Damansara Interchange at speed of 60km/h and 80km/h were of no drama and no need for any speed control (braking). No tire squealing under the fast turns, a good sign that it is not at the edge of the traction limits (yes, those squealing of tires is because the tire is really really fighting to regain grips).

Not driven this on the highway, yet, nor has the tire went above the 80km/h limits even on the Jalan Hartamas-Pencala straight (it's cheaper to drive at legal speed than to risk a police tickets y'all).

Overall, very satisfied with the money spent on the MC6. Total damage came to RM2,600 inclusive of balancing and alignment. Money well spent for the way we are utilising the car for the family. Oh, Continental tires has a promo currently. I got a RM120 TnG rebate for replacing 4 tires of 17 inches (or larger). So, that is some savings for fuels as well thrown in.

Submission via QR code, rebate comes in after 1-working day. I got mine!
Technical Specs from Continental Website



Monday, March 14, 2022

Brooks Running Launch 8 Long Term Review

944km, 89 runs. Many Run Happy moments

This is a long term review of the Brooks Running Launch 8. I've ran in this pair since November 2020 post my birthday and has surpassed a solid 900km mileage. This was my first pair of Brooks after a long time. The Launch 8 is a pair of simple, fast responsive trainer, lightweight and unassuming. Some say it's vanilla and no surprises. I dare to say affordable pair of trainer has exceeded my expectations.

Just look at the condition of the sole after 900km, compared to when it’s new in the photo below - this shoe will last at least another 300km easily and perhaps even more. Not sure if it’s a good sign or good thing as that meant I can’t request for a new pair of shoes as I have not worn this out yet. I saw what you are doing Brooks Malaysia! 😉

Heavier wear on my left forefoot due to my running gait

reasonable wear on the midfoot

The DNA sole retained it's elasticity and provide the support required

Minimal wear on my heel area

Here is the sole new on Day 1

New 0km mileage

And here it is, at KM900!

If you have not read my Launch8 review, head over to this unboxing and review : LAUNCH 8❤️

If you want to get yourself one, use EEVANOFF25 at BrooksRunning.com.my for up to 25% off all items, or use code SPEV02 at SportsParagon.com for even more discount and selections of all brands under @sportsparagon.official brands. Free delivery applies, best way to shop while staying safe in the Covid situation we still in.

Impressed with the Launch8? I know I am. :D

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Brooks Running : Ghost 14 Unboxing and Review

"Ee-Van, if you are coming to the Sports Paragon Warehouse Sale, let me know. I will pass you your entitlement as part of the sponsorship", said the Athlete liaison which is also the Paragon Vests Marketing manager. I intended to go to grab a few shoes for the family, and looked like I don't need to get any for myself. Long story short, i received a Brooks Running shoe, a Zoot sleeved Triathlon top, a set of Prime Sports wear and a Brooks retro cap. Thank you Sports Paragon!

Woohoo! See below for discount codes

The Brooks shoe I first received was a YET TO BE LAUNCHED limited edition Ghost 14 colorway (I took a pic but has promised not to share...) which will remain a mystery for you my dearest readers here. A quick communication the same day, I realized that Ghost14 was given wrongly. Not launched yet. Can't be seen outside. So, i get a replacement Ghost14 in Nightlife colorway. A brighter than bright yellow neon floro-blast Ghost14.

A quick round up. Details, below.

The Brooks Launch8 has been my mainstay and as I write this, covered close to 700km since November 2021 - pretty decent mileage taking into consideration that I have been rotating the Launch8 with this Ghost14, covering about 150KM in the past 20days of ownership. 

Which makes this write up possible and to provide a fair view of the shoe. 

First off, let me reshare the "Decision Tree" below, which I find it useful and accurate to help some of you dear readers decide and finetune your choices with shoes.


Based on my running gait, I know I am neutral footed and do not need any support. I would had love to get SPEED but the shoe provided to review is a CUSHIONED. And it isn't bad as the Launch8 is already (technically) a "speed" shoe, just not "super fast" like the Hyperion range. Ghost14 lands nicely in the Neutral-Cushioned-Balanced box. Which is expected based on my past experiences running in Ghost3 and Ghost5 - that was a good 9 to 11 years ago! It would be interesting to see what has changed. In another word, this is a step change in my experience.

Unboxing
US11 in D-width. Gambled with this sizing as it's same for my Launch8 which was a good fit. 

Official weight as per Brooks for a US9 male sizing is 280grams and my pair of US11 runs into 309grams. Not the lightest but expected of a cushioned shoe. Compared to the lighter Launch8, it is about  40grams heavier only - not a biggie for the extra comfort on longer runs.
Decent for a cushioned shoe

Brooks Ghost14 continue with the BioMoGo foams which will break down faster in anaerobic condition in landfill. Upgrade from all the Ghost I knew of is the DNA LOFT. Brooks DNA is presence of the cushioning gel in the midsole. This DNA gel is adaptive to the force applied. A higher force will make it firmer. This meant the cushioning is able to adapt to be firmer for a heavier user, and yet become more responsive when the pace picks up. 
DNA Loft yo!

The Ghost14 comes with DNA Loft and BioMoGo DNA. DNA Loft is the softest, plushiest midsole produced by Brooks. A mixture of EVA foam, Rubber and Air. Yes, Air gets injected into the full midsole to provide that cushioning effect while provided with durability of rubber. The DNA loft offers a very stable, lasting ride for as long as the shoe is in service for you. Having only experience DNA (most basic) in Launch8, I dare to say the differences is felt in terms of cushioning while still feeling that snappy transition at take off in faster paced workout.
Convincing Plushness

A full outsole was seen in Ghost14. This meant that it is covered from front to back. Blown rubber at the front and harder carbon black material at the heel ensure durability and mileage. The softer blown rubber outsole helps provide extra cushioning - not that Ghost14 needed it due to the higher stack present.
Designed in Seattle - the Brooks HQ

Ghost14 has a high drop of 12mm. I felt "tall" wearing it and a check showed it is a 31-19 (Heel-Toe) stack. This must be the highest drop shoe I have experienced in the past 7 years. Strangely, it sort of settled in after a run or two and I did not felt clumsy after. 

The socksliner is made from EVA foam and it adds extra plushness to the overall ride. Another feature that wasn't really made known is that the shoe upper is 3D printed and stretches to suit your movement. 
3D printed upper, flexs and stretch for a more accommodating fit

The heel cup is well placed and i had no heel slip when running in wet weather or in speedwork. It secure the heel rather nicely. The heel cup is well lined, with intend to prevent blisters. I have however, one formed, which is by my own fault as I did not secure the laces down correctly/firmly. Small blisters that doesn't bother me after a day.

3D printed as well

Continuing on, the tongue is not gusseted or in layman term, secured at all sides. It is a floater. Personal preferences as I noticed most Brooks are not gusseted. Actually, many of my shoes aren't as well. The Ghost14 tongue is padded and offer a lot of comfort if you are the type that likes them snug on the upper feet. I had to adjust the tension of my lace a few times to get that right feel - I guess a transition to using stretch lacing/speed lacing aka using rubber garter is in the plan.

The laces are flat, and it doesn't come with an spare lace of a different color. Black on Yellow Nightlife, flat laces is basic. It works. On a padded shoe, you have to find the right tension. 

The upper mesh provides good ventilation. I do not felt hot wearing them while running under the hot sun with hot tarred road. It doesn't felt "airier" than Launch8, which is already pretty well ventilated. So, I take that Brooks has pretty much dialled in on their material on the upper. As I run sockless, there wasn't any issues so far with hotspot. 
Sockless for the win!

The last feature i tested before going for the run was how flexible and pliable the shoe is. Because of the bulk, the shoe has expectedly takes a bit more effort to bend it. Wearing them on a run doesn't makes me felt any different as compared to Launch8 because my feet doesnt bend 90degree at the toes relative to the metatarsal. What I look out for was if there are any indication of "bite" at where the feet bend on a normal running transition. None. So that is good news. 

Orange laces? Yes? No?

First Feel 
The lacing need a bit of adjustment due to the thicker tongue padding. When dialed in right, it was good and it secured my feet very nicely. I have normal arch and a mid-to-heel over pronation. 

The shoe really shines!
The Medium width (D) felt great on my feet. My toes can splay out comfortably without having the  small toes pressing out the side. However, At one point during the run, I was wondering if i should had taken half size bigger. Its just some niggling feeling if half bigger could be better? Not sure, maybe in the next entitlement I may ask for a size change from Paragon Vests.

...and The Story So Far, 150km in...
The Ghost14 performed as it should. Providing good cushioning and yet sufficient "feel" for those fast workout. The weight doesn't bother me once I get the legs moving. If any, I treat the extra as part of training. As I am hardly a podium or record breaker, the shoe suits my easier workout day. Those days where runs are easy and help to build the base. It is truly a mileage eater as I could run in this whole day long. OK. Not that I ran further than 42km in the past 3 years anyway. You get my drift. 
Almost no sign of wear on the forefoot

You will notice that the outsole has no significant wear shown despite running the past 150km I did. The only thing is that I lost the bright yellow color of the sole due to tarmac stain. Perhaps, another 500km may show some sort of significant wear, and that would take perhaps another 2-months plus for another reporting.

Brand newish otherwise dirty due to tarmac stain

The shoe upper after 150km still looked new. The color did not fade, or doesn't appear to be despite me sunning it every run. UV rays may had lessen it a bit in terms of brightness, but it doesn't appear to be so.

Pros
  • Cushioned and responsive. Forefoot felt sure and has snap in the take off.
  • You feel grounded despite the 12mm drop. Strange feeling for me.
  • Fit is nice. Just need to find the sweet spot with the lacing pressure
  • No blisters despite running sockless. Only one time because I was finding the lacing sweetspot.
  • No heel slips despite all drenched in rain and sweat on two occasions.
Cons
  • Similar to Launch8, not wet weather grip friendly. Two experiences in rain showed a lot of slips even on tar/asphalt road. It impacted power transfer slightly due to split second grip-slips.
Not-Really-A-Con-But-It-Is-Just-Me
  • Heavier than all the other shoes I have. OK. Maybe I should stop being a gram-granny
The Ghost14 lives up to it's promises and looked promising that it will have a lifespan of no less than 1,000km or about 5-months of wear for me. Based on the 700km Launch8 which has thinner midsole and outsole, I won't be surprised this will last beyond 1,000km as a useful trainer. This pair will rotate with my Launch8, and hopefully, a faster Hyperion Tempo or Elite2 (lets manifest this Carbon shoe together gether with me) will replace the Launch8, and this Ghost14 will be a full on easy-day shoe.

A YES for me

And... A Carbon Neutral Shoe?
The Ghost 14 is Brooks Running first carbon neutral shoe. Through Brooks ‘Climate Action’ program, they are committed to first reducing emissions and then offsetting the rest. It’s one more stride toward net zero carbon emissions by 2040. 

Sustainability agenda in Seattle HQ

Brooks achieve this with usage of more recycled materials. The Brooks Ghost14 shoe lace, as an example is made from 100% recycled polyster. Much of the upper is also from recycled polyster with minimum content of 33% and most parts are 100%. Then there is the Carbon Offset program that Brooks subscribed to, as part of their sustainability agenda. I say this is truly a pair of Run Happy and Run To Love Mother Earth effort. If you are interested, read more here as Brooks share their initiatives.

https://www.brooksrunning.com/en_us/blog/gear-stories/ghost-14-carbon-neutral.html

This pair of Brooks Ghost14 in Nightlife Colorway is courtesy of Brooks Malaysia and Sports Paragon. Retail price is RM530.00. There is no carbon plate in this pair, and user should not compare this against performance shoes specifically designed for speed. Ghost14 is your mileage eater and it sits nicely as your daily easy trainer and your go-to speed shoe on rotation. 

Discount??? You Want Cheap?
As part of my sponsorship with Paragon Vests under the Team Sports Paragon, I have a few discount codes you can use to purchase your next Brooks shoes if you want. Older models at higher discount is available in www.sportsparagon.com website. Sizing can be a challenge, which explained the better discount. If you want newer and better sizing, head over to www.brooksrunning.com.my and score a few newer models.

Fancy this at 25% off?

More details at this announcement page where I have the full discount codes and brands that support me in 2022. But if you are lazy to click, here they are...

Promo Code: SPEV02
Footwear: 55%
Apparels: 50%
Sandals: 40%
Accessories: 50%

Promo Code: EEVANOFF25
25% OFF of all items ( exclude sale items )

Promo Code: ZOOTEEVAN20
20% OFF Zoot website Non promo items
10% OFF Zoot website Promotion items




I will be using these hashtags a lot in my social media postings, so that will allow for easier references with like-minded individual that contribute to the community. 

#sportsparagon #Swim #Bike #Run #triathlon #zootsportsmy #brooksrunningmy #primesportsmy #sportsparagonmy #keepshowingup #runhappymy #AllWeatherRunner #keepshowingup #runhappymy #AllWeatherRunner #getfitwithsportsparagon #GarminMalaysia #BeatYesterdayMY #StrydMalaysia #RunningWithPowerMY

I will continue my sharing in my social media spaces here in Instagram, Facebook Page, YouTube channel Twitter and Garmin as I engage all of you as the Key Opinion Leader (KOL).