How Ultra-Performance Tires Affect The Chevrolet Bolt

2017 Chevrolet Bolt driving


Increased traction comes with tradeoffs.

So, you bought yourself a Chevy Bolt. Congratulations! Now, what are you going to do to personalize it or make it better suit your driving style? Tint the windows? Do a chrome and badge delete? Bathe the whole thing in flat-black plasti dip? How about swap the Michelin Energy Saver A/S 215/50R17 all-season tires it came with for something that will increase grip? Tempting? Before you do that, read this.


Michelin Energy Saver A/S Selfseal Green X tire

Swapping stock tires is something that many new car owners consider. For electric vehicle drivers, this change can have both desired and undesired effects. The differences were brought into sharp focus by MotorTrend recently when they exchanged the stock low rolling resistance (LRR) rubber on their long-term Chevy Bolt loaner with definitively more sticky hoops: a set of BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 ultra-high-performance (UHP) tires. Lucky for us, they took detailed notes of the results.

Before we delve into the numbers, let’s reflect on some of the differences noticeable without instrumented testing. Anecdotally, the UHP tires cut down significantly on the howling that happens when the stock LRR doughnuts are pushed near their grip’s breaking point while significantly increasing said grip, making highway entrance and exit ramps more manageable. Enjoyable, even, if you’re one of those who likes to take on cloverleafs with the driving aggression of an Andretti.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the tires were quieter overall. Au contraire, mes frères. Ultra high-grip means more friction, and more friction means more noise. With the cabin of the Chevy Bolt absent of engine hullabaloo, the difference was notable and annoying to the MT tester.

Of course, the biggest impact was the hit on driving range, and these super-sticky summer tires really decreased it.

Based on the EPA-rated 238-mile driving range, our driving range decreased by 10.2 percent.The average ideal range after charging dropped from 248 miles to 224 miles, and the average predicted range dropped from 206 miles to 186 miles.

After subjecting the Bolt to another, ahem, battery of tests involving their EQUA Real MPG team, MT determined the new efficiency rating of the Chevy while wearing UHP shoes to be 89.2 MPGe in combined driving, down from the stock 122.2 MPGe (note: this EQUA Real MPG stock result differs slightly from the official EPA number of 119 MPGe).

While our source story is worth the read, the bottom line is this: moving to a different tire may improve handling, but it will also impact range. The ultra-high-performance tires tested here were really not a good match for the Bolt, taking the impact on range, the car’s stock suspension, and other factors into consideration. Still, there might be other options out there, which are better suited to your driving style. If you’ve tried a different tire on your Bolt, feel free to let us know in Comments.

Source: MotorTrend

Categories: Chevrolet


Leave a Reply

51 Comments on "How Ultra-Performance Tires Affect The Chevrolet Bolt"

newest oldest most voted

No, no, no! Tires don’t “effect” the Bolt, it is here already! You mean that tires affect the Bolt.

Good catch, thanks!

Maybe get over yourself

He can’t! HIS Tires are ‘Too Sticky!’


I thank you, and so does my inner Grammar Nazi. 🙂


It’s troubling how some people seem to think that communicating clearly is no longer important in the age of the internet.

U wut m8

European Bolt EVs (i.e., Ampera-e) are specced with Michelin summer LRR grand touring tires that improve handling and dry traction without affecting range or noise comfort.

Worth considering if you don’t need all-seasons, which are compromises anyway.

I’ve heard people much smarter about these things say that all seasons are a bad choice. Period.

They say use either summer tires or winter tires.

I had a summer/winter setup and when the summers needed replacement, I swapped them out for all-seasons due to the PITA factor of the twice-a-year changeover. Yes, summer/winter drive better in their respective seasons, also worse if you keep them on too long or put them on too early. Too much depends on the kind of driving you do, and in what climate, and personal factors, for one or the other to be unequivocally the right thing. Period. 🙂

Buy a second set of wheels. It’s at most a 30 min swap in your driveway.

I had a second set.

Even simpler: buy 2 cars: 1 for Winter, 1 for Summer!

Now why didn’t I think of that?

That’s what I did. 2 seat convertible Roadster for my summer car. Waiting for someone to have an affordable long range EV convertible.

I have finally come to that conclusion. I’m probably going to buy a Niro PHEV before spring hits (assuming the Niro hits) and my intension is going to be to get a second set of wheels and put summer tires on one set and snow tires on the other set. I live in the great white north and the ‘low rolling resistance’ all seasons that are so common on economy cars are sort of scary to drive in winter.

Tires matter.
So does rim size.
So does pressure.

A lot.

Even if you use all-year tires you should rotate them. At best, if you drive little, you reduce your PITA (hey, you said it) by 50%.

I use a tire hotel. When we approach the time for a swap I get an SMS telling me I should think about making the appointment and a suggested time. I reply saying when I’d like to do it and receive confirmation.

They store my tires, clean them, check them for wear, inflate them to the correct pressure, and of course do the swap itself. It costs me about $150 a year, and I wouldn’t dream of going back.

I’m not aware of such a service in my area, else I’d seriously consider it when the time comes for me to replace my current all-seasons (which I do rotate when I get the car serviced).

When I did maintain summer/winters I started out with a shop that provided similar service to what you describe — more rudimentary since they didn’t notify me when it was time for the changeover, which actually sounds like a significant improvement. They did store them, though, but then they changed facilities and no longer had storage space, and I had to house and carry them back and forth myself (I’m not inclined to do my own wheel swaps in my driveway as @Tom S suggested). That’s when the PITA factor really kicked in.

(I just googled Tire Hotel and I guess it’s a Canadian thing?)

In the winter, in places where this means snow and ice – there is no substitute for winter tires. The difference can mean life or death, sometimes literally.

+1. The trend is to make them a legal requirement in northern climates (Quebec already has this law)

I would not be surprised to see a drop of close to 20% between low rolling resistance tires and quality snow tires.

The stock tires on the Bolt are too wide for snow and end up losing mileage just trying to push the snow. I went down to 15″ rims for the Blizzaks and I’m not doing any worse on those for mileage than the stock 215/50’s (anecdotal – no hard science behind my testing)

Were you able to find 15″ steel wheels? I had to get 16″ Blizzaks because TireRack didn’t have 15″ combo & I wasn’t willing to pay for Chrome rims for snow tires.

They’re so effective that some places (Mammoth Lakes CA for example) who mandate tire chains with give an exception if you have AWD/4WD and snow tires…

After three separate test drives of the Bolt, I would say it DEFINITELY needs stickier rubber – the push around corners when carrying any kind of speed is ridiculous (and definitely impacts the fun factor).
Unfortunately, the ultra-high performance tires they went with here really swing the pendulum too far the other way. Indeed, just the ride and noise compromises alone are enough to dissuade most buyers (much less the range hit).

As Leasehackr notes, a decent high performance all season or grand touring tire would likely be a good compromise. Plan on dropping $500-$800 a set for a decent brand though (per a quick perusing of Tire Rack).

“moving to a different tire may improve handling, but it will also impact range.”

In other news: water is wet.

More Importantly:
Gravity Sucks!

Oh oh here it comes! That is why UFOs go vertically 6,000 MPh and right angle turns because gravity sucks. So they just control it’s sucking! Ha ha

The first thing we will do to upgrade our Bolt EV is install rear shocks with better rebound dampening. Over dips in the pavement, then stock units jounce up, and unsettle the handling a bit, and make for a rough ride for rear seat passengers.

Rolling resistance is a big consideration, when you need efficiency, to get the most range possible. Also, wider tires add more aerodynamic drag.

Neil, my family feels the same way about our Bolt. The ride on uneven roads is too bumpy. It’s one of the few complaints we have about the car. Please post your findings as you look into replacing the rear shocks.

BTW, I’ve had Michelin X-Ice winter tires on for a month and am quite happy with them (we’re in Toronto), but of course we’re not seeing the same range we had in spring/summer/fall.

Good suggestion about changing the rear shocks. My son sat in the back last night, after a day of sitting up front and told me how bad the bouncing was. He compared it to being in the back of the school bus.

I’ve ordered Michelin Xi3 tires. I had them on other vehicles, and like them a lot. I expect to take an additional range hit, over the cold weather hit already happening. Good thing the Bolt has decent range to start with.

bro1999, get some new shoes and show those gasbags what your Bolt is capable of!

He can’t, he’s too busy trolling all the Tesla threads!

Based on the report from MT, it she be even more obvious that Chevy would do well to offer a performance trim on the Bolt with stickier tires and a performance tune from the factory. That way, they can also justify the current pricing and drop the MSRP of the base trim to bring more people in.

A new Bolt EV price of just $31,995.00 – With CCS included, would be a good start! $29,995 for the same, even better! $29,995.00 in CAN$, even Better!

Reportedly the Bolt EV parts catalog list two different tire parts numbers, rears are the self sealing while the fronts part number match the Volts, which are close but are not self-sealing…All four Volt tires and the front Bolt EV tires cost the same, there are bound to be some people who are driving around on a tire that isn’t self sealing but they believe they are…

“The ultra-high-performance tires tested here were really not a good match for the Bolt…”

Well, duh. Why did Motor Trend waste their time and money doing this? And why does it deserve coverage at InsideEVs?

Beats yet another “Tesla P100DL smokes ___ sports car” post.

For once I agree with you.

But those who run this website have said that Tesla drag-racing videos are amongst the most-viewed by those visiting InsideEVs. And nobody is putting a gun to our heads and making us read those articles.

It’s actually _exactly_ an appropriate topic for InsideEVs (much more so than about Musk’s leadership qualities, or non-automotive pursuits).
Most likely,the same results would apply to any middleweight EV; given that at this point in EV development range is still very much an issue, it’s very instructive to know whether the difference between tire types is 1%, or 10% or 20%. The noise issue is also interesting, and an example so something I expect many people would have thought about in advance.

This is pretty obvious. Car and Driver did the same with the original LEAF and improved its handling by a lot but the range suffered significantly.

It is always a trade off.

I live in Wisconsin where we got some snow this past week. The Bolt doesn’t grip very well with the Michelin Energy Saver tires so I got a set of factory rims and Michelin X-ice snow tires and put them on my Bolt today. I was expecting a much noisier ride but it wasn’t bad. I have Blizzak tires on my 2016 Leaf and on my previous 2013 Leaf. Blizzaks are noisy but great in snow. I didn’t have much range loss with the Blizzaks on the Leafs. We’ll see how the Bolt is with the Michelins.

How did the Michelin x ice affect your range last winter on your bolt?

Why no mention or testing of braking performance? That’s where sticky tires really shine.

Those wooden Michelins that come stock will trigger ABS at even very moderate braking levels since they are so hard.

Yes low roll resistance will get better mileage but they wear out in about 17-20 k miles vs a grab touring style tire. Also they cost about 209$ dollars more! So I use the safer better handeling tire that’s lasts long has better stop times and is 200$ cheaper and goes 40-50 k miles.

Seems to me, when considering the BOLT with a 200 plus mile range, giving up even 10% of range is a good compromise for a safer handling car. If you have a car like the first gen LEAF, with a true range of 70-90 mile range, brand new…well, you have to think about it more.

When did the Orion line assembling Bolts shut down this year. There were 5129 Bolts on cars dot com on 12/1, 4986 on 12/4, 4704 on 12/8 and 4576 today on 12/16. It looks like they shutdown before the first of the month, but if they did, the Bolt is really selling a lot slower this month than I thought they would. Or does GM slowly release Bolts a couple of times a week to keep inventory up to reasonable levels? If they aren’t releasing a steady small stream of Bolts, December isn’t going to be as good a month for the Bolt as I thought. Of course, I am talking about cars dot com inventory numbers, not a super reliable source.

I’ve found my summer performance tires to be significantly more quiet than stock all season tires. Further, the only range loss I’ve experienced is due to me enjoying driving an electric car more briskly through traffic.

Winter tires are a must. Otherwise the electric will not let any power be put to the ground. Those tires are louder than stock all seasons, but well worth the noise when it comes time to stop on slick surfaces, or navigate through slush.

This is a Spark EV in Michigan, though. Bolt, ymmv.

I’ve had BFG Sport Comp-2 tires on my Volt for the past year. The value I get from a car that is more fun to drive outweighs the efficiency and range impact. 10% loss seems to be about what I’m seeing as well. But grip is much better than 10%.

On my Bolt I installed Continental ExtremeContact DWS06’s in stock size (though the aftermarket wheels are 1/2″ wider than stock) a few months ago. I have about 2000 miles on them now. What a difference! They blew away my expectations. I went with high performance all-seasons for the reasons listed in the article (I beat them to it, ha!). They’re very grippy in the warm, but hold on to most of that in the cold too (down to 23*F so far), unlike UHP summer tires which can get quite scary down there. Amusingly, my Bolt will now outgrip my previous stock 2014 Stingray when below freezing out (all bets are off in nice temps though). They’re good in light or heavy rain as well. They seem to like 40-42 psi cold. Ride is noticeably stiffer (stiffer sidewalls, wider wheels, higher pressure) but I prefer the quicker response I get from them. They might be a little louder, but I didn’t notice much difference in noise. I noted around a 8-10% decrease in range but it’s hard to pinpoint because stock tires were only on there for about 750 miles. To me, these are more than worth it because I still… Read more »

I have tires similar to these on my 2016 Volt and traction when wet is very poor. How about a set of Continental ProContact ecoplus 215/50R17 instead. $200 a car cheaper but no self seal. Wet and dry traction much better and tread wear is almost twice as long.

Allow me to clarify.

2014 Spark EV

Winter: Nokian WRG2 195/55R-15

Summer: Federal Formoza AZ01 P205/50R-15

Both excellent seasonal solutions, IMO.


I’ve had Michelin Pilot Super Sports 225/45-17 on my ’17 Bolt for almost one year. The upgrade was well worth the $150/tire. Braking and especially cornering are astounding compared to the original Michelins, which are now in my attic, and will be remounted when I finish the lease. I still get slight wheelspin from a standstill. I did not note any significant range decrease.