The Appalachian Gap and the Hakkapeliitta R2 SUVs

There is no better tire test than Vermont’s Appalachian Gap (Ap Gap) after a snowfall. Even in summer, the pavement is pretty crappy with frost heaves that almost always seem to be located in mid hairpin turn to upset a cornering vehicle. The road features several switchbacks as it climbs over 1000 ft up to a gap at 2375 ft of elevation in the Green Mountains. Car and motorcycle clubs travel from far away to drive the legendary road.

After skiing, my family and I decided to take the scenic way home over the Ap gap. I was surprised to see that there was still some snow on the road making for “greasy” sections, a term Vermonters use to describe roads where the car can easily slide. It was 15F but earlier in the day some sections had been in the sun and were now in the shade making the road icy, dry, and snow covered all within 50 yards.

I was safely testing the cornering grip limits of the tires on the snow and ice. I couldn’t get too crazy with the family in the car.

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While I was impressed for the most part, I was thinking I would have been better off with my Subaru Outback with Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 studded tires. On a few turns the front end on the Q7 started to slide out a bit before ESP brought things back under control.

However as we descended in elevation and the pavement cleared off, the tires hooked up around each corner and I was reminded that the dry pavement handling of the HKPL R2s is far better than that of the HKPL 7 studded tires.

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