Michelin has been in the rubber market since before the automobile invention and is rated as the number one tire manufacturer in the world. Falken is a relatively new company by the automotive industry standards, but it built a strong reputation in its 40 years in the market.
Michelin competes neck-to-neck with Bridgestone in terms of production numbers and quality. However, Falken, which is far from those figures, has raised the curiosity of many consumers thanks to its marketing strategy, technology, and word-of-mouth recommendations.
When comparing the products of two large brands with multiple factories worldwide, it would be inaccurate to generalize and say that one brand is better than the other. A fairer comparison would be comparing product by product. Because both brands have dozens of products, and market-specific products, that would be an impossible comparison to make.
That’s why I’ll tell you all about both brands so that you can choose which tire is better for your vehicle, depending on your driving habits, the weather, and the roads you usually drive on.
Introducing Both Brands
Let’s take a brief look at both brands.
The company was launched in Japan in 1983 as a branch of the giant Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Rubber Industries. In 1985, the brand was introduced to the North American market, and in 1988 it was released in Europe.
The brand first focused on designing and producing high-performance tires and didn’t take long to build a strong reputation in the motorsports market. Over the years, Falken sponsored many well-known tuners, drivers, and teams, and they became very popular in the drifting scene, for example, where tires are highly abused.
This helped them to open their way to new markets and different kinds of customers. The brand didn’t take long to start making products for all types of applications, from truck tires to tourism cars, SUVs, and off-road vehicles.
Falken’s products were well-received by both consumers and experts, which helped the brand to grow very quickly and to establish itself as a mid-range brand. The racing venture and a strong R&D policy helped the company to expand quickly into the US and Europe.
Another thing that helped Falken grow was the global alliance that Sumitomo and Goodyear established in 1999, where they agreed to work together to develop and produce high-performance tires for both companies.
This partnership allowed Falken, as a branch of the Sumitomo corporation, to benefit from Goodyear’s technology and expertise in tire manufacturing. Besides, the partnership with Goodyear helped Falken expand its distribution network and marketplace even further, taking its products to new and even better quality standards. In June 2015, Sumitomo and Goodyear dissolved their partnership worldwide.
Falken is best known as a high-performance and aftermarket tire manufacturer; however, several automakers, such as Audi, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Subaru, started to install Falken tires as original equipment on some of their new vehicles, which is a sign of recognition for the brand and as a benchmark of their tire’s quality.
Still part of the giant Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Falken has grown exponentially, offering a wide range of products for many applications. The brand earned its fair place in the tire market, and even though in terms of sales and revenue it’s far from top brands like Michelin, Bridgestone, and Goodyear, Sumitomo group raised its sales by 17% in 2022 with a 6 billion dollar revenue. The future looks bright and promising for the Japanese brand.
The French brand was established in 1888 by the Michelin brothers Andre and Edouard.
They started making bicycle and carriage tires, and as automobiles became popular, they began to make vehicle tires. In 1946, the brand invented the radial tire, revolutionizing the tire industry. Nowadays, it is unimaginable to think of tires that are not radial.
Michelin became the biggest tire manufacturer in the world, with gross revenue of over 24 billion dollars. The company has multiple factories all over the world and a workforce of over 100,000 employees. Michelin manufactures tires for all kinds of vehicles, including aircraft, and as a curious fact, they supplied NASA with special tires for the space shuttle.
The company has also been involved in motorsports since its beginnings. They won numerous championships and races across different disciplines, including Formula One, WRC, and MotoGP. The French brand was a pioneer in using motorsports as a way to develop and test new tire technologies to apply them to their production tires.
Michelin was an F1 tire supplier from 1977 to 1984 and from 2001 to 2006, supplying tires to teams like Ferrari and Renault. In rallying, Michelin also proved their products’ grip and durability on rough roads and harsh conditions.
The French tire manufacturing company is deeply committed to innovation, its R&D department is one of the best in the world, and its creativity has been awarded multiple times.
Michelin is undoubtedly a premium tire manufacturer; although they offer different quality levels and price ranges, the brand never compromises the quality of its products.
Michelin is a major supplier of tires for many vehicle manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Tesla, Volvo, and many others. They supply tires for many popular cars, SUVs, trucks, and motorcycles.
It’s important to highlight that Michelin frequently collaborates with vehicle designers to develop tires that meet their vehicles’ specific performance and safety requirements. This process ensures that the tires are optimized for the vehicle’s handling, braking, and overall performance. For example, Michelin made the tires for the Bugatti Veyron, which were specially designed to withstand the sportscar’s incredible 253 mph (407 km/h) top speed.
Falken vs. Michelin – Comparison
Comparing both manufacturers’ trajectories, Michelin seems to be a clear winner. However, as I said earlier, comparing tires from different brands is tricky, so I will give you some facts to help you make a good choice between the two brands.
A recent study shows that Michelin is first in the top 10 most popular tire brands globally. Consumers and industry experts rated their product range in every category (regular, all-season, off-road, summer, etc.). The overall rating was 4.5 stars from 5, an excellent score that is closely followed by Goodyear.
That same study gives Falken an overall score of 3.25 stars out of 5, but it’s important to know that Falken scored a solid 4 out of 5 in the customer satisfaction department.
Performance and Prices
Falken tires are always a good choice for sports cars and high-performance vehicles. It’s no surprise that Falken’s UHP tires are almost as good as Michelin’s top UHP models.
For example, let’s make a quick comparison between the Falken Azenis FK510 and the Michelin Pilot Sport 4. Both tires provide excellent handling in wet conditions, but the french tires are a clear winner in the dry. The overall score of Michelin’s model is 9.1 out of 10 vs. 8.2 out of 10 for the Falkens. Both scores are excellent, but if you are looking for the best product and can afford it, the Pilot Sport 4 is near perfection.
In terms of price, Falken tires cost up to 50% less than their French counterparts. Overall, depending on the size, the Azenis FK510 costs 40% less than the Pilot Sport 4.
Taking a closer look at all models, you will find that Falken has an outstanding wet performance, and it fails to deliver in dry conditions. This is a pattern for most Falken models, the same as pricing; Falken tires always cost about 50% and 40% less than Michelin tires.
- Falken offers a 55,000-mile tread life warranty and 50-year customer support starting from the tire’s manufacturing date.
- Michelin offers a limited tread life warranty (about 6 years average) and between 60,000 and 90,000-mile tread life warranty, whichever comes first.
In some cases, Falken offers a longer treadwear warranty than Michelin. For example, the Falken Sincera SN201 A/S offers a 65,000-mile warranty against Michelin’s 60,000-mile warranty.
On the other hand, performance tires usually don’t come with a treadwear warranty because of their purpose. However, Michelin offers a 25,000-mile warranty for their Exalto PE2, while Falken doesn’t provide any for its similar model.
Both brands are well-known for producing durable tires. Of course, there may be differences in durability depending on the user’s driving habits, driving conditions, and maintenance.
Michelin is considered one of the most durable tire brands in the market, although there are some complaints about a recent change in their compounds which eliminates UV protection, reducing the tires’ lifespan. Michelin stated that tires should be replaced at least every six years, but their products last more than that.
Falken also makes durable and long-lasting tires. They are made of high-grade materials that provide superior durability and wear resistance. Besides, Falken tires keep their performance and handling characteristics over time.
According to some tests and user reviews, Falken tires have an average lifespan of about 55,000 miles to 70,000 miles, while some Michelin tires last up to 80,000 and 90,000 miles.
The difference is not that much, and again; it depends on the tire model and the use you intend to give your tires.
Both tires are pretty quiet. In fact, Michelin’s top-notch tires are among the most silent in the market. Falken tires are not so far from Michelin, they are about 10% noisier, but they are considerably quieter than tires from other brands of similar prices.
Falken tires offer good riding comfort, surprisingly good for mid-range tires. Michelin’s top models offer incredible riding comfort, and not so much on its lower-priced products.
Pros and Cons
Falken Tires’ Advantages
- Good to Excellent overall performance.
- Excellent off-road and high-performance capabilities.
Falken Tires’ Disadvantages
- Not so good dry performance.
- Weak winter performance.
Michelin Tires’ Advantages
- Excellent overall performance.
- Wider range of models and size options.
- Quiet and comfortable.
Michelin Tires’ Disadvantages
- Some models are overpriced.
If you are looking for a good set of tires at a reasonable price, Falken tires are an excellent choice. They are built to last and compared with Michelin’s and other top brands’ entry levels, they are better tires.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the best performance tires money can buy, Michelin is the best choice. Their premium models have impressive ratings, which are near perfection, and have outstanding performance in all driving conditions.
Last but not least, before buying a new set of tires, it’s important to consider several options, do some research, and see what tires best suit your needs.