Hankook RoadHandler vs Michelin Defender: Which Tires to Opt?


Written by

Henry Speciale



Steven Schiller

hankook roadhandler vs michelin defender

Two oldies but goodies brands, Hankook RoadHandler vs Michelin Defender, is a tricky race in choosing a year-round tire.

RoadHandler showcased Hankook’s tire innovation, but Defender’s robust tread blocks and reliable ground grip in all weather conditions are hard to overlook.

But with users validating RoadHandler’s lasting tread life for a lower price, as much as we want to stick with Michelin’s brand, it’s a deal breaker for some people.

And for most, RoadHandler gets the nod.

To get a closer look at how this pick happened, let’s start by running through important specs to help you see for yourself.

Tire Specifications Hankook-RoadHandler michelin-defender-2
Type Passenger Passenger
Load Range SL SL
Performance Touring Touring
Section Width 225 225
Rim Diameter 17 17
Aspect Ratio 60 60
Speed Rating T H
Overall Diameter 27.6 27.6
Size 225/60R17 225/60R17
Load Index 98 99
Treadlife 100,000 miles 80,000 miles
Run Flat No No

Now that we have the basics, it’s time to dive deep and see what makes Hankook vs Michelin tires an exciting challenge for tire hunters.

What is It?

1. Hankook RoadHandler


The 6th largest tire company in the world, Hankook Tire & Technology is a South Korean-based company built in 1941 that manufactures most vehicle-type tires, even buses and electric vehicles.

Hankook boasts several brands showcasing innovation and sustainability, and in 2012, through Sears Auto Centers’ exclusive distribution, the company revived Hankook RoadHandler Touring tires. It was immediately followed by RoadHandler Sport and RoadHandler LT, released in 2013.

What’s excellent with RoadHandlers is that their tread is formed to maintain a balanced abrasion, which tends to increase treadwear potential. Also, this tire is lighter so it can move with much less resistance and without losing traction control, even at a faster speed.

Hankook wisely utilized silica-infused compounds to make these possible.

Tire that fits passenger vehicles and SUVs, RoadHandler is just one of Hankook’s low-profile tires that perform beyond expectation. No wonder just like Michelin, they’re consistently one of the top picks for the most significant motorsports events like Formula 1.

2. Michelin Defender


A company that started detachable pneumatic tires in 1891, Michelin has already done numerous and significant innovations in the tire industry until it eventually emerged as a corporation specializing in other rubber products and now became the 2nd largest tire company in the world.

Michelin is the home of Defender. These tires are known for their rigid tread blocks and are suitable for SUVs and light-duty trucks. Defender comes in three models, Defender LTX M/S, Defender T + H and Defender 2.

The tire’s zigzag slits reach the inner tread, and it pulls tread blocks tight when there’s pressure, creating a solid grip, particularly in aggressive movements. Reason Defender has off-road reliability and amazing traction on dry, wet and snowy grounds.

These sipes are also responsible for the tire’s ability to release water from the tread’s spaces if you’re driving during rainy weather. Michelin Defender LTX M/S champ this compared to its predecessor Defender LTX M/S2.

Usually a bit heavier than other tires, the same trademark technologies still made Defender tires work responsively and efficiently so that it can also manage to save fuel.

Differences Between Hankook RoadHandler and Michelin Defender


Do you know that Hankook and Michelin have an 8-year history together? From 2003-2011, they produced the industry’s best wheels as partners. After these tire companies parted ways, both remained innovative and advocates of sustainable technology.

Now let’s see how the two tires employed these merits and the differences that good RoadHandler tires beat.

1. Dry and Wet

The two tires’ handling performance on dry roads is unquestionable. Even with speedy rides, RoadHandler is consistent with its name because of its intelligent tread design, especially in dry conditions.

However, Defender’s execution on dry ground is more precise. Dry traction is among the categories that elevated Defender out of 22 Standard Touring All- Season Tire tire models.

On the other hand, many touring and all-season tires have some issues on wet roads, and Defender LTX M/S2 was one of these. Although its wet traction was significantly enhanced in its new form Defender LTX M/S, we’ll give it to RoadHander.

RoadHandler’s center channels and side grooves efficiently help water disposal from the tread soaked in wet roads. Furthermore, the Roadhandler H/T tire is built to withstand hydroplanning.

2. Snow

Snowy Roads are the real test for year-round tires like Roadhander and Defender. It’s not just about traction but also durability. Unfortunately, these tires are not the perfect ones for snow. However, in many tests conducted by enthusiasts, Michelin Defender seems to be a better choice than other all-season tires, including Hankook RoadHander.

But remarkably, RoadHandler shows handling stability in light to shallow frosty ground.

3. Off-road Driving

Flexibility is another thing, especially if you expect to get the best touring wheel value. Hankook designed RoadHandler LT for rough roads, only not as reliable as Defender.

Defender tires are known for their durable tread blocks with IntelliSipe™ Technology that heightens traction even on bumpy roads.

4. Noise and Comfort

Touring tires demand the finest driving experience than other tire types. As inventive as they are, Hankook and Michelin came up with ways to provide pleasant rides to their users.

You won’t usually find bad feedback about how Defender tires sound. A smooth and easy ride is one of its selling points compared to other highway tires. However, RoadHandler notches up because it is equipped with a tread that restrains noises induced by the road and moving tire, which keeps a steady, quiet ride.

5. Price and Warranty

RoadHandler has lower prices than Defender while offering an incredible deal of a 100,000-mileage warranty. It’s like getting a discount tire with absolute quality.

While Defender starts at $156.99, you can still call it quits if you consider the benefits, like its proven long-lasting tread life from 70,000 miles to 90,000 miles depending on the model, traction and off-road performance.

The price comparison may sound tricky if you’re on a budget, but not really, as both tires are priced for what they are worth. But with a tread life record supported by its users, we’ll give this part to RoadHandler.

Pros and Cons

This is box title
  • 100k mile treadwear warranty
  • Reliable dry and wet traction
  • Quiet Rides
  • Environment-friendly and fuel saving
  • A tread design that promotes balanced abrasion
  • Aquaplaning resistance
  • Snow traction needs improvement
  • Off-road handling enhancement
<strong>Michelin Defender</strong>
  • Great dry traction performance
  • Better wet, snow and off-road traction
  • Robust tread blocks
  • Non-noisy and Ride comfort
  • Long lasting tread life
  • Fuel saving ability
  • Tends to be more expensive
  • A slight improvement on wet traction is recommended

Frequently Asked Questions


Who makes RoadHandler’s tires?

All three RoadHandler models that were launched from 2012-2013 are manufactured by Hankook Tire & Technology and exclusively distributed by Sears Auto Center.

Are RoadHandler and Defender directional tires?

No. Directional tires have tread designs that enable a unidirectional rotation. RoadHandler and Defender are symmetrical but non-directional tires.


Deciding which touring all-season tire to buy is as important as driving safely and when you compare Hankook tires to Michelin, that means you’re looking at the right tires.

With the question, which one is tougher? Michelin Defender deserves the credit as it can handle all-season and off-road challenges more.

However, for a Hankook RoadHandler vs Michelin Defender moment of truth, RoadHandler’s 100k mileage warranty and price outweigh slight performance gaps.

Fair to say, RoadHandler is the wiser choice.

Either way, Reddit reviews are good references to more user feedback and enthusiasts’ recommendations.

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Henry-Speciale - Writer

Henry Speciale

I’m Henry, the content writer for PPMC Transport. We build our site entirely on experience and extensive market and customer research. My goal is to create a trusted platform where people can go to determine what is best for their vehicles in terms of safety and convenience. Keep an eye out for our useful guide!...more