This is always one of our favorite issues to put together, because there aren't many subjects that'll inspire impassioned debate among 'wheelers like the subject of tires. And considering the leaps and bounds that have been made in tire technology-not to mention the proliferation of tread designs we have to choose from now-it's no wonder. Step into any tire store nowadays, and you'll be confronted with multiple mud-terrains, all-terrains, and all-seasons, in radial, bias, or bias-belted constructions, so there's plenty of fodder for discussion.
It wasn't always that way. Back in the day of Armstrong Norsemen and Truetracs, 'wheelers didn't really have a lot of choices when it came to dedicated trail tires. We more or less bought what few designs the companies that made these tires offered us, and made the best of it. Thankfully, that loyalty paid off in the end, because while companies like Armstrong are no longer around, there are plenty of other players in the tire market who saw the opportunity to expand their sales while meeting a growing demand. Now, we have dozens of specialized treads-for mud, for rocks, for snow, for sand-from tire manufacturers from around the globe. And with all this competition, of course, we can now be a lot pickier when it comes to tires for our trucks, and that in turn spurs the manufacturers to continue to improve their products and to offer innovative variants of successful brands.
This time around, we're focusing more on a segment of the market we sometimes ignore-you daily-driver guys out there-with an assortment of treads that would seem to be equally at home on the street, the trail, or on a working tow rig. Our tire tester extraordinaire Jimmy Nylund-one of those odd fellas whose idea of a home-entertainment system is a Hunter tire balancer-weighs in (pun intended) with his takes on the latest crop of good all-purpose tires. One thing Jimmy notices increasingly these days, virtually without exception, is the amount of weights required to balance new tires-or perhaps we should say, the lack of weights: this month, for the first time ever, he actually discovers a set of treads that's perfectly balanced, right out of the box. Like we said, it's not only our choices of tires that are getting better, it's the quality of the product, too.
Another type of tire, often ignored but crucially important to folks who tow, is the trailer tire, and this month our own Robin Stover got a hold of a brand-new set of trailer treads from Interco-yep, that Interco-and gave 'em a month-long shakedown on his favorite L.A.-to-the-Bay commute. You can see our rubber roundup this month starting on page 36.