Not since the early '80s have we seen the presence of General Tire in the desert-racing community. However, this all changed at 2007's annual SEMA Show when the folks at General unveiled a brand-new tire for our dirt-loving racers. Continental Tire North America, General's parent company, made significant investments in both manufacturing ability and compound technology in an attempt to capture the highly competitive off-road racing market. Its plan is to develop a tire that racers want in order to run over other choices in the market and then work backwards from there to tame the race tire down for public consumption around 2010. We were lucky enough to be able to test one of the very first sets of these new tires just after the SEMA Show.
With plans of toppling competition at both Baja and Dakar for 2008, we think General has set its goals very high for this new tire. Guess we'll just call it confident planning. As General tells us, the new Grabber was designed as a desert-racing thoroughbred. Purposeful elements such as sidewall stone deflectors are coined by a logo on the sidewall stating "Duragen Technology." The carcass of this new tire features a unique three-ply tread design General refers to as "Strake and Chamfer." In tire development lingo, this tread has a trans-toric groove repeated around the circumference of the tire, which is intersected by lateral grooves that connect the ends of the repeating grooves, i.e. the strakes. The chamfers are positioned to intersect the cascading tread block arrangement, thus maintaining a high degree of lateral stability within the pattern. This arrangement creates an asymmetrical cascading repetition of tread blocks with built-in traction pockets. Basically, the tread is designed to provide ample traction with increased resistance to block shearing while giving it a planted stable feel on loose surfaces.