BFG Mud-Terrain and Center Line's Ultimate I.C.E. WheelPosted in How To on June 12, 2008
Yeah, we know it says Mud- Terrain on the sidewall, and every other off-road magazine besides us has probably tested them as such. But we were more interested in how they worked in the desert. We remember a few years back when a few teams tried using Krawlers to gain more traction during some desert races. Although they fared better than most super-aggressive off-road tires, they still came to a similar end, with lugs ripping off the carcass of the tire. High-horsepower trucks traveling 100-plus mph over harsh terrain will do that to a tire. This is why BFGoodrich's Baja T/A race tire has such a mildlooking tread design - the durability of continuous tread blocks and closely spaced lugs with a small void ratio is unsurpassed. The Krawler has an extremely durable carcass, but the very tall tread lugs and the high void ratio leaves it open to tread damage during racing.
For now, the BFGoodrich Baja T/A remains king of off-road racing, but some other tires have been showing up at the races offering more traction than the Baja T/A, and teams have had to experiment with tire durability versus tire traction when making their choices. But the new Mud-Terrain T/AKM2 might be BFGoodrich's ace up the sleeve. This past Baja 1000, BFGoodrich outfitted all 18 vehicles in the Baja Challenge Class with the new Mud-Terrain T/AKM2, and all 18 vehicles finished. That's an amazing accomplishment, especially considering that some of these cars are driven by nonprofessional racers. not only does BFGoodrich have a more aggressive desert tire in its arsenal, but for the first time it also has a 40-plus-inch radial tire (for the passenger vehicle market).
Knowing we had a truck that could run the big 40-inch radial KM2s, we decided that's the size we wanted to try, and we wanted them on Center Line Internal Centering Element (I.C.E.) three-piece beadlock wheels. The tire-and-wheel package worked great, but unfortunately we sort of broke the heck out of our test truck during testing, and of course that was before we got many of the representative shots we wanted. Guess it's just all part of the job.
Even in a 40-inch tire size, the new BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/AKM2 really held the road well. We were able to put a few hundred highway miles and some around-town ones on our tire-and-wheel package before our test truck took a dump. The tires rode smoothly on pavement, kept a nice edge on the ground with a flatter tread foot, and we felt very little sidewall slop in corners with our tires inflated to 25 psi.
In the dirt, the tires gripped the hardpack well, and with 12 inches of sidewall, they absorbed rocks and objects strewn on the fire roads with very little transmission back to the driver. We're not suggesting trying to race the 40-inch version (you'd have to have a lot of truck for that), but the 38s or 37s might make a very good prerunning and competition tire.
The new 14.50-inch-wide BFGs worked amazingly well in the sand. They dug in way less than we thought they would, and instead kept us floating on top of the dunes. The tread is aligned closely enough to keep the tread lugs from really digging down and sinking the truck in the sand. We had a great time testing them in the dunes for all of about 20 minutes before we had some mechanical malfunctions.
Since we didn't have any rain, we didn't have any mud during our test period. We've heard mixed reviews about these tires in the mud. Some say that it works worse than the old Mud-Terrain, and some say that it's a great Mud-Terrain tire with rockcrawling capabilities built in. From what we've been told by our coworkers at sister publications (again, mixed reviews), we'd say that it's equally as impressive at mud running as the old Mud-Terrain, but not something to trade in your Swampers for if you're boggin' really bad mud.
Every vehicle in the Baja Challenge Class ran the new KM2s, along with other classes seeing the new tire as well. BFGoodrich received glowing reports back of how well these tires endured the long Baja 1000 race last November, and we can assure you that you'll be seeing versions of this tire show up in both desert and short-course off-road racing.
For the short time we got to run the Mud-Terrain T/AKM2 tires, they worked out great. The highway performance was much better than a Krawler, and there was no weight difference between the two, even with the KM2 being a slightly larger tire. The dirt-road traction and smoothness made us see these as a clearly superior prerunning and race tire compared to some others out there and will keep BFGoodrich at the top of the race game for a long time to come. We didn't get a chance to dip into any mud or drive these tires in the rain, but we were able to really finish off our test platform when the rear driveshaft yoke exploded and let the shaft go. unfortunately, our test truck let us know that testing was done for the week.
Make/Model: BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/AKM2
Size On Sidewall: 40x14.50r17
Load Range: C
Tire Hardness: 62 (tread face), 54 (sidewall lugs) on tire durometer
Tread Depth: 20/32
Number Of Plies In Sidewall: TriGard three-plypolyester carcass
Number Of Plies In Tread: Five plies (Three polyester, Two steel)
Weight Of Tire: 84.5 lbs
Measured Diameter Unloaded: 39.8 in
Measured Width Unloaded: 14.25 in
Measured Tread Width: 11.0 in
Mounted On: 17x9 Center Line I.C.E. run-Flat Modular Wheels (50 lbs)
Available Sizes: 31-42 in
Available On: 16-22-in-diameters