Mickey Thompson’s Baja Claw recently got some big-time updates that we needed to experience for ourselves. Several key features were added to the new Claw, which is known as the Baja Claw TTC (TTC in honor of our sister magazine’s event, the Top Truck Challenge).
First, the tread across the crown has several new elements. The tread blocks are angled at 23 degrees on the outside, but the center blocks have a steeper angle that’s closer to parallel with the edges. This enhances lateral grip and improves cornering traction.
Next, the intermediate tread blocks are lightly siped. This siping improves grip in wet conditions and allows the tread blocks to flex more easily. This means the knobs won’t chunk as easily in the rocks.
The shoulder knobs have an alternating profile, which improves grip in loose terrain. Between those shoulder knobs, there are small ribs on the tire casing. The ribs are called “stone kickers,” and they do exactly that by preventing rocks from getting a chance to embed themselves between the tread blocks.
More subtle but no less important are angled “connecting bars” between alternating sets of the outermost crown tread blocks. These improve grip in mud and aid in self-cleaning.
The famous Mickey Thompson sidewall tread blocks, called Sidebiters, were updated, too. The new Sidebiters are now a directional pattern to match the rest of the Claw TTC’s directional design.
Make no mistake about it, this is an aggressive tire. It’s designed for no-compromise off-road excellence in a variety of off-road conditions. This isn’t a tire you buy with pavement performance in mind. This is a tire destined for the dirt.
The test mule for these new Baja Claws is our ’04 4Runner, a multi-purpose rig that’s driven daily. The test size is 315/75R16 (35-inch) mounted to a set of 16x8-inch Black Rock Yuma wheels.
Black Rock describes the Yuma as “our basic enthusiast aluminum alloy wheel.” We’re big fans of the classic eight-hole pattern, a look that’s always clean and never goes out of style. Wheel shoppers who like hole patterns will regard the Yuma as a breath of timeless fresh air. Our biggest concern with the Yuma was whether or not it had enough lateral caliper clearance to fit the 4Runner. It did.
What follows are initial impressions based on a brief test period; we’ll have to check in later with a long-term update.
The Claw TTC’s aggressive pattern means you’re in for some road noise, but they’re hardly a loud tire. The Claw TTC is more audible than the Dick Cepek Mud Country, but is quieter than the original Baja Claw design. If you’re coming from an all-terrain tire, you’ll still have to kick your audio system up a notch or two.
Besides the noise, there’s some vibration on the pavement. The tires don’t thump, but they buzz instead.
As previously stated, this is a tire destined for the dirt. Once off the tarmac, these tires shine. Our test route is a trail system that includes gravel, hard pack with a decomposed granite overlay, fine-grained dirt, and the occasional patch of deep sand. Mud and snow were out of season during the test. Ruts and hill climbs are always in season in this particular neck of the woods.
We couldn’t fault these tires in the dirt. It didn’t matter what was under the tires, climbing traction was never in short supply, and we clawed (pun intended) our way to the top without wheelspin, even with an open front differential. Cornering was also impressive, a testament to the value of the siping and the “decoupling grooves” that divide the tread bars into tread blocks. Braking was authoritative and predictable.
If your overarching tire priority is off-road performance, check out the Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC. Don’t let a little pavement get in the way of a great dirt experience.
Specifications as tested
Make/model: Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC radial
Mounted on: Black Rock Yuma, 16x8 inches, zero offset
Size on sidewall: 315/75R16
Load range: D
Tread depth: 5/8-inch
Tread plies: 8
Sidewall plies: 3
Weight: 67 pounds
Measured diameter unloaded: 34.00 inches
Measured width unloaded: 11.625 inches including Sidebiters
Measured tread width: 11.00 inches
Available sizes, radial: 31x10.50R15, 33x12.50R15, 35x12.50R15, 285/75R16, 315/75R16, 305/70R16, 305/65R17, 315/70R17
Available size, bias ply: 19.5/54-20 (this is a monster 54-inch tire designed for competition use; load range C)