Subscribe to a magazine

The New BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

Side View
Posted December 1, 2001

All Those Letters in the Name Do Count

Step By Step

View Photo Gallery
  • We started out in the rock pile at our secret Malibu test facility. A fullsize ’79 Bronco packs a lot of weight, and with the tires aired down to15 pounds, the Ford just crept up the mini-Double Whammy. We swapped the tires and checked it again in a Jeep, and the results showed that these tires can climb.

  • The New BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM.

  • These new side-tread elements are named Digger Lugz, and they grab the sides of rocks like a specialty tire. The little bars in between the tread elements help break up the suction of mud to help the tire clean itself out. We are looking forward to some advanced mud testing with these tires.

  • This raised rib (top) surrounds the rim with a beefy section underneath. This protects both the rim and tire from damage when rubbing against rocks. Along with the standard three-ply sidewalls of the BFGs, this is bound to be one durable tire. We checked out the new rim protector (above) by purposely bashing some boulders. We’re sure we could ruin anything if we tried hard enough, but the Center Line wheels and KM tires seemed to brush off our attempts.

  • The tires folded nicely around the sharp rocks at low pressures, even though they haven’t been broken in with a lot of road miles. The rubber seems to be a bit softer than the old style Mud-Terrains, but our fingernail test can only tell us so much.

  • We really wanted to test the old versus the new tires, so we set up the spooled rear of the Bronco with a new KM, and an old style with 5,000 miles on it. By blocking the front and using two-wheel drive, we got the rear to spin equally on some hard packed dirt. The new KM turfed the ground immediately, while the old style polished the ground before starting to dig.

  • Flotation in sand is always a hot topic for mud tires, even though we feel they work nearly as well as an all-terrain style. Sure enough, this set of donuts scooped out the sand and still floated nicely on top, allowing roosters to shoot when and where we wanted.

  • Check out the big pile of dirt behind the new tire, and the small pile behind the old tire. We were amazed how much the new KM chewed its way through the hard-packed dirt, turning it into a fine pile of powder.

  • We actually thought it was a fluke at first that the new tire dug so well, so we repeated the test. Then again and again. Finally we put the old tire in between the trenches dug by the new one, and verified that the new Digger Lugz and tread design on the KM really work.

Most of us wear the rubber off a set of skins in about 50,000 miles on the street, but our specialized off-road tires often only last half that long if we’re lucky. It’s not just because we flog the tar out of them, but holes in the sidewall and chunking of tread blocks can happen long before the wear indicators ever pop up. That’s why we’re glad to see a new tire from BFGoodrich, the replacement for the honored BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A.

No, there’s nothing wrong with the old style. In fact we’ve been running those hallowed tires on our own rigs for ages, and never had a complaint. They are considered the benchmark of the industry, and have been around virtually unchanged for 20 years. Even with such a great design, the engineers at BFG made a host of changes to the new tire, dubbed the Mud-Terrain T/A KM, which stands for Traction Advantage, Key feature Mud.

The Mud-Terrain T/A KM looks very similar to the original design, but features an improved tread pattern with beefier lugs, Digger Lugz on the side, better shoulder void bars, and a rim protector for when running at lower pressures off-road. The actual tread elements are slightly different in size and orientation, the Digger Lugz make for a gnarly look to the tire, and they grip rocks and mud like never before. Even the side void bars are designed to allow the mud to slip off the tire by breaking the vacuum that often exists around the shoulder.

Just for you, our valuable reader, we snagged a set of these BFGs as soon as they came out of the mold. In fact, they didn’t even have a set of 37-inchers ready so we had to settle for the 35s. But that’s more of a real-world size for most of us ’wheelers, so we buckled down and put these 35-12.50x15 meats on a set of Center Line Polaris 10-inch rims, and gave them the torture test of 4-Wheel & Off-Road. In the rocks, sand, dirt, and on the highway these tires performed better than the original, which we found hard to believe.

Unfortunately, we only had limited trials in the mud from a previous trip, and of course they fared well as expected. Look for an extended tread wear, mud slogging, and performance test in the future. We figure that’s something you want to know, and we’re happy to oblige.


Greenville, SC 29602