BFGoodrich 50-Series All-Terrain TiresPosted in How To: Wheels Tires on February 1, 2007
With an additional 12 sizes in the venerable BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A line, there are now a total of 49 to choose from as the BFG All-Terrain celebrates its 30th year on the market. This latest crop really isn't any taller or wider than the others, the biggest new LT325/60R22 topping out at 37.5 inches, or 0.9 inches taller than the 37x12.50R20. Instead, the news is that there's actually less tire. Yep, bigger holes in the center, or more specifically, less sidewall.
Low-profile tires are great for street handling, while all-terrain treads are, well, meant for dirt. Combine the two and you have a major oxymoron-a short sidewall that doesn't play well on the trail, and a tread that isn't the best for pavement performance. There'smore than one reason Corvettes don't come with A/T tread patterns.
To put things in perspective, a 27x8.50R14-the smallest All-Terrain T/A available-has a 6.3-inch sidewall height. Now you can get a 35-inch-tall LT325/50R22, which is much bigger in every way-except for its 6.5-inch-"tall" sidewall. So why are we being subjected to 50-series aspect ratios on tires with a trail-friendly tread pattern? Image, plain and simple. BFG sees the writing on what little is left of the sidewall, realizing that the larger wheel fad isn't going away anytime real soon, and it would be foolish not to cash in on this vanity trip while it lasts.
Fine. But do these new low-profile sizes work as well as the regular All-Terrain in the dirt? Well, no, admits Gary Enterline, BFG's Brand Category Manager. While the tread itself is just as capable, with less sidewall you just can't get the same footprint as with a conventional aspect ratio, added Jeff Cummings, and we confirmed that during testdrives that BFGoodrich recently held for the media. Very predictably, the shorter sidewalls helped the quiet (for a trail tire) tread stick to paved road surfaces better, then showed their dark side in the dirt by delivering compromised traction and a rougher ride since the tires couldn't be aired down properly. In all fairness, the third-generation A/Ts managed to conquer some decent slopes and deep, loose dirt, despite their fashion-induced handicap. Consider this a great achievement of the tread design itself.
One good thing with big-hole tires is that the larger rim diameters allow using the bigger-diameter brakes needed to bring the heavier tire and wheel assembly to a safe halt. Therefore, only fuel mileage, acceleration, and trail performance have to suffer the drawbacks of the overly large rims and too-short sidewalls. Our guess is that BFGoodrich will sell lots of these new sizes to people who would never even think about actually leaving the pavement. To get all the gory details on these new 17-, 18-, 20-, and 22-inch tires, see your local friendly BFG dealer or visit www.bfgoodrichtires.com.
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