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Mickey Thompson Baja Radial MTZ - Tire Test

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on September 1, 2007
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The Mickey Thompson tire-and-wheel combination not only looks good but works as good as they look.

Some 24 years ago (August 1983, in fact), I had the opportunity to test my first set of Mickey Thompson tires, the Baja Belted. I even picked them up directly from Mickey at his home/shop in Bradbury, California.

I described the tire: "High-flotation, self-cleaning tread design, tough sidewall, flexibility in the carcass, maximum traction under any condition, and with directional stability." Further on I wrote: "But no tire is perfect. These tires do make an audible hum, the downfall of any open tread, but coming no way near the noise level of some other mudder tires."

Not a lot in this description has changed for this new tire, the Baja Radial MTZ-except that this one is even better. The three-ply polyester sidewalls are made up of a special cut-resistant rubber, and the tread has a full five plies. Yep, that's right: The three radial plies that continue up from the sidewalls and two steel belts make this one tough tire. This 33x12.50-15 carries the seemingly standard "C" load rating of 2,205 pounds at a relatively low air pressure of 35 psi.

We mounted this tire on, naturally, some M/T 8.5-inch-wide aluminum Classic Lock wheels. OK, they are not "true" bead locks, but they sure do look like them. The outer rim piece is easily replaceable should it receive rock rash, and is available in several different colors. It tucks nicely into the recess offered by the MTZ's rim guard. Another nice feature about these wheels is the lug-nut hole inserts. These steel inserts are cast in place and prevent corrosion, oxidation, and galling of steel lug nuts from direct contact with the aluminum.

We have used these tires for about six months now, and couldn't be more pleased with them. The "side biters" that extend off the deep shoulder lugs cause the sidewalls to be a bit stiffer than tires without them, but not enough to prevent proper flex when aired down. Lots of biting edges in the tread, including sipes in the tread lugs, make for great traction on smooth surfaces, including ice.

Not only have we been able to use these tires in local mud and snow, but in the slickrock of Moab and the lava beds of Idaho. The tires are about average in mud for the tread design, are excellent in snow, work well in sand, grab slickrock like glue, and handle the sharp rocks without cutting. They do grab and hold small pieces of gravel in their tread and then fling it out as wheel speed increases, but this also shows the tread compliance that allows great grabbing traction. Would we consider these tires if we were buying a new set for our own personal rig? You betcha.

Tire: Mickey Thompson Baja Radial MTZ
Size: 33x12.50R15LT
Type: Radial
Load range: C
Max load (lb @ psi): 2,205 @ 35
Sidewall: 3-ply polyester
Tread: 3-ply polyester, 2-ply steel
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-10
Tread depth (in): 21/32
Tread width (in): 9.7
Section width: 12.1
Overall diameter (in): 32.8
Static loaded radius (in): N/A
Revolutions per mile: 1,230 (approx)

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