Maybe "HD" Stands For High Durability?
It's a tire with the standard two-ply polyester sidewall, two plies of steel, and a nylon cap under the tread, but the Duravis R500 HD is not what we'd recommend for your typical pickup or utility vehicle, and definitely not for a light sport-utility vehicle. This Bridgestone is a commercial-grade tire, made to deal with high torque loads and high loads in general. Its businesslike 16/32-inch-deep tread is the first clue, coupled with the fact that the 265/75R16 weighs a hefty 53 pounds. That's not heavy for a common trail tire these days, as they tend to be much larger, but for a merely 31.6-inch-tall tire, it is proof that there is more than meets the eye between those sidewalls.
Staying with the high-strength theme, we opted to run the Bridgestones on Center Line 16x8 Smoothie wheels. They'd caught our attention not just because of their forged construction, but also because of what they didn't have: Some funky design carved into the alloy. By turning off the mill once the bolt holes were machined, Center Line has created a wheel void of weird patterns and which is simply timeless, easy to clean, and quite strong. Conservatively rated at 2,200 pounds, it is technically 1,215 pounds shy of the Duravis's weight-handling capabilities, but we suspect that there's a huge margin in the Smoothies' rated capacity. Besides, our test vehicle was well below the wheels' total 8,800-pound rating, let alone the R500 HD's 13,660. And what a combination it turned out to be.
In the eight-plus years we've been using Hunter's excellent GSP 9700 balancer, for only the second time did we get a row of zeros when first spinning a freshly mounted tire and wheel-yes, this Bridgestone/Center Line combo required no weights whatsoever on one set. And two of the others were off from perfectly true by only 0.006 inch, the "worst" being at 0.009, asking for very little from the roll of 3M Wheel Weights. Damn, that's genuine precision, both in the wheels and in a tire made for delivery trucks and commercial vehicles that may not even have shock absorbers. Or maybe that's why they're built so round?
In The Slow Lane
Not that there's a reason for the Duravis to remain in the slow lane, other than by default; vehicles heavy enough to benefit from the 500 HD probably should be in the right lane anyway, and when towing, it is often required by law. With its mild tread, the Bridgestone predictably isn't noisy, or even audible-and just as natural for a tire built to commercial specs and a durometer reading of about 70, it rides halfway harsh under a lighter vehicle. As long as the road is smooth, the 500 HD rides like a dream, but any imperfections in the road surface are transmitted through the serious carcass. Not translated by the tire's footprint are grooves in the pavement, leaving the Duravis pointed in the intended direction and making for a relaxed drive. Overall, the 500 HD is a very pleasant experience in the handling department.
Off The Beaten Path
While the Duravis 500 HD isn't exactly made to be a dirt tire, are we likely to forego a nice campsite just because we're pulling a heavy load? Of course not. And, luckily, this Bridgestone doesn't seem to mind. Although the tread is about as mild as they get, rounded shoulders and a bit of tread arch helped deliver much better traction than we had anticipated in the dirt-even on the hard-packed variety with loose stuff on top, especially when using careful throttle applications. Just try to stay clear of mud.
If you have a heavy pickup pulling heavy loads, a motorhome, or some other weighty vehicle, the Duravis R500 HD might be just what you need. Maybe more.
Tire: Bridgestone Duravis R500 HD
Load range: E
Max load (lb @ psi): 3,415 @ 80
Sidewall: 2-ply polyester
Tread: 2-ply polyester, 2-ply steel, 1-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 7-8 (8)
Tread depth (in): 15/32
Tread width (in): 7.7
Section width (in): 10.8
Overall diameter (in): 31.6
Static loaded radius (in): 14.0
Revolutions per mile: 659
Weight (lb): 53
Test vehicle: 6,300-pound K-5 Blazer