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Hankook, BFGoodrich & Toyo Tire Test - The Tale Of Three Tires

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on November 1, 2008
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Perhaps our whining from last year's introduction of the Dynapro ATm had an influence, as we questioned the possibility of fairly evaluating a new tire with three unknown factors; the trails, the vehicle, and the tire. Or, it could very well be as simple as Hankook wanting to show how the RF10 compares to a top-notch all-terrain and a benchmark A/T that everybody is familiar with. Either way, Hankook did stick its neck out when offering journalists the chance to drive three very similarly equipped Land Rovers with same-size tires over a variety of trails, obstacles, and test areas.

Of course, few things that require lots of planning ever go as intended, and this event was no exception. The plan was to have the three sets of LT265/75R16 tires on the aforementioned Land Rovers, but one...well, ahem...blew up on the way to the 6,750-foot elevation of Big Bear, California, after losing its water pump. Whitworth-savvy master mechanic Malcolm Buckeridge quickly readied a Range Rover as a stand-in, and since the chassis is the same as a Discovery's, we see no real reason why the outcome of the test would've been any different had the one Land Rover not croaked. Otherwise, no British vehicles were harmed during this testing.

With two Discoverys and a Range Rover, Hankook set out to prove that its Dynapro ATm tire compares favorably with the Toyo Open Country A/T and the venerable BFG All-Terrain T/A, using trails around Big Bear, California, as testing grounds. In the foreground is the Toyo-equipped white Land Rover, followed by the "emergency-Rover" on Hankook tires, and then the green Land Rover with BFGs.

A Fair Comparison?
We were assured that the vehicles were of roughly the same weight, on 7-inch-wide rims, and all equipped with Old Man Emu medium-duty 11/2-inch suspension, but the Hankook-shod ersatz Rover had very cushy Pro Comp shocks while the other two ran far stiffer Koni Heavy Track RAID dampers. Did this influence the test in any way? Probably not, at least not enough to make a difference that we could notice-and we sure tried to. But speaking of differences, one look at the spec charts will tell you that two of the tires are very, very similar in both size and construction; the BFG is also really close as far as the size goes, except for the tread width, and with a slightly different construction. This turned out to be quite noticeable in a few circumstances.

Most obvious, the BFG looks like, well, a BFG All-Terrain, while the Hankook and Toyo tires may be virtually indistinguishable at a distance to the casual observer. We won't dwell on who inspired who here, but the Open Country A/T has been around for a while. And it's a darn good design to mimic if you want a tire that handles both street and trail use.

Oddly enough, when we checked the durometer (hardness) readings of the treads and sidewalls, all three had identical readings of 62 and 52, respectively. It should also be noted that these sets had been used for somewhat brutal skidpad testing and other hard pavement use-some 3,500 miles' worth, plus a fair amount of trail driving-before the tests we attended even began. So they were indeed broken in. Two of them also nearly broken, sporting some deep sidewall cuts. This, we concluded, was due to driver error and not tire-related as the rims had dented from the impact, indicating excessive speed combined with bad judgment.

OK, so it may not have been a perfect apple-to-apple comparison, but it's still the best tire versus tire comparison put on by a manufacturer that we've ever witnessed.

PhotosView Slideshow

Telling Them Apart
Getting the numbers for the spec sheets turned out to be the hardest and most time-consuming part of compiling this story. It would've been really easy to simply state that the Hankook and Toyo tires usually performed about the same, while the BFGoodrich T/As generally did differently-sometimes better, sometimes worse. While it's fairly obvious why the BFG's wider tread worked better in soft sand, for example, there were so many close calls that we wanted to have all the specs in order to better understand the tires' behavior, and to enable explaining it to our readers.

Although we eventually got all the numbers for spec sheets, there are errors. For example, there's no way that the RF10's Revolutions Per Mile figure combined with its Static Loaded Radius (653 RPM and 14.7 inches) can be matched with the Toyo's 659 RPM and 14.1-inch SLR-not when both are listed as 31.7 inches tall. Somebody's off the mark by quite a bit here-we just don't know for sure who, or where-but simple math disagrees with the numbers we were given. Why does this matter? Well, when two tires are so close in performance, it would have been nice to know if one tire's traction might have been better because of a longer contact patch (a lower SLR), or perhaps because a smaller footprint created higher contact pressure.

There were a few instances where it became obvious that the tires didn't have nearly as much to do with forward progress as did picking the correct line. Sometimes adjusting 1/2 inch to the side made all the difference, and while we didn't necessarily learn anything more about the tires in those places, it was fun four-wheeling.

Our Observations
Finally cutting to the chase, we feel that on pavement and most dirt and dirt/rock trails, you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the Hankook Dynapro ATm and the Toyo Open Country A/T. Most every obstacle and test trail resulted in a tie in our notes, and that's probably exactly what Hankook wanted to achieve: To prove that their lesser-known tire is completely comparable with one traditionally held in high esteem. And if there was a discernible difference, it was usually in the RF10's favor. If Hankook somehow cheated, we have yet to figure out how.

Alright, you may not even care about how those two tires did, but you do want to know how your favorite All-Terrain fared in comparison. Largely, and predictably so, there was no real difference in about two-thirds of the test. But in the cases that really pushed traction and performance to the limit, the BFG stood out. As mentioned, in deep sand, the wider and more conformable tread of the T/A excelled. The same could be said for a particularly twisted-up test hill with loose dirt on top of a fairly firm base-but here the margin was much, much smaller. In a lateral (sidehill) test, the BFG's sharp shoulder should've helped a lot, we thought, but not so. Perhaps a function of contact pressure, the T/A slid a lot more than the others. On a loose, rocky slope, the BFG surprised us by coming in dead last with its wider tread. Again, probably a matter of contact pressure, but these Rovers were pretty damn heavy already.

PhotosView Slideshow

Lastly, and this is a part of the test we didn't get to witness (although the video is available to see on, and the tests were monitored by a third party), the road manners of the T/A were nowhere near as good as the other tires. Of course, not everybody does slalom courses and skidpad driving with their four-by, but some of us do have to take an unplanned evasive action at times, and then the cornering abilities of a tire can be crucial. After seeing the slalom video we now know what the "KO" moniker on the T/A stands for-poor video camera.

If it sounds like we're picking on the BFG All-Terrain, rest assured that we were just as surprised as you probably are to find the Dynapro and Open Country coming out ahead so frequently. And why was this? We've mentioned it in the past and it becomes more and more true as time goes by; tires are very user-need-specific these days. The BFG All-Terrain just wasn't the ideal tire for this test.

If we had to come up with a reason for why the RF10 seemed to have a slight edge over the Open Country every now and then, the answer would be "time." The younger Dynapro design has the advantage of even more sophisticated tread compounds. Either way, we think that for Hankook to meet or beat the chosen competition is an achievement to be proud of.

Specifications Hankook Dynapro ATm RF10
Size: 265/75R16
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Max load (lb @ psi): 3,415 @ 80
Sidewall plies: Two polyester
Tread plies: Two poly, two steel, two nylon
Approved rim width (in): 7-8
Tread depth (in):16.5/32
Tread width (in): 8.1
Section width (in):10.5
Overall diameter (in): 31.7
Static loaded radius (in): 14.7 (claimed)
Revolutions per mile: 653
Weight (lb): 51.5
Warranty: 50,000-mile tread wear, and road hazard
Test vehicle: Range Rover

Toyo Open Country A/T
Size: 265/75R16
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Max load (lb @ psi): 3,415 @ 80
Sidewall plies: Two poly
Tread plies: Two poly, two steel, two nylon
Approved rim width (in): 7-8
Tread depth (in): 16/32
Tread width (in): 8.25 (measured)
Section width (in): 10.5
Overall diameter (in): 31.7
Static loaded radius (in): 14.1 (claimed)
Revolutions per mile: 659
Weight (lb): 49
Warranty: 40,000 miles, limited tread wear
Test vehicle: Land Rover Discovery

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO
Size: 265/75R16
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Max load (lb @ psi): 3,414 @ 80
Sidewall plies: Three polyester
Tread plies: Three poly, two steel, one nylon
Approved rim width (in): 7-8
Tread depth (in): 15/32
Tread width (in): 8.5
Section width (in): 10.5
Overall diameter (in): 31.8
Static loaded radius (in): 14.7
Revolutions per mile: 654
Weight (lb): 53
Warranty: 6 years workmanship and materials, prorated
Test vehicle: Land Rover Discovery

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