Another Missing Link Between The A/T And The M/T
Another tire bridges the gap between the traditional mudder and all-terrain. Dick Cepek's new F-C II fills this gap ably by being better in the dirt than an all-terrain, but not quite so unhandy on the street and in inclement weather as a mudder.
While the F-C II shares some visual tread design cues with its famous Fun Country (F-C, get it?) ancestor, it's really an entirely new tire. The new tread has a greater void area, more tread blocks, and the shoulder lugs are completely redesigned to extend farther down the sidewall. Siping has been increased on all the tread blocks. Tread depth varies according to size, but ranges from 18/32 to 22/32 inch. That's deep enough for long wear and good flexibility, but not so deep as to cause the squirmy street handling found on many super deep-tread mudders.
The carcass varies according to the load rating. The SLT (Specialty Light Truck) sizes have extra-beefy six-ply treads and three-ply sidewalls. The rest have standard five-ply treads and two-ply sidewalls. Load ranges run from C to E. They come in flotation sizes ranging from 31x10.50-15 through 40x13.50-20, and metrics from LT265/75R16 to LT325/50R20. At this writing, there are 36 size choices. We had a year-long, four-season evaluation of a set of 285/70R17s on a hard-workin' F-150HD.
Winter driving on the street is where most of the white-knuckle driving comes for four-wheelers running off-highway treads on their daily drivers. The increased ground pressure on the F-C II's many tread blocks and the generous siping add up to a decent bite on ice. In slush, the tire does well at spitting it out the sides. Ditto for rain, which helps avoid the dreaded hydroplaning effect. In deeper snow, the tread is just closed enough to hold some fresh snow for that little bit of extra traction that comes from snow-on-snow contact, but the tread is open enough to spin it out before it turns to ice on the next roll.
Tested in the legendary Northwest Ohio clay, the F-C II showed it has some teeth with which to bite the muddy ground, and that it can fatten nicely and keep the tire on rather than in terra firma. Self-cleaning is very respectable for its category, so you needn't fear the goo.
Our rockcrawling time was minimal, but a test through a rocky creekbed seemed to confirm our intuition that this tire should do very well in rocks just about anywhere. Both the carcass and the tread are very flexible when aired down, and the Side Biters seem to work well for "sidewall 'wheeling."
On the street, cornering and stopping yielded no unpleasant surprises. In fact, a "this-is-no-drill" high-speed avoidance maneuver gave us a lot of confidence in this tire's everyday performance. Ride quality is great and, using the load inflation chart, we found a perfect tire pressure.
We only have one complaint: Noise. The F-C II has a pretty mild tread design, but it sure sounds off like a much more aggressive tire. If you are highly noise-sensitive, or drive a rig where noise could be obtrusive, this might be an issue.
We predict this tire will wear well. In the 6,200 miles driven so far, we measured 2/32 inch of wear. Given the 3/32-inch wear bars and 18/32-inch tread depth, it looks like this tire could easily make 40,000 miles with a four-tire rotation, and 50,000 with a five-tire rotation.
This is a tire we'd call a good "all-arounder." It looks even better when you price-shop. It can't beat any of the dedicated, purpose-built tires on their home turf, but it does very well everywhere with few compromises, and will work well on anything from the toy hauler to the toy. We can also safely opine that you need not fear the winter with these Dick Cepek skins mounted on your truck.
Tire: Dick Cepek F-C II
Size tested: 285/70R-17
Load range: D
Sidewall: 2-ply polyester
Tread: 3-ply polyester, 2-ply steel
Approved rim width (in): 7.5-9.5
Tread depth (in): 18/32
Tread width (in): 9.1
Section width (in): 11.4
Overall diameter (in): 32.8
Max load (lb): 3,195
Revolutions per mile: 617 (est)
Speed rating: Q (100 mph)