Are Recap Tires As Good As New?
Do recaps have a place in the off-highway world? We wanted to find out, so we ordered two sets of remanufactured 31x10.50-15s from a well-established company called Treadwright.
Why two sets? The Treadwright Ultra-Grip 2 has the same tread design as the company's M/T but has crushed walnut shells imbedded into the rubber that break out, making numerous small biting edges to enhance snow and ice traction. Ours were on BFGoodrich KO casings that provided three-ply sidewall protection. All Treadwright tires are subjected to a vigorous inspection program prior to recapping. Treadwright offers many different sizes as well as tread patterns.
We mounted one set on some Mickey Thompson Classic 8-inch-wide aluminum wheels and the second set on the newly released Mickey Thompson black powdercoated aluminum "SideBiters." We spun each wheel on the balancer before mounting the tires, and they ran extremely true. When mounted, the Treadwrights took about four ounces per tire on average to balance.
A Jeep YJ that gets driven 90 miles a day on a high-speed interstate highway, plus weekends on backcountry logging roads to get to favorite hunting areas, was our primary test vehicle, along with our past project "Ain't It Grand-er" Grand Cherokee. Montana road conditions demand a versatile tread to adequately handle dirt, gravel, mud, pavement, snow, slush, ice, washboard, and potholes at any speed, and often all within a mile or two.
On the highway, the M/T tread design is very stable. The tires rolled straight and predictably, with no tendency to get pulled into the seams at the center and edge of the road or into cracks along the road. At low speeds, we could feel low-frequency vibrations from the tread that increased to a noticeable growl at highway speeds. The noise is louder on asphalt than concrete. The tread blocks are aligned more perpendicularly than diagonally across the tread with little overlap from one row of blocks to the next, which probably contributes to both the low-speed vibration and high-speed noise. Tread squirm is minimal at lowered air pressures, and the tires are very stable, both on packed dirt and loose gravel. Cornering at higher speeds than prudent on loose gravel was very stable, with smooth, controlled drifting and no tendency to suddenly break loose in the marbles.
In half a foot of cold, dry snow, the tires compress the snow and grip well because the perpendicular lines of the tread blocks act like paddles on a snowmobile track. This traction more than compensates for the noise of the design. In the snow, slush, and ice of winter storms on the highway, the tires felt stable. They provided some warning by feeling twitchy well before spinning when we were going too fast or hit some extra-slippery ice. At slower speeds, the tires could be made to slide or spin, but they would regain traction quickly when braking or acceleration was moderated. In general, the M/T is a good tread on snow, but average on ice.
After nearly 6,000 miles, the tread depth indicated they should last at least 50,000 miles with the use we were giving the M/Ts.
We then switched to Treadwright's Ultra-Grip 2 tires and put a few thousand miles on them. Since the M/Ts and Ultra-Grip 2s are identical (other than the walnut shells in the Ultra-Grips), we ran a test to see if the walnut shells made any difference. We found a steep, icy driveway that was built to about a 12-percent grade. There was no challenge in four-wheel drive, so we idled from flat ground up the driveway in two-wheel drive numerous times to the point of slippage: first with the Ultra-Grip 2 tread tires, then with the M/T tread. The Ultra-Grip 2 with the walnut shells regularly got us about 62 feet up the drive before spinning to a stand-still. The M/Ts only averaged about 47 feet. We are sure that this corresponds not just to climbing traction but to stopping distance. That improvement in ice traction can save a life if you don't push the limits of the tread.
These inexpensive, remanufactured tires are welcome in our on- and off-road world. They work every bit as good as other popular brands for dirt and snow traction and highway stability
Winter is as tough on wheels as it is on tires. As we expected, the Mickey Thompson Classics got tarnished and pitted even though we made a considerable effort to keep the wheels clean of road salts. The SideBiters showed no signs of deterioration, and they are the only wheel we've ever used that actually looked better the dirtier it got. The dirt highlighted the aggressive angles in the design that were otherwise camouflaged by the excellent powdercoating.
Tire: Treadwright Ultra Grip 2 on BFG KO casings
Max load rating (lb @ psi): 2,270 @ 50
Tread: 3-ply polyester, 2-ply steel
Sidewall: 3-ply polyester
Weight (lb): 42
Tread width (in): 7 3/4
Tread depth (in): 19/32
Static loaded radius (in): 30.24
Revolutions per mile: 667.3