After nearly three decades in hiatus, General Tire is back in the battlefield of desert racing and taking names in the process. It all started when Continental Tire North America acquired the General brand and revitalized it with the hopes of capturing additional market share in the competitive light truck tire segment. As such, Continental made significant investments in both manufacturing ability and compound technology. The plan was simple: develop a tire that wins races, and then work backwards to tame it down for public consumption. While the new Grabber may have the DNA of a desert-racing thoroughbred, we assure you that the tire also works well in other venues. Purposeful attributes such as staggered stone deflectors on the sidewalls work together with special high-strength steel belts to increase the General Grabber's puncture resistance. The technology is coined by the phrase "Duragen Technology" as seen on the sidewall.
Tread Pattern Details
The General Grabber features a unique tread pattern that features a patented element that General refers to as "Strake and Chamfer." In tire development lingo, the General Grabber's tread has a trans-toric groove repeated around the circumference of the tire, which is intersected by lateral grooves that connect the ends of the repeating grooves, i.e., the strakes. The chamfers are positioned to intersect the cascading tread block arrangement, thus maintaining a high degree of lateral stability within the pattern. This arrangement creates an asymmetrical cascading repetition of tread blocks with built-in traction pockets. To put it in English, the tread was designed to provide ample traction with increased resistance to block shearing while giving the tire a more stable feel on loose surfaces.
Alternatively, simpler yet, the General Grabber bites hard where others tend to slip. The technology is new to the tire world, and it is the direct result of countless hours of testing in sandy, loose desert terrain. Having won several off-road races in its three-year development cycle, the General Grabber competition tire was the platform that the behind-the-scenes innovators were allowed for testing new concepts prior to building production tires for the end user. We believe that this strategy has paid off for General, because the new DOT-legal Grabbers we tested are hard to beat when it comes to desert traction.
We asked General Tire's light-truck tire division manager Tony Talbert about the new tread and specifically how desert racing influenced the design. His observations:
"The critical point in designing the Grabber competition tire was that we wanted to use technology that allowed the tire to excel in the most severe desert racing conditions and be transferable to a streetable version. It has always been our goal in going racing, prior to offering an extreme traction tire to the general public, to develop the technology that was race-worthy and then introduce the street version of the tire with that same technology. In essence, when the Grabber street-legal tire is available to the public, everyone will be able to buy a tire born from and incorporating racing technology."
We tested the Grabbers at the maximum recommended inflation pressure of 65psi with each of our two test mules. Around town, the tire performed better on our heavier Dodge 1/2-ton pickup. On the lighter-weight Jeep Wrangler, the tires exhibited a slightly rougher ride quality. After about a week of driving time and and almost 1,000 miles of asphalt with the Jeep, we lowered the pressure, which provided improved flexibility and a much more suppler ride. In the wet, our traction expectations were met with only slightly less-than-desirable results. The obvious lack of siping was noticeable on concrete surfaces such as gas stations, but much less so on asphalt and other porous textures. We figure that any tire with large tread blocks such as those found on the Grabber would probably perform similarly, especially in the slippery conditions of our test locations.Hydroplaning was never observed, no matter how deep the puddles were that we encountered. We suspected that the long circumferential grooves helped to channel away standing water as the pattern swept across deep puddles. The noise level on dry pavement was similar to that of a Toyo Open Country MT-not too loud for our discerning ears.
The Grabber really shines on dry loose surfaces such as those found in creek beds and washes. Mud bogging exercises are not exactly the Grabber's forté, but we did manage to tackle some muddy sidehilling scenarios with surprisingly favorable results. When aired down to 8psi, the Grabber's sidewall flexed nicely, allowing ample interaction with terrain. On Moab's slickrock trails, the tire provided great traction, though the heavy carcass (78 pounds) taxed our donor Jeep's four-cylinder engine and required a little getting used to. Sand dunes seemed like a familiar playground to this tread. We didn't worry about getting stuck in deep sand with the Hemi-powered Dodge Ram, but we did notice something peculiar- the tires felt much hotter to the touch than we thought they should. This may be the result of the higher-than-normal thermal conductivity of the compound used. In desert racing, a tire's ability to conduct away heat away from the wheel and braking assembly is paramount, so the hotter-than-expected surface temperatures could have had something to do with that. Overall we think the new General Grabber is a great desert tire, with smooth-running street characteristics and an uncanny ability to handle rocks and mud.
|Grabber Planned Tire Sizes|
Tire: General Grabber
Load Range: E
Max load: (lb @ psi): 3,197 @ 65
Sidewall: 3-ply Polyester
Tread: 3-ply Polyester, 2-ply Steel, 2-ply Polyamide
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 18/32
Tread width (in): 101/4
Section width (in): 10
Overall diameter (in): 35
Static loaded radius (in): n/a
Revolutions per mile: 594
Weight (lb): 78.7