The new offering from Dick Cepek is the Crusher, which features a skull-and-bones design with some serious tread blocks and a high void percentage. We nabbed five of them in the tried-and-true 35x12.50R15 size and wrapped them around Cepek's new black DC-1 wheels in a 15x8 size. The tires balanced true, with only one taking more than 7 ounces, which is amazing for a tire with a tread this extreme.
Take one look at these tires and the venerable Super Swamper Bogger comes to mind. With the large lugs perpendicular to the tire's rotation looking almost like paddles, there really is no other tire on the market like it but the Bogger.
On-road, these tires are as noisy as you might think they would be, and at less than 10 mph, there's some lug slap that can be felt. With the Detroit Truetrac in the back of our test TJ, we were able to get them to bark going around any corner we wanted them to and downshifting on the freeway was also a good time, with the tires barking if we let off the clutch too fast. That said, they were smooth going down the road, but the Crushers tend to grab the grooves in the freeway and pull our TJ into them, which can result in fighting back and forth if that isn't where you want to be in the lane.
We didn't get any rain this year in Southern California to test the tires in, unfortunately. It seems that it was fire season the whole time we had them.
After about 500 miles on the Crushers, we found ourselves at Pismo Dunes, and these tires made for a whole new Jeep in that environment-uphill, downhill, side hill, they didn't care. Just dump the clutch like you're leaving a Honda behind at a stoplight, and you'll shoot forward almost immediately. Four-wheel drive-who needs it? Even with a week's worth of gear and two people in the Jeep, these things shot us out of whatever hole they could dig. Granted, you could get in trouble with them-the Crushers definitely like to dig-but we were literally dumping the clutch like we were launching it at a dragstrip and didn't get stuck once.
Another 2,000 miles later, we aired them down to 8 psi and threw them into some sharp, nasty rocks with the intention of gouging the sidewalls, poking a hole in them, or something. We were in Low range, but we weren't being pleasant to the tires, and not once did we puncture anything-we weren't even able to twist the bead off the rim. Yes, we're failures. We weren't on Moab slick rock, but these tires grabbed edges and flat rock faces like no one's business. We had no chirping (due to tire slippage) at any time we were playing in the rocks, either.
That same day, we decided that it was time for our TJ to get a mud bath. We were in lighter mud mixed with sand, but there wasn't much water and it was thick. We took a few passes in the 1- to 2-foot puddles in 2WD and 4WD. We even got cocky and stopped in the middle, sat a bit, and then went again with no problems. Even when we got in the deeper stuff (dragging our axles and frame through the mud), we were still able to maintain movement-no spinning of the tires without movement here. The Crushers clear out just like you'd expect them to with the void content they have, and by the end of the day, there wasn't a mud pit we wouldn't go into (as long as we knew it wasn't so deep to hydro-lock the engine). We ended up with a high-water mark about halfway up the tailgate and a skidplate full of mud from shoveling the trail.
On the downside, on-road, we did lose about 1.5 mpg compared with the same-sized, mild all terrains we previously had on the Jeep. But by the end of testing, we had decided that the loss in mileage was worth it for the point-and-shoot kind of wheeling we were able to do while we had the Crushers on the Jeep.
If you're looking for a set of tires to put on your Jeep and you want quiet, mild road manners, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you can make a few adjustments in your on-road driving style and want a set of tires that can get you to the trail, through it, and back home again without having to worry much about getting stuck in the middle, these tires are for you.
-Good sidewall protection
-Break loose easily on-road
-Ridiculed for "Jolly Roger" on tires