Make it easy for us. That's all we ask. It's not that we're lazy, but there are better things to do in life than waste time tracking down one place for wheels, another place for tires, and then taking them to a third place to be mounted and balanced. Anybody who is familiar with the tire-store chain, Discount Tire, is probably well aware of the company's no-nonsense business practices. There are no hidden costs, and the company offers one of the best tire warranties going. If you get a puncture in the tread that can't be repaired or if any problem arises with your tires caused by defect or road debris, they'll replace it with no questions asked, regardless of how many miles you have on them. The only bummer we see is that the company doesn't have store locations everywhere. But we bypassed this little glitch by ordering our test tires and wheels online from www.discounttiredirect.com.
We put in our order for five 32x11.50-15 Kumho KL71 Road Venture MT tires mounted and balanced on Discount's in-house brand of MB Wheels 15x8 Predator wheels. When you order from Discount Tire's Web site, shipping within the continental 48 states is free, and if you buy wheels and tires, the company will mount and balance them at no cost. Our tires and wheels arrived a few days later, nicely protected and packaged and ready to be installed. The company even included new lug nuts.
The cast-aluminum MB Wheels feature a clearcoating to protect the aluminum. It's a nice feature that will be appreciated by anybody who has dealt with the pitting and staining brake dust causes on raw aluminum or who must contend with alkaline soil that can haze and fade unprotected rims.
At first impression, the Kumho Road Venture MT tires look like they'd be very loud on the street. Thankfully, that's not the case. It took a little while to dial in the right air pressure for the street, but we finally got the contact patch we were looking for with the fronts at 22 psi and the rears at 20 psi. There's a slight hum from the tread on the highway, but it's not objectionable. To put it in perspective, we'd say they're much quieter than a Goodyear MT/R and on par or maybe a bit quieter than a classic BFG MT. And although the directional tread looks pretty aggressive, the tires roll smoothly and offer no hint of lug slap even after 2,200 miles of street driving.
While not as sure-footed in tight, sloping corners as some of the more highly siped tires with smaller tread blocks, we didn't experience any breaking loose or drifting when pushing our Wrangler as hard as we dared. We found wet weather performance on the road to be acceptable. The generous voids between the tires allow a lot of water evacuation, and the siping of the outer lugs no doubt helps maintain grip when cornering.
We couldn't get into any really big dunes thanks to California's crazy wildfires, but what sand we did find was handled easily without airing down. We appreciated the outer lug's ability to paddle sand away, but the center blocks didn't seem to do much in the way of moving material.
In hard-packed dirt and rock, we found the need to air the Kumhos down a bit more than normal to get the treads to stick. Before we got down to our 10-psi front and 8-psi rear test pressures, we found the tires readily broke loose in rocks and hard-packed dirt climbs. The spinning and slipping resulted in a lot of gouging and erosion of the leading edges of the tread blocks. This was especially true for the outer blocks. The tread compound doesn't seem as durable as some others we've tested, but we didn't suffer any punctures or sidewall damage despite our best efforts. Once aired down to an acceptable level, we found the tread willing to envelope obstacles, and grip and grab substantially increased. We think the thick center blocks still held the carcass flex back a bit, so perhaps a set of bead locks and really low air-pressure numbers will wring even more performance out of these tires. In short, you've gotta air these suckers down to get the most out of them.
While we really like the look of the sidewalls, the smooth and quiet on-road ride, and the outer-lug design and separation, we think a little work with a grooving iron on the center lugs would really wake these tires up. The inner lugs are somewhat long and too tightly spaced to offer the best flexibility and off-road performance. If you're looking for a tire for crazy off-road use, this probably isn't it. However, if you're looking for an attractive, aggressive-looking tire for your daily driver that offers more off-road performance than an all-terrain, we'd say the Road Venture MT is a good choice.
-Stiff center block design
-Poor tread lug durability