Wanna rip up the trail on the weekends but not your eardrums or kidneys during your weekday commute? Go Baja Claw TTC, man. With only minor exceptions, about the only negative we could come up with for these Mickey Thompson tires is the fact that they’re directional. That means you can’t rotate ’em as frequently or as easily and your spare tire may be running backwards…not that you’ll probably ever use your spare. These things are as tough as nails.
Mickey Thompson redesigned its Baja Claw line back in 2009 and dubbed the new creation Baja Claw TTC after our sister magazine Four Wheeler’s Top Truck Challenge event. Included in the revamp were a new, tougher sidewall compound, shorter tread blocks angled in the Claw’s familiar chevron pattern, siping on the inner lugs for increased flexibility, new directional Sidebiter sidewall lugs, and ribs between the outer lugs to help evacuate debris from the tread surfaces. We grabbed a set of five 33x12.50R15 Baja Claw TTC radial tires and had our local 4 Wheel Parts mount and balance them on five gloss-black Mickey Thompson Sidebiter 15x8 wheels. The Baja Claw TTC is also offered in a bias-ply carcass as well. We put the whole shebang on our ’78 Cherokee Chief, dialed in the correct contact patch at 23 psi front and 20 psi rear, then gobbled up the street and trail miles.
For such an aggressive off-road tire, Mickey Thompson’s Baja Claws of old earned a reputation for relatively low noise levels on the street. The new TTCs are no exception. Rather than a deafening roar, they exude a muted drone that is easily ignored or drowned out by a low radio. You won’t go crazy if you put these tires on your commuter, but you could go broke ’cause their heavy weight and aggressive tread sucks up the fuel. Plus, we’re not convinced how long they’ll last.
The directional tread effectively cuts the rotation options in half unless you dismount the tires or run them backwards. The large, blocky lugs do scuff quite a bit and so far our indications point to them wearing faster than average, but we’ve only managed to put a couple thousand miles to date on them. Time and burned gasoline will be the ultimate judge. Naturally, almost any tire with a footprint this wide will tend to stick to the pavement when pushed and there’s no exception to the rule here. Whether braking, cornering, or accelerating you feel gooey-gluey stuck to the tarmac.
Where don’t these tires work well? We’ll let you know when we find it. Granted, our Cherokee isn’t exactly a hardcore off-roader, but we’re slightly more abusive than the average vintage Jeep driver and managed to hit almost every terrain except snow in our short test time.
Although our test tires were a Load Range C, we found the gnarly three-ply sidewalls were happiest at 8 psi. Still, we were a bit nervous about blowing a bead, so we ran the fronts at 11 psi with only minor degradation in performance. In the rocks, forward grip is substantial and the big tread blocks with multiple angles offer incredible lateral stability. They’re as sure-footed in the rocks as they are in the hard-pack, which is to say, mountain goat. And sidewall protection? Fugedaboudit. Between the brutally strong construction and the Sidebiters that extend halfway down the sidewalls we could barely scuff them.
In the sand, we were able to stay up on top and churn forward without digging down to China. These tires made sand dunes fun in our big Jeep. And the wet, sticky So Cal post-rain soil that normally stymies most tires was no issue for these new Claws. They chewed, fought, bit, and scratched their way forward without clogging up or losing momentum. They readily self-clean, no doubt in part thanks to the rock ejection ribs between the outer lugs.
We didn’t find any deep, taffy-like mud to test out, but the rare So Cal fall rains did allow us a bit of slop slinging, which the Claws handled without a whimper. Even when we stopped in the middle of a mud hole and let the vehicle settle in for a couple minutes, simply rocking the Jeep back and forth a couple times was all it took to break clear and free.
If you’re looking for a tire you can drive for hundreds of miles in comfort, drop the pressure and tackle extreme terrain of all kinds, then air up and enjoy the ride home, add these to your short list.
• Crazy any- terrain traction
• Brutal strengthperformance
• Aggressive looks
• Directional tread
• Seem to wear too fast
• Moderately heavy
Put ’em on
• Full-tilt hardcore 4x4
• All-go Wrangler
• Whatever ya got