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The Hot Sheet: 33 Off-Road Tires Tested

Baja T A With Broken Wheel
JP Staff | Writer
Posted March 1, 2012

Jp’s Cookbook Of Tread Recipes

Every few years we serve up a smorgasbord of information on tires tested by our esteemed staff. Like discerning food critics, we call ’em how we see ’em. If Trasborg thinks the lowly growl of a mud terrain on pavement sounds like a Cessna during takeoff, we’ll say so. When Stover shreds a sidewall without even trying, you read about it here. If Hazel finds that the lacking of lug spacing on an all terrain compromises traction in the mud, you’ll hear about it. Each evaluation is concluded by a series of scores in the six categories we feel most accurately represents what you do with your Jeep.

Tire Ratings
We’ve indicated specific terrain performance with easy-to-read graphics shown here. On a scale of 1-4, with 1 being crappy and 4 being the best, you should be able to locate the proper tread for your favorite terrain effortlessly.

**** This is the tire you should be running.
*** It’s a decent choice and will work well.
** Better tires are available, but it’s acceptable if you don’t mind compromise.
* We’d recommend a different tire.

BFGoodrich Baja T/A
The Baja T/A was developed for the competitive desert racing community. It doesn’t shine in snow or ice, and on the trail it lacks flexibility and sidewall bite. However, these purposeful treads offer stellar performance at high speed, both on dry pavement and in desert terrain. The carcass is incredibly tough and heavy. Despite the robust construction, this tire is well balanced and happy at speeds in excess of 100 mph. We’ve seen desert race vehicles shred cast aluminum wheels while the Baja T/A tires wrapped around them remain intact and ready to continue the race. Thick sidewall overlays deflect rock damage and enable this tread to maintain responsive steering at low air pressure, but we really consider them an off-road, go-fast race tire—not something for your daily-driver.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ***
Snow: *
Mud: *
Ice: *

BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO
We think of the A-T KO as a civilized older brother to the BFG M-T KM2. What it lacks in aggressive void spacing it makes up for in on-road politeness and tread life. Despite square shoulders this tire offers many surprises; in the sand and on snow-covered pavement, the pattern’s interlocking tread elements featuring micro-siping enables a surprising amount of bite and returns ample traction on dirt and rock. Also, the lack of circumferential grooves tends to make this tire more prone to hydroplaning than more modern all terrain offerings. In deep mud the voids fill up quickly and require heavy throttle application to clear. Dry pavement is where this tire outshines much of its competition. The 3-ply sidewall design features radial ribbing near the shoulder that interfaces with terrain when aired down.

Street: ****
Heavy Rock: **
Sand: ***
Snow: **
Mud: *
Ice: ***

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2
The M-T KM2 is often referred to as the working man’s Krawler. Sharing the Krawler’s broad, blocky tread elements, but on a condensed scale, the M-T KM2 is a winner in almost every terrain type our editors could find. The only exception was ice-covered roads and side-hilling in snow. On icy roads the lack of siping caused the tires to spin excessively and required a lot of driver effort to slow the vehicle down. We’ve had a few experiences that make us wonder about the puncture resistance of the sidewalls, but for the most part this tread receives regular recommendations from our staff. The noise level that this tire produces on the highway is quite noticeable, but no more than many of the other mud terrains we’ve tested. With 3-plies in the sidewalls and another three in the makeup of the carcass, this tire is one of the lightest mud terrains available today.

Street: ***
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: *

BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX
The BFGoodrich Krawler features a bold tread design designed with competitive rockcrawling in mind. Prior to its introduction, few tire companies even acknowledged rockcrawling as a separate segment of off-road. Today, few tires come close to the performance of the Krawler in heavy rock. The flexible carcass and tough sidewall work together to envelope obstacles while large, soft tread blocks separated by staggered voids pinch terrain to propel the vehicle. Our staff commented about the Krawler’s awesome puncture resistance on more than one occasion. The only negatives to report are the Krawler’s high weight and its propensity to wear quickly if driven on-pavement often. Also, it doesn’t work well on icy surfaces. Overall, we recommend the BFG Krawler to anyone who prioritizes off-road performance over on-road noise and accelerated wear.

Street: **
Heavy Rock: ****
Sand: ****
Snow: ***
Mud: ***
Ice: *

Dick Cepek Crusher
With a tread reminiscent of a Super Swamper Bogger, the Crusher excels in mud, sand, snow, and rocks. The pattern doesn’t lend itself to off-camber driving, but it makes up for that with paddle-like traction in soft terrain. On the street, the Crusher emits an audible hum compared to other mud terrains. In colder regions this tread has trouble dealing with ice-covered roads, so we don’t recommend it for such use, but if you want an extreme off-road tire that wears well, balances well, and you don’t care about noise, this could be your tire. The crusher is tough, with 3-ply sidewalls and 6-plies in the tread area. In addition to acting tough, the sidebiters feature skull-and-crossbone elements that bleed testosterone. With sizes offered from 31- to 35-inch diameter, the Crusher is great for Jeeps with mild suspension lifts.

Street: **
Heavy Rock: ***
Sand: ****
Snow: ****
Mud: ****
Ice: *

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