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Breaking The Mold: Testing Nitto’s All-New Ridge Grappler Tire

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on December 7, 2016
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In the world of off-road tires, the most competitive new tire category is the aggressive all-terrain tire. The concept is simple: build an all-terrain tire that doesn't suck in the mud (or off-road in general for that matter). While many companies have tried to create the ultimate do-it-all-terrain tire, few have perfected the formula.

Fit with aggressive and deep tread blocks, it’s obvious that the Ridge Grappler has mud-terrain DNA. Nitto designed the tire with what it refers to as a “variable pitch tread pattern.” What that means in the simplest terms is that it’s engineered to be quiet. The added sipes and tread stagger have also proven worthy in the rain. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any snow to test them against just yet.

We absolutely understand the need for this tire category. Vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Ford F-150 Raptor have proven that you can have an extremely capable off-road machine with incredibly good road manners. So, it only stands to reason that we should have a tire than can offer the best of both worlds. The latest company to throw its hat into the hybrid all-terrain ring is Nitto Tire with its all-new Ridge Grappler offering. With a full range of options in the mud- and all-terrain tire categories, the Ridge Grappler is designed to bridge the gap between the two segments.

Speaking of sidewalls, like all Grapplers, Nitto gives you two distinct designs to pick from. One is a more traditional pattern, and the other is a new aggressive block design.
The ultimate test for any hybrid all-terrain on the market is how it does in the mud. We’ve spent our time with the tires in a variety of clay and loamy soil common in our stomping grounds of North Carolina. For everything but the thickest red clay, the tires worked incredibly well. You will need some wheelspeed to keep the lugs cleaned out, but we found they worked just as good (if not better) than some mud-terrains on the market.

We’ve spent the past few months testing a 35x12.50R17 version of the Ridge Grappler under our ’13 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. While we will go into more detail about the Ridge’s off-road traits, our on-road impressions are overwhelmingly positive. For a tire that looks as aggressive as it does, it’s incredibly quiet. In fact, as the miles stretch on, we keep waiting for them to increase pitch, but that simply hasn’t happened so far.

The fact that we haven’t bothered to balance the tires yet has made the on-road performance even more impressive. Our only gripe might be with the fact that despite the thick load-range E sidewall being ideal for preventing sidewall failure on the trail, it’s a bit of overkill for our JK. This high load rating is something that’s more common these days in 17-inch wheel varieties as the tires are designed to fit under everything from a 1-ton truck to your lightweight wheeler.

On the trail, the Ridge Grapplers remained surefooted in the rocks and extreme off-camber situations. Since our 17x9 Jesse Spade wheels from Rugged Ridge are non-beadlock, we kept the tire pressure around 12 psi off-road. This was enough to allow the load range E sidewalls to easily conform to the terrain.

In fact, Nitto even offers the Ridge Grappler in a load range F for those looking to ensure their new treads don’t reduce the towing potential of their pickup. With a few thousand miles already logged, and many more adventures to come, we’ve been extremely impressed at the tire’s versatility. Read on to find out just what we’ve been doing to put the Ridge Grappler through its paces.

Lasting Impressions

Without a doubt, the Ridge Grappler is a great all-around tire. With that, there’s always going to be some areas that a mud-terrain might do better in and an all-terrain might do better in. For a daily driven four-wheel-drive vehicle that actually sees time in the dirt, the Ridge Grappler is definitely worth considering. It’s quiet, works excellent in the mud, and appears to be wearing evenly and slowly under our Jeep. The fact that you can opt for a sidewall designation as high as F means you can also have a tire that can properly match the weight rating of your truck. That’s a pretty big deal in this category of tire.

SPECIFICATIONS (as tested)

Tire: Nitto Ridge Grappler
Size: 35x12.50R17
Type: Mud/all-terrain hybrid
Load range: E
Max load (lb): 3,195
Sidewall construction: three-ply polyester
Tread construction: two-ply steel, three-ply polyester, two-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 18.3/32
Tread width (in): N/A
Section width (in): 12.52
Overall diameter (in): 34.76
Maximum psi: 65
Weight (lb): N/A

PhotosView Slideshow

Sources

Nitto Tire
Cypress, CA 90630
714-252-0007
www.nittotire.com
Rugged Ridge
www.ruggedridge.com

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