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Tire Test: General Grabber X3

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on December 21, 2016
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The average Joe (or Jane) doesn’t really think about the tires on their vehicle. It’s just a matter of whatever is cheapest and fits their car/truck/SUV when it comes time to replace the factory-supplied rubber. However, to the off-roader—and especially the Jeeper—tires are the connection to the terrain.

Tires are what deliver all that horsepower and torque distribution technology you’ve developed through powertrain, drivetrain, and suspension upgrades and mods to the place you need it most: the dirt, sand, rocks, or mud that you are piloting your Jeep over or through. That is why most Jeepers replace the OEM tires long, long before the factory tread sees much wear and tear.

General Tire has developed a new breed of Grabber, and it’s called the X3. After three years in R&D, the new tire went on sale in the fall of 2016. We’ve had a set since then, but before setting out, we had a conversation with Barry Terzaken, General Tire product manager for Light Truck and SUV products (and an engineer by training). Terzken offered insight into the design, engineering, and testing, as well as the two distinct groups of end users General was targeting during development of the X3. “The first group is the serious enthusiast who demands exceptional off-road performance. Styling, noise, comfort, and on-road performance are secondary.”

Our Project TJ Reboot wore a set of the new General Tire X3s for a few months, and as much of our mileage was in the dirt and rocks as it was on the highway.

“This naturally brings us to the other distinct group—cosmetic consumers. This group is looking for an extremely aggressive and stylish tire. Bold tread and off-shoulder designs are a key focus. On-road handling and wet/winter performance are much more important than off-road performance. This consumer also expects a ride that is as quiet and comfortable as a mud-terrain tire line can provide.”

Terzaken continued: “My challenge to our engineering team, was to create a product line that has exceptional off-road performance, bold, unique and aggressive styling, excellent on-road performance and a ride that is as quiet and comfortable as the segment allows. In short, I wanted it all, and I didn't want to sacrifice anything in the process.”

We spent a couple months wearing a set of 35x12.50R15LT X3s on our ’01 Jeep TJ Wrangler (you may recognize it as the newly resurrected Project TJ Reboot), and nearly as much of that mileage was off-highway as it was on. Here’s what we learned.

The tread pattern of the General Grabber X3 is a combination of all-terrain- and mud-terrain-style lugs and voids. Most noticeable are the long, sweeping shoulder lugs and grooves. The angle of these blocks allowed then to roll into the footprint instead of flopping down, which reduced noise but still allowed for a good bite and self-cleaning through the large sweeping voids.
We ran the tires at two different inflation levels during our off-road forays: 20 psi (seen in this photo) and 10 psi. At 10 psi the sidewall was fairly well protected from cuts and piercing, and the tire wrapped nearly its entire tread pattern, including sidewall lugs, around the rock. Even at 20 psi, the X3 still manhandled rocks extremely well. At both inflation levels, the alternating sidewall lugs opened up and helped grip the rock with additional edges, while the deflection ribs kept rocks and sticks from reaching the vulnerable spaces between sidewall lugs.
Many hours were spent scrambling, at low and high speeds, over rock gardens such as this during our testing period. We saw no chunking or severe deterioration of the tread blocks from this rocky rambling.
A good gully-washer of a winter rainstorm blew through the mountains and canyons of Southern California one weekend and provided us with a chance to churn through some mud. Although it was not the slick-as-snot goo like we find in the Midwest or Southeast, it did help us learn that the X3 can bite into and move mud through its two rows of outer lugs and voids quite effectively. Seconds after this photo, we hammered the throttle and the spinning tires sent globs of mud flying into the air, cleaning themselves like a gun dog shaking water off its fur after bringing in a duck.
Including the 35x12.50R15LT tires we shod our Project TJ Reboot with for this testing period, the General Tire Grabber X3 line currently offers 42 choices ranging from OE to large plus and over sizing. We found our test set to be quiet (for a mud terrain of this size), well-mannered on the highway, and very effective off-road.

Specifications

General Grabber X3
Size Tested: 35x12.50R15LT
Type: Crossover/Mud-Terrain
Load Range: C
Maximum Load (lb @ psi): 2,535@ 35
Sidewall Construction: Three-ply Duragen
Tread Construction: Radial steel belted
Approved Rim Width (in): 8.5-11.0
Tread Depth (in): 21/32
Tread Width (in): (10.0)
Section Width (in): 12.5
Overall Diameter (in): 35.0
Weight (lb): 72.3

Sources

General Tire
Charlotte, NC 28288
800-847-3349
www.generaltire.com

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