Testing Pit Bull Tire’s Newest All-Terrain In All TerrainsPosted in How To: Wheels Tires on January 10, 2017
Nowadays, enough is never enough. And good certainly isn’t good enough. We demand excellence, and more often than not, that’s what we get—especially with today’s new-fangled computer-designed tires. In the old days, you got the feeling tire tread was dreamt up by some kid who just hopped off his Schwinn Stingray. “Let’s add a lion’s head and dragon wings and make big, meaty lugs that’ll sound mean and pissed off. That’ll be so kewl!” Not so anymore. In fact, nowadays, it’s pretty common for mild-mannered all-terrain designs to not only sound as quiet as a mouse but out-perform many mud-terrain tires from the past. We know; we’ve been driving on this stuff for more than 30 years. So, that brings us to Pit Bull Tire’s new PBX A/T Hardcore. It’s a light-truck radial with supple, yet strong, sidewalls; a very, very quiet on-road ride; and trial’s bike grip in all but the stickiest, gooiest mud. In short, it’s everything we’d expect from a modern all-terrain tire.
Street and SnowFor our testing, we shod a ’07 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon with a quintet of 35x12.50R17LTs and put them through every single element imaginable. We found the ideal street pressure for our vehicle at 30 psi, so that’s where we kept them for the road. Off-road, we lowered the pressure to 12 psi and found sidewall bulge and supple tread. But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, the street. Yeah, they’re quiet. Like stupid quiet. The asymmetrical, staggered-sized lugs don’t hum, blip, or bleep on the street. And they’re sticky too. Railing the Wrangler around corners and stabbing the throttle from a stop resulted in grip and not much else. The treads are siped and have lots of little biting edges on the inside and outside of the tread blocks. That means they did really, really well in snow as well. Those in the Snowbelt will tell you it’s often advantageous for a tire tread to retain a little snow in some conditions since some snow sticks to itself better than it sticks to a rubber tire. We found that to be the case with some high-elevation West-Coast drifts we put them through. Sticky snow stuck in the treads and increased snow traction. And fluffy snow evacuated and left the tires clear. Prefect!
SandMoving down in elevation, we found these tires excel in sand. Despite having the full weight of a loaded JK with steel bumpers, a winch, and a heavy-duty long-arm suspension to support, the Pit Bull PBX A/Ts float on top and grip without digging. Lateral traction is very good, but you can shoosh and drift a bit descending big dunes. Think of them as snowboards for your 4x4 with a build-in chair lift. They’ll bite you to the top and not fight you on the way down.
Dirt Roads and Hard PackProbably above all other areas, the Pit Bull PBX A/T shines on hard-packed dirt roads, washes, and regular ’ol desert terrain. Coincidentally, that’s where this Jeep spends most of its time off-road. Running in two-wheel drive, you can have some fun without getting yourself into too much trouble. In hard cornering the fronts will keep biting, but just a little blip of throttle is enough to get the rear to come out in some very gentle, minor oversteer. We’ve done this little maneuver with tires offering less grip in this situation and haven’t found them to be as balanced and predictable. Without the level of grip offered by the PBX A/Ts in this situation the front can either wash out and plow through the turn or the rear can get really loose and loop around, sending the vehicle into a broadslide slide or a complete, uncontrolled donut. The Pit Bull PBX A/T just hangs on tight until you tell them not to—and then they hang on just as much as you need. They’re a really fun “prerunner wannabe” tire, and we had a ball with them.
RocksEven with a modest 12 psi in the tires, we got some sidewall bulge. The three-ply polyester sidewalls were chip, bruise, and (fairly) cut resistant in SoCal boulder patches and granite fields. The tread is comprised of seven plies of polyester, steel, and nylon and offers a great deal of puncture resistance despite how well it flexes and conforms to rocks and irregularities. Naturally, these tires are best served a diet of smoother, less sharp and dangerous boulders if you’re a regular rock hound (pun intended). In these terrains tires with larger, blockier lugs that act like little gripping hands tend to do better and get cut up less. We did notice some slippage in these types of scenarios as the tighter tread fought to get a purchase. We think spreading the sidewall lugs out further would help in these situations, but that would also increase the road noise. It is what it is, and these are all-terrains. There we go expecting to have our cake and pie and strudel and eat it too. We also noticed some smaller cuts and abrasions on the tread blocks themselves. But once they found their hold, they stuck like glue, pulling the Jeep up and over. They’re definitely rock-capable, but it’s not the forte of these tires.
MudThe Achilles heel of any all-terrain is heavy mud. No surprise, the PBX A/Ts don’t like a taffy-like mud with a heavy and thick consistency. The treads pack up and even the sipes fill up a bit, requiring a decent amount of street driving to clear. Some of the blocks have multi-faceted tread lugs that (in theory) should help break suction and allow the treat to evacuate debris, but still, if you’re looking to frequent mud fields and jungle roads, Pit Bull offers better alternatives in its product line.
Bottom LineWe didn’t check the tread with a durometer to see exactly how soft the Pit Bull PBX A/T is, but it is on the softer side of what we see in non-competition tires. As a result, we’re finding they’re wearing a bit faster than many all-terrain tires we’ve tested under similar circumstances. That said, we’re also finding they grip and grab better than many other all-terrains we’ve tested. There’s no free lunch. But if great traction in many different terrains is your primary concern and you’re sensitive to tire noise, vibration, and harshness, then we’d be hard-pressed to recommend a better set of all-terrains for you.
SPECIFICATIONS (as tested)Tire: Pit Bull PBX A/T Hardcore
Type: Radial all-terrain
Load range: E
Max load (lb): 3,195
Sidewall construction: Three-ply polyester
Tread construction: Three-ply polyester; two-ply steel; two-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 18.5/32
Tread width (in): 10.50
Section width (in): 12.50
Overall diameter (in): 35.0
Maximum psi: 65
Weight (lb): 69