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Nexen’s Newest Off-Road Tire Tested

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on February 15, 2018
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You may not have heard of Nexen Tires. The Korean manufacturer isn’t as well known in the states as the other, more established labels. But after our experience with Nexen’s newest and chunkiest Roadian MTX design, we are betting that will change.

Nexen’s newest off-road tire only recently hit the market. So recently, in fact, that we literally had one day in which to gather our on-and off-road driving impressions before our publishing deadline reared its ugly head. We mounted a quintet of LT265/75R16s on a set of superbly cool American Racing AR969 Ansen Off Road wheels, tossed them on our trusty 1989 Wrangler (aka Project Why-J), and headed for the trail.

We headed down twisty mountain roads towards the freeway, leaning into the steering wheel as hard as we dared. The AR969 wheels feature a 4 1/2-inch backspacing for the 16x8, 5-on-4 ½ pattern size that fit our Wrangler, so the first thing we noticed was an improved steering feel over the 3 1/2-inch backspacing wheels we normally run on this manual-steering Jeep.

The second thing we noticed was that, despite a very soft durometer, the pliable and fully siped tread blocks grabbed the pavement without squealing or slipping. You’re not going road racing on these tires, but they certainly will not send you careening off into the radishes either.

Getting up to highway speed, a dull rumble began to emerge from below. There was tread noise—quite a bit, to be honest. Even in an open-top YJ with the four-banger screaming at 3,300 rpm, there is a very audible tread hum from below. It’s not the four-prop wail of a WWII bomber you’d associate with a Swamper Bogger, but it’s no whisper either.

As the pavement turned to dirt we simulated a few emergency maneuvers. The rear of this Jeep could be made to kick out a bit more easily on hard-packed dirt roads than with some other tires we have tested under it, and complete four-wheel drifts came a bit easier than we expected. Lateral grip on hard pack with full street pressure, we surmised, was a bit wanting. However, emergency stops and clutch-dump starts allow the tread block sipes to open up and aid in traction. These tires grab hard forward or backward even at the 26 psi our 3,200-pound Wrangler dictated.

Out on the trail, we dropped the pressure to 12 psi, slid the T-case into Low, and started climbing the hard pack into SoCal mountains. That’s where these tires came into their own. Despite being brand new and a Load Range E, the sidewalls flexed and conformed around incongruities very well. The tread blocks enveloped and grabbed at will, with hardly any slipping. As with any high-void tread, rocks are picked up, but we noticed they were also evacuated quickly. Forward grip, side hill stability, and traction in sand and rock were all right on par with off-road tires we have tested that cost a lot more than these. And if your normal wheeling takes you into harmful terrain, these tires offer three-ply polyester sidewalls and seven-ply tread construction to get you home without busting out the plug kit.

Unfortunately, we didn’t find any mud in the arid SoCal test areas, but we will revisit these tires again very shortly in some wetter locations. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates as we generate more road and trail miles.

Our only gripe was lateral grip on hard-packed dirt roads when the Nexen Roadian MTX tires were fully aired at our street pressure of 26 psi. However, once aired down or in deeper soil and rock, these tires had no problems holding lateral lines. The treads are soft, supple, and siped, and we found them eager to grab and conform to obstacles and irregularities. Overall we are really happy with their performance.
The Roadian MTX tread wraps partially down the sidewall, helping to increase bite and protecting against punctures and abrasion. Despite this tire’s Load Range E rating, we found the three-ply sidewalls flexible and the carcass very pliable. These seem to strike a very nice balance between strength and performance.
The American Racing AR969 Ansen Off Road wheels are one of our four favorite wheels on the market. The classic Ansen slot styling has been updated with black finish inside the slots and a thick pseudo beadlock ring, which not only looks great but also adds thickness and strength to this normally vulnerable wheel area.
The Roadian MTX has a lower than average propensity for picking up rocks and debris, but any high-void tire is gonna take a little of the trail with it. The tread blocks taper slightly from their base at the tire carcass to the tops of the tread blocks so after only a couple revolutions the treads would nicely evacuate any small rocks and debris.

Tire Specifications

Nexen Roadian MTX
Size Tested: LT265/75R16
Type: Mud-Terrain
Load Range: E
Maximum Load (lb): 3,415 at 80 psi cold
Sidewall Construction: 3-ply
Approved Rim Width (in): 7.0-8.0
Tread Depth (in): 19/32
Tread Width (in): 8.5
Section Width (in): 10.5
Overall Diameter (in): 31.9
Weight (lb): 58.4
Sizes Available: 35 sizes ranging from 31 to 37 inches for wheel diameters of 16 to 22 inches in Load Range E or F

Sources

Nexen Tires
800-576-3936
http://www.nexentireusa.com
American Racing
Cerritos, CA
800-959-1969
www.americanracing.com

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