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Yokohama Geolandar M/T Tested for the Backcountry

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on February 1, 2018
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Like many of you, we have a trail truck that spends a good amount of time on trails but is also driven good distances on the pavement. We’d ideally like a tire that offers unstoppable traction anywhere in dirt and rocks plus a quiet, smooth highway ride. We can dream.

However, modern tire designs have advanced substantially in the last decade or so, and we can now get some high-performance tires that handle many of these conditions quite well. Last spring, Yokohama introduced its latest off-road tire, the Geolandar M/T G003. It is the company’s most aggressive off-road tire, available in 35 sizes. The tread is designed with advanced pitch variation to help minimize highway noise while maintaining quality traction bite. The rubber uses a new triple-polymer compound for improved tread life.

On the off-road side of things, the G003 uses a variety of tread features to gain traction on loose surfaces. Large unidirectional blocks with high voiding areas expose a lot of rubber to the terrain and help shed mud. There is also factory siping in the blocks and added sidewall biters. For trail protection, the tires have a sturdy sidewall protection from Yokohama’s Geo-Shield technology, one feature of which is proprietary three-ply construction on D- and E-rated tires.

We recently installed a set of 37x12.50R17 Geolandar M/Ts on our solid-axle Tacoma trail truck. On 9-inch-wide wheels we found the unloaded diameter of these tires to be right at 36.75 inches, as cited in the Yokohama specs. Tread width is listed at 10.2 inches, and weight is a reasonable 76 pounds. These are Load Range D tires and seem well-suited for a rig like ours on up to a fullsize truck that is not too heavily loaded.

One of the first things we noticed when we started driving on them is that they are quiet for a mud tire. Who can really complain about that? The new rubber tracked well on the road, and the tires felt round and smooth. Dry and wet pavement stopping was very acceptable for a tire of this nature, and overall we were pleased with their road manners.

We have nearly 5,000 miles on our tires to date, and well over 1,200 of those are off-road miles covering a variety of Southwestern terrain. We were pleased that we had no flats, cuts, or sidewall bulging during our testing of the tires even after significantly crawling them over sandstone, boulders, and shale-like rock.

If you're looking for an aggressive, radial mud tire that will spend a good bit of time on the street, the Geolandar M/T might be the tire for you. The company is confident enough in the tires’ ability to satisfy customers that they come with a 30-day-trial guarantee. The G003 is a solid mud-terrain tire in the dirt that's also well behaved on the highway.

The set of Yokohama Geolander M/T G003s that we are running on our truck are size 37x12.50R17LT. Yokohama offers them in 35 sizes ranging from LT235/75R15 to 37-inch sizes for 17- and 20-inch wheels.
The G003 is a nondirectional mud tire incorporating a variety of tread features to increase traction and reduce harmonic noise on pavement. With the help of computer-aided design and real-world prototype testing, Yokohama met its goals for the performance of this tire.
The tires offer large voiding areas for traction along with strategic tread siping to increase points of traction. A new high-density compound in the tire is used to extend tread life with the addition of more silica to the compound.
We spooned our Yokohamas onto our 9-inch-wide OMF beadlocks, and they installed easily. We were impressed to see they seated well without any mold flash to clean up like we’ve had to do when mounting other tires to beadlocks.
We ran off-road tire pressures from 25 psi down to about 9 under various conditions. We found the Yokohamas to be flexible and offered excellent traction on sandstone when aired down. An internal hex-shaped wheel bead adds strength in that area of the tire, and the sidewall armor adds abrasion protection. The side biters also came into play with the tires at low pressure when the sidewall rolled over onto rock.
Washes filled with decomposed granite can suck a tire down quicker than beach sand. We purposely trenched the Yokohamas down into BB-sized pebbles. However, once we backed off to milder wheelspeed, the tires caught traction and pulled themselves back to the surface. No mud tire is ideal for running sand, but these will do a fine job given the right air pressure to get you where you’re going.
We can be pretty hard on tires in the dry desert where we often play. We bounced these tires over a lot of bumpy miles, constantly pounding them over embedded rocks and baby heads. We saw no visible signs of deformation or bruising on the Geolandar M/Ts.
When it came time to get the tires wet and mucky, they did a good job of keeping the goo moving through the voids and towards the outside edges of the tire. Given that they are nondirectional, we had very good traction going both forward and backward. While the G003 won’t push you through the thickest, deepest mud like a dedicated bias-ply mudder can, it performs well in the muck. Besides, it would be unfair to compare the two such tires in only a bog scenario.
Early on we noticed that the tires tended to trap small stones readily between the larger tread blocks. However, we were pleased to see this behavior diminish considerably once the tires got a little wear on them and the stickiness of the fresh rubber faded.
Running mud treads hard in dry rocks often means you tear sizeable chunks from the large tread lugs. This can wreak havoc with tire balance. Years ago we switched over to ceramic Dyna Beads as our only means of balancing our trail tires. Fortunately, it appears that the Geolandar M/T tread design and compound are well paired to provide impressive traction yet resist severe chunking as we've seen with some tires. Shown here is about the worst tread tearing we’ve seen to date.
Added to the performance of these tires are their good looks. With a pleasing road-noise level, admirable off-road traction, and a visually pleasing sidewall, we think these tires deserve to be on your list when you’re shopping for new mud-terrain tires.

Tire Specifications

Yokohama Geolandar M/T G003
Size Tested: 37x12.50R17LT
Type: Mud-Terrain
Load Range: D
Maximum Load (lb): 3,525 @ 50 psi
Sidewall Construction: 3-ply
Approved Rim Width (in): 8.5-11
Tread Depth (in): 21/32
Tread Width (in): 10.2
Section Width (in): 13.1
Overall Diameter (in): 36.8
Weight (lb): 76.1
Sizes Available: 35 sizes ranging from LT235/75R15 to 37 inches for wheel diameters of 15 to 20 inches.

Sources

Yokohama Tire
800-722-9888
http://www.yokohamatire.com

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