Big Bite, Small(er) Scale
Some of the best ideas and products are often the results of spinoffs. From television to automotive design, we’re constantly watching as one thing blossoms into half a dozen others. In 2009, Mickey Thompson Tires, longtime sponsor of our 22-year-old Top Truck Challenge competition, decided to create a tire that was tailored for our top-tier event, and the then over-the-top rigs that were competing. The 54-inch-tall Top Truck Challenge tires would be based on the company’s well-known Baja Claw, a directional tire that’s designed for those in need of something more aggressive than your everyday mud-terrain radial.
Fast-forward a few years later, and Mickey Thompson continues to adjust and expand the Claw lineup. The company’s latest offering is the 37x12.50R17LT Baja Claw TTC Radial. This is by far one of the company’s most aggressive, yet street-friendly offerings. As you can guess, there was no shortage of enthusiasm on our end when we finally got our hands on the radically new rubber.
With something as bold as TTC stamped onto the sidewall, we held the tires’ off-road performance higher than others. One of our first stops with the Claws was The Flats ORV Park located in Marion, North Carolina. With heavy rain moving through the mountainside, finding traction over the wet rocks and red clay would be no easy task. Using a set of AEV (American Expedition Vehicles) beadlocks to dip the tires into the single-digit range, we blasted through the trails to see what the Claws had to offer.
Clay can make or break a mud-terrain, and we found the Claw did an excellent job of keeping the tread voids clear. Over rocks, the tires found traction where we didn’t think there was any and the three-ply sidewalls never let up after repeated abuse. In drier conditions, the Claws’ large tread blocks bite even better. The only damage we’ve found on a couple of the tires to date was a little rounding-off of the leading edges. This is not uncommon, but has happened slightly faster than we expected. This is partly due to the rough terrain we are wheeling on and the tires’ tread composition. Lateral traction was possibly the only place the tire didn’t excel, but we never felt stability was a problem overall.
For such an aggressive tire, we were amazed that the Claws didn’t create more of a fuss on the highway. We toyed with street pressure and found that the tires generally made a light hum, but no louder than your average mud-terrain radial. More sipes were placed on the Claw TTC Radial, and while the small slits help increase grip overall, we wouldn’t rank this tire high on our all-season or winter tire list. Again, the tire ranks a little outside of the normal mud-terrain category, which is a total plus in the dirt, but comes with a small trade-off on-road.
This may be one of our new favorites. The tire works well in wet rocks and dirt, doesn’t take much weight to balance, and isn’t overly obnoxious on the highway. Call us crazy, but we’re pretty certain that this tread compound is softer than your average mud-terrain. This would explain much of its off-road performance, but also lead us to believe that it might not be the most long-lasting on-road tire. Essentially, the Claw TTC Radial is great for the driver who wheels his rig hard, but still burns up on-road miles getting to the trailhead.
Tire: Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC
Load range: D
Max load (lb): 3,525
Sidewall construction: Three-ply polyester
Tread construction: One-ply nylon, two-ply steel, three-ply polyester
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 22⁄32
Tread width (in): 10
Section width (in): 12.5
Overall diameter (in): 36.7
Maximum psi: 50
Weight (lb): 82