The name Dick Cepek means different things to different people. Many think of the race driver and businessman. Many think of the iconic tread pattern of the Dick Cepek Fun Country tire, a legendary tire design. Dick Cepek, like so many off-roaders since, took a passion and made parts that other enthusiasts needed. Selling these parts allowed him to quit his “day job” and start a legacy that continues today with Dick Cepek Tires and wheels.
When we heard that Dick Cepek Tire was coming out with a new “extreme” mud-terrain tire we were anxious to get our hands on a set for testing. The name precedes the product, and we knew the Dick Cepek Extreme Country Tire would stand up to the mold formed by the man, his name, and tires past.
With the tires in our possession, we ran to our local Discount Tire, where the guys in the red shirts mounted and balanced the five 35x12.50R15LT Dick Cepek Extreme Country tires on 15x8 Dick Cepek DC Blackout wheels. Once the tires were bolted to our test mule (a 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ built for rocks and general desert mayhem) we headed out to our local trails for some good old tire abuse.
With a no compromises heritage, a blocky and deep tread design (that we love the looks of), and a proven rubber compound, these tires grabbed and clawed despite the sharp and aggressive terrain. A heavy-duty tire carcass features two-ply high-tensile body cords for sidewall strength without increasing weight or rolling resistance. That means we should be able to bash these tires without fear of damage or any extra weight. Specially designed scalloped outer tread blocks help grab uneven terrain. When we got back on the highway, stone ejector tread grooves ensured that small rocks wouldn’t stay lodged in our treads.
That blocky and square tread design that we love is just part of what you get from this lightweight mud tire. Performance is also in the Extreme Country’s DNA. Dick Cepek has yet another solid tire design that combines light weight and innovative design to provide a good tire for the weekend warrior who uses his (or her) 4x4 in the dirt and on-road.
For part of our testing we headed north from Phoenix to the Cinders outside Flagstaff Arizona. Driving on cinders is similar to driving on sand. The loose and small round chunks of rock a stack and fall much like sand grains. The Cinders make for a great place to test a tire’s flotation and traction on a loose surface. The Extreme Countries grabbed and floated once aired down to 12 to 15 psi. Despite the low tire pressure the DC Blackout tires held the bead bundles as we pitched our Jeep sideways, hit ruts in turns, and even turned a few donuts.
The word extreme in this tire’s name leads one to assume that these tires can handle just about any extreme environment. Challenge accepted! We have no problem finding sharp nasty rocks to drag new tires across. Dick Cepek has combined a proven off-road rubber compound with what the company calls its Two-Ply Next Generation High Tensile (HT) Body Ply Cords. This construction is supposed to enhance sidewall strength while keeping weight light. Reading between the lines (and the sidewall of the tire), this means the Extreme Country has a two-ply sidewall. Although we like at least three sidewall plies in a radial that gets abused in the rocks, these tires have resisted the chunking and cutting that we have seen from other radials despite our abusive testing of the Extreme Countries on the tire-shredding rocks of Arizona. More time on our crawler will tell, and we’ll let you know.
Judging tire noise in a clapped-out rockcrawler of an old Jeep is a joke. That said, the din as we hurtled down the highway at speeds of 60-70 mph was a bit quieter than with other tires we’ve run on this Jeep. On-road traction even in rain has been great thanks to the numerous sipes in the tread blocks and compound. Packed dirt roads are a blast with the Extreme Countries—these tires provide rally-car-like traction.
Maybe we are the last of a dying breed, but we were surprised that the Dick Cepek Extreme Country tire was available in a 35/12.50R15LT size. Sure, 17-inch wheels have all but taken over, but with our four-banger TJ, turning big heavy tires is bad enough without the extra weight of a larger wheel. With sizes ranging from 31s to 35s on 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-, and 20-inch wheels, we were surprised not to see a 37-inch option. Perhaps that sizing is in the works. Either way we predict a good future for this tire.
Make: Dick Cepek
Model: Extreme Country mud-terrain
Size Tested: 35/12.50R15
Load Range: C
Maximum Load (lb @ psi): 2,535 @ 35
Sidewall Construction: 2-ply
Approved Rim Width (in): 8.5-10
Tread Depth (in): 0.63
Tread Width (in): 10 3/8
Section Width (in): 12 3/8
Overall Diameter (in): 34
Weight (lb): 61
Sizes Available (in): 31-35