BFGoodrich has big hopes for its all-new All-Terrain KO2, the successor to the highly popular BFG A-T KO. Launched about 15 years ago, the KO set the standard for the All-Terrain category in the off-road industry, replacing the venerable All-Terrain, which could be found on everything from Baja chase trucks to lifted daily drivers.
How competitive the BFG KO proved to be, right up to the introduction of the KO2, is a testament to BFG’s engineering prowess, as many still considered the aging KO to still be the standard of which all all-terrain tires should be judged. However, the reality was that the competition marched on and got much, much better during the KO’s reign. And truth be told, the KO was starting to show cracks in its armor. While still a very good tire, the design was dated and the KO had caught a reputation for being susceptible to pinch flats and sidewall punctures, and the tread compound, while long-wearing, easily chunked in abrasive terrain.
Complicating matters was an all-terrain market that exploded with new and updated competitors, as well as a new category of tire, the extreme all-terrain, which combined the looks of a more aggressive M/T with the manners of an A/T. With a competitive new landscape to contend in, BFG’s reputation hinged on the successfully redesigned KO2 tire.
BFG engineers went to work, and what they emerged with is the KO2 you see here. Inspired by the toughness of the Baja T/A KR line, the KO2 features CoreGuard technology that improves split and bruise resistance in the sidewall, as well as adds thicker shoulder rubber that extends further into the sidewall. BFG says the KO2 sidewall is 20 percent stronger than the KO. Tread was also an area of focus. Now featuring a new compound that reduces chunking and lasts 15 percent longer on asphalt and 50 percent more on gravel.
Not satisfied with just changing the nuts and bolts of the carcass, BFG also modified the signature tread pattern. While still familiar to any BFG fan, the updated footprint looks fresh and, when combined with the toothy Side Biter sidewall lugs, gives it a more contemporary appearance that will allow the KO2 to better compete against traditional all-terrain tires, as well as the more aggressive extreme all-terrains. The design has been optimized for more even wear and now adds features such as Mud-Phobic bars, serrated shoulders, stone ejectors, and increased siping. BFG says the new pattern is good for a 10 percent increase in traction in mud and 19 percent in snow and that the entire KO2 line-up now achieves the coveted Mountain Snowflake symbol.
After having driven on the KO2 over a brief stay in Baja and having been ultimately impressed, BFG asked if we would be interested in doing a longer-term test back on our home turf. Having the perfect test vehicle, a ’12 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with a set of 37x12.5R17 BF Goodrich KOs already mounted on it, we thought it would be a great opportunity to test the KOs versus the new KO2s back to back. So, with tires in hand, we headed to our local America’s Tire (Discount Tire outside of California) in Huntington Beach, California, for mounting and balancing.
Over the course of the following 2 months, we drove the Jeep in everything from commuting to trail riding. We had a chance to sample the KO2s in the rain, as well as on sharp-edged terrain, and regular desert two-tracks. The only environments we didn’t get to test the tires were in snow and in mud. Our first impression of the KO2s was how fresh the new pattern looks out in the wild and especially on our test rig. Mounted on AEV 17x8.5-inch Savegre wheels, the KO2s sport a perfect sidewall bulge and a nice stance. The new tread looks modern and aggressive, but what really impressed us was how round the new tires were. With one tire needing only a 1/2-ounce of weight to balance, the roundness of the tire and the quietness of the tread was a noticeable improvement over our 20,000-mile-old KOs.
On the highway, the All-Terrains have the great manners you would expect from BFG, with fantastic directional stability, good steering feedback, and surprisingly good grip. The new shoes allowed us to toss the Jeep into corners and take off-ramps at higher speeds without ever feeling like they were near the limits. In fact, we often unintentionally activated the stability system before the tires even started to lose grip. In panic breaking, wet or dry, the KO2s again exhibited no bad habits and hauled the Wrangler down in short order. At freeway speeds in a relative deluge, we had no issues with hydroplaning and the KO2s remained sure-footed. As quiet and smooth as any all-terrain on the market, and even some “highway” tires, the excellent road manners of the KO2 allow the Jeep to be an enjoyable tool for longer drives out to the dirt.
On the trail, the KO2s handled everything that we threw at them, even at highway pressures. Hard-packed two tracks are fun, and the KO2s will still allow you to drift through corners with a little extra throttle. When we aired down to about 12 psi, things got even better. The floatation is incredible, and the Jeep cut through sand dunes as if they were paved. Rocky outcroppings became a place we headed, rather than avoided, and the Jeep climbed effortlessly up a loose and craggy hillclimb that has given us fits before with lesser shoes. At the end of multiple trips, the tires showed almost no signs of wear, even still exhibiting the little nubs that are the hallmark of a new tire. Not one tire showed any signs of cutting or chunking. These tires are everything you love about the KO, except better—at least in all the situations we tested them.
So after more than 1,000 miles of commuting, highway, road trip, desert, sand, rain, dirt, and rocks, we can tell you that BFG hit its mark with the KO2. The tire is hands-down one of the best all-terrain tires on the market and should be on the very short list of all-terrains to consider. While sizing and availability may be constrained during the rollout period, BFG tells us it has an incredible 61 sizes planned for the KO2, and we think they are worth the wait. BFGoodrich is once again redefining what an all-terrain can and should be with the All-terrain KO2: a worthy successor to BFG’s long line of bar-setting all-terrain tires.
While the tread of the KO2 doesn’t look all that much different than the KO it replaces, when placed next to a KO, you can see the changes are fairly significant.
For our test we chose the KO2s in a 37x12.5R17 mounted on a 17x8.5-inch AEV Savegre wheel.
On close examination, you can see several of the new sidewall features, including the thicker extended shoulder, Side Biter lugs, Mud-Phobic bars, and serrated shoulder.
Looking closer at the tread revealed another view of the serrated shoulder and Mud-Phobic bars, along with additional siping and the very welcome triangular stone ejectors.