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Well-Behaved Yokohama Geolandar M/T

Posted in Product Reviews on June 20, 2017
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We’re lucky. Modern tire technology has improved immensely in the last decade or so. There was a time when buying high-traction mud tires meant putting up with hard rubber compounds, relatively poor road handling, so-so ride comfort, and the obligatory road howl from running high-void treads. Today, radial, mud-terrain tire design is a whole new ballgame and it’s for the better. Granted, we are not talking about ultra-aggressive, dedicated mud treads but rather those that can dig into the weekend goo effectively, claw some rocks, and still hit the pavement in a refined way come Monday morning.

Yokohama Tire Company has served the U.S. marketplace since 1969 when it opened an office in Montebello, California. With global headquarters in Tokyo, Yokohama is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017. In 1982, the company introduced the popular Super Digger off-road tire, followed in 1995 by the Geolandar tire line. Over the years the line has expanded. There are now four Geolandar tires in the lineup.

We traveled to Gateway, Colorado for the introduction of Yokohama’s latest Geolandar, the M/T G003. It is a mud-terrain tire designed to offer drivers an aggressive tread pattern while still maintaining civil highway manners that consumers are more often expecting from this type of tire.

Yokohama’s designers used computers to create tread patterns, then tested prototype tires to gain the characteristics they wanted and that would exceed the performance of the previous generation of mud-terrains. The ratio of tread block to void was optimized and siping strategically added to increase traction and shorten stopping distances. Cut- and chip-resistance was a high priority, as was better wet surface braking. Tread elements, such as mud and stone ejectors, were added. Trapped stones can cause what is referred to as stone drilling, where repeated impact with the tire surface can damage the tire.

This tire was meant to provide long-lasting highway mileage with effective off-road traction. As such, Yokohama wanted a design that was quieter than the previous generation. The designers incorporated tread pitch variation to reduce the harmonics that cause tire howl on pavement.

Those of you who recall the old tread layout of the Super Digger will remember it was more of a basic repeating pattern. The G003 has far more tread features to increase traction and break up harmonic noise. Yokohama is using a new high-density compound meant to extend tread life and has also added more silica to the compound to improve wet traction.

We had the chance to try the tires in a 35-inch size on four-door Jeep JK Wranglers. Upon rolling onto pavement, we were pleased to note the absence of significant tire noise. For a mud-terrain tread, these tires are well on the quiet side. All on-road manners inspired confidence for a tire of this nature, and comfort and handling were good. Our time in the dirt was mostly over mild Jeep trails on which the tires did well and were comfortable for a tire of this type.

For those drivers looking for a mud-terrain tire for all-purpose wheeling and friendly highway use, the new G003 looks promising. It will be available in a wide range of sizes to fit most any vehicle. From a more aggressive use standpoint, many of us that crawl rocks but also do street driving look to mud tires for our rigs. The Yokohamas come with a three-ply construction on D- and E-rated tires, so it would be good to see how well they hold up under low air pressure and when subjected to rocky challenges.

Truth be told, most everyone today wants a tire that looks cool. These tires are striking in that regard, and the multiple tread features that serve functional traction duties add to that appeal.
We ventured on some mild Colorado trails to get a feel for the ride quality and traction of the new G003 tire. At a highway-friendly pressure of about 35 psi, the tires were firm but not overly jarring in the dirt. They could only get better with less air in them.
While we had the opportunity to bounce over some rocky trails, we did not get to test the tires to the limit of their traction while rockcrawling. Nor were we able to encounter mud during our test run. A longer-term test of the tire would be able to tell us these performance qualities as well as real-world resistance to tread tearing during rock use.
The Geolandar M/T has large voiding in the tread areas and, with tread siping, opens up a lot of traction points to meet the ground. Another goal was to produce a wide and flat contact shape to help reduce tire hot-spotting on the road, thus increasing tread wear by an estimated 8 percent according to third-party test data.
Inside the tire is a hex-shaped wheel bead that is used to add strength there but still allow fitment onto beadlock wheels. Sidewall armor protects against abrasion as well as adds traction.
The Jeeps were running 35x12.50R17 size, which is very common these days. Yokohama will be offering the new tire in 37 sizes by the end of 2017 to fit wheel sizes ranging from 15 to 20 inches and heights up to 37 inches. The company also offers a 30-day trial satisfaction guarantee.
Sidewall protection comes by way of Yokohama’s Geo-Shield technology with a proprietary three-ply construction on D- and E-rated tires. We like the sidewall appearance.
As a second test of these tires, we put them through some paces in Superlight trucks on the dirt track at Gateway Canyons Resort. Mounted to beadlock wheels, they took a good beating on the track. Traction felt solid on hard dirt, and we could feel the tires churning effectively through loose silt.


Yokohama Tire

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