Here Feature Editor Robin Stover demonstrates just how big these meats actually are.
The word "aggressive" encompasses everything we've come to know about the ever-popular Interco Bogger. Essentially a DOT-legal paddle tire, Boggers were built to exceed at one thing: mud bogging. So we decided that a test was in order when we caught wind of a new, highly anticipated 19.5/54-20 version. Now we know what you're thinking: Who the heck is going to run a 54-inch tire on the trail? The answer might surprise you. We gauge this topic every June during our annual Top Truck Challenge (TTC) event. Designed to be the Olympics of four-wheeling, TTC attracts some of the world's biggest 4x4 creations.
Super-sized meats are the standard. Last year, the winning rig rode on 53-inch rubber. Maybe that's what gave Interco the idea of upping the ante ...or maybe Interco simply found so much success with its biggest LTB and IROK tires-at 47 and 49 inches, respectively-that the obvious next step for the Bogger was to grow to 54 inches in diameter. Whatever the case, we're glad they did, because these tires are going to change things in a very big way.
It's something about the name "Mega Titan" that seems synonymous with "54-inch Bogger." What better platform to evaluate a serious mud tire than our own supercharged Nissan Titan project truck? At 6,500 pounds and 400-plus horsepower, the Mega Titan falls right in line with rigs that could probably step up to 54s with a few minor modifications. (Did we forget to mention that these tires are gigantic?) Trimming is always an option, right? Well, for us it wasn't.
So when our good friends at Triple X Traction of Seaside, California, took on the task of installing the 54s under the Mega Titan, it became very obvious that we needed a temporary creative solution to keep the tires from destroying the Glassworks bedsides and fiberglass front fenders. The fix: limit suspension uptravel. To do this, they found a long chunk of 3-inch solid nylon round stock material. Triple X owner, Toby Lavender, machined four small clamshell spacers out of it. Once clamped around the bottom of each Fox bypass shock shaft, upward suspension movement is limited to 1 inch at each corner. A quick flex session with Toby's forklift ensured the fiberglass would live through a day of testing at the nearby Hollister Hills State OHV Park.
Here you can see a closeup of the 54's side biters engaging the rock at about 6 psi. Much of the tire's conformability comes from carcass design. On this new tire, Interco opened up the center spacing between the two rows of lugs. This in conjunction with the new divisions allows improved flexibility side to side. Prior to the introduction of the 54-inch Bogger, there were no tires of similar size that were designed specifically for use on light trucks. Most tires of similar size were designed for military and agriculture applications, which require very stiff carcass construction. These types of tires are commonly adapted by wheelers for use on light trucks, but typically don't allow enough sidewall and tread deformation to work well in some cases, particularly rockcrawling. These new Boggers were designed from the ground up for wheelers with lighter vehicles. So tire conformability is designed right into them from the start. Just don't put a set of them on your heavy crop-harvesting tractor.
The first thing we wanted to test these massive tires on was the Mini Rubicon. We figured that with ample clearance under each diff, the notorious rock garden might have little effect on the Titan's forward progress. We were right. With Toby behind the wheel, the Titan made quick work of these rocks. This would provide us with good data on how well the tires flexed at various pressure settings. It became very obvious as we dropped from 10 to 6 psi that over 20 inches of width at 6 psi made more than enough traction for the weight of the Titan. We think part of this is also due to a more flexible tread design, where new cuts break the largest of lugs up into three parts. The 54s have a slightly different lug pattern than the old venerable 44-inch version.
The arrangement still consists of a three-stage-lug. The pattern also remains very similar consisting of a first lug that is very large, followed by a much smaller lug, then the third, which is about three-quarters the size of the first lug. However, on this new design, each of the first and third lugs have two new cuts, or what you might call divisions, breaking up the lug into three parts. This seemed to allow each lug to flex and conform to the rocky terrain far better than what we've seen in the past. It may even help provide a little lateral stability for side hills.