“Despite the pointy knot digging into the sidewall with extreme pressure, the tire never succumbed to the silent killer in the bush…”

by Rob Rothwell, Driveway

The rush of air escaping a tire is not a sound one hopes to hear deep in the outback.

According to a tire industry study, 84 per cent of tire failures incurred off-road are due to sidewall puncture, often rendering tires irreparable.

So, BF Goodrich has done something about this deflating fact.

High in Canada’s rugged Rocky Mountains is where they chose to launch their revised KO line of all-terrain tires. Termed “KO2,” the new boots bring forth many improvements to a tire already considered by many in the off-roading community to be the benchmark. That reputation was earned through a longstanding commitment to off-road racing and motorsports – winning the Baja 1000 more than all other tire manufacturers combined – and its advances in tire technology since introducing the first all-terrain tire back in 1976.

The tire manufacturer claims that the KO2 sidewall is 20 per cent stronger than the original KO tire, and incorporates an advanced deflection system designed to prevent protruding objects, such as pointy branches, from snagging and splitting the sidewall.

A handful of crusty auto journalists, more used to testing cars rather than tires, ventured to Lake Louise in the Rockies to put the tires through a reality test.

BF Goodrich supplied a series of off-road exercises in which we pushed the limits of the KO2s, all of which were 20-inch 55-series tires shod upon new Chevrolet Silverado 4X4 pickups. It’s important to note that these weren’t extra-large off-road tires, they were typical replacements.

The highway portion of our drive delivered a pleasant surprise; the KO2s produced much less road noise than expected given their heavy lug-based tread pattern. While likely not as quiet as the original-equipment tires on Chevy’s latest Silverado, their whine was modest and unobtrusive.

Forty minutes after departing the majesty of Lake Louise and its aqua-blue waters, we exited Banff National Park and headed for private testing lands. Moving from tarmac, we encountered just about every conceivable surface one might face during an off-road excursion.

Despite my best effort to burrow the KO2s deep into a mud pit, the putty-like ooze never overwhelmed them. With a little throttle prodding, the tires managed to clear away the earthen oatmeal, finding footing enough to pull 5,500 pounds of truck out of the quagmire with ease. Other testing locales included a rock crawl, steep ascents/descents, and a log pit with sharp upward-pointing knots. The latter reputed for inflicting sudden death on typical trail tires.

Sidewalls are vulnerable, and the weakest part of a typical tire. A truck was parked atop a pointy knot. Despite the pointy knot digging into the sidewall with extreme pressure, the tire never succumbed to the silent killer in the bush.

Our day in the Rockies saw 20 Silverados – in other words 80 KO2s – performing exercise after exercise with zero failures. No flats and no stuck trucks.

Contact: rrothwell [at] telus [dot] net

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