so many tire choices out there. Radials or bias ply? 3 ply or 4 ply? Mud
terrain or all terrain? Why isn't there a "rock terrain" tire?
Well now there is...
Over the past year
and a half, BF Goodrich has been testing the BF Goodrich Krawler at rock
crawling competitions all over the country. Through sponsored competitors
like Ken Shupe, Tracy Jordan, John Gilleland, Mike Shaffer, and Curt Hildebrand,
they were able to develop a tire that should dominate the rocks.
So do they
With the help of my pal UGET IT, we decided to find out.
We took delivery of a set of 37X12.50R17 Krawlers and a set of Allied's
new 17" steel beadlocks. With a little bit of elbow grease and the
help of an air ratchet, we had the tires mounted on the beadlocks in about
an hour or so.
The Allied beadlocks
are very well built. I have thoroughly
tested their 15" beadlocks in the past, and the 17" beadlocks
are just as nice, if not nicer. The "D" slots give them a much
cooler look. The 17's share the 15's 32 bolt beadlock ring. The beadlock
ring is what centers the tire. Some beadlocks have a groove cut into the
rim itself, but the unique shape of the Allied beadlock ring is what centers
the tire on these rims. This actually makes for an incredibly easy installation,
as you don't have to force the bead of the rim over a tight lip. All that's
needed is to visually center the tire on the rim, and then bolt the beadlock
ring into place with the supplied grade 8 hardware. The beadlock ring
takes care of the rest.
Don't be fooled by
the Allied beadlock ring's size. It's tough! I have been beating on these
rims for several months, running mutiple trails at the Hammers, the Rubicon,
etc. and they are still in excellent shape, minus some paint. I haven't
even bothered to check the bolts since installation, and the tires still
do not leak.
The Krawlers have
a unique rim protector on them. While I think it's a cool feature, it
didn't seem to keep the beadlock rings from getting scratched (not that
I would expect them to). These tires are not your average radial. They
have 4 ply sidewalls, just like the bias ply tires that everyone loves
for their durability. At just a hair under 37" tall, they are a great
size for the average rock crawler. If 37" is too big for your rig,
there is a 35X13.50R15 version as well. BFG is planning on coming out
with a 40" version of the Krawler sometime next year, as well. I've
had the privilege of playing around with the 40's, and I can tell you
that they are one awesome tire. But back to the 37's. You currently purchase
the 37's in two different forms - the first option is like the tires pictured
here. The second option is a "blank" ungrooved tire that you
can groove any way you'd like. Personally, I trust the engineers to do
the grooving for me. Maybe it's because I have seen them at almost every
rock crawling competition in 2002, taking notes, and getting feedback
from the competitors. They truly wanted to build the very best rock crawling
tire they could. I really respect that.
So how do
Well let's just say that they are a great tire. They perform great in
all types of terrain, from snow to granite. But are they the BEST in all
types of terrain? I wouldn't say that. In snow, they worked well, but
I know of better tires. They would float realtively well, but if you got
on the gas they wanted to dig to china. Not exactly great for floating
on top of 10' of snow! For comparison's sake, most aggressive mud-type
tires like a Super Swamper will do the same thing. So I would say that
in deep snow they are average.
I was impressed with
their performance in the sand. I had an opportunity to bomb some sand
dunes pretty hard, and the Krawlers floated on the sand very well - even
in 2wd I was able to power up the largest dunes in 3rd/4th gear high range
and scare the hell out of my passengers!
Afterall, these ARE supposed to be rock Krawling tires, right? At the
All Pro Offroad Toyota Jamboree I was able to really punish these tires.
We ran 9 trails in 2 days. The Krawlers hooked up fantastic in the dry,
massive boulders. With the 17" rim, the tires turned predictably,
much better than the 38 Swampers on 15" rims. On sidehills the 17"
rim also reduced sidewall roll, which is always more comforting.
Do they suck
No, I wouldn't say they sucked at anything I threw at them. I would say
I was a little disapointed at their ability to track in a turn when wet.
They seemed to push excessively when the tires were wet, and making a
turn while climbing. I am thinking some siping or possibly some strategic
grooves could solve this issue, though.
So are they
better than a Super Swamper SX?
That's a good question. I've run both on my rig, and I'd have to say that
the overall nod goes to the Krawlers. I don't think the Krawlers are superior
to the Super Swamper, but I do think the 17" option, along with being
a radial give the Krawler the edge. The Krawler beats the SX in the sand
and snow, and while it's a much closer margin in the rocks, I'd still
give the nod to the Krawler.
After all the hard
core runs on these tires, they are still holding up well. The lugs are
still in excellent shape, and the corners are not excessively rounded.
There is a rather large gash in one sidewall, but it does not leak. Any
other radial tire would have left me with a flat on the trail.
toughest trail at the Hammers - Bender Alley
still flex well when they need to.
wet marks on the rock - you can see how the tire pushed.
sidewalls grip incredibly well.
How the tire
stuck to this wall, I don't know.
around rocks nicely.
crawled right up this ledge with a light blip of the throttle.
Same shot, different
It's not east
coast mud, but the tires stayed clean.
The tires crawled
over rocks like this with ease.
BF Goodrich Tires
Consumer Relations Department
P.O. Box 19001
Greenville, SC 29602-9001
Impact Wheels/Transmission & Gear (Allied distributor)
Toll Free: 888-898-4331