The term off-roading encompasses a huge variety of surfaces. Not only do off-road tires need to be ready to tackle sand, dirt, mud and gravel, in today’s automotive world these rubber chariots are also expected to ferry our vehicles on paved roads comfortably and quietly.
To test such a tire, a simple gravel road would do… in theory. Thankfully, BF Goodrich chose to show off its extensive roots in off-road racing for the launch of the All-Terrain T/A KO2 and there is no better place in the world than the Baja Peninsula in Mexico to do just that.
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The company has a rich history in racing south of the border where it first sent a team of engineers in 1975 to conduct tire tests. That tradition lives on today with the company outfitting many competitors in the Baja 1000 and 500 with rubber tickets to the winner’s circle.
1. Base MSRP starts at $222 per tire.
2. Twelve Sizes will be initially available. Eventually, 61 sizes will be available.
3. All-Terrain T/A KO2 will be available by November 1, 2014.
BFG is also responsible for the world’s first radial all-terrain tires, so, needless to say, the company knows a thing or two when it comes to pounding through the desert.
The KO2 is the fourth-generation of BFG’s all-terrain tire and marks almost 15 years since the original T/A KO was introduced. It sits in the middle of the brand’s light truck tire portfolio between the primarily road-going tires (Long Trail and Rugged Terrain) and the pure off-road tires (Mud Terrain and Competition Tires). That makes the KO2 BFG’s jack of all trades.
From first glance, the changes to the KO2 are pretty apparent. The tread pattern maintains its C-clamp style, though there are now larger, more angular sipes incorporated. Overall, the KO2 looks beefier than the tire it replaces, and it has the added strength to live up to the look.
Sidewall strength is of huge importance in the off-road arena and this is a big focus for the KO2. The shoulders are extended to reach lower than before, adding more rubber to the upper-half of the sidewall. Essentially, the tread now extends over the entire shoulder to eliminate one of the main weak points of any off-road tire where the tread meets the sidewall. These shoulders also now feature a swept-back design to help prevent sidewall splitting and to better deflect rocks. In total, BFG says the sidewall of the KO2 is 20 percent tougher than before.
Tread life is also said to have doubled when it comes to gravel and improved by 15 percent on the road thanks to a new tread rubber design to reduce chipping. The changes in the pattern, which now feature more interlocking, also contribute to more even tread wear.
Rounding out the improvements are some traction-focused bits. New “mud-phobic bars,” which are essentially small bars that fit between the treads, have been installed to help the tire shed sticky mud by breaking the seal against the rubber.
That extended shoulder also goes a long way towards better traction in snow and mud by acting like sidewall paddles. These all come together to give the KO2 a three-peak mountain snowflake logo, meaning the tire exceeds the Rubber Manufacturer Association Snow Traction requirements.
To show us exactly how durable the tires are, BFG brought along a Baja Challenge car that had competed in last year’s Baja 1000, fitted with All-Terrain T/A KO2s. Those exact same tires were still fitted to the car. While they were pretty gnarled, it is amazing to think they lasted through 1000 miles of the toughest off-road terrain anywhere and were a till able to ferry us on our 300-mile trip through the desert.