(Trail Action Photos by Dave Nutting – Tire Photos by BFG) – Along with the coolness of the Red Bull Frozen Rush event that Nutting and I covered a few weeks ago, there was also some action away from the track that put US in the driver seat of some neat four wheel drives in the woods of Maine to test out the newest and most important off-road tire from BFGoodrich. The company has recently released a revamped version of their famed All-Terrain T/A. The new tire, known as the All-Terrain T/A KO2 boasts a bunch of advancements and changes that help it perform better in a myriad of conditions but especially in snow and ice. Because no one does snow and ice better than ski country, the folks at BFG thought it would be a great place to build a legit off-road course through the woods near Sunday River and let a bunch of journalists give them a go. There were guys from Canada and other exotic locations on this trip into the woods and all of us were pretty excited to see what lay ahead for us and our intrepid convoy of trucks.
The vehicles we were able to choose from were all Jeep Rubicons with one notable exception. Deviating from the Jeep theme was a Land Rover Defender 110. This thing grabbed our attention immediately because as best we know only 500 of them were ever brought into the USA and this one is rarer yet to have been shipped here with a diesel five cylinder engine and a stick shift. Heck, this may be the ONLY one of these suckers in the country. We were told at an earlier meeting that if we had any trepidation with operating a gear jammer off-road than we should stick to the Jeeps. In fine BangShift fashion, Nutting and I did everything but lick that Land Rover when the order was given to choose vehicles. The truck was more rattly and tractor-like than you could imagine. In short, it is perfect.
Now that we have established the rig we drove, we can tell you that it was -15 degrees on the morning of the day we took our trip. Granted it “warmed up” by the time we left the base in the afternoon but it was still hovering around zero when we headed into the woods to the trail that had been cut specifically for this ride. Obviously the goal of the exercise was to show off the performance capabilities of the KO2 in the snow and ice and where we were heading the only stuff those tires would ever touch would be snow and ice. So at the helm of the near priceless truck and staring into the ever darkening skies, we kicked ‘er down into low gear and went into the wilderness (after voting to eat Nutting first in the event we were marooned out there).
Make no mistake that the Ko2 is an incredibly important tire for BFG. Much like when Ford refreshes or makes design changes to the F-150, there is a lot at stake when anything is changed on a tire that is so widely known and used such as the All-Terrain T/A. The company wanted to improve the performance of the tire in some specific areas. They wanted to lengthen its lifespan on gravel (up by double), they wanted to enhance sidewall strength ( up 20% with new Coreguard technology and massive side biters that wrap over the shoulder of the tire), and they wanted to increase traction in mud as well as snow. Mud traction came up by 10% but the big win was in snow where BFG says the tire is 20% better and every size in the KO2 lineup will get the “three peaks” rating on the sidewall meaning that it is a true winter tire that exceeds industry performance standards in the white stuff. The added 3D siping on the tire is a large part of that improvement. Rather than just straight sipes across tread blocks, the sipes are actually shaped and allow the blocks to conform better to the terrain they are trying to hang on to. While many of these seem like small changes, the reality is that they all add up to a revamped tire that is capable of hauling across the desert and as we found out, clawing through some of the worst junk that old man winter can dole out.
WE’RE GOING TO TELL THE REST OF THE STORY THROUGH DAVE NUTTING’S GREAT PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS – COME FOR A FROZEN RIDE THROUGH THE MAINE WOODS!