Tire Thrash: We Test The New BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Through Snow And Ice In Sub-Zero Temps!

Tire Thrash: We Test The New BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Through Snow And Ice In Sub-Zero Temps!

(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.

BFG trail ride003The 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.



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We had an instructor riding shotgun with us on the drive and at this point the conversation was pretty much, “Let’s not tear up this rig of which there isn’t really any other examples of in the country.” I completely agreed and then didn’t keep my end of the bargain up a little later.

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The scenery and the temperatures were breathtaking. The conditions were perfect to really see if these new KO2 were as good as the BFG guys told us they were. Steep climbs and descents were proof of how grippy they were and when we had to put the lumber to them over obstacles they worked hard to get us out.

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So here’s the sweet Land Rover Defender 110 that we took on the test. This thing is a killer rig. It will never win a drag race but then again it was never designed to. A fine mix between tank, tractor, and troop carrier, we were excited to have the chance to lean on this truck in the snow.

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The biggest test of these tires came right here at a pretty wild river crossing on the trail. Between the icy rocks, wild off-camber craters, logs, and a pretty deep ditch on the left side (as you are looking at it). Because this Defender 110 has a longer wheelbase and a turning radius like a cruise ship it made for tricky going. Right about now…

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I managed to get myself in trouble by failing to maintain the momentum I had carried into the obstacle. Between this photo and the next one, at least one of the rear mud flaps met its maker. The second one was not far behind. Like the old saying goes, “If you can’t be good, be spectacular.” It was time for the KO2s to save me from myself. Did they?

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As you can see here, those babies are working hard. I was in third gear, low range, and pretty much on the deck with the gas. The big Rover was clawing itself up, but also sideways. The whole obstacle was angled toward the left side of this frame and while I was making forward progress….


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I ended up taking the tough line through when the truck slid into the deepest part of the crossing. Amazingly, the truck drove itself out of there without the use of the winch or help from other trucks. Those KO2s dug until they found something they could bite and we made it sans the mud flaps.

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Because I was one of the first rigs to cross the obstacle, we got to watch everyone else come through. The different lines of approach were cool to observe as was the driver’s either reluctance or aggressive use of the throttle pedal. Most of the Jeeps were on 35″ KO2s and looked sweet.

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Those axles were working pretty good as the first Jeep hit the river crossing. He was the first truck in line as you can see my Defender back there. At this point, both mud flaps were intact.

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Here’s a pretty up close and personal look at the KO2 tread. The interlocking blocks you have come to know and love as part of the All-Terrain T/A are still there but you can clearly see the sipes in the tire and the self-cleaning nature of them as well because they aren’t completely clogged with snow.

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The BFG guys asked if Nutting’s insurance was paid up and when we gave them an inquisitive look, Dave just kind of shrugged and kept shooting. We we on the other side of the path.

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The more Jeeps that crossed the river the more wallowed out and icy the obstacle became and while it slowed a couple of the drivers, we all made it through without needing a pull, a winch, or a push.

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As it got darker, more of the drivers decided to test the strength of the Jeep Rubicon’s axles and engine/transmission combos. This one was carrying some speed over the top.

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Unintentional stunt driver of the day award went to this driver who just laid the pedal down and went for it, using sheer momentum and the traction that the tires could generate to pull through. Everything worked out although the guy in the passenger seat didn’t seem to be smiling.

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Note that this is the next frame from the last one you saw and the the front wheels have just come down with the driver still hard on the gas. See it digging and throwing the snow? It was like these things had teeth.

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By the time the rest of the group was heading through the river crossing it was getting legitimately dark. Everyone kept their cool and followed their instructors directions which meant that everyone got past it without incident. This photo shows the Jeep suspension really working.

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As you can tell by what you have read thus far, I was pretty impressed with the performance of the tires. By the time we got past the river it was pitch dark and that pretty much meant that photos were done with for the rest of the ride. We didn’t have anything as challenging as this crossing ahead of us but there were a few steep climbs, off camber turns, and other situations that would have presented issues with inferior tires.

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We had a blast on this ride and Nutting slayed the photos as usual. BFG knew that they had to make every change and revision count with the new All-Terrain T/A KO2 and it sure seems like they did to us. We’d have ZERO issue steering friends or anyone else who asks about tires towards these. No, they didn’t let us keep the Defender!


Here’s the revised treat design. There are still the blocks that have been the hallmark of this tire forever but you can see the additional siping that has been added.


Here’s a look at both the tread and the revised sidewalls that incorporate the new and very pronounced side biters. Those blocks which are formed around the shoulder of the tire help with traction and they also add to the strength and the aggressive style of the tire.


The easiest way to tell a KO2 apart from previous editions of the tires is by those side biters. We dig ’em!






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2 thoughts on “Tire Thrash: We Test The New BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Through Snow And Ice In Sub-Zero Temps!

  1. Bert Cooper

    Interesting/fun article with some great photos. No doubt BangShift has been killing it with high quality photography; I notice it and I appreciate it. Thanks for the ditching watermarks as much as possible.

  2. sbg

    that must have been one of those days when you were really thinking how much it sucked to be you.

    but let me get this straight, you’d pick some import over an American icon? no worries, I would too 😉

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