Engineering Off-Road Tires

To say that Jeep sales over the past many months have been climbing higher than a Wrangler on a steep grade in Moab would be a profound understatement.

To say that Jeep sales over the past many months have been climbing higher than a Wrangler on a steep grade in Moab would be a profound understatement. It seems as though people just can’t get enough of the vehicles.

Of course, by and large, most people don’t take advantage of the “go anywhere, do anything” capabilities of many of the vehicles in the Jeep lineup. Rather, they simply want to present as though they can.

Talk to any of the people who work at any of the companies that offer “off-road” capable vehicles—Jeep or otherwise—and they’ll acknowledge that the number of buyers of SUVs who actually take their vehicles off road is on the order of about 15%. And that’s being generous.

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Which occurred when learning that less than eight months after launching its All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires in North America, BFGoodrich has sold more than one-million of them.

Assuming four tires per vehicle, that’s 250,000. A lot of vehicles are rolling on those tires. But where?

The tire was developed to be able to deal with tough conditions. Computer modeling was used, for example, to predict object paths that might result in splits and snags in the sidewall, which would result in failure. So the tire was designed with split and bruise-resistant sidewall rubber and a thicker, extended shoulder. According to BFGoodrich, the tire is 20% stronger than its predecessor in this off-road capability.

Then in the tread area, there is a new design—a locking pattern that results in uniform wear—and a new rubber formulation—that resists chips and tears on gravel. There are even stone ejectors designed into the tread. Overall, they calculate that the KO2 tire last twice as long as its predecessor on gravel and 15% longer on asphalt.

And on the subject of the tread design, the tire company has calculated that it provides 10% greater traction in the mud and 19% greater traction in the snow, thanks to such features as side-biter lugs in the sidewall, raised bars in the shoulder, and 3D sipes.

Overall, the KO2 was developed to deal with conditions such as those presented during racing in Baja.

We wonder: how many will racing to the Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro in late September to participate in the Rigid Industries Imperial Valley 250, and how many will be speeding to Macy’s? Probably more of the latter than the former.