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Discussion Starter #1
Figure I'll ask the age old question here to try to spark a discussion with different mindset.

In your opinion what's the best tire or style of tire for well-rounded expedition wheeling?

Priorities are different. We don't try to get over the biggest rock or the deepest mud hole so tire size becomes sort of a moot point and stuff like road manners comes back into play.

ATs vs MTs?
Bigger tires for increased capability or smaller to reduce breakage/weight/cargo space?
Any other questions that should be brought up?


Personally, I put a few thousand miles on a set of 33" BFG ATs. They held up to everything from 3000 mile cross country road trips, to Colorado front range backcountry, to North Carolina mud. I was definitely impressed with the capability but it seemed like a little to often I had to use the "go faster" solution to get through tough spots. And the 5 mpg hit wasn't fun either, especially on a DD. Averaging 16-17mpg.

Considering 32" Cooper Discoverer STTs for my next set of tires with the stock rugged trails on hand for road trip duty. They get pretty well rounded reviews across the board. Slightly bigger than OE size without going crazy and cutting off the fenders. Should do well in NC slop and in a couple years hopefully out in Washington state. Looking forward to a better cleaning tread pattern and I'm hoping the more open lug pattern will grip in all conditions instead of the ATs which only really performed on dry days.
 

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I have the cooper S/t 265/75/16 on my 07 dc and have had no problems, tellico, beasly knob and the SEHRE " see ga ttora" in snow. And countless road's with Geogia red clay and other slime. Pick your line and you should be fine.
Neil
 

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I had Nitto Terra Grapplers 285/75/16's and was very impressed, passed them on and picked up these Mickey Thompsons 315/75/17's and man do they roll on the highway and do well off road..:
 

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I guess it depends on what you consider "expedition" wheeling. If I'm going to be days away from anywhere the steel sidewalls of the Michelin XL or XZL start to sound awful appealing... plus they come in pizza-cutter sizes
 

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I put 4,830 miles on my BFG KM 2's during the Ultimate Adventure - combination of highways (70-80 MPH wet & dry), gravel roads, dirt roads, sandstone, sharp rocks, mud, water,....you name it. They still look and ride just as smooth and quiet as brand new. I used to be one of those people that thought the only option was AT's for a dual purpose rig......turns out I didn't know jack!

For what it's worth, so far I've ran the following tires on my Tundra (in sizes ranging from 265's to 37's):

Michelin LTX A/T's - good on the highway, OK for light (very) off road trails, not bad in the snow, sucked in the mud

Bridgestone A/T's - suck all the way around

Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revos - very good on the street, surprisingly OK off road (light duty stuff)

Goodyear Wrangler MTR's - heavy, loud, rough, piece of shits

BFG A/T's - waste of money, no quieter or smoother than the M/T's and not too great off road

BFG M/T's - OK on the street, weak sidewall for the rocks

BFG M/T KM's - about the same as above

BFG M/T KM 2's - best of all worlds for me, great on the road, great on rocks, decent sidewall, good in the mud

Toyo Open Country M/T's - a little on the heavy side, bullet-proof sidewalls, nice ride on the road (smooth & quiet), high dollar, did well on all off road terrains I put them through (were my #1 pick before I switched to the KM 2's)
 

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KM2s

I suspect before its done you'll see a lot of different opinions on expo tires. But here's mine fwiw...

Tread pattern... For expo use, I want a tire that performs best where I need it to perform the most (i.e. where it is more remote and harder to get help if needed - which usually means out in the dirt, rocks, mud, snow, etc, not pavement). I prioritize tire toughness/survivability performance over comfort for expo use. So I would be willing to sacrifice a bit of on-road manners and noise if it came with a tougher sidewall that is not as likely to tear out in rocks and a tread aggressive enough that it will get me down the trail in mud, snow, rocks, sand or whatever. So for expo use I lean toward an agressive tread and sturdy built sidewall, not a hwy tire, but an M/T or A/T. M/T would be my first choice, A/T second primarily because my M/T's clear clay mud and snow from the tread better than the A/T's I have tried and the wider farther spacing on the tread blocks lets the tire conform to the rocks really well - in my experience.

Size... For an expo tire I want a size that allows me to fit 2 spares in my rig without taking up all of the space available (because I need that space for gear, water, tools, etc.) So for me, that means I need to be able to fit one spare in the factory location. From what I have tried, a relatively narrow 33-inch tire fits in the factory location with some modification to or removal of the guide bars underneath without too much negative result in departure angle. So a narrow 33 is about the limit in my mind for that reason since I do not have a swing-out carrier. I also like a 33 or so since it gives a little more ground clearance for the trails, water crossings, etc. Also, a 32-33-inch tire will fit on my model Taco with just a little fitment modification (pinch weld, mud flap removal, etc), so that keeps it simple.

Width... I do like the overall look and flotation performance of wide tires in soft sand, so I say if you like a wider tire, and can fit two of them in your rig without giving it a really poor departure angle, go ahead and get a wider tire. I don't have strong opinions on width like some do. I will refer you to Scott Brady's good write-up on the Expeditions West website if you are interested in technical details and wide vs. narrow comparisons on stuff like mechanical keying, etc.

Whatever tread you get, if its worn down it does not work very well off the road, so make sure they still have decent tread before you head out. Also make sure you can pull a nail from a tire, plug the hole, and air back up on the trail if need be, whatever tires you run. A simple repair kit ($5.00 at WalMart) and cig. lighter powered compressor ($8.00 WalMart) are cheap and work great in a pinch. I bought those two items for my wife's car and they have come in handy more times. Nail holes are usually pretty easy to repair, but a ripped out sidewall requires a lot more advanced techniques for field repair, if you can fix it at all. I have seen people stitch and patch a sidewall tear to get back home, but I have not done that myself. So I lean toward a tire with a tough sidewall to begin with.

For my expo uses, to sum up I run BFG 255 85R 16 M/T KM2's as mentioned above in a previous post.

From what I have seen after putting 6,000 miles on them in snow, mud, rain, rocks, dirt roads, highways, sand, ice, etc. I think all-told they perform admirably as an overall expo tire. Quiet enough for me on the hwy with decent road manners (they do tend to follow the cracks in the hwy at speed, but so did my A/T's), and the way the wife and I go easy on the skinny pedal they get good gas mileage on the fwy. Aired down they do great in snow, great on the rocks, not bad in soft sand, but you have to air down a lot, not so good in ice, but I have tire chains for that, and in deep clay mud they throw huge tennis ball sized chunks everywhere and maintain forward progress through some slop I fully expected to get stuck in. The tougher sidewalls have held up in the sharp rocks on trails that basically shredded my A/T tires. And the narrow width keeps the weight of a taller tire with a heavy sidewall down a bit, which causes less stress on parts, eats less air on the hwy, etc.

So for my money the KM2 has proven itself to me for expo use. That said, I put 50,000 miles on a set of A/T's that I felt performed admirably in most conditions as well. They didn't grab the rocks as well as these KM2s, didn't clear the tread in mud and snow as well, but they were wider and did as well or better in soft sand when aired down less (not as likely to break a bead with more pressure)... So if you can get a set of A/Ts that have tough sidewalls, they would be a close second IMO.

Now I wanna know more about those tires SilverSeven shows above...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
How much trimming to fit the 255/85/16s? I'm definitely considering these tires but I don't want to deal with as much trimming as a did for my 285/70/17s.
 

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It seems to vary a little from truck to truck. I don't know on your '09, but my '03 required the pinch weld mod with front mud flap removal and a small amount of plastic cutting over the pinch weld, a one-inch wheel adapter up front to stop the frame rub at full lock, a rear axle relocation to center it in the wheel well, and I bent the metal mounts for the rear mud flaps back a few inches by hand. That did it for me. Again, no idea for an '09.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I was hoping an inch and a half narrower would keep from having to hack it up but maybe not. Going to the tire shop to price check now.

4 255/85/16 Discoverer STTs mounted for $580. I think I'm sold.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Nope, STT. Unless the tire shop guy is an assclown and misquoted. There's plenty of forum hits for 255/85/16 STTs but you're right I'm having trouble finding them at an actual online tire shop.
 

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Nope, STT. Unless the tire shop guy is an assclown and misquoted. There's plenty of forum hits for 255/85/16 STTs but you're right I'm having trouble finding them at an actual online tire shop.
I am pretty sure that they don't make stt's in that size. Coopers website only list the s/t for that size.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Might end up having to go old BFG MTs then. Those are gonna be fun to find.

Found an interesting article earlier on pizza cutter sizes. Basically the logic between narrow tire width vs wide tires and the advantages of a smaller contact patch resulting in greater weight per square inch thus greater friction resisting shearing forces (breaking loose).

Doing a search on some of the big boy expo sites leads to plenty of 255/85/16 threads.

Personally leaning towards KM2s now simply for ease of availability. They also have a pretty good reputation.
 

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Good luck finding them in that size Luni. When I went to get some (Merchants) in JAN, the distributor had none in stock and Michelin (parent company) said they weren't making any until MAR, perhaps. Production of various sizes run in lots apparently - they squirt out a metric butt-load and then re-tool for another size. They made me a good deal on the KM's in 285... I suppose most of North America was waiting to pounce on the first runs of 255/85's.:D
 

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How much trimming to fit the 255/85/16s? I'm definitely considering these tires but I don't want to deal with as much trimming as a did for my 285/70/17s.
Luni, I fit 255/85 r16 cooper s/t's with zero rubbing issues. That is one reason why I went with this size. I have also heard they will not rub with a stock suspension.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Good deal. I'm going with minimal lift. I'd like to keep some down travel out of the front suspension instead of pegging it out with top loaded coilovers.
 

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255 85 16's will definately rub with stock suspension. I have 882's up front and dakars out back with a 2" body lift and still rub.
 
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