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Zavon O'Bryant Ph.D., MSc. - Feature Friday

Tires are a major component of any Jeep or 4x4 build. There is a plethora of choices, multiple categories, and probably the most important factor, price, which must be considered.  For me and my 2015 Tank Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited, I had several reasons for selecting Treadwright Tires to outfit my rig.  

As part of my build, I tried wherever possible to buy local, American-made products, from American based companies.  I don’t want to compromise on the quality of my build, but I also don’t want to pay high premiums for every accessory. Criteria for my tires were:  35 or 37 inches to help increase my ground clearance, increase traction, and for aesthetic appeal. They needed to not be too portly, as to decrease my performance, be at least as aggressive as the BFG Mud Terrain T/A treads that came stock, and could handle well on road with a decent mileage rating.  

I consistently encounter heavy rain, sand, solid and loose rocks, gravel roads, mud, sticks, and debris; your typical trail and overland conditions. But, I also use my rig as a daily driver, at one point commuting 60 miles a day! So, on-road performance and wear were also a major factor. Much like the rest of the Jeep community I thoroughly read reviews, view videos, and ask questions of my fellow jeepers. I also make my own decisions and draw my own conclusions.  Based on my criteria, I selected the Mud Claw II tire in 35x12.5x17 and I’m very glad I did!

I purchased (5) identical tires directly from the warehouse in Houston, TX. Since I was in the area I had them mounted at a local tire specialist. I was able to utilize two discounts for my order; one for the order and another for picking up my tires in person.  The tires mounted, balanced, and aligned just fine as per the technician’s notes and my observations.  Upon driving, I didn’t notice any vibration, shimmy or, deviation. I did notice a pleasant, high-pitched hum. I have an off road exhaust and the sound of the tires is barely noticeable; even without the exhaust, I believe the sound of the tires is unobtrusive, including through my premium soft top.

That weekend, I trialed the tires at Hidden Falls Adventure Park, Marble Falls, TX. I met up with some fellow Jeepers and tackled the trails. I prepped the rig by engaging 4x4 low, disconnecting the sway bar, and airing down to the lowest Treadwright recommends without voiding the warranty, 17 psi. The other rigs’ had 37-inch tires to my 35-inch tires yet my combination kept up and excelled at the challenging terrain. Our first trail of the day was one that I refused to complete and backed down after attempting with my stock BFG Mud Terrain tires (255, 75 R17) several months earlier.  Impressively, these tires made the climb easy, no lockers, no slips, and no problems. From there we completed several more challenging level 3-4 trails (on a 1-5 scale) each with climbs, descents, and off chamber sections. Mud was cleared at low speeds, the tires didn’t chunk on sharp edges, and they held their shape without too much bulge all while maintaining a nice contact patch. I have since visited Hidden Falls Adventure Park again and have been even more impressed, taking on level five trails.

In Texas, you can drive on the beach, a great off-road experience! With my stock BFG Mud Terrain tires, sand driving was fun but the lack of diameter made the ride slightly bumpy and there wasn’t too much floatation in the super fine sands along the coast (San Luis Pass, Jamaica Beach, Bolivar Peninsula, Quintana Island). However, after the switch to Mud Claw II’s I ventured to Matagorda Island, TX for an American Outback beach driving experience.  These tires floated over the soft sands easily. Just a blip of the throttle will let you know how these tires are meant to “dig”. You can easily bury yourself with a lead foot.  Although I didn’t air down for this excursion, deflating to 15 psi would have been nice.  We drove for a total of 40 miles along the shore, over razor-sharp shells, debris, and hardened driftwood.  At one point I even pulled a jagged, scalpel sharp, shard of shell out of the tread area of the tire with no damage!  Since this beach trip, I have visited the South Padre Island seashore with equally pleasing results.

 

Now, I have accumulated over 6,000 miles of road driving, including torrential rains, sand, warm and cool weather, and various road substrates. I have encountered only one, but serious concern. After rotating in my new spare, a 5 tire rotation, it quickly developed a defect after 5 miles. I slowed down for safety and made sure plan for any catastrophic action. The tread driving area began to bulge and the bulge was about 8 inches long. As I drove, it made a distinct thumping vibration. I made it home and then made arrangements to activate my warranty. Before venturing out again, I decreased the tire pressure slightly to prevent more bulging and kept my speed slow to prevent heat buildup or separation.  Customer service was prompt and I was able to exchange the tire the same day from the warehouse.  The incident was upsetting but was quickly rectified. I still trust the tires but I am also very vigilant with proper maintenance and monitor their performance. Since then, the tires have performed flawlessly.  

Other customers have mentioned that Treadwright tires are “soft”.  I disagree. Under the weight of my Jeep and with time I have found the tires to have compacted or hardened with time (at least by touch, you need a tire densitometer to actually measure compound density).  There are little signs of wear thus far and I expect to tentatively exceed 40,000 miles. Not bad for a very aggressive tread! Of note, I will say that perhaps these tires tend to “walk” a little at highway speeds and grooved or uneven pavement. However, that issue could be due to my own rig’s setup.

Overall, I am pleased with my purchase and am glad to share my story! I hope that whatever tires you select for your Jeep or 4x4 you will be happy and confident in your decision.  I can’t wait to continue the journey with my Jeep and tires and see where the road and trail will lead me next!

 

 *I wrote this as a story of my experience. This not an advertisement or endorsement for Treadwright tires. I was not paid to make these statements. I do not guarantee that you will have the same results as me. I DO hope you enjoyed and found it helpful! 

 

2105 JKUR, Tank

35” Treadwright Mud Claw II

3” Daystar Lift

17” Method NV wheels

K&N air filter

Pypes off road high-clearance exhaust

Superchips Trail Dash II

Ace Engineering and Fabrication Stand Alone Tire Carrier

Olympic Front Boa bumper and rear Urban bumper

….Plus more.

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