Last week BFGoodrich invited me (yes, that's me above) to Hunter Mountain in Upstate New York to test the new All-terrain T/A KO2 tires and see first-hand how they'd handle off-roading. Well, sure, if you guys insist. BFGoodrich asked that I throw every conceivable road challenge possible at the tires to see just how they'd perform.
And perform, they did. Want to hear and see more? C'mon, let's relive the afternoon.
People know Hunter Mountain as a popular ski destination in the winter, but come summer (or fall, in this case) it becomes an off-roading playpen with technical ascents/descents, river crossings, rock climbs, and mud-pits. Perfect.
The rig I was in was a fully equipped Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with plenty of aftermarket goodies. Bumpers, lights, and the obvious lift were just the tip of the iceberg; this was a truck built for off-roading and the BFGoodrich KO2’s sealed the deal.
My copilot was none other than Rally and Baja champion Andrew Comrie-Picard. He rode shotgun and gave me his expert instruction ("Okay you're going to want to turn into the rocks on this one...") for close to six hours while we traversed probably close to 100 wilderness miles.
Recent rains created dozens of streams; the Jeep went through them like it was nothing. I was like a kid jumping into rain puddles, only instead of boots and a raincoat, I was in a beastly truck.
The first test was on tarmac driving. While many off-road focused tires can be very loud on the roads, the KO2’s were quiet and comfortable. When we transitioned to off-road, it was immediately clear the tires were designed for maximum performance—I barely noticed the additional bumps.
The KO2 performed superbly throughout the day. It was tough and durable, not to mention it performed without fail in dirt, mud, and gravel while going over trees and climbing rocks. Believe it or not, there was not a single time the tires stuck or failed to make it over an obstacle. Even with mud and water halfway up the wheels.
The fog at the summit created an eerie but peaceful wash over the mountain.
He was happy to get to the top. I see hints of a smile.
On the way back we drove through a section of trees in the peak of what's the prettiest fall in recent memory. But while the scenery may be beautiful, the mix of wet leaves and mud can be a real hazard during off-roading. The KO2 tires, though, gripped perfectly in these conditions; never once did we slide off of the trail.
I could get used to this commute.
One of the most technical and difficult tests we did was this hill descent. A slippery slope of mud and wet leaves can cause heavy trucks like ours to slide out of control. A careful mix of braking and engine control on the driver's end has to complement the ability of the equipment.
In this case, the tires held once again without a problem—I'm convinced, given I'm not a professional driver, that the KO2s are tires that can tackle nearly every situation regardless of who's behind the wheel.
We had quite a bit of fun in this mud-pit.
The final test of the day was conducted in a rock crawling playground. Fun! Here, the Jeep was subject to some intense mechanical challenges. Look at that suspension angle. The four-inch lift and supporting modifications to the suspension allowed us to achieve some serious flex going over the rocks. The tires did not slip once.
(Also: I don't think I took a breath for like three straight minutes.)
Off-roaders know it's important to stay away from sharp rocks and pointy edges. On tires, the edge and sidewall area is one of the weakest spots. The new KO2s were designed to strengthen this area to keep the tire from being damaged or blowing out. Mission successful.
Having the opportunity to test such a versatile tire was hands down not only fun, but thoroughly impressive. BFGoodrich stressed to me that this is a tire it developed for enthusiasts who want to get the absolute most from their equipment and not be limited by conditions.
The Hunter Mountain off-roading trails provided us with just about every condition one might encounter, and not once were we stalled or hindered.