Monday, May 2, 2011

Baby gets new shoes, finally!

Edit May 9, 2011 - added highway noise videos to bottom

Given the 4Runner would be used offroad on a regular basis, I wanted to get an aggressive tire. I've always loved my BFG MTs, but that tread pattern is no longer available. The Goodyear MT/R has also been quite interesting.

About 4 months ago, I scored some 2010 4Runner takeoff wheels and tires (245/75R16 Dunlop AT20) from the local Toyota dealer. Wheels, tires, lug nuts, center caps.

As you can imagine, a tire that looks like this really doesn't turn out to be exactly good offroad. :)
I've already racked up 800 miles on these tires. And chopped a 2" gash through the inside cords of the RF tire playing Ivan "Iron Man" Stewart on my way home from an offroad trip (we were late for SuperCross). I smacked a rock at speed, bending the steel rim. I still can't fathom which rock. :) It still holds air, and it got me home (slowly!!),  but the bubble extends from the tread to the rim. It's non-repairable. The wheel banged out quite easily.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, truck tire prices have gone stratospheric. 10 years ago, I could buy a 265/75R16 Bridgestone Dueler H/T for about $70 or less. The same tire today is over $200. And that's just a road tire.

My daily driver is a BMW K1200S motorcycle. The rear tire is a 190/50R17, speed rated to 186mph. It's the size of a car tire. It has an immense amount of technology in it (compared to even just 10 years ago, this tire is better in every conceivable way). I run Michelin Pilot Sport IIs, which are both a premium tire, and dual compound. Yet, it somehow "only" costs $136 for a rear tire.

All other tires prices have gone up. Offroad tire prices have gone stratospheric.

The 285/75R16 Goodyear MT/R has a best internet price of around $238/tire, the BFG KM2, in the $220 range. Plus shipping in many cases ($65 to $220 for four).

For 4 Goodyears, I came up with about $1070 for 4 tires, delivered to my door, ore over $1200 locally (installed).
Try as I might, I was unable to find a prices I was comfortable with for what is, arguably, mostly a toy.

But then I found TreadWright. I was able to get four 285s for under $600 delivered to my door, on sale (about $12/tire less).

Long ago, I learned that spending extra for a good product is nearly always the better investment. I've had particle board. I've had real wood. My Bentwood bedroom set was fanstatic and looked as good more than 10 years after we bought it as the day it came home with us. I still miss my nightstands.
The other is that no matter how good the product, it may have issues. How the company backs their products is just as important. One of the benefits of the internet age is you can find out how a product/company is treating their customers.

I found almost no issues with  TreadWright products, and the one or two I found were related to tread chunking.  TreadWright sent one guy a whole set of tires because one tire had a problem. As you can imagine, he was an avid fan.

But I wasn't able to find anyone I knew who had run a set, or someone they knew personally who had run a set.

For ~$500 in savings with few findable issues and what appeared to be great customer service, I went ahead and ordered up a set of 285/75R16 TreadWright Guard Dog M/T tires for the 4Runner. They were on backorder, so I had to call them to order. I ordered Goodyear casings since I wanted to try them. I wasn't in a rush, I had great tires and my list of lift parts wasn't complete yet.

After a few weeks, they called me and let me know my tires were next up, but Goodyear casings were hard to come by - did I want BFG casings instead? Since I was mounting these black side out, I didn't really care, so I agreed.

Before, 225/75R15 stock wheels and tires (the rears are Nittos and were old enough to be originals!)

After. Man, they look good.

With no lift, they fit. Sorta. :) Here's the driver's rear at full stuff. It's just touching the bolts that hold the rear mudflaps on.

The LF hits the back of the fender when turned 1/2 way to the left and with any bump. Since the metal wasn't going to cut the tire, and wasn't well supported, I let it self-clearance.
The RF just touches the back of the fender.

Pics as I figure out how to resolve this.

Here are a few more pictures of the 4Runner in action.

As you can see, I was eager to try them out. The old tires are still in the back, we didn't even make it home. :)

Check out how they sound on the road! 
Couple of videos. #2 has me speaking in a normal voice for reference.
At this point, I have about 250 miles on 'em and I am quite pleased.

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