As I’ve mentioned previously, Deux Smurf came with a set of General Grabber All Terrains, and although they had ‘OK’ tread for on-road, they were a little past their sell by date for off-road use. As winter was approaching, quickly, I decided that a new set of boots were needed, sooner rather than later.
The problem with choosing 4x4 tyres is, apart from deciding on budget or premium, is that we want the best of both worlds - brilliant on-road behaviour whilst travelling to our off-road venue, and excellent grip when we get there, so there always has to be a compromise. "Go for all terrains!” my head was saying. Of course, that seemed like the obvious answer.
Admittedly, my usual tyre of choice in the past has always been BF Goodrich All-Terrain. I’ve had four sets on my last four 4x4s, covered well over 200k miles, and they’ve been faultless, but this time I decided to order my very first set of mud terrains, BFG muds, of course.
Arriving on the 22nd December, I drove straight down to my go-to garage for tyres, Equipe UK in Bolton. As ever they did a sterling job, and only charged me £60 for fitting, balancing and tracking, which I reckon is great value.
Being my first set of mud terrains, I had no idea what to expect. Would they rumble? Would they vibrate? Would I need ear defenders?
The following morning I decided to take them on a fairly long run to see how they handled. After 30 miles of motorway, and fast A and B roads, we reached our first green lane, which was muddy with fairly deep ruts in places. I know from previous experience that ATs would have fought for grip on a couple of muddy inclines which would have led to me using a little more momentum, but the KM2s simply squelched their way forward and upward at a nice steady speed, easily finding grip. Glancing in the rear view mirror, I’d obviously left tyre tracks in the mud, but I hadn’t made a mess of the sodden ground.
Now, my thought process may be a little skewed here, but if I had ATs fitted and lost traction they’d spin creating more damage to the ground, whereas the MTs found traction in the first instance without the need for extra revs.
By this time the heavens had opened, and as the rain bounced off the road, the KM2s handled wet, muddy country lanes quite well, though I didn’t push them around corners too hard.
Our next lane was another muddy one, and, although straight and unchallenging, it does have an occasional slope that can slide you towards a ditch. Again, the KM2s excelled here at keeping Deux Smurf going forward. Another benefit of using Muds is that they self clean really well, so by the time I reached the main road I wasn’t flinging mud everywhere, as I would have with some other close pattern AT tyres.
As I mentioned it had just rained, and, as there were no other cars around, I thought I’d perform an emergency brake test, the same as you do for your driving test. At 30mph Deux Smurf came to an abrupt stop with no drama whatsoever; now that did surprise me.
Two months later, with our first 500 miles done, what do I think? Well, I’m very happy. They handled the open road far better than I ever expected a mud tyre to. BF Goodrich claim that their Mud Terrain KM2s are 80% off and 20% on road bias, so far I would say that they’re selling themselves short on the on-road ability. Sure, they’re a little noisier than ATs, and you have to be more conscious when driving down country lanes in the wet, but they’re nowhere near as twitchy as I imagined they’d be.
They're at their noisiest at 30mph, though up at 40-50mph you wouldn't know you've got them fitted, and it’s the same at motorway speeds. You could argue that driving at 70mph is going be noisy in any 20 year old car, but Deux Smurf is a quiet cruiser, so any excess tyre hum would be noticeable.
The guys at Equip aired them at 35psi which feels a bit too harsh, so I’m going to start playing with the pressure to see what feels right starting at 31psi and working up from there.
Price: Around £130 per tyre, it pays to shop around.