LRO header v1

From the ExpertsThe big 4x4 mud tyre showdown

Recent months have seen some pretty comprehensive All Terrain tyre tests.  But what about mud tyres?  How do you know what mud tyres are best?  Enter Land Rover Owners International... and two well known mud tyres, the General Grabber MT X3 was pitted against the more well known BF Goodrich MT KM2.

The location was a cold, wet, muddy... and perfectly named... Snugg’s Pit, in South East England.  Unsurprisingly, the test vehicle was a Land Rover. A Discovery 2 Td5 to be exact.  

At the hands of Land Rover Owners International

It was a somewhat (typically) bleak English day when the team from LRO decided to throw on some tyres (specifically, 245/75 R16) and thrash around the Discovery to see how much abuse they could put the Goodrich and General Grabber through.  Each test resulted in a score out of 10 being awarded. The shifting testing conditions, being impossible to perfectly replicate every time, meant this testing was not quite as scientific as the recent SA 4x4 testing. That said, the team from LRO was objective and carried out a fair and accurate test.  

Braking in the Wet

A simple one to start the day.  How did the mud tyres do at braking in the wet on a normal road?  The test was conducted at 30mph (the standard UK speed limit for roads in built up areas).  After reaching 30mph, the foot is planted firmly on the break for an emergency stop, the distance to standstill measured.  Repeat a dozen or so times. The tread design on the Grabber, with the use of sipes (thin grooves across the tread blocks) resulted in stopping distances which were consistently a metre or so better than the Goodrich.  Chalk one win up to the Grabber then. BFG 7. Grabber 8.

How loud is that tyre?

Test 2 was all about road noise.  Ask anyone about mud tyres and the one comment you’ll get from most is noise related.  Yup - mud tyres did used to sound awful on the open road. They’d drown out the engine (which says something if you happened to own a diesel Pajero) and bounce you around so as to make sure the open can of V Energy in the cup holder spilt everywhere.  But times have changed. Around town, both tyres were quiet and smooth. It was only on the open road (in this case, a motorway at 70mph) when the difference could be heard. Here you could hear the telltale hum from the Goodrich but not so much from the Grabber.  BFG 7. Grabber 9.

Stuck in the Mud

Anyway, this is a mud tyre test which means some mud is in order.  So the Discovery was turned off the highways and byways. It was time to get dirty.  Getting stuck in a rut is never nice, be it figuratively or actually. So, next up was a test to see how well the sidewalls did at helping the Discovery clamber out.  Queue a standing start and left lock. Both tyres did well but the Grabber managed to get out slightly earlier in each run. BFG 7. Grabber 9.

More Mud

A rutted mudhole was to be more of a challenge.  Both tyres having to handle mud so deep the bottom of the Discovery had to be dragged through.  At speed, both did well and managed to safely exit after some spinning and fighting for grip. At lower speeds, both came to a halt.  So there we are - sometimes speed is good. No difference. BFG 7. Grabber 7.

Climbing Corners

A cambered corner climb is fun.  Minimal grip mixed with speed make it what it is.  Indeed, it’s probably better at speed as the tyres effectively self-clean.  But even at low speeds both performed admirably, digging in and doing what they needed to do.  All square in this one. BFG 9. Grabber 9.

Back to the Mud

Who doesn’t like a Snotty Mud Climb? From a standing start the Discovery was tasked with climbing a slimy, clay hill.  Of course, traction control is turned off. Despite numerous attempts, both tyres had to admit defeat, getting stuck at identical points on the hill.  BFG 6. Grabber 6.  

What goes Up...

There was nothing to separate the tyres on the slippery hill climb that came next either.  Both failed in their initial attempts to get up the (very) steep hill. But after that, both succeeded every time.  BFG 8. Grabber 8.

Must come Down

If you ascend a slippery hill then normally you have to descend it too.  So they did. The result for both tyres was controlled and safe, slipping a little in the steepest section but always finding some grip quickly enough.  BFG 8. Grabber 8.

And up Again

With just two tests left, next was a steep and sandy ascent.  To prove their worth here, tyres would need to clear their tread quickly and deliver constant traction.  It was time for the BFG to shine, as the Grabber failed to make it up and over on a number of runs. BFG 8.  Grabber 6.  

A muddy Finish

The final test?  The mud run. Take a pit of gloopy mud and drive on through.  A bottom can be found so you can make it. Points are awarded for the tighter turning arcs as the driver deviates from straight line driving to test for lateral grip and directional control.  Both tyres do well, with good traction but the Grabber can make tighter turns, courtesy of that sidewall. BFG 7. Grabber 9.

And when the mud settles...

With a final spin of the wheel and a flick of mud, it was over.  If you haven’t already totalled the points up as you read through...then here we go...BFG Goodrich MT KM2 74.  General Grabber MT X3 79. A close race by the good people over at Land Rover Owners International have a win for the Grabber.  It’ll be interesting to see if they repeat this test when the new BFG is released later this year. The current version is almost a decade old and, whilst impressive, has been caught by the ravages of time.  Or in this case, the ravages of a Grabber.

X3 footer

Generally all-round better.

General Tire