By on January 19, 2016

KO2Main

BFGoodrich’s All-Terrain T/A tires can be found everywhere, from your local construction site to the most grueling of off-road races. I’ve fitted some of my trucks with the original KO and used them on and off-road, so I was curious what improvements BFGoodrich could bring to its latest iteration: the new KO2.

BFGoodrich brought me up to Bethel, Maine to test out its new tire in the nearby hills — and to catch this year’s Red Bull Frozen Rush.

The Frozen Rush trucks run a one-off spiked version of the same tire, but I was more interested in the street version that might adorn one of my (or your) vehicles.

It was quickly apparent the KO2’s thicker shoulder had deviated from the traditional KO design. Along with that bulkier shoulder was a new serrated pattern on the sidewall. The aggressive features certainly looked fit for an off-road adventure, so that’s just what we did.

After a brief morning presentation, we were taken to the off-road course to meet our instructors from the 4×4 Center in Vermont. It was there that we were introduced to a fleet of Jeep Wranglers shod in the new BFGs. Since my group had an odd number of people, I was lucky enough to get a Wrangler to myself.

wrangler1

For starters, the Wrangler Rubicons we used for the test had very few modifications: The bumpers were replaced with off-road versions to allow winching, and the underside was coddled by skid plates to protect the drivetrain. The tires were off-the-shelf KO2 units aired down to around 15 PSI in order to match the terrain. Interestingly enough, my instructor had personally driven that Wrangler from Burlington, Vermont on the exact tires we were about to take out on the trail.

The driving instructions were simple: Start in a lower gear and make use of left-foot braking. The trail was a perfect mix of snow, ice and mud thanks to a rise in temperature. That gave us the perfect opportunity to try out an array of surfaces. The KO2 wears the mountain snowflake symbol on its sidewall that designates it as a winter tire. I wanted to know if the designation was worth more than the rubber it was stamped on.

Taking off on the trail in last position gave us a good view of the vehicles in front. It was quickly apparent the Jeeps in front of me were moving with ease; snow flew from the treads as the Jeeps moved along the course. This gave me a bit of reassurance to push my Rubicon harder.

wrangler

The first goal was to hunt for ruts filled with mud and rocks in order to test the veracity of BFG’s much-touted stone ejector technology claims. The stone ejectors, small nubs between the tread blocks, are meant to wiggle and push out foreign objects. I was successful in tackling some pits filled with small pebbles and rocks. True to form, most of those rocks were spit right out of the tire’s tread — but pushing the Jeep deep into some of the mud holes resulted in nabbing a pebble between the brake pad and rotor of one of the front wheels.

The brakes got noisy from the lodged pebble. After an inspection and a few, erm, quick maneuvers, it was dislodged.

Later, one of the hills included a deep trench that was followed by a quick right turn. We spent a not inconsiderable amount of time on that hill: the first journalist in the group let off the throttle as they were going into the trench and got themselves stuck. After some direction from the instructor, they were able to back up and move through while keeping a steady throttle.

Not wanting to make the same mistake, I pointed the Jeep about five feet to the right of the others.

KO2muddy

Passing the trench brought the revelation that we had entered into a combination of slush, rocks, and mud. In my haste, I made the mistake of letting off the throttle just like the other member of our group and got the Jeep stuck. The instructor advised locking the hubs and rolling the Jeep back to try again. After backing up and adjusting course slightly, we were able to cross the trench easily. At the next rest stop, inspection revealed that the the adventure with the rocks had scraped some of the paint on the wheels and smeared them with mud. The tires, on the other hand, showed no trace of damage.

The Jeep and tires were pushed further as the trip progressed, but no matter how hard they were pushed and what surfaces they encountered they would not slide off trail or get stuck.

The trail adventure concluded with a visit to the pits of Frozen Rush. The racers went over a few points similar to what the BFGoodrich PR team had covered, but the most important fact that they all shared was that the tires lasted longer and suffered fewer punctures than the previous tire.

ko2closeup2

The Jeep with BFGoodrich’s KO2 tires proved to be the same. Sliding against the rocks only added a few scratches and gouges to the wheels; the tires were none the wiser. The KO2 was a great performer on the trail and shows a marked improvement over the KO in off-road conditions.

Now, if I can just get some of these for my WRX …

[Disclosure: BFGoodrich flew me up to Maine and put me up in a quaint little inn that may or may not have been haunted. They fed me and provided opportunities to test out some of their products in the snow.]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

30 Comments on “Tire Test: BFGoodrich KO2 in the Snowy Hills of Maine...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Any word on how noisy they should be on regular pavement? I respect off-road tires for their abilities but don’t want them to beat my brains out by droning on for the 90% of the time you are not off the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      The old ones were plenty quiet, I’m sure these are probably even less noisy.

      • 0 avatar

        The older ones got much louder as they get older. The ones on my 4Runner love to hum, but I’m willing to live with that cost because they’re excellent otherwise.

        • 0 avatar
          mason

          “The older ones got much louder as they get older”

          This is a characteristic of any tire, the more the tread wears the harder it gets and the longer it wears. Consequently, traction also tends to diminish with the harder compound.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Show me a tire that gets louder as it wears, and I’ll show you the evidence of misalignment and/or steering/suspension component play.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            That’s easy, you’ve got a set on your vehicle.

            Whether it is due to lack of maintenance or the tire itself is dependant of how you care for your vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      I did not get a chance to try them on the road yet but the instructor that rode with me stated that they are not noisy at all. He runs them on his daily driver Tundra and is satisfied with them. I am going to try to get a test with them on the road and report back.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Now if they could outperform the KOs in pricing, the $40-50 price premium of the KO2s is a bit out there.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    I like the tire test concept – but this reads a bit like a puff piece. There just isn’t much here beyond MFG PR stuff and a few anecdotes about capabilities. I bet this course could have been tackled by a Rubicon shod in just about any rubber.

  • avatar
    mason

    I wonder how these compare against the GY Duratrac. I’ve had such great service with them I wouldn’t even look at anything else but unfortunately GY decided to drop several sizes in the 17″ E category, including the size I run. The KO2 has a pretty good selection, but spendy they are.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Look at the tread patterns, these are much more pavement oriented than the Duratracs. The tread is 3/32 shallower too.

      Tirerack.com has good photos of all of the tires that they sell.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        I do realize the outer tread blocks are more aggressive on the Duratrac, which isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for me. I have been very satisfied with the Duratrac but they do not offer all the same sizes they used to, which the KO2 seems to have a clear edge in.

  • avatar
    pragmatist

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been running original KOs on my old wrangler for years now ( on my 2nd set). Was wondering how much improvement this made.

  • avatar
    raph

    Those ride and drives are always great! Michelin ( BFG’s owner) also had one in Vermont. I learned alot about driving off road and as a tore guy it gives you alot of confidence when your talking tires. Prior to that Vermont Class and few trips,out to the Rod Hall school in Nevada that preceded that I had no off-road experience.

    Another good one is a trip out to Michelin ‘s Laurens Proving Grounds for some high performance tire training. Also the two tire placement track.

    All great stuff, it’s a shame my company really doesn’t schedule these classes any more.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    The photos do not give the impression of it being very cold. The fact that one found mud also confirms it. To be able to test a “winter” rated tire you need at least -7C or colder since that is where winter rated tires are supposed to have an advantage over standard all season or standard M+S tires.

    I wonder how long they will last? I’m expecting to get at least 60,000 km out of my General Grabber AT2’s which are winter rated.
    I might try the Duratracs but I prefer to stay away from a “deep lug” tire. I might look into these tires since I’ll need new tires sometime this year.

    @Mason – what kind of distance are you getting out of a set of Duratrac’s and what “mix” of driving?

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Check out the Firestone Destination ATs. They’re cheap, they last, and Firestone makes them in C rated 255/75/17 which is about perfect for a half ton in my book.

      My truck came with Goodyear Wrangler HPs which are utter crap in every road condition. Firestones are going on as soon as I use these up.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Dan – I have 275/65/18’s. I’d rather have a D or E rating for travelling on gravel roads. The stock tires on my truck were awful for flats. Even though I have a 1/2 ton a 4×4 supercrew 6.5 box truck is a heavy beast.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      100,000 km wouldn’t be out of the ordinary also BFG’s All-Terrain tires are snow rated (they have a mountain and snowflake branded on the sidewall indicating snow capability).

      Really a great tire and useful except for the most extreme situation’s where BFG’s Mud Terrain would be needed (interestingly enough the Mud Terrains lack the sipping of the All-Terrains and aren’t much use in the snow unless the vehicle can break down into soft or muddy earth).

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      Lou, I cleared 50k out of both sets Ive owned. I sold both sets on the cheap on CL at the 1/8″+ mark. Both sets on a diesel pick up that generally see weekly dirt road use and lots of towing miles. Between my 14k GVW tilt trailer, 12k GVW dump trailer, and my 12k GVW 5th wheel camper both sets of tires saw a good amount of towing. I primarily bought the aggressive tires to help me get back into the spots where we primitive camp (and hunt) and to deal with the crap secondary roads around here in the winter. What I noticed was that the Duratracs really seemed to wear faster during the hot summer months (hot asphalt temps + towing = accelerated wear). Being I don’t really need an aggressive tire during those months I picked up a set of used OE wheels and am now running an A/T tire during the hot dry months. It’s too soon to tell but I’m pretty confident I’ll get more miles out of this last set. But for what I did with them I’m satisfied with the miles I got out of them. Not to mention the traction is two fold compared to my A/T tires.

    • 0 avatar
      oldworntruck

      The duratracs are a decent tire however I actually prefer the general at as it seems to last a little longer. My duratracs had bad cracking at the base of the tread lugs basically due to too much flex.(heavy pulling) I have to say that the at2 especially for the price is better than the duratrac was and I’d say it’s even with the bfg at

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m running BFG’s on my pickup, but not KOs.

    I choose the A/Ts over any other tread pattern for use on the road and off road. What I’ve found is the on road manners has diminished with the tyres, but off road they are quite good.

    My vehicle were fitted with Grand Treks, what garbage. I sliced the side wall with a rock off roading and changed all tyres after that.

    Ride comfort is also worse with the BFGs due to the 10ply rating vs the 4ply for the GrandTreks.

    If you don’t off road and/or carry a load in the bed or back of your vehicle on road or don’t off road I don’t ,recommend many ply tyres. There must have a need and use for these. They might look more aggressive at the shopping mall and make you feel like an off roader, but buy tyres to suit your application.

    Tyres are the last interface between your vehicle and the surface it sits upon.

  • avatar
    bfisch81

    Just put a set of the KO2’s on my 92 XJ Cherokee. They’re pretty quiet at highway speeds and dead silent at city speeds. I chose them over the Goodyear Duratracs because I had read about the upgrades BFG had made to the previous design which was an all around excellent tire.

    If the weather holds, I will be able to tell you how they do in deep snow after this weekend.

  • avatar
    dabossinne

    I’ve had LT285/65×18 KO2s on my ’15 F150 SCREW 4×4 since new, with about 10K miles on them now. Love ’em! They are quiet (yes, they really are), they ride well (especially for an LT-rated tire), and they are unstoppable off road (lots of remote deer and duck hunting this past fall) and in the several recent heavy snows we’ve had where I live. As with previous BFG AT T/A tires I’ve run, I expect excellent wear from the KO2s. Paid $267 per tire for them from T-rack. Not the cheapest all terrain tire (though not the priciest either), but you get what you pay for with these. Completely satisfied so far.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Agreed…I just picked up a set of 37/12.50/17″s a few months ago for my Raptor….I’ve had many sets of KOs in the past on various trucks, one of my favourite AT tires. However, I average maybe 50 000 KMs of everyday use before I switch them out, and I rotate/maintain air pressure religiously. I read somewhere that BFG expects 15-20% more wear from the new compound. Great in the snow on a heavy truck.

      I find the KO2s moderately noisier than the KOs due to the chunkier sidewall lugs but still quiet compared to my old Toyo Open Country M/Ts (and they were pretty quiet for a mud tire).

  • avatar
    rpn453

    That’s news. No, wait, th-th-that’s an ad.

  • avatar

    It does read as a puff piece. A Rubicon can go about anywhere with ANY decent tire – I own one. My rule is: highway trucks get Michelin LTX and off road trucks get BFGs. Never had a flat on either in 20 years.

    I have a 2013 3/4 Suburban, and I have a set of each that I swap out for winter. The Michelins are a waaay better tire – quieter, lighter, smoother, better mpg given. But I had the BFGs on when I was in Colorado in December in -25 degree temps and on ice roads – the BFGs never had me slipping. Perhaps the modern 4×4 systems have gotten that good, but I was very glad I had the BFGs on for that trip.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States