As the off-road guide barks out instructions to "creep forward" and "just another inch," I perch the Chevrolet Silverado 4x4 atop a pile of logs, laid out, parallel style, like a miniature corduroy road.
However, the object isn't to make my way over the log obstacle – this rig could do that without pausing – but to perch the vehicles' tires on top of a nasty knot on one of the logs; the kind that could rip a hole in the side of any tire not up to snuff. This is to demonstrate the increased sidewall strength of the BF Goodrich KO2 tires the Silverado is wearing. That done, we're invited to "see the daylight" between the tire and the log surface and note how the sidewall remains undamaged.
It's all part of the redesign of KO2 off-road tires, which have stronger sidewalls, increased tread life, decreased noise on the highway, and better traction in mud and snow, says Sabrina Garofalo, country marketing manager for the tire brand owned by Michelin.
"The light truck market is exploding," she says, "and for owners/operators like, oh, landscapers, tradesmen, oil rig workers, farmers and so on, a tire like this is crucial. If you're stuck by the side of the road because your tires have failed or you're stuck in the mud, that's money you're not making."
Recreational users – boat and trailer towers – are also part of the company's plan, Garofalo says.
The KO2 borrows technology from BF Goodrich's T/A series, which is synonymous with off-road driving. There are other manufacturers vying for 4x4 owners' attention – Goodyears' Silent Armor and the Toyo Open Country series, to name two – but the T/A has long been the tire of choice for many competitors in the over-the-top Baja 1000 off-road race. In last year's contest, four of the top five places were taken by rigs shod with T/As. "This is where we learn our lessons," Garofalo says.
Also, the T/A series is used by the Canadian military, which conducts run-flat and puncture tests on all its tires. The testing procedures – hydrostatic and pneumatic – are rigorous and the tires must withstand up to five bullet punctures.
But the average weekend warrior doesn't need a set of tires designed to withstand snipers, desert washouts, razor-sharp travel, or deep sand, which is where the KO2 comes in. "It has an obvious appeal for the off-road enthusiast," Garofalo says, "but it's also expected to appeal to anyone who regularly faces challenging gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads."
Or pavement, which is where most drivers spend the majority of their time. Some off-road rubber is absolutely deafening on the highway, but during a two-hour drive along the TransCanada Highway from Lake Louise to Field, B.C., road noise was minimal.
The BF Goodrich KO2 will initially be released in 12 sizes, fitting a range of vehicles – including Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge, Toyota and Nissan pickup trucks and SUVs, as well as plus-fitments for a wide variety of vehicles. Additional sizes will be released in 2015.
The writer was a guest of the tire maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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