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4x4 Clubhouse - BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM
BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

By Chris Shontz

Trail Photography By Kristen Rosen

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

If it ain't broke... tweak it!

BFGoodrich recently introduced its latest revision to their Mud-Terrain T/A that has been a very popular tire ever since it was introduced in 1980. Cosmetically speaking, the changes made to the tire are subtle, but the tire remains true to its own heritage.

BFGoodrich delivers to us a not-so-radical mud tire that seems adrift in a sea of extreme tires that are sweeping the market.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

According to BFGoodrich's Jeff Cummings, several years and many different tread patterns, including extreme ones, went into the development of the new M/T. However, they kept coming back to the tried-and-true original design and used it as the basis for the new KM model. Will the updated design be a vast improvement? Time will tell.

BFGoodrich continues to make use of its traditional dog bone lug design, with the addition of aggressive shoulder lugs, stylishly called "DiggerLugz". The redesign also includes a rim protector (as seen on the AT KO), and a somewhat noticeable change to the lug geometry.

KM stands for "Key-feature Mud"

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM


BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

The 32x11.5R15 tires are installed on my Jeep TJ, which is equipped with 2.75" of lift and stock 15x8 Jeep "Canyon" wheels.

As you can see in the surrounding pictures, the tires very effectively contoured themselves to the terrain. As I drove, I could hear the tires scuffing and scraping against the jagged rocks. More than anything, I was expecting to cut a sidewall or lose a bead, but fortunately, neither occurred.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM
The new "rim protector" section of the tire extends out past the rim's edge to help prevent scraping from rocks.

  BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM
The new M/T KO tread pattern is on the right. You can see that it has a larger, more rectangular contact patch than the original (left).
BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

Here you can see how the tires conformed to the rocks.

The treads were malleable enough to grab well and the sidewalls folded over nicely.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM
BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

To the left, you can see the light scuffing that was caused.

In the picture to the right, you can see where the sidewall rolled over a rock.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM
BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

At the time of this photo shoot, I had had the tires installed for nearly 4,000 miles. Within that time, I had used them for two trail runs, one of which, was dirt terrain with some mud and the other was mostly loose, jagged shale rocks.

As you can see, there is a noticeable cut in the picture to the left next to the "G" in "BFGoodrich." This did not happen during our test on the rock pile, but it happened nonetheless. In my opinion, the scar is a bit premature for only having been off-pavement twice, although, a scar like this is generally not a problem, structurally.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

You can see the circular abrasions that were caused by running across the rock pile during our photo shoot. These are light scuffs, and they reveal that the sidewalls are at least somewhat resistant to damage.

The "DiggerLugz" nicely deflected the rocks that they came in contact with, and they also showed their use when I accidentally clipped a curb at the local Ikea furniture store.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

A rock protrudes threateningly from the underside of the vehicle.

In retrospect, I could have used a spotter for this photo shoot.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

Like most similarly classed tires, I've found the BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM to be a very malleable tire. It contours to the terrain, but it really retains its shape very well when it is under a lot of stress. You can see the stress ripples in the adjacent photo.

On the highway, I've found the Mud-Terrain KM's to be a pleasure to ride on. They are both smooth and quiet. I don't feel there is a noticeable difference on-pavement between the old MT and the new MT KM's.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

The limited driving I've done on wet roads with these new tires revealed that they handled much better than my prior set of tires, which were Super Swamper TSL Radials. (32x10.5R15, SAM44R) The BFGoodrich MT KM's seem much less prone to sliding.

The KM features the same TriGard 3-ply sidewall that is used on the BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO. Many similarly-classed Light Truck tires only feature 2-ply sidewalls, but it is good to keep in mind that sidewalls vary in strength and overall thickness per manufacturer, so comparing 2 to 3 plies is not always comparing apples to apples.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM
BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

After 4,000 miles and two off-pavement excursions, the wear and tear was readily visible.

The rubber that composes these tires seems soft.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

Tellico Bound

More r ecently, I enjoyed the chance to run these tires down in North Carolina's Upper Tellico ORV Recreation Area. Tellico is a popular four-wheeling spot on the east coast. The park is located near Murphy and rests on the North Carolina / Tennessee border.

The ten hour drive down Interstate 81 and the backroads over the mountains were more than pleasant with these tires. They were very quiet and very comfortable for myself and my wife.

The conditions in Tellico were dry so very little mud was encountered. The group I was with, Jeeps-R-Us out of central Pennsylvania, ran many of the popular Tellico obstacles, such as Guardrail, Helicopter Pad, School Bus, Slick Rock, and the Peckerwood Connector. The tires, in addition to the suspension and Powertrax lockers, performed exceptionally well on all of these obstacles.

In many situations, I could feel the tires sticking to the terrain. One such instance was during my descent down the Peckerwood Connector, after having climbed it. Many drivers before me were prone to sliding into the hole pictured below my Jeep, which would put them in a very tipsy situation.

I was not about to let gravity have its way with me. During my descent, the tires seemed very cat-like in their surefootedness, and they held my Jeep true to its path. This allowed me to successful straddle the hole and complete the descent without much drama.

The tires also showed their off-pavement prowess coming up Helicopter Pad. Not wanting to have anything to do with the rock on the far right side of this picture (aptly named "Rainbow Rock"), I picked a line further to the right of the Jeep. It was a clean line, but a bit steeper. The tires quickly found traction and the Jeep walked up.

See the tires in action:
Check out the MPEG video of the ascent up Helicopter Pad.

In Tellico, the dry performance of the BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM was very good. Tellico proved to be a very useful testing ground for bringing out the true colors of these champions of the trail.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

In Conclusion

The BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM tire has many great qualities for the avid off-pavement hobbyist who needs a tire that feels as much at home on the highway as it does the rocks.

Strengths include great all-around traction and quality, contained in a very malleable, yet surefooted tire.

The main weakness of this tire seems to be that it is very prone to cosmetic damage, such as unsightly cuts and abrasions.

BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM

If your vehicle is not a daily driver, and it is a dedicated trail rig, you may be better off seeking out a more durable and aggressively treaded alternative, but the off-pavement adventurer with only one vehicle will welcome the refined manners of the MT KM during the daily commute.

By retaining a traditional design, BFGoodrich reminds us that change doesn't always have to be radical to be good. The BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM provides traction that does not disappoint and the tire is sure to continue to be a popular choice in the off-pavement tire market.

<Photo - 32x11.50r15 on 8" rims at 10 psi - Very steep, rocky descent, that involved turning to avoid trees. In that situation, it was no surprise that the bead could not withstand the stress. The tire re-mounted fine, with no damage.>


BFGoodrich Tires

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