RUB­BER ROUND UP

BFGOODRICH SERVES UP ITS LONG-AWAITED NEW KM3 MUD TER­RAIN TYRE, AT A LAUNCH IN THE VIC­TO­RIAN HIGH COUN­TRY.

4 x 4 Australia - - Gear - WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS

IT’S NOT of­ten one of the big­gest names in off-road tyres re­leases a new prod­uct, so when it hap­pens it is big news. Bfgoodrich has been the tyre of choice for Dakar, Baja and Finke race-win­ners for decades and is one of the most pop­u­lar brands cho­sen by re­cre­ational four-wheel driv­ers. Whether it’s its pop­u­lar All Ter­rain or Mud Ter­rain tyres, BFG has an en­vi­able rep­u­ta­tion in the Aus­tralian off-road mar­ket and around the world.

It’s been 12 years since the fourth gen­er­a­tion of BFG Mud­dies, the KM2, was launched, and pre­pro­duc­tion pro­to­types of the KM3 have been spot­ted around the world and at off-road races for more than 12 months. The pro­duc­tion ver­sion has fi­nally landed, and BFG chose to do its global launch for the new KM3 right here in Aus­tralia, in Vic­to­ria’s High Coun­try.

BFG has taken the knowl­edge gained from years of ex­pe­ri­ence at the high­est lev­els of off-road rac­ing – with a dis­play case full of win­ners’ tro­phies to prove it – and ap­plied it to this lat­est Mud Ter­rain tyre.

“We de­signed this tyre for ex­treme tough­ness and trac­tion,” said BFG’S global gen­eral man­ager, Harold Phillips, who was in Aus­tralia for the launch. “Whether build­ing for off-road fun or for ex­treme ca­pa­bil­ity to reach out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, this tyre was made to take driv­ers any­where they want to go.”

BUILT TOUGH

JUST be­cause it’s called a Mud Ter­rain tyre doesn’t mean it’s only good for muddy tracks. Which is just as well, as the High Coun­try in April was dry as a bone with barely a bog to be found. Mud tyres re­main the choice for out­back trav­ellers due to their heavy­duty con­struc­tion, ex­cel­lent trac­tion and abil­ity to dis­perse stones and mud from the tread face. It’s these qual­i­ties that BFG has built on in cre­at­ing the KM3, us­ing Baja-proven de­sign and tech­nol­ogy.

The KM3 uses an ex­tra ply in its ‘Core­gard Max’ side­walls, to make them more re­sis­tant to cuts and punc­tures through the side. This is taken straight from its KR3 off-road rac­ing tyres, as used by Dakar and Baja cham­pi­ons. BFG claims the new KM3S are 27 per cent tougher in the side­walls than the KM2S they are re­plac­ing, helped in part by an ex­tra layer of re­in­force­ment around where the tread meets the side­wall. This notched shoul­der de­sign also aids trac­tion in soft dirt and mud.

Over­all trac­tion is im­proved thanks to a new rub­ber com­pound BFG calls Krawl-tek; fun­nily enough taken from its Krawler T/A KX tyres that aren’t of­fered in Aus­tralia. Again, motorsport ex­pe­ri­ence was in­flu­en­tial in the tech­nol­ogy be­hind the tread com­pound, as the Krawler T/A has been the win­ning tyre in Ul­tra 4 and King of The Ham­mers com­pe­ti­tions.

As you would ex­pect of a muddy, the tread pat­tern is open and chunky. The pat­tern of the tread blocks is de­signed to bite into the ter­rain no mat­ter what an­gle you’re at­tack­ing it from, which is par­tic­u­larly use­ful on the front axle when you have some steer­ing lock on. Ridges in be­tween the tread blocks near the shoul­der pre­vent any mud, crud or rocks from get­ting lodged in there, and any de­bris is ejected at the next ro­ta­tion of the tyre. Bfgoodrich claims the KM3 has five per cent bet­ter trac­tion in mud than the KM2.

Lin­ear flex zones in the tread face al­low the KM3 to con­tort and grip rocks and ob­sta­cles when run­ning low tyre pres­sures in more ex­treme off-road driv­ing, es­pe­cially when real low and mounted on bead-locked wheels.

ON THE TRACKS

IT MIGHTN’T have been muddy, but the High Coun­try pro­vided a great test­ing ground for the KM3. Steep, rocky climbs, rut­ted tracks and patches of wet clay put the tyre through its paces in ter­rain any Aussie four-wheel driver would be fa­mil­iar with. It also gave the in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ists a snapshot of some of our best bush coun­try.

On road the KM3 was quiet for a mud ter­rain tyre, but these were all near-new and we all know mud­dies get nois­ier as they wear. The folks at BFG say the KM3 is no nois­ier than the KM2, but wouldn’t claim they are any qui­eter ei­ther. We couldn’t re­ally com­ment on the on-road grip and per­for­mance, as most of the drive was on gravel or off-road (and that suited us just fine). You don’t buy mud terrains for their on-road per­for­mance, and any­one fit­ting a muddy has to ex­pect char­ac­ter­is­tics that are nois­ier and less grippy on-road than an all-ter­rain or other less ag­gres­sive tyres. That’s sim­ply the price you pay for bet­ter off-road per­for­mance.

Most im­por­tantly, the BFG KM3 didn’t let us down. Of the dozen or so 4x4s lined up for the two-day High Coun­try drive, no punc­tures were re­ported and no-one got stuck on the tracks, in a river or off-road.

Bfgoodrich’s new KM3 Mud Ter­rain tyres will be avail­able in stores come June, ini­tially in 25 pop­u­lar sizes to cover most tyre needs. By the end of 2019 the KM3 range will ex­pand to 38 sizes to fit wheel rims from 16- to 20-inch di­am­e­ter. We look for­ward to test­ing them on some true out­back tracks in the very near fu­ture.

NO PUNC­TURES WERE RE­PORTED AND NO ONE GOT STUCK ON THE TRACKS, IN A RIVER, OR OFF ROAD

Lin­ear flex zones in the tread face al­low the KM3 to con­tort to and grip rocks.

BFG’S mar­ket­ing team went to work pro­mot­ing the KM3 in no un­cer­tain terms.

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