Yokohama builds a new tire for off-road and overland adventurer­s


Admittedly, I always get excited when a new all-terrain or mud terrain tire is announced. Changes in technology almost always generate a better tire. A tire that will let us explore more, a tire that will let us get more work done faster and for less money. A tire that on-road, is quieter, has better dry and wet grip, is more durable so you get extra distance for your dollar, and off-road is more chip- and rut-resistant with better traction.

But lately, the AT tires seem to have plateaued at a level of greatness, tires like the Yokohama AT and Falken ATW seem to have reached an incredible level of off-and on-road prowess. Mud terrain tires like Yokohama’s Geolander MT and X-MT let you crawl like

never before and still let you drive home without having to trailer your rig. What’s a tire company to do? They find a growing niche and make a tire to fill it. They admit that they aren’t the first to release a tire in this category, but also say it took extra time to design a tire with very few compromise­s. The new X-AT is a step more aggressive off-road than an all-terrain but almost as quiet on road. The goal was to build a tire that could stand up to the abuse delivered by sharp rocks and gravel off-road, deliver fantastic traction on sand and gravel, be incredibly durable so you get more mileage out of a set, and then make it available in a range of sizes including LT and three load range F. They’ve done all that with the X-AT. The X can stand for adventure, extreme, or a performanc­e hybrid cross of Yokohama’s AT and MT tires. You decide.

We met Yokohama outside of Las Vegas Nevada where they mounted the X-AT’s on a string of Ford Raptors and a one lone Jeep Wrangler JKU. Setting out for the Jean Lake Region we tested the durability and traction for several hours driving across gravel and sand roads and crawling over sharp rocks. We tested them fast and we tested them slow. I purposely drove on bad lines intentiona­lly attempting to cut sidewalls. After all, it wasn’t my truck or my tires. And if I tore apart a sidewall, I wouldn’t be the one changing a tire or walking home.

Plus, we weren’t the first to run these tires. More than 100 tire dealers put them through similar abuse.

The verdict is that the X-AT’s are tough. After running them up against and over sharp rocks, they showed no signs of damage. Traction across the desert, exceeding the speed limit in most states and provinces, on gravel and sand roads was effortless. Driving up sand hills, churning and turning we were in complete control.

On pavement it was easy to hear how much quieter the X-AT tire is than a mud terrain. Not only that but the X-AT comes with a 45,000mile tread life warranty and a 30-day hate and return guarantee – something no mud terrain offers.

How does Yokohama get this done? A tire's performanc­e and longevity is essentiall­y a combinatio­n of three things – carcass, compound and tread.

The X-AT’s carcass is designed for offan road durability and puncture resistance using Yokohama’s GEO-SHIELD™technology, which features a three-ply sidewall, a high turn-up carcass and a full nylon cap. Yokohama also managed to employ improved curing process to produce a very thick sidewall. Although the sidewalls are thicker, Yokohama has still managed to produce a tire that is 5-10 lbs lighter than some competitor­s.

The long tread life was one of the factors that took some time to develop. The new high density HD2 off-road compound, is a special triple-polymer blend engineered for long tread life and almost bullet-proof cutand chip-resistance. Internal data suggests the X-AT has a much longer tread life than its competitor­s but at the time of writing we were still waiting for third party verificati­on.

And finally tread. Off-road traction is improved by large shoulder blocks that are different lengths that create a biting edge and help eject mud and stones, and angular center blocks provide strength and grip. More contact means more grip. Using dynamic contact patch optimizati­on, engineers developed an elliptical contact patch when the tire is rolling.

The engineers also discovered that a key factor in tire noise is related to airflow. By optimizing zigzag grooves that interrupt airflow, they’ve managed to limit tread pattern and road noise.

Let’s not forget cosmetics. The engineers put two different sidewall designs on each tire, one called Summit and the other Mesa, so you can get two different looks for your truck.

Why then doesn’t everyone buy them? As good as the traction is, it’s still not as good in mud and rock crawling as a dedicated mud terrain tire.

The one compromise Yokohama had to make was giving up the snowflake. They are not a winter-rated tire. If you live where it doesn’t snow, that’s no problem. If you put a dedicated snow/ice tire on your 4x4 for the winter, it’s also not a problem.

The bottom line for us is this is a stellar tire for anyone who works, plays or travels off-road, and still demands a quiet ride, great on-road traction and braking, and a long life of tens of thousands of kilometres.

To top it all off, Yokohama says they are planning to release them at a lower price than their top competitor­s for this segment.

Does the X-AT fill a need for you? Will you step up from an all-terrain tire or back away from a mud terrain?

Let us know on Instagram #4wdoverlan­dmagazine or comment on the YouTube video at https://youtu.be/8ir9XSsfjp­o

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Climbing sandy hills. Harsh, hot, rocky, tiredisfig­uring terrain.
Climbing sandy hills. Harsh, hot, rocky, tiredisfig­uring terrain.
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Check out the front passenger tire.
Check out the front passenger tire.
 ??  ?? The tread pattern ejects rocks and reduces noise.
The tread pattern ejects rocks and reduces noise.
 ??  ?? My mistake, I thought you said 'donut'; not 'do not.'
My mistake, I thought you said 'donut'; not 'do not.'
 ??  ?? Thick sidewalls are decorated with a different design on each side.
Thick sidewalls are decorated with a different design on each side.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada