Four guys, one Jeep, and one week of whirl­wind tire test­ing

Four Wheeler - - Contents - By Jered Korfhage Pho­tos: Jered Korfhage

Four guys, one Jeep, and one week of whirl­wind tire test­ing

WE TEST A TON OF TIRES HERE AT FOUR Wheeler; how­ever, it is not ev­ery day that we join forces with ed­i­tors from Jp Mag­a­zine and 4-Wheel & Off-road for a tire-test­ing road trip ex­trav­a­ganza. What bet­ter way to get fa­mil­iar with Nexen’s new Roadian MTX than to stuff all four of us in a new JL Wran­gler and set off across the Ore­gon wilder­ness.

The Roadian MTX is the new­est ad­di­tion to Nexen’s fleet of off-road tires. The tire is avail­able in di­am­e­ters up to 37 inches for 15- to 22-inch wheels, comes stan­dard with a three­ply de­sign, and is ready for heavy haul­ing with a load range F rat­ing. When we first got a look at our four-door JL Wran­gler and its set of 35x12.50r17 tires, our eye­balls went straight to the side­walls. The re­versible pat­terns are named “Beast” and “Ma­chine,” re­sem­bling teeth and blocky me­chan­i­cal pat­terns, re­spec­tively.

Be­fore we could get the Roadian MTX tires near dirt, we had some high­way miles to cover. This be­ing the Pa­cific North­west, the skies were over­cast and the roads were rainy—not a prob­lem for our tires. For a mud-ter­rain tire, the road noise didn’t in­ter­fere with our friendly ban­ter, and not once were we sur­prised with any loss of trac­tion or hy­droplan­ing.

The real fun came when the wet pave­ment turned to mud and rock. We low­ered the pres­sure in the tires to 15 psi and watched the side­walls bulge and wrap around the slimy rocks and roots. The load range F rat­ing might have been overkill for a Jeep Wran­gler, but we were im­pressed with how much the tires flexed when we needed that aired-down dose of trac­tion. We put the Roadian MTX’S mud-clear­ing abil­i­ties to work while climb­ing the Fire­break 5 trail. Our side­walls bit into the rocks, the tread blocks flung out the

mud, and the Jeep kept climb­ing. It is im­por­tant to men­tion that our Wran­gler came with open dif­fer­en­tials—that’s right, no lock­ers were used on this trip and sway bars re­mained con­nected. We can at­tribute our ascent of these gooey trails to the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of our tires (and a skill­ful bit of line choice).

The rain kept fall­ing as we made our way to­ward the Ore­gon coast and traded rocks and roots for tow­er­ing sand dunes. The Roadian MTX is not a sand pad­dle, and af­ter a few days of road trip food, we were slightly wor­ried the weight of the four staffers might sink the poor Jeep in the sand. Not to worry. When aired down to 15 psi, the tires not only floated on top of the dune sand, but kept the Jeep track­ing right where we wanted it when nav­i­gat­ing the bowls and ridges. Our tread blocks didn’t pack full of grit, and our re­cov­ery gear re­mained un­used.

Sun­light even­tu­ally shined through the blan­kets of rain­clouds as we aimed the Jeep in­land to­ward the heart­land of Ore­gon. We spent an en­tire day with the Jeep in high range, cruis­ing the net­works of dirt and gravel roads. Through the turns, the Roadian MTX held our lines with­out un­ex­pect­edly break­ing trac­tion, even with some gen­er­ous throt­tle ap­pli­ca­tion. At the end of the day, we checked the tread blocks for signs of wear and chunk­ing and were im­pressed with our find­ings, con­sid­er­ing the abuse of the past cou­ple days. We also noted no stones were wedged be­tween the tread blocks, a prob­lem known to off-road­ers as “stone drilling,” which can lead to punc­tures and flats.

Our fi­nal day in Ore­gon led us up to higher el­e­va­tions. The sun again dis­ap­peared and the mois­ture re­turned—this time as snow. Even at high­way speeds up and down the snowy passes the Roadian MTX did not give us rea­son to worry, or even ques­tion whether it was

a snow tire. Though it does not come with a Three-peak Moun­tain Snowflake rat­ing, its per­for­mance through packed snow and high­way slush was com­mend­able. To fur­ther test the snow-shov­el­ing abil­i­ties of the tires, we aired down and crawled over icy rocks, broke through fluffy pow­der, and pushed through heavy, wet snow—all with­out hes­i­ta­tion. Tow straps and winches still re­mained cold and dor­mant.

Fi­nal Thoughts

Af­ter hun­dreds of miles, hours of smelly socks, and a few back­woods short­cuts, we were sad to leave the Nexen Roadian MTX tires in Ore­gon. The tires con­quered the muddy rocks and roots, tore across gravel roads, dug through the snow, and scooted over the sand, all while keep­ing high­way noise to a po­lite mur­mur. The only ter­rain left from our test was dry rock­crawl­ing, but that seems easy com­pared to our whirl­wind of a week. The only choice we’re left with is which side­wall pat­tern to sport.

<| De­spite be­ing loaded down with a pay­load of wellfed jour­nal­ists, the Jeep was able to float across the dunes. Nei­ther steer­ing nor tread clear­ing in the sand was an is­sue with the Roadian MTX. |> Hold­ing true to the mud-ter­rain ti­tle, the tires cleared them­selves of the Ore­gon cookie bat­ter, grabbed the rocks, and with a bit of mo­men­tum, got us through the Fire­break 5 trail.

Aired down to 15 psi, our side­walls flexed im­pres­sively—for car­ry­ing a load range F rat­ing. This is also a look at the “Beast” side­wall pat­tern. The term “biter” seems ap­pro­pri­ate here.

The white stuff was “snow prob­lem” for us. Whi­te­out moun­tain passes? Check. Push­ing through heavy, deep snow? No wor­ries.

|> Han­dling on gravel roads proved ef­fort­less for the Roadian MTX, and when it came time to dig through soft dirt on the climbs, the treads clawed right through with­out is­sue.

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