Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ruby and the Camper get new Tyres

Tyres were one of the bigger decisions when we were setting up both Ruby and the Camper. Early on we decided that we would run out the factory fitted Dunlop Grandtreks on Ruby (while I complained about them every time we drove Ruby in the Bush) and the camper had 2 pretty good Bridgestone A/T's on it and a very average spare that would have to do in pinch.

The original tyres on Ruby the photo above just before we replaced them at 40000km & the below photo the original unused spare. 

The original tyres on the camper trailer. 

This gave us some time to do some research on price and performance and also to make the biggest decision of all; whether or not to step up a size.  In the end that proved to be a relatively easy decision because we could not legally fit 285/75/16 tyres on Ruby's genuine Toyota 16" rims, and with no desire to buy another set of alloys we were forced to stay with 265/75/16 tyres.  This has the benefit of meaning the tyres were slightly cheaper, lighter and should make slight overall difference in fuel economy, however we have traded off some diff clearance and off-road ability with the smaller tyres.

Next choice was what tread pattern. We have owned both Mud terrain and All terrain tyres in the past and have had good and bad experiences with both.  This time it was decided that we would try and find a compromise solution, with one of the more aggressive A/T tyres that have recently come onto the market.

Having worked in open cut mining and having owned a few four wheel drives for a number of years, I already had firm opinions on what brands of tyres I would and wouldn't consider.  Overall I prefer American made brands, and have owned Goodyear, Cooper and BF Goodrich tyres in the past, and also driven on a number of others in a variety of circumstances.

When Cooper first released their ST Maxx tyres as a replacement for the Cooper ST there was a lot of interest to see if they could improve previous issues with chipping, and a few other common issues that many owners experienced.  When these tyres were first released a medium sized mining contractor at the mine I was working at put them onto all of their supervisors utes.  These utes were being driven 2-300km a day both on bitumen and on mine dirt roads and tracks, a perfect comparison for the type of driving we are planning on doing.  After 12 months and 50,000km the tyres were still going, which in a mining environment is a noteworthy outcome.  It is not uncommon for mine vehicles to get new tyres every 20,000km due to the harsh operating conditions and less than sympathetic operators.

So having made our decision we started to shop around for the best deal.  We were looking within  300km radius of Rockhampton, and given that we run 2 spares on Ruby and one for the camper as well we were looking for 9 tyres overall.  The tyre dealers we approached were either not interested in doing a deal at all (apparently Cooper set a pretty small price band for re-sale) or told us that they couldn't do us much of a deal.  We eventually approached a new dealer in Emerald at a small trade show and were happy to hear that they would do us a good deal for 9 tyres and 3 new steel wheels for the camper.  The overall cost per tyre was nearly $60 cheaper each tyre, than the most expensive quote and their steel wheels were also cheaper, Bargin!

The new Cooper tyres on Ruby. 
Having driven almost 5000km on the ST Maxx's now were happy to report that so far we are happy, they were a little unpredictable at first on bitumen at high speed, however with some pressure adjustments and after adding some more weight to Ruby this has improved considerably.  So far we are very impressed with these tyres on the dirt, they have heaps of grip, and overall would be the best tyres we have ever used on the dirt.  Only time will tell if they will deliver good mileage and continue to perform as they wear.  I will give an update on the Coopers sometime later in the journey.

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