Adventure Afrika 2023 All-terrain Tyre Test- Battle of the all-rounders

 

So, you want tyres fit for the bush, yet comfortable on tar… all-rounders that can grip and grind their way over a wide variety of surfaces. Welcome to the realm of all-terrain rubber. But which brand is best for you? To find out, we amassed 15 sets of all-terrain tyres for our big showdown. Here are the results.

By FERDI DE VOS

It has been nearly five years since an evaluation of allterrain (AT) tyres was done locally. Over this period, technology has moved forward and the local playing field – in terms of local manufacturing of tyres versus importation – has changed dramatically. This alteration in the industry was particularly noticeable when we started assembling the different contenders for the big All-Terrain Tyre Test, this time for 18-inch rubber, in association with Tiger Wheel & Tyre and GWM South Africa.

Since 2019, the tyre market has rapidly expanded in terms of volume and brand diversity, pitching world-renowned manufacturers with production facilities here – such as Bridgestone, Goodyear, Continental (General) and Sumitomo (Dunlop) – against a plethora of brands imported through companies like TiAuto, SA Tyre, Treadzone, Exclusive Tyres, Minty’s and Lombards, to name a few.

This growth in the market has now also led to higher duties and penalties, in order to counter the unscrupulous importation of cheap, sub-standard tyres. Additionally, it led to some lesser known but huge tyre companies not represented in South Africa before (such as CEAT and Radar), now entering the local market with competitive products.

The tyres

For the purposes of the evaluation, we identified at least 28 different brands of AT tyres available locally. However, after an initial call for entries we decided to limit the list to 20 sets of tyres, as it would become a logistical nightmare with more entries. In retrospect, this was a mistake as we finally ended up with only 15 official contenders, due to various reasons. The uptake from members of the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) was somewhat disappointing, as in the end only Continental Tyre SA and Sumitomo Rubber SA participated with their Continental, General and Dunlop brands respectively.

Bridgestone South Africa initially indicated full participation, but this was apparently vetoed at the last minute by its regional office for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. Goodyear South Africa declined to participate, stating that its current Wrangler AT Adventure was to be replaced soon, and it therefore would not make sense entering the current tyre. It did, however, supply a set of 17-inch Wrangler AT Adventure 265/65R17 tyres to be utilised as control tyre for our tests.

Besides the Continental, General and Dunlop tyres, we received the correct type and size of tyre from another 13 makes – Apollo, BFGoodrich, CEAT, Cooper, Gripmax, Hankook, Landspider, Maxxis, Michelin, Pirelli, Radar, Westlake and Yokohama. The brands entered by companies such as Treadzone, SA Tyre and Exclusive Tyres, represented the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA). Maxxis sent two sets of tyres, its Razr and Bravo ATs with different types of tread patterns.

However, from 17 initial participants we were down to 15 at the end, as Maxxis decided to withdraw its entrants midway through the test.

A quick recap

Nowadays, radial construction, better compounds and computer- aided tread designs allow for highly specialised tyre applications, and in the world of 4x4s, all-wheel drive SUVs and crossovers there now are three main tyre options – mud-terrain (MT), all-terrain (AT) and highway-terrain (HT).

MTs are the preferred option for tough off-road conditions, where maximum grip in mud and sand is required, with suitable sidewall protection against punctures at low pressures. However, the aggressive tread patterns of MT tyres are less than ideal on tar, with unacceptable noise and vibration levels making long distance trips harsh and uncomfortable.

On the other side of the spectrum, HT tyres offer higher speed ratings and better grip on tar but less traction in off-road conditions, and they are more prone to damage off the road due to their softer sidewalls. AT tyres are developed (well, in theory, at least) to find the middle ground between MT and HT tyres – a balance between off-road prowess and asphalt performance, and thus, they represent a compromise…

As such, a multitude of options – from more off-road biased so-called 50:50 tyres to the more on-road inclined 70:30 versions – exist within the segment, making it even more difficult to choose the right tyre for your purposes.

Two-ply, three-ply… and synthetics

Since the last test was done in 2018 it seems manufacturershave moved more towards AT tyres with a stronger construction, with many now rated as LT (Light Truck) tyres. No less than four of our contenders – the BFGoodrich KO2, Apollo Apterra, Gripmax Inception and Radar Renegade RT – have a three-ply construction.

However, with synthetic technology such as Kevlar (Goodyear Wrangler), Tectonic (Dunlop Grandtrek) and DuraGen (General Grabber) many of the latest two-ply tyres now have a tougher sidewall construction, and even a higher load index rating.

Case in point is the Tectonic-infused Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G with a load index rating of 120 (meaning it can handle a load of up to 1 400kg per tyre); similar to the 117/120 rating of the BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2, while most contenders are rated at 112 (1 120kg per tyre).

Dunlop maintains the construction of the AT3G is similar in strength and rigidity to a three-ply tyre, and this was substantiated by its weight (19.44kg) – however terms of the test criteria it was classified as a two-ply tyre. The same applies to the Cooper Discoverer ATT, with its stronger sidewall and higher carcass cord strength.

While heavier and therefore less efficient in terms of drag and vehicle fuel consumption, three-ply tyres are generally more durable and more resistant to penetration or punctures due to their more robust construction. This adds to their allure, but their fitment for everyday commuting or for that once-a-year off-road trip is questionable. Still, they do look good on a vehicle and provide some peace-of-mind when tackling tough terrain, and this has contributed to the trend towards LT-rated AT tyres.

Also, if you regularly haul heavy loads over long distances, it is important to consider a tyre with a higher load index. The speed rating of tyres becomes crucial when you drive long distances at high speeds, or when choosing rubber for your trailer or off-road caravan, as it needs to be comparable with the rating of the tyres on your vehicle.

The speed index ratings for our contenders varied from S (good for speeds of up to 180km/h) to T (190km/h), and an H (210km/h) in the case of the General Grabber AT3 and Yokohama Geolander A/T. Thus, taking all the above in account, the ob-jective of the evaluation was to find the best all-rounder in the AT tyre realm…

The vehicles

For the tests we used three completely similar GWM P-Series 2.0TD LTD 4×4 double cab auto bakkies, kindly made available to us by GWM South Africa and Haval Milnerton. Slotting in above the LS and LT models in the P-Series Passenger Double Cab range, the LTD flagship was adjudged the winner of the 100- 120kW engine power category in the inaugural South African Bakkie of the Year (SABOTY) competition earlier this year.

The LTD uses the latest fully selectable four-wheel drive system from GWM with 2H, 4H, Snow, Mud, Sand and 4L driving modes. The off-road systems include Cross-Country Expert Mode and Drive Mode Memory, linking to both front and rear differential locks, as well as off-road cruise control, Trail Turn Assist and an off-road thermal management system.

The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine in the LTD, coupled with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, offers a useful 120kW of power and maximum torque of 400Nm. This combination proved perfect for our tests, with traction control automatically switched off in off-road mode, and active ABS for the braking tests. The three vehicles worked hard in the sand, on rock, gravel and tar while completing the 80 tests over a period of three days. There was never a problem, though – the LTDs handled the sudden acceleration and continuous hard stopping required by the tests with aplomb.

The venue

We used the Klipbokkop 4×4 Academy near Worcester as testing venue. This was done for several reasons: the most important being its versatile terrain, with an excellent mixture of tar, gravel, sand and rocky routes – ideal for our purposes. The spectacular scenery was a bonus…

Klipbokkop has been involved in tyre testing for nearly two decades, and the venue has been rated as a world-class off-road testing venue. So, the team, under the guidance of Gerhard Groenewald, knows their way around the rubbery black stuff.

The procedures

Since gravel, sand and rocky terrain are unstable by nature, the greatest dilemma of testing in this type of terrain is to ensure measurability and repeatability. No prescribed testing procedures exist for off-road tests in ‘real world’ conditions, and it took time and effort (as well as input from the manufacturers and organisations within the tyre industry) to devise measurable tests.

The most important consideration was to find off-road oriented tests that simulate local conditions, and we finally completed six tests – two braking tests (one on tar, one on gravel), a gravel and rock traction test, a sand traction test, a sound test (measuring cabin noise) and a weight test.

We also wanted to do a wet braking test, but a deluge the day before we started testing made this impossible as the road we wanted to use was completely flooded. An acceleration test was also contemplated but rejected as we previously found that the results of this exercise were more down to the vehicle’s traction control system (it cannot be switched off completely) than tyre behaviour.

A test measuring sidewall strength was also discarded, as it could not be standardised due to differences in tyre sidewall construction, leading to questionable results. We also contemplated a dirt handling test but rejected it since it was clear that even with continuous track maintenance, changing grip levels made any measurable result impossible.

The testers

While we initially considered using a current off-road champion or racing driver as our tester, we soon defaulted to the obvious choice – the Klipbokkop father-and-son team of Gerhard and PG Groenewald. With over four decades of tyre testing and more than 20 years of 4×4 experience between them, their (off-road) track record speaks for itself. And itcertainly showed.

It is no easy task to repeat every test with precision, but this is exactly what they did – time after time – with Gerhard doing the gravel and rock traction evaluations, and PG taking responsibility for the braking and sand traction tests.

Some of the test results differed literally by millimetres and Gerhard and PG’s feedback and comments after the tests on the diverse collection of tyres was invaluable, giving us good insight on the strengths and weaknesses of each tyre.

The tests

With all the sets of tyres and rims, the three P-Series bakkies, calibrated tyre change equipment, a sound meter and the full team assembled at Klipbokkop, we were ready to get testing. Then the heavens opened. It rained so much we contemplated cancelling the whole exercise. Luckily the deluge subsided, and we moved the programme forward by a day.

After the downpour we were lucky with the weather, as temperatures ranged from 18 to 22°C – ideal for our testing schedule. The sets for testing were selected at random and the tyres pumped to 2.4 bars (according to manufacturer specification for the P-Series). A full test sequence was completed before the next set was fitted. We used a calibrated sound meter to measure the cabin noise levels generated by the different tyres, as well as a calibrated scale for weighing the tyres.

Test 1: Braking distance – tarred surface

This brake test measured the tyre’s stopping performance from 100km/h (a true speed of 96.7km/h) to standstill on a flat, yet rough and coarse tar surface. Tyre pressure for this

test was 2.4 bars.

The difference in stopping distances of the tyres on this surface were miniscule. This says a lot about the latest tyre technology. However, the performance of the more on-road biased Michelins and Thai-sourced Landspiders surprised, with newcomer CEAT and locals Continental and Dunlop, as well as the Hankook Dynapro’s in close contention, with less than 3m separating them.

As to be expected, the tyres with a more on-road biased tread pattern fared well, while those that have a more aggressive pattern and three-ply construction (Gripmax, Radar, Apollo and BFGoodrich) did not – the exception being the Landspiders.

The BFs, however, impressed with their steady feel and consistency, while the Apollos were compromised by too much initial grip, triggering the ABS of the P-Series at the most inopportune moment. Also, tyres with patterns that perform well in tar braking tests don’t necessarily do well in off-road conditions – as was clearly reflected in our tests.

Results

(Adapted out of 50 points, shortest distance counts most):

                                                  Distance          Points

1. Michelin LTX Trail                                28.25               35.87

2. Landspider Wildtraxx A/T                  29.37              35.31

3. CEAT Czar A/T                                      30.49               34.75

4. Continental CrossContact ATR          30.69               34.67

5. Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G                    30.76               34.62

6. Hankook Dynapro AT2                       30.81               34.59

7. Cooper Discoverer ATT                      31.82               34.09

8. Gripmax Inception X/T                       31.82               34.09

9. Radar Renegade R/T                           32.28               33.86

10. General Grabber AT3                       33.06               33.47

11. Pirelli Scorpion AT Plus                    33.10               33.45

12. Westlake Radial SL369 A/T              33.13               33.34

13. Yokohama Geolander A/T               33.39               33.30

14. Apollo Apterra AT2                          33.41               33.29

15. BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2                   34.69               32.65

Test 2: Braking distance – gravel surface

For this test the 2.4 bars pressure level was kept, but runs were done from 80km/h (true speed 77.8 km/h) – the legal speed limit on local dirt roads. The Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G showed its class in this test, with a consistent and controlled performance.

As expected, there was a complete reversal of fortune compared to the tar brake tests, with Apterra slotting in as runner-up, followed by Pirelli, Michelin, and General Grabber (the champion tyre in the previous evaluation, although now old compared to the competition).

The majority of tyres dragged the LTD to a standstill in under 25m – with minute differences in the result, highlighted by the 0.30m difference between the Generals, Contis, BFs and Yokohamas, while the Landspiders, CEATs and Hankooks fell right to the bottom in this test.

Results

(Adapted out of 50 points, shortest distance counts most):

                                                                    Distance                          Points

1. Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G                       22.33                                38.83

2. Apollo Apterra AT2                                23.24                                38.38

3. Pirelli Scorpion AT Plus                         24.03                                37.98

4. Michelin LTX Trail                                  24.35                                37.82

5. General Grabber AT3                            24.47                                37.76

6. Continental CrossContact ATR             24.52                                37.74

7. BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2                        24.58                                37.71

8. Yokohama Geolander A/T                    24.77                                37.61

9. Westlake Radial SL369 A/T                   25.10                                37.45

10. Cooper Discoverer ATT                       25.37                                37.31

11. Radar Renegade RT                             25.41                                37.29

12. Gripmax Inception X/T                        25.83                                37.29

13. Landspider Wildtraxx A/T                   26.06                                36.97

14. CEAT Czar A/T                                      26.82                                36.59

15. Hankook Dynapro AT2                        27.02                                36.49

Test 3: Incline traction (sand)

This test – devised to challenge the tyres’ climbing ability against a sandy incline – turned out to be a real tiebreaker. The tyres were deflated to 1.4 bars, and the transmission of the GWM P-Series LTD was locked in first-gear low range, cancelling out all electronic systems. With full immediate acceleration from the 2.0-litre turbodiesel, it was then expected of the tyres to propel the heavy vehicle as far as possible up a prepared sand track with a 30-degree incline. To measure their performance, the Goodyear-shod control vehicle drove up the track until it could go no further, setting a marker.

The rationale behind this was that the control tyre and vehicle would fare slightly better than the P-Series with AT tyres, therefore a distance could be set from the control reference point to where the P-Series grinded to a halt. The course was swept after every run to clear it and to ensure there were no obstacles impeding the LTD test vehicle’s progress.

It was fascinating to watch the different tyres scrabbling up the incline, inhibited by the gearing and limited power delivery of the GWM. In this test the recently improved Yokohama Geolander showed its mettle – setting a benchmark over a metre clear of its closest challenger, the impressive CEAT Czar, followed by the Continental CrossContact ATR.

The gap between the Michelin, Landspider, General and Cooper was negligible, but it was clear the tyres with sturdier and threeply construction (Dunlop Grandtrek, Radar Renegade, Apollo Apterra and struggled in these conditions, most likely because the

1.4 bars limit did not suit them. It can also be attributed to higher grip levels due to higher moisture levels in the sand after all the rain, favouring the tyres with a less aggressive tread pattern.

Results

(Distance adjustment against control mark, adjusted from

50 points)

                                                                          Distance                           Points

1. Yokohama Geolander A/T                          84.50                                42.25

2. CEAT Czar A/T                                              83.46                                41.73

3. Continental CrossContact ATR                   80.58                                40.29

4. Michelin LTX Trail                                        76.70                                38.35

5. Landspider Wildtraxx A/T                           75.25                                37.62

6. General Grabber AT3                                  74.75                                37.37

7. Cooper Discoverer ATT                               73.94                                36.97

8. Westlake Radial SL369 A/T                         71.48                                35.74

9. Hankook Dynapro AT2                                68.96                                34.48

10. Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G                           67.42                                33.71

11. Radar Renegade RT                                   67.48                                33.74

12. Gripmax Inception X/T                              66.05                                33.02

13. Apollo Apterra AT2                                   65.14                                32.57

14. Pirelli Scorpion AT Plus                             63.31                                31.65

15. BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2                           62.59                                31.29

Test 4: Incline traction (rock)

Although we devised a test to measure traction on gravel, using the test vehicle to tow a sledge loaded with 750kg of dead weight around a gravel track, it was soon clear that the wet conditions did not allow for any measurability, and we discarded it.

We also canned the gravel acceleration test (foot flat, all electronic systems disengaged) measuring the time it took each set of tyres to propel the GWM to 80km/h, as the differences in times were immeasurably small. So, to test traction on a rocky incline, we devised a challenging rocky route of about 400m with a 30-degrees incline.

The challenge was to see which of the contenders completed the ascent, to score maximum points (out of 30). Tyres that didn’t make it, were to be penalised with 2.5 percent (the average percentage difference in the other tests). However, while some scrambled for grip, all made it, for a full complement of points.

*No results were received

Test 5: Sound

This is a new test we included, as interior noise levels (although not all due to tyre noise) have become an important factor for consumers, particularly in the leisure vehicle market. It yielded some interesting results as the tyres with less aggressive tread patterns weren’t the quietest (as expected).

As can be seen, the differences are small and we did not give this test a high weighting (counting only 10 points), but it is interesting to see the Yokohama and General coming out tops, followed by the three-ply Apollo and Gripmax tyres.

Results

(Sound in dB (60km/h / 100km/h) combined, points out of 10)

                                                              dB             dB                Total                  Points

1. Yokohama Geolander A/T              62.2          68.6             130.8                 6.92

2. General Grabber AT3                      626           68.9             131.5                 6.85

3. Apollo Apterra AT2                          63.1          68.9             132.0                 6.80

4. Gripmax Inception X/T                    62.6          70.1             132.7                 6.73

5. Westlake Radial SL369 A/T             63.5          69.3             132.8                 6.72

6. Michelin LTX Trail                            63.5          69.8             133.3                 6.67

7. Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G                 63.9          69.7             133.6                 6.64

8. Landspider Wildtraxx A/T               63.1          70.8             133.9                 6.61

9. Continental CrossContact ATR       64.1          70.0             134.1                 6.59

10. Hankook Dynapro AT2                  63.8          70.3             134.1                 6.59

11. Radar Renegade RT                       64.1          70.2             134.3                 6.57

12. CEAT Czar A/T                                64.2          70.2             134.4                 6.56

13. BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2                64.2          70.3             134.5                 6.55

14. Cooper Discoverer ATT                 64.7          70.4             135.1                 6.49

15. Pirelli Scorpion AT Plus                 64.9          70.4             135.3                 6.47

Test 6: Weight

We included this test as tyre weight contributes towards overall vehicle weight, and the heavier the vehicle, the more inefficient it becomes in terms of fuel consumption. Also, a heavier tyre construction and aggressive tread patterns can be detrimental to aerodynamic efficiency.

That said, and as indicated earlier, a heavier tyre is not always a disadvantage, as a three-ply tyre is a purpose specific tyre, made to negotiate tough terrain, and if you spend most of your time in the bush, this is the type of tyre you need. However, if you use your vehicle on-road most of the time, it does not really make sense to fit heavy three-ply tyres, even if they make your bakkie look good.

Results

(Weights per tyre, light to heavy, points out of 10)

                                                                 Weight (kg)             Points

1. CEAT Czar A/T                                     16.06                       8.39

2. Cooper Discoverer ATT                      16.56.                      8.34

3. Yokohama Geolander A/T                 16.68                       8.33

4. General Grabber AT3                         17.08                       8.29

5. Hankook Dynapro AT2                       17.48                       8.25

6. Landspider Wildtraxx A/T                  17.60                       8.24

7. Westlake Radial SL369 A/T                17.60                       8.24

8. Continental CrossContact ATR          18.38                       8.16

9. Michelin LTX Trail                               18.42                       8.15

10. Pirelli Scorpion AT Plus                    18.50                       8.1

11. Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G                  19.44                       8.05

12. Apollo Apterra AT2                          22.55                       7.74

13. Radar Renegade RT                          22.56                       7.74

14. Gripmax Inception X/T                     22.68                       7.73

15. BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2                   22.76                       7.72

Final result

It was an extremely close-run affair but with all the scores tallied (not taking price into account), the latest Yokohama Geolander A/T emerged as the best all-round tyre in our test, coming out on top in the sand traction and sound tests to outscore the new, lightweight CEAT Czar and Continental CrossContact ATR, the Michelin LTX Trail and the Landspider Wildtraxx A/T by a small margin.

The Grabber AT3 held its own against much newer rubber but the difference between the General and the Cooper, was negligible. We expected more of the highly rated Dunlop

Grandtrek AT3G, placing just ahead of the Westlake Radial AT.

With a difference of less than two percent amongst the top seven, it means that – statistically speaking – there is no variance but it was clear the traction test conditions favoured the 70:30 patterned tyres. This was borne out by the performance of the more off-road oriented three-ply rubber, with the Radar, Gripmax, Apollo and BF clustered together – their overall positioning compromised by the sand traction test.

Final results

1. Yokohama Geolander A/T                                      158.41

2. CEAT Czar A/T                                                          158.02

3. Continental CrossContact ATR                               157.45

4. Michelin LTX Trail                                                    156.91

5. Landspider Wildtraxx A/T                                       154.75

6. General Grabber AT3                                              153.74

7. Cooper Discoverer ATT                                           153.20

8. Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G                                         151.85

9. Westlake Radial SL369 A/T                                     151.49

10. Hankook Dynapro AT2                                         150.40

11. Radar Renegade RT                                               149.20

12. Gripmax Inception X/T                                          148.86

13. Apollo Apterra AT2                                               148.83

14. Pirelli Scorpion AT Plus                                         147.70

15. BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2                                       145.92

Rules, regulations and procedures

Strict rules and regulations were imposed to ensure measurable and repeatable tests – and therefore the integrity of the results.

To ensure maximum control, the following pre-event

procedures were followed:

• To prevent the supply of any specially prepared tyres, most sets were procured through the Tiger Wheel & Tyre network.

• Where not possible (as some tyres were on special order), the sets were inspected by representatives of other tyre manufacturers as well as a technical committee.

• After fitting all the tyres, they were inflated to 3 bars and left to seat for about a day.

• All fitting was done by expert technicians from Tiger Wheel &Tyre on the same machine, and tyre changes were done in front of the different tyre company representatives.

For the tests, the following control measures were imposed:

• A control tyre (Goodyear Wrangler Adventure AT 17-inch) with a more on-road bias was specifically chosen to ensure no 18-inch tyre would gain an advantage.

• Control runs were regularly completed for the sand traction and incline traction tests to establish a reference point and repeated during testing to reconfirm this point.

• For the tar braking test, each set was driven beforehand and a practice stop done to increase temperature. Tyre pressures were checked before each test run sequence.

• At least three runs per tyre were allowed. If a run was not representative (for instance when the speed was too low before braking), up to two extra runs were allowed.

• The best and worst runs were dropped and the average of three runs was recorded.

• The tracks for the traction and incline tests were regularly checked and maintained.

• The prescribed tyre pressures were confirmed on the test vehicles before every test.

• Representatives of all tyre manufacturers were invited to attend the tests. They could also appeal, should they pick up anything untoward.

• A technical committee consisting of a representative from Klipbokkop, as well as three different tyre brands, was elected daily to address any problems or complaints. The decision of this committee was final.

• Representatives from the controlling bodies in the tyre industry (SATMC and TIASA) were invited as independent observers.

The notes on the contenders

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 (15)

Given their rigid profile and aggressive tread pattern, the BFGs did quite well. They were surprisingly quiet on asphalt, and their braking performance on tar and gravel was consistent and controlled. Its stiff sidewalls compromised it in terms of traction, but it is still the go-to tyre for overlanding.

Pirelli Scorpion AT Plus (14)

Pirelli is widely acknowledged for its high-performance rubber and has a solid reputation. The braking performance of the Scorpion ATs was fair, but the tyres did not do well in the sand and on gravel. Still, the Pirellis ensured a comfortable ride and light steering response.

Apollo Apterra AT2 (13)

This Indian-sourced tyre surprised with its stopping performance on gravel and its huge grip on the rock climb section. This grippiness actually worked against it in the tar braking test, as it triggered the ABS unexpectedly. It is well-priced for a threeply tyre and a close match for the Gripmax and Radar.

Gripmax Inception X/T (12)

Given its three-ply construction and quite aggressive tread pattern, the Gripmax surprised with its good tar braking performance and its quietness on the road. It fared well in all aspects, making it a good allround performer for those wanting a more affordable, yet robust tyre.

Radar Renegade RT (11)

The stable performance of this Singaporeansourced tyre compared to the better known Gripmax and Apollo, as well its solid construction made it the surprise package in the three-ply sub-category. However, we cannot vouch for its longevity.

Hankook Dynapro AT2 (10)

Based on previous performance we expected better results from the Korean Hankook Dynapros, but they disappointed in the gravel braking test and was middle-of-theroad in the others. However, it is a solid tyre with good local backup.

Westlake Radial SL369RT (9)

A new player in the market sourced from China, the Westlakes did better than expected, with good performance and stability on gravel, and good traction in the rock climb test. The tyre has a solid construction and is well-priced too.

Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G (8)

While the Grandtrek AT3G performed impeccably on tar and in sand in a previous test, it now was best on gravel but less so in the sand. However, the Dunlops impressed with their overall consistency and balance, more so taking into account their heavier construction and high load rating.

Cooper Discoverer ATT (7)

This more lifestyle oreintated tyre did very well as a day to day option and with a load rating of 114H we expected the Coopers to do quite well. They impressed with their stability and stopping power on tar, but traction on gravel and in sand was limited, possibly due to too high pressures.

General Grabber AT3 (6)

The General Grabber AT3 again proved why it is perceived as the king of allrounders in South Africa. It is a wellbalanced tyre, with good performance on all surfaces and this showed in the tests.

Landspider Wildtraxx A/T (5)

Another tyre imported from China, the Landspider Wildtraxx gained position with its good performance in the traction tests and its impressive braking on tar. This is mostly due to its quite soft rubber compound, but the tyres were not very consistent, as shown by the gravel braking performance.

Michelin LTX Trail (4)

During our tests the Michelins really impressed immensely in terms of their level of ride quality and road comfort on all surfaces. Definitely the most comfortable and controllable tyres out of all the contenders, they performed quite well in all our tests.

Continental CrossContact AT (3)

It was clear from our test results why the Continental option has been chosen as original equipment (OE) tyres for many vehicles. The Contis felt consistent and stable under all conditions but were slightly thwarted by gravel braking performance.

CEAT Czar AT (2)

The Indian sourced CEAT turned out to be the surprise package in our test. With its 70:30 tread pattern and light weight it fared very well in the tar braking and sand traction tests. It is impressive in all aspects, but how it will last in our harsher conditions, remains to be seen.

Yokohama Geolander AT (1)

The Yokohama Geolander has always been viewed as a good off-road tyre, and the latest GO15 proved this, in part due to its consistency in all disciplines but mostly because of its good performance in the sand traction and rock climb exercises. It is also quiet and comfortable, and priced competitively – making it the perfect allrounder in the AT tyre segment.

Price comparison

So, which tyre is the best value for money when comparing price versus performance? Such an assessment may seem straightforward, but it’s not, as pricing per franchise, brand and specific tyre differs widely… further complicated by numerous special offers.

To simplify matters, we took an average of the prices available and then rounded off the amounts. According to this method the three imported tyres, the CEAT Czar, closely followed by the Westlake Radial and Landspider Wildtraxx, are the cheapest, with the locally manufactured General Grabber in fourth position.

Interestingly, the Radar Renegade and Apollo Apterra are listed fifth and sixth, making them the bargain-busters in the three-ply sub-category. Also, top contenders such as the Contis, Yokohamas, Coopers, and Michelins are quite affordable – more than justifying their prices given their performance.

However, keep in mind this pricing is only indicative (if you shop around you will probably find real bargains on most of the brands) and it does not include additional expenses for the fitting, balancing and alignment, as well as for extended warranties.

Unit price (most affordable to most expensive)*

1. CEAT Czar A/T                                                         R2 428

2. Westlake Radial SL369 A/T                                     R2 460

3. Landspider Wildtraxx A/T                                       R2 769

4. General Grabber AT3                                              R3 279

5. Radar Renegade R/T                                               R3 384

6. Apollo Apterra AT2                                                 R3 400

7. Continental CrossContact ATR                               R3 839

8. Yokohama Geolander A/T                                      R3 979

9. Hankook Dynapro AT2                                            R3 999

10. Cooper Discoverer ATT                                         R4 226

11. Michelin LTX Trail                                                  R4 239

12. Gripmax Inception X/T                                          R4 515

13. Maxxis Razr AT811                                                R5 315

14. Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain plus                           R5 599

15. Dunlop Grandtrek AT3G                                       R5 879

16. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2                          R5 919

*Please note price are subject to change – please contact your nearest fitment centre*

Looking at performance versus price, it is clear the CEAT Czar, Landspider Wildtraxx and General Grabber are the budget bargains in our shootout. When comparing threeply tyres, the Radar Renegade and Apollo Apterra represent the best value for money.

However, given the inconsistent behaviour of the CEATs, Landspiders, Radars and Apollos in some of our tests, and their uncertain longevity we are less prone to recommend them. Given this background, the General Grabbers probably still are the safer bet, as are the Yokohamas and Continentals.

Budget bargains

(top 5, two-ply)

1. CEAT Czar

2. Landspider Wildtraxx

3. General Grabber

4. Yokohama Geolander

5. Continental CrossContact

Budget bargains

(top 3, three-ply)

1. Radar RT plus

2. Gripmax X/T

3. Apollo Apterra

Conclusions

Firstly, given the small points and percentage differences in our test results, it is clear one will nowadays not find a low quality or bad AT tyre distributed through official channels. Also of interest is the influx of new imported tyres, and their ever-improving performance compared to established brands.

It is also interesting to see how quickly tyre technology is evolving, with synthetic materials playing an even bigger role in each new-generation tyre. This leads to greater competition amongst all the brands as they try to find an edge over their opponents, resulting in better, safer, and more efficient products.

In our tests the notion that a more aggressive tread pattern will fare better off-road did not necessarily ring true, as it confirmed a smoother tread could be advantageous, especially in sandy conditions. It also showed that tyre pressures are of utmost importance.

Some tyres in our test – such as the BFs, Gripmax, Apollos and Radars, as well as the Dunlops and Coopers – may have performed better with lower pressures. That said, some manufacturers are finding better ways to build stronger and lighter AT tyres with high load and speed ratings, and sturdy sidewalls. It is therefore imperative that you make very sure for what purpose you are acquiring a specific tyre. We cannot stress this point enough. Like with so many things when kitting out your overlander, choose the tyre that will serve your purposes best!

If you need to regularly lug heavy loads over long distances, also off-road, rather choose a more robust tyre with a high load rating (120 R or S), but if you are going to use your vehicle mostly on-road, and only want to transport light loads, rather opt for a less rugged pattern.

Also, please guard against generalising these specific test results – it was done under a specific set of circumstances, and therefore its outcome won’t necessarily hold true under different conditions. Rather see it as a guideline for your tyre application. And lastly, always keep in mind a specific tyre’s requirements and limitations before you hit the road – on or off the beaten track.

Readers’ Choice Award

We received a whopping 1 500 votes in the inaugural Adventure Afrika All-terrain Tyre Test (via our online and social platforms), with our readers’ top choice being the BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2. Thank you to our sponsors: Warn, Hi-Lift and Steelmate.

Top 3 reader choices:

1. BFGoodrich AT T/A KO2

2. General Grabber AT3

3. Cooper Discoverer ATT

 

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