Same terrain, new KO tire
The terrain is the same, but the new BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 light truck tire is different from its predecessor. By comparison, it has tougher sidewalls, longer tread life and improved traction for off-road and highway driving.
Michelin North America Inc. says the All-Terrain T/A KO2 will appeal to light truck and SUV drivers who use their vehicles on the highway, on the work site and in off-road conditions. The KO2 is an all-season tire that has earned the three-peak mountain snowflake designation for snow traction.
The KO2 is positioned between light truck tires made primarily for the road and tires designed for heavy off-road use. The company says the KO2 is significantly improved over its predecessor in areas its research identified as important to consumers: sidewall strength, puncture resistance, traction and durability.
“We see the trends over time where vehicles are heavier and stronger with more horsepower, and consumers want to be more versatile with their products,” says Kevin Reim, senior product concept designer. “We built this tire specifically in response for those demands.”
In comparison to the KO tire it replaces, the KO2 has:
- twice the tread life on gravel;
- 15% longer tread life on asphalt;
- 10% better traction in mud;
- 19% improved traction in snow; and
- 20% more resistance to sidewall splitting.
The improvements add up to a better performing, more durable tire, according to the company. The company’s motorsports program develops new technologies that feed into mass market products. For example, the new tire’s 20% increase in sidewall strength is due to the use of proprietary CoreGard technology developed for the Baja T/A KR2 competition off-road tire. “The KO2 is the first BFGoodrich consumer tire to use CoreGard technology to resist sidewall splitting,” says Reim.
The KO2 is the fourth generation of the KO, which was introduced in 1977. The KO2 was used last year in the international Baja 1000 off-road race that takes place on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Reim says the tire’s performance on the car that won the Baja Champion class “helped to prove the toughness” of the KO2.
Changes to the shoulder contributed to better traction and helped expand the tire’s off-road capability, according to Reim. “Before the KO2, we didn’t have a whole lot going on in the shoulder. It’s good because it doesn’t compromise the contact patch that meets the road for on-road performance.” Differences include a serrated shoulder versus the straight shoulder of the KO and side biter lugs that “stick out to grab onto things when you are off-roading.”
Reim says the KO2 is the toughest tire the company has ever built. “Consumers will be purchasing a well-rounded tire that performs very well on the road, is relatively quiet and comfortable, has good handling response and is excellent for wet conditions as well as dry conditions with long wear on the highway. Yet it has the versatility and capability to go off road when needed.”
The KO2 has an obvious appeal for the serious off-road enthusiast, according to Dan Newsome, U.S. country operations manager, BFG LT tires. “It’s also expected to appeal to anyone who regularly faces challenging gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. The KO2’s toughness, durability and traction, as well as its improved tread life and great road manners, deliver strong benefits, whether for work, play or just to get home.”
The KO2 launches Nov. 1 in 12 sizes as well as plus fitments. Additional sizes will be introduced in 2015. The KO2 will be available in more sizes than the KO. The company plans to offer 61 sizes in North America, up from the current 53 sizes. The new sizes include a 34-inch tire that will allow enthusiasts to avoid suspension adjustments for popular vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, according to Reim.
The KO2 is improved in every respect compared to the KO, according to Andrew Comrie-Picard, North American Rally Cup champion, five-time X Games competitor and medalist and member of the BFGoodrich Tires Performance Team.
“You get double the tread life on gravel. The toughness is improved by 20%. In racing that’s extremely important but it’s also important in work sites such as oil fields.
"That is a 20% improvement on an already great tire. BFGoodrich takes toughness very seriously. Another area of improvement is 19% greater traction in snow due to new compounding. It’s hard to update an icon but this is worthy.”
The KO2 is produced in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Ft. Wayne, Ind. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the tire starts at $222.
A product to ‘pull people in’
Newsome says the KO2 tire has broad applications for recreational, commercial and highway uses. “It’s not a push product; it’s something that will pull people in.” The company says major improvements on the KO2 versus the KO are:
- tougher sidewalls through the use of CoreGard technology, a thicker, extended shoulder and computer modeling to predict object paths and create a sidewall design most likely to deflect protruding objects;
- longer treadlife through optimally blended tread rubber to reduce chips and tears on gravel, a new footprint shape and interlocking tread design to provide more uniform wear and stone ejectors that reduce drilling into the tire by pushing objects out of the tread; and
- aggressive traction through side biter lugs in the sidewall that improve traction in mud, snow and rocks, raised bars in the shoulder to help release compacted mud for better traction in soft soil and 3-D sipes that create biting edges for better traction in snow. ■
The KO2 will be released Nov. 1. Several sizes are new to the line:
35X12.50R18LT 123R LRE
LT265/70R18 124/121R LRE
LT275/55R20 115/112S LRD
LT275/55R20 115/112S LRD
LT275/60R20 119/116S LRD
The KO2 eventually will be available in 61 sizes. The following sizes will be new to the line:
34X10.50R17 LT 120R LRD
35X12.50R17 LT 121R LRE
34X12.50R18LT 121R LRE
LT255/70R17 121/118S LRE
LT255/70R18 117/114S LRD
LT265/60R18 119/116S LRE
LT215/65R16 103/100S LRD
LT225/65R17 107/103S LRD
LT245/65R17 111/108S LRD
LT255/55R18 109/105R LRD
LT285/60R18 118/115S LRD