Michelin LTX Force and BFGoodrich T/A KO2 – all-terrain tyres for SUVs and pick-ups; from RM550

Whether for utility or lifestyle, sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks continue to grow in popularity. Given that tyres are the only contact points between a vehicle and the road, these black circles are highly influential on a vehicle’s behaviour to say the least, and especially crucial for taller vehicles such as these.

Michelin has introduced the LTX Force range of tyres for the SUV and 4X4 market, priced from RM550 and available in sizes ranging from 15 inches to 18 inches in diameter. Positioned as an AT (all-terrain) tyre, the LTX Force does feature a number of measures that help it attain the on-road refinement of a highway terrain tyre, which will be handy for the vast majority who use their SUVs and 4X4s on paved roads most of the time.

One of these is Michelin’s CushionGuard technology, which features an additional layer of rubber that helps to absorb road irregularities and reduce vibrations, while BevelTread is its tread design which uses a more rounded edge for further road noise reduction.

Additionally, CompacTread technology helps reinforce areas between tread blocks to reduce their deformation and compacting, particularly under braking where being able to use the best available grip is crucial. This design, incidentally also helps with off-road traction, and has been developed with Michelin’s own experience in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

A deep and open tread shoulder design offers a large biting surface with an added 1.5 mm of rubber thickness relative to the main tread body, which aids in additional biting force in off-road scenarios as well as cut-chip resistance.

These were put to the test at the sampling session, where a number of challenges were on hand for the demonstration of the LTX Force tyres’ abilities. In line with the expected usage of the LTX Force, these exercises were tarmac-based, and comprised speed humps, a slalom and braking on both dry and wet surfaces, demonstrated as fitted to a Toyota Hilux.

For the exercise involving speed humps, these were simulated with wooden strips, and the exercise was demonstrated with rival tyres as well as the LTX Force. First sampled with the rival make of tyre while the Michelin example followed suit, the differences in experience of the two were subtle, though ultimately the LTX Force was judged to be more compliant over the bumps, as well as transmitting a more muffled thud over each bump.

Onwards to the slalom demonstration exercise, the rival tyre-equipped vehicle took to the course first. Following the initial slalom round, the LTX Force stepped up to the course next. In comparison to the rival tyre, the Michelin SUV tyre exhibited markedly better steering precision and therefore driver confidence, which also manifested in a slightly more immediate turn-in. The LTX Force similarly excelled in braking performance, where it consistently measured 1 to 1.5 metres shorter in braking distance in the instrumented exercise.

The Michelin LTX Force was complemented by its more off-road biased sibling, the BFGoodrich T/A KO2 all-terrain tyre. As befitting its intended application, the KO2 is constructed with tougher sidewall rubber that is up to 4.5 mm thicker, while a thicker, extended shoulder and an advanced deflection sidewall design helps reduce the likelihood of tyre failure in more extreme off-road conditions.

Here on the KO2, tread rubber has been crafted for endurance on gravel roads while the tread blocks feature an interlocking design for improved stability. A stone ejector pattern has also been designed to reduce the retention of stones and other hard debris which could harm the tyre. Helping further expel unwanted elements are the mud-phobic bars which aid is releasing compacted mud and thereby improving grip in the looser conditions, while its extremities feature a serrated shoulder design and side lugs.

Fitted to a Toyota Fortuner for this instance, the KO2’s abilities were demonstrated through the off-road obstacle course which involved a 35-degree mud slope (both on ascent and descent), elephant steps, side slope, rock garden and a mud slope.

Michelin LTX Force and BFGoodrich T/A KO2 – all-terrain tyres for SUVs and pick-ups; from RM550

Here, the KO2 tackled the obstacles with relative ease. These tyres particularly impressed in the mud sections, considering that these are categorised as all-terrain tyres rather than a more mud-terrain focused item, as they found purchase and granted drivers control given the slippery conditions.

On account of our brief experience with the Michelin LTX Force and the BFGoodrich T/A KO2 SUV tyres, these appear to offer a sufficiently broad skill set for the tall-riding motorist who demands a wide spectrum of abilities from their do-it-all machines.

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