SEMA's annual new-parts party in Las Vegas includes an entire floor devoted to tires and wheels. Unfortunately for us, most of the new products on that floor are for street or just for show, like the 42-inch rim (!) on display this year. Some careful exploring, however, usually turns up a few choice items for off-roaders, like the tires pictured here.
General has had a lot of desert-race success lately with its Grabber competition tire, so the maker is bringing that technology to the public with a new line of DOT-legal Grabbers. Available in summer 2009, these new tires will feature three-ply reinforced body construction and the race-tough Duragen tread compound, coupled with a self-cleaning tread pattern and what General calls AMST (acoustic modulation sound technology) to reduce road noise. At introduction, the tires will be available in 14 sizes ranging up to 35 inches tall and will fit wheels 15-22 inches in diameter. At the SEMA press conference, a General rep said the company is also "looking at the 37-inch market." Information: www.generaltire.com
Dunlop Rover M/T
Dunlop considers its new Maxx Traction tire an "on-/off-road tire" that's more aggressive than a traditional all-terrain tire but not an all-out mudder like the company's Mud Rover. The center traction lugs provide grip in sand and dirt and on wet pavement, while the voids in the outer lugs contribute to the tire's self-cleaning capability. Sidewall edges help the tire cling to rut sides, and a rim flange protector in the sidewall protects wheels from trail damage. Available in February 2009, the Rover M/T will be offered initially in 17 LT sizes, from a 305/70R16 to a 37x13.50R22. Information: www.dunloptires.com
Nitto Terra Grappler
Nitto's Terra Grappler all-terrain tire isn't new, but the company used SEMA to introduce a 37x12.50R17LT fitment. Nitto describes the Terra Grappler as offering "year-round all-terrain performance," thanks to a tread pattern designed to grip the dirt off-road and channel excess water away from the tire on wet pavement. Other Terra Grappler sizes, in both P-metric and LT load ranges, will fit wheels 16-24 inches in diameter. Information: www.nittotire.com
Non-Pneumatic Military Tire
Probably the coolest tire on the SEMA show floor was one you can't buy-at least not yet. Cooper Tire has entered into an agreement with Resilient Technologies to jointly develop a non-pneumatic tire (NPT) for military use. The 37-inch Humvee tire features a honeycomb structure made from a "polymer-based material" (that is all that Bob Lange, Resilient's CEO, could tell us without killing us). The honeycomb is surrounded by a tread designed by Cooper and also bonded to a Humvee wheel, so the tire and wheel are a single piece. The structure is strong enough to sustain gunfire damage and yet still travel up to 75 mph-more than twice as fast as the 30 mph a conventional Humvee run-flat tire can travel after being shot. Lange called the design "very scalable," meaning it could be sized up or down for commercial and possibly even recreational 4x4 use once development of the military-spec tire is complete. Field testing is underway at Cooper's tire-test facility in Texas. Once the prototypes are completed, they'll be delivered to the U.S. Army for further evaluation.
Maxxis has added a more aggressive all-terrain tire to its Bravo series for light trucks. The AT-771 (left) has a multipitch tread-pattern design to maximize off-road grip while minimizing noise on the road. The staggered shoulder lugs create a biting edge for those deep ruts, while four circumferential grooves help with both self-cleaning on the trail and voiding water on the street. There are 36 sizes available, including a 31x10.50R15LT, for rims 15-20 inches in diameter. More Maxxis news: The Trepador extreme off-road tire (right) is now available in sizes for 18-inch wheels. Information: www.maxxis.com