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The previous weekend has come and gone and I'm back from some great wheelin' in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The Sidewinders 4x4 club hosted there annual Desert Run event which was well attended, in my opinion. I would guess some 300+ wheelers hit the trails to enjoy the scenery and rocks that abound in the area.
I made the mistake of letting Troy pick the first day's trail (gotta blame him for something every now and then) and so we ended up on a top rated trail called Copperhead. At the trail head, I aired down to 8 PSI. It was a guess on my part having never had these tires on the trail before. As it turned out, I was very happy with the performance and doubt I will go much lower....perhaps a pound at the most.
The trail lived up to its name and within about 100 yards of the
trail head, we were squeezing through a soft top unfriendly obstacle just so we
could get to the base of the 30' waterfall. Troy, what the heck did you
get me into (again!)?
The bead locks did their job of keeping my tires firmly seated. The Trepadors did their job in keep my tires firmly planted on the rocks. Lateral slipping was minimal although there were a few times when defying gravity was just not possible. Hey, it happens given enough weight transfer and an off-camber posture.
In the above photo, I have but two tires touching rock....the passenger rear and the driver front. The winch cable, with the help of a long extension, extended well over 100' to the closest anchor point. Needless to say the passenger rear tire is carrying virtually all of the vehicle's weight. Is that a load range C waterfall? The front tire was being held against the rock by the winch line. The best part....no tire farts, no air burps....I've lost a bead in situations similar to this and was overjoyed that it didn't happen here.
Right from the start, tread and sidewall flex were NOT an issue.
I was concerned about hitting this level of trail with a complete set of green
tires. While I had rolled several hundred miles up on the highway, this
was the first trail action they had seen. No disappointments here!
The previously mentioned 8 PSI allowed them to wrap rocks (as clearly seen in
the above photo) for maximum traction and a quality ride (assuming you can have
a quality ride on the trail).
I watched the driver's side tires as much as I could on Saturday's trail, Boulder Gultch to see how they responded to the endless wash of rocks. This was more typical of the trails we see north of Phoenix in the Table Mesa area. I was able to keep lines on the rocks that provided as little as an inch of usable tread surface. There was more than a time or two where I apologized to the tire gods for doing what I did to the sidewalls.
As I told a couple of friends, I've pushed MT/Rs tires on my TJ
for over 6 years with under several lifts and vehicle configurations. The
current lift is hitting year #4 and my auto tranny has been in just short of 18
months. I'm very comfortable wheelin' it as configured and was surprised
to find obstacles/ledges that I was certain would require 2 or 3 attempts but
yet I crawled through on the first try. I'm not trying to say these tires
make you a better wheeler, but I think they may compensate a bit for one not
always picking the most optimum line. <grin>
Sidewall bite was beyond anything an MT/R ever offered. Tire chunking....virtually nothing at all. A bit on the outer lugs here and there, but I am not talking "chunks".....more like a little bit of corner rounding (which is preferred by the competition folks). The siped tread seemed to do well in the rocks and this was the first tire I've run that had it.
The two major waterfalls I ran were anything but easy....and I worked Lady right to the limit before pulling out the winch cable. Troy noted on the second waterfall that if I had stayed with it a bit longer, he was confident I could have gotten to the top unassisted. I'm not sure if that would have happened or not, but I can say I made it further than I expected....and while doing so, the stability and traction was better than what I'm accustomed to.
I realize that a weekend of wheelin' does not prove a tires worth when looking at total cost of ownership. At this point, I am sold on the Trepador, no question about it. Highway noise and road handling are both an improvement over my previous setup. While we suffered 4 or 5 sidewall slices on Boulder Gultch, I am happy to report that none of them were mine! (I did have an offer from one of the sidewall slicers to buy my 35" MT/R take-offs.)
I'll continue to update this write-up, as promised, as I get more trail time. In a month, they will see a week's worth of wheelin' at Moab. I can't wait to see how they do on the sandstone.
I copied the following from the JU forum.....some initial impressions from 99GunMetalTJ after recently installing his Trepador tires:
"Made my first run on my new 35x12.5x15 Trepadors. 2.5 hr.'s of highway driving one way to the trail. The tires handled great on the road and hardly make any noise. We experienced a light dusting of snow on the roads Friday night and they seemed fine in these conditions also. Finally on Saturday we hit the trail. The first trail is primarily rocks that had a little snow on them. I had only aired down to 15 PSI and the tires work great. They flexed awesome even at the higher PSI and gripped the rocks great. The side lugs work great in the rock. A couple times the only part of the tire on the rock was the sidewall the lugs held it right on. On our way to the next trail we encountered some mud. It wasn't the deep nasty stuff, which I try to avoid anyway, but just that top 2-3 inches of slimey stuff. The tires seemed to clean themselves great. The second trail had a combo of rocks and slimey mud. Even with a coating of slick stuff on the tires they still climbed the rocks great while climbing out of a hole. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of these tires and my buddy told me he hardly ever seen me spin a wheel. I think they'll do great in my conditions. I didn't notice any chunking, gouging or tears."
Here is another response in the same JU thread.....this one is from TheGriz:
"I had a chance to put them through the paces at URE this
weekend. They shed mud quite well. It didn't take a lot of wheel speed to clean
out the voids. The mud wasn't deep, but it was quite thick (red clay).
They crawled flawlessly in the rocks. Kept my foot out of the gas and kept wheel spin to a minimum, they did their job flawlessly. I did chunk-off half of an outer lug on a rear tire, it was a big chunk, quite a bit larger than the smaller chunks I used to lose on MFG MTs. Road noise is still at a minimum, but I do get an occasional squeeky high-frequency noise from them. Somewhat hard to explain, but certainly not a rubber lug hum.
Overall, I could not be happier with the tires and the upgrade from 33s to 35s on minimal lift (3" lift 1"BL)."
I spent the day on Hell's Revenge here in Moab. I was hoping I would be able to make it up the last obstacle, Tip Over Challenge, without engaging the lockers. I had set tire pressure to 9 PSI at the beginning of the trail but didn't check it later....I've no doubt it was up to about 10 PSI by the time we got to the obstacle in the early afternoon. Anyway, I made the lower section just fine....never chirped a tire. The upper section denied me until I flipped on the lockers. It wanted to hook up but just couldn't quite do it. So....I tried.
One thing I noticed today was that the Trepadors are much
quieter on the slick rock. The MT/Rs constantly bark and chirp while
making a turn in 4WD. Mine were quiet as a church mouse unless I was
pulling a steep uphill climb....then I could get a little noise out of them
every now and then.
A few more comments in regards to the remainder of the trails I ran at Moab.
I finally got a chance to try the Trepadors at a lower pressure. We ran two trails towards the end of the week, the first was Pickle, the other was Mashed Potatoes. Pickle is fairly similar to the trails we run here in the Phoenix area. Since Pickle had a couple of good waterfalls in it, I dropped the pressure down to 6.5 PSI and left the job of keeping the tires on the wheel to the bead locks. I didn't hear an air burp all day long. The traction was great and the performance on the waterfalls couldn't have been better, IMO. No sidewall cuts, no issues.....the tires continue to work.
The best part was after running them at 6.5 pounds of pressure, I was able to air up at the end of the week and drive the 9 hour trip back to Phoenix without any tire balance issues. I could NOT have accomplished that with conventional wheels as I would have spun the wheel inside of the tire at the low air pressure while on the trail.