Earthroamer: new tire/wheel/suspension


Expedition Leader
Matt Nakari of Earthroamer sent me information about the new tire/wheel/suspension package for the XV-LT.

The new tire is the Continental MPT81, in size 335/80 R 20. Here's what it looks like compared to the Michelin XDA 295/60 R 22.5 that will continue to be standard equipment on the XV-LT. I'm not sure where the smaller tire came from. I don't think it's the stock F550's 225/70R19.5

The 41 inch tall MPT81 requires a suspension lift and different fender flares. Earthroamer adds air bags at all four corners as part of the upgrade. No word yet on changes to the final drive ratio. Moving from 36.5 inch tall 22.5 tires to 41 inch tall 20 inch units raises the overall gear ratio by 13%. Maybe the 6.4L Powerstroke's 650 lb-ft of torque can handle the taller ratio.

Reasons to consider the MPT81
-- more ground clearance
-- more aggressive tread for off-road conditions
-- more air volume in the tire permits greater load capacity at lower tire pressure
-- air suspension may allow fine tuning of ride quality to different conditions
-- totally **************' appearance

Here's a link to more photos of the Earthroamer as it gets its new shoes:

Matt Nakari says the photos don't show the production wheels.
No word on the cost of the upgrade to MPT81, or whether it can be retrofitted to existing Earthroamers.

Chip Haven
It IS the ideal tire size for the F550/Earthroamer*, but...
I see they are using a spacer. That, plus the stock "unit bearing" replacing the older widely spaced bearings-on-spindle make me concerned about the ability of the front outer axle to take the stress of this tire long term. I might feel better after they do a durability test in southeastern Utah and/or Rocky Mt. jeep trails for 20000+ miles.
Dynatrac make a spindle replacement for the F550 front end, along with super-duper alloy 1.50" outer stub axles and upgraded free-wheeling hubs.
For a lot of money (~$7000+) Dynatrac could build a wider front Dana 60 or 70 that would eliminate the need for a spacer and remove most breakage concerns. If I were buying an ER I would think about specifying this - with an ARB and 5.13s.
I have no similar concerns about the rear axle.
If the diffs are opened to install lockers it might be prudent to change to 5.13s which are stock on F550s with the V10. This would be like having 4.10s with the original 32" tires. Diesel F250/350s run 3.73s with 32s but going up to 4.10 equivalent might be wise with the weight. With the 295s 4.88s are equivalent to 4.30 with 32s.
* The vehicle's tire footprint/ton approaches a Unicat, but as you can see the cost rises rapidly. I wonder if CTIS could be added?

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Earthroamer updated the price list today to include the new options. The price is $21,750 broken down as follows:

Continental MPT81 335/80 tires on 20” Hutchinson internal beadlock aluminum wheels (air ride suspension required) $10,000

Kelderman air ride suspension (Oasis compressor required) $10,000

Oasis XD3000 air compressor with 6 gallon air tank $1,750
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Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
just curious...Am I the only one on this forum who still thinks that $21000 for a tire upgrade is a lot of money?

you can travel for a long time for that kind of money...another member is planning a 6 months trip to South America for less than that...


Expedition Leader

You're right, of course. It's possible to buy a beat-up jeep (or a Trail 90, or a bicycle), add a bedroll, and just hit the road. Lots more people go this route than the Earthroamer or Unicat approach.

I need to remind myself that while I'm contemplating the perfect size for the holes in a sand ladder, others are enjoying the sunrise in beautiful, exotic places. At some point you just have to decide to go.

I have a Casio watch that I bought for $12 in Bolivia 8 years ago. It still keeps perfect time. But I also understand why people buy a Patek Philippe.

Chip Haven


They must be some expensive wheels... I just bought a set of 365/80r20 mpt81's for just over $2k (and the 365's are a lot more expensive than the 335's).

I have about 40,000 miles these tires across various unimogs, they are are great tires but they are not so great in wet snow or wet mud. I would suggest getting them siped for snow use, it makes a huge difference.


Edit: 335's should be around $400 each, maybe a little over..
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Rob's right, the 335 MPT tires are about $400-450 each. The 17" Hutchinson beadlock cast aluminum wheels are listed for around $470 +s/h. I was unable to find online pricing for the forged 20" wheels. However, some of the media coverage for the military 20" wheels with CTI are reported to be $1000+ per wheel. Since the Earthroamer includes a full size spare, a set of 5 could be $7500, plus fender mods, install (with possible CTIS), shipping, handling, taxes, and lastly profit. Not saying it's not a lot of cash and WAY beyond the means of most, just trying to shed light on the big number.

FYI - Stockton Wheels will make custom 20x11 painted steel wheels for the F550 for about $400 each. They show pics of them with 335s on the TurtleV on their website. Would be curious to know the turkey difference in weight between the Hutchinson aluminum and Stockton steel in the 20x11 size.

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explore this

This is great and disappointing at the same time!

While these aren't cheap mods you are seemingly paying for a set of Michelin XDAs and 22.5 wheels and spacers AND Continentals and custom wheels + a hefty profit on both. Are they giving you both sets? One would logically think this should be a discount to the upgrade. I'm all for profiting, but geez... The ER has to have at least a 80-100% markup already, which begs the question of who the target really is. At these prices one would expect an upgraded front and rear axle, gear ratio, and steering, so your front hubs don't twist off from the stress, the rear brakes aren't exposed to hitting everything, you can accelerate faster than a tote gote, and don't rip your arm off steering with the rebound on the stock components.

I love the Earthroamer, but it starts to get a little questionable of whether the $'s are going to pay for the multi $mm new building or an indisputable through and through top notch product. I'm all for paying a premium for the best, but one expects all components to match the price...


These prices have been posted less than 24 hours. Until the ER folks provide additional details on the upgrade (including the extent of any suspension and chassis mods) I'd encourage folks to hold off judgement. Who knows, the mods could be much more involved than the limited info we've seen, or they could test the market with their installed base and decide to change the price structure. Time will tell.
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explore this

No doubt a fool and their money are easily parted. Jesse James (the hand tattoo) knows this very well.

Don't get me wrong, I hope something substantial is missing, from a simple lift, bags, and an upgraded set of wheels and rubber for $20k+ (+the cost of the current wheel rubber setup, which isn't cheap). If not, then the market will play out with more players who will fight with less overhead.

I'm in the market in the next 1-2 years, so I'm keeping pretty close tabs and hope their ear is to the ground...

Scott Brady

I can research the specifics of the upgrade, but I do know that these are custom beadlock wheels. Very low production numbers.

No doubt a fool and their money are easily parted.
This quote and others like it are certainly not applicable here. People do not reach the level of success to buy a $250,000 vehicle by being a fool. It is quite the opposite. However, there is a small segment of the population that have the disposable income to buy very interesting and rare items like the EarthRoamer, GXV or Unicat. No one seems to question the value of a Ferrari, which can easily be three or four times the cost of an EarthRoamer.

I just know from experience (building two, highly modified expedition vehicles) that the costs accelerate exponentially with a custom, low volume product. Just my little Tacoma would cost nearly 80k to replicate.

Anyways, this debate will never end. I just think the most important point to consider is that we have one well established expedition vehicle builder in the US and several new start-up builders. These are exciting times and we should support these companies whenever possible, as this rising tide will raise all ships and make vehicles like these more available, and in the long-run, less expensive.

Just my .02 anyways.

explore this

Very interested in the specs Scott! The blurb I heard is that the spacers will be eliminated with the wheels which is a big thing in my opinion. I don't want to pester them too much. The Earthroamer is **awesome** and has no doubt sparked must interest and demand and potential competition that was very well hidden before.

It's just hard to swallow when you see off the shelf components at double, triple, etc. the price that gets a little hard to swallow. They no doubt have to have a hefty markup to survive long-term, but it becomes a debate of how much is too much.

Much like the Ferrari argument, one can purchase a Z06 and get the job done pretty equivalently. It does become a cost/benefit/excess dilemma at some point especially when it priced like a Ferrari, but all the components aren't Ferrari quality to match the add-ons. It is an excellent machine, but I don't know that ER has reached the refinement and prestige as a Ferrari quite yet, but hope they do...

BTW, your efforts here, the magazine, travels, etc., etc. are simply awesome themselves...

Scott Brady

Thank you for the kind words.

I think there are several factors that are at work with the cost, principally that EarthRoamer is not just selling a wheel and tire to a customer, but mounting it, installing it and then supporting that modification through their warranty and support. EarthRoamer is known for its exceptional customer support post-purchase. In addition, the cost must reflect the engineering and testing time before the first wheel is even sold, the overheads of the operation, profit and anticipated service risk, etc. Then, factor all of that by the very low volume and the price makes sense, at least to me.

Volume is likely the greatest influence from my perspective, as there is limited economy of scale, like is seen with a Tacoma from Toyota, where 200,000+ units are sold in a year.

I can say from my own experience, that buying the EarthRoamer Jeep made a lot of sense, financially to some degree, but most importantly efficiency. Certainly there are business/financial benefits, but much more importantly buying the XV-JP is a huge time saver. My Tacoma was a great project, and I loved every moment of it, but I want to spend my time traveling and exploring, not designing and building a one-off vehicle.

It is often said that you either have time or money - for me, time is the only thing I cannot make more of...


Expedition Leader
In addition to the above-mentioned costs, wouldn't ER have to carry insurance to cover liability on a suspension modification like this?

I mean, even if the modifications are 'factory approved' that wouldn't prevent some idiot dropping one of these oversize wheel/tire combos on thierselves and trying to get rich from it...

Another consideration a DIYer wouldn't worry about.