Earthroamer: new tire/wheel/suspension

explore this

Observer
You may want to try that "unsubscribe" button one more time - it didn't appear to work the first time. ;)

-Bill-

Let's just say I didn't expect this one. HOW DISAPPOINTING. Kind of like driving several hundred miles to get the runaround the first time. At least it wasn't more VMs behind the scenes.

Enlighten us on your product Bill, but then again don't... This kind of PR, salesmanship, and dodging should work well on demonstrating the capabilities of your product. Still waiting to be enlightened by that.


PS: http://notromnod.blogspot.com/
Sad to see the owners have to throw themselves on the sword with no backup...
 
Here's the problem as I see it: Most civilized people don't want to participate in the internet equivalent of a bar room brawl. It seems that anytime there is a post with something positive to say about EarthRoamer or EarthRoamer Xpedition Vehicles, the attacks begin immediately. Frequently the credibility of the positive posts are called into question and this discourages constructive discourse.

When trailsurfer posted his firsthand experience traveling with an EarthRoamer XV-LT equipped with air ride and MPT81's in Baja:

"I have been all over Baja with a buddy and his air suspension/tires LT and he went everywhere I did in my fully built Sportsmobile. Sand, arroyo's, river beds etc ... . And he gets to sleep in a nice level rig every night. It is really a neat system."​

We get this response by explore this:

"Well... Let's see some pics, routes, the works... Get your buddy to post up. Let's see this extra $30k++ at work!!"​

Many would consider the personal experience of trailsurfer useful information. The post by explore this seems to question the validity of trailsurfer's post and take yet another jab at the high cost of the tire/wheel/suspension upgrade. All too often this just leads to another useless war of words. Man up! If you just want to be an internet bully take the fight elsewhere.

Many of the questions in this thread have focused on the capability, reliability and price of the upgraded EarthRoamer wheel/tire/suspension option, so I will attempt to address each of these three areas in more detail.

Here are the Pros of the air ride suspension/MPT81 tire/military bead lock rim upgrade (http://www.earthroamer.com/galleries/mpt81/)as I see it:
1) Incredible off road performance, especially in soft soil and sand - the aggressive tread pattern, large tire diameter (41") and ability to air down all make a dramatic improvement in off road capability
2) Much better ability to air down tires - with the beadlock rims and taller side walls, this tire produces a very large contact patch when aired down
3) Ability to increase approach angle, departure angle, and breakover angle on the trail - air up the front and air down the back and the approach angle increases dramatically. Air all the way up and the breakover angle and ground clearance (except for the axles) get better.
4) Ability to level the rig in off-camber situations - When traveling on an off-camber trail, simply air up the low side to level the rig.
5) Improved ground clearance - With 41" diameter tires instead of our standard 37", ground clearance under the axles is about 2 inches greater (about 11.8 inches in the front, and 12.5 inches in the rear).
6) Better ride quality on and off road - It is an air ride vs. leaf and coil springs, enough said.
7) Ability to level the vehicle in camp - No need to block up the wheels or use leveling jacks, simply use the air bags to level the truck. The air ride controller enables each corner or axle to be controlled independently.
8) Improved steering precision on the highway - this came as a surprise to me, but the MPT81 drive better on the highway.​

And here are the cons:
1) It is a very expensive upgrade
2) Slight increase in road noise​

We have now installed over 20 air ride suspensions on EarthRoamer XV-LTs and over 75% of these installs have been with the MPT81s. The air ride system is manufactured to EarthRoamer specifications by Kelderman Manufacturing with proprietary modifications designed for EarthRoamer XV-LTs. We use two different air ride suspension designs since the MPT81 tires obviously require a greater lift to clear the larger diameter tires. There has been some debate about the shocks used on EarthRoamer XV-LTs. To clear the air, the prototype XV-LT and production units 1 and 2 used King Shocks. Starting with unit three, various configuration of Bilstein shocks were used. We recently switched to massive 3 inch body King shocks with a proprietary EarthRoamer design and valving. We use heavy duty front and rear sway bars manufactured to our specifications and we design and build our own cutout fender flares.

The performance of this setup on the trail is simply amazing. At the 2009 EarthRoamer Owner's Rally we led more than a dozen EarthRoamer XV-LTs through a trail in the heart of Arches National Park. Most of the XV-LTs had the standard EarthRoamer suspension, one had the air ride suspension with 22.5 inch tires and wheels, and two had the full package with the MPT81s and beadlock rims. The trail started near Balanced Rock before heading north west up to Klondike Bluffs. We encountered plenty of soft sand including a long, relatively steep sandy ascent, steep rocks, and rock steps. While all of the XV-LTs completed the trail, XV-LTs with the air ride suspension and MPT-81s had a dramatically easier time doing so. In the deep sand, the MPT81 equipped trucks simply drove through it. The EarthRoamers with the 37" Michelins on 22.5 inch rims often required several attempts to get through, and some even needed to break out their winches. On the steep rocky section of the trail, non-air ride EarthRoamers were scrapping front tow hooks and rear receiver hitches on the rocks. The air ride equipped trucks simply aired up and down as needed and had plenty of clearance. Scott was along for the '09 rally, maybe he will post his comments. Full disclosure - I am a bit of an EarthRoamer fan and I may be a little biased, but it was absolutely amazing seeing these 8 ton beasts devouring the trail.

There has been some speculation about the reliability of this system and the components we use, specifically with regards to wheel bearings and the use of aluminum wheels instead of steel. With well over 100 EarthRoamer XV-LTs on the road, including one that traveled completely around the world, we have never seen a wheel bearing or wheel failure - with one exception. A couple of the very first EarthRoamer XV-LTs used 37 inch Goodyear MTR tires mounted on Stockton steel wheels. After experiencing multiple cracked Stockton steel wheels, we switched from the Stockton steel wheels to Alcoa 22.5 forged aluminum wheels (later we offered Hutchinson 20 inch aluminum wheels as an option) and have never had another problem. Worried about mine survivability? Hopefully not, but just in case you are: http://www.hutchinsoninc.com/aluminumvssteel.php

The bottom line is that our suspension/tire/wheel system works very well and has proven to be very reliable, but as we all know it is very expensive.

I have been researching the best tires and wheels to use for over 10 years. I have personally logged hundreds of thousands of miles with various tire/wheel/suspension configurations traveling in EarthRoamers from Prudoe bay Alaska to Costa Rica and many points in between. There is no one tire, wheel, suspension system that is perfect for every on-road and off-road situation (especially for an 8 ton rig), but this setup is the best I have ever found for both on and off road performance.

When I first received a price quote from Hutchinson for the MPT 81 tires on military beedlock rims, my first thought was "wow, that's a good price," then I realized it was for one tire mounted on one rim - NOT a set of five! I decided the price was too high and didn't even offer it to my customers. I kept looking and months later I still had not found a viable alternative, so I offered the air ride/MPT81 package to EarthRoamer owners. The price is what it is. I could sell the upgrade for less and lose money, but that doesn't seem like a very good business decision.

There have been posts in this thread accusing EarthRoamer of charging "ridiculous prices" and questioning the intelligence of EarthRoamer owners for paying such high prices. Many EarthRoamer owners are (or were) successful small business owners and understand the concept of VALUE very well. They certainly didn't achieve their success by being foolish with their money. Many cheap products are exactly that-cheap. When I decided to go into the business of building expedition vehicles, I decided early on that I would build the best expedition vehicle I knew how to build regardless of the price. The marketplace was already flooded with companies competing to build commodity campers at the cheapest possible price. EarthRoamer employs world class craftsman, uses the best components money can buy, and invests heavily in design, engineering and R&D. All of this is expensive. With over 100 EarthRoamer Expedition Vehicles on the road, it is clear to me that there is a demand for high quality, high function, well engineered and designed vehicles-even if they are expensive. More than a dozen EarthRoamer owners have bought a second EarthRoamer, and two owners have bought their THIRD EarthRoamer. We must be doing something right.

Bill Swails
President and CEO
EarthRoamer
 
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haven

Expedition Leader
Since recent posts are a bit too personal, I'm closing this thread for now.

Chip Haven
moderator
 

haven

Expedition Leader
This discussion of the "Premium Wheels and Tires" package for EarthRoamer XV-LT vehicles is open again. Below are a few guidelines to keep our discussion civil and to the point.

Asking a question is encouraged. Calling someone out because they don't respond to your question, or don't give you the answer you were looking for, is not.

Disagreeing with somebody's idea or opinion is fine. Attacking someone personally is not OK.

Belittling remarks, needling, sarcasm, one-upmanship, and jokes at another's expense are not humor, they're hurtful. And forbidden.

We have no way to "prove" that an upgrade is worth the money for your application. There is no independent lab that tests off-road vehicles and gear. All we have are people's opinions and observations. So please, no demands for "proof."

Please follow these guidelines in this discussion, and in all ExPo forums. Failure to follow the rules will have consequences, including banning from the Expedition Portal.

Chip Haven
moderator
 

haven

Expedition Leader
Here's a photo of the different size tires used on EarthRoamer XV-LTs




From right to left, the tires are

-- Continental MPT81 335/80 R20, 41 inches tall, used in the premium tire package

-- Michelin XDA 295/60 R22.5, 36.5 inches tall, standard equipment for the XV-LT

-- Michelin 225/70 R19.5, 31.9 inches tall, the OEM tire for the F550.

In addition to the tires, the premium tire package includes custom beadlock rims, and Kelderman air suspension for all four wheels.

Reasons I can think of to consider the premium tire package:
-- more ground clearance
-- more aggressive tread for off-road conditions
-- more air volume in the tire permits greater load capacity at lower tire pressure
-- beadlock rims keep the tire on the rim at low pressure
-- air suspension allows fine tuning of traction and ride quality to different conditions
-- totally **************' appearance

The 41 inch tall MPT81 has a 12.33% larger circumference than the 36.5 inch XDA tire, and 29% greater than the OEM tire. With the OEM gearing, that increase in circumference has to put extra load on the diesel engine. Maybe the 2011 F550's 800 ft-lbs of torque will overcome this problem without the need to re-gear the differentials.
 

howell_jd

Adventurer
I love that photo of the tires side-by-side! That is remarkable (and I have the middle tires).

Something discussed here (or maybe elsewhere I can't remember) is that some ERs like mine have different front and rear tires (steer versus drive style). I think there is a slight difference between the two in circumference despite a nominal equality in tire size. I haven't experienced ANY issues going in 4HI or 4LO but I did change the transfer case fluid before this year's rally. It was in bad shape (by spectrometal analysis) at 60k but is the recommended lifespan of the fluid. I will change early next time probably at 40k.

The reason I mention it is that the drive tires have more road noise reportedly as well as wander I am told. My steer tires are quiet and track very nicely on pavement - and as I said earlier it would seem that they cause no issues off road (that being said I get a lot of observations that my tires look bald...very little horizontal siping but deep longitudinal grooves).

I will get my shocks replaced before I embark on an air ride which I would get before I go for the whole show. First I've got to replace my EGR cooler (OUCH! and WHY?) but that's in another post...

Jonathan

P.S. If I find a photo of my front and rear tires I'll post again - btw they are wearing evenly and have TONS of tread life left...I've put 24k on them without rotating yet (yeah I know there's a chance that my first attempt at a wheel swap will be TOUGH but I have other irons in the fire to keep my attention).
 
MPT-81 in action

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwkmc-LJC-0&feature=related"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jwkmc-LJC-0&feature=related[/ame]
video from the 2010 owners rally
 
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Redline

Likes to Drive and Ride
If I was in the market for an ER and could afford the tire/suspension upgrade, I'm confident that I would get them.

I believe someone already said this, but a medium duty truck (or larger) with an air-suspension is a very different animal (more pleasant) than one with regular springs. I'm sure the taller sidewall tires alone contribute to a better ride on/off-highway.

-- more air volume in the tire permits greater load capacity at lower tire pressure
This is not a small point, it really makes a difference in ride quality, even in 'smaller' light-truck tires. There is an active 'load-range D on Vans' thread here where this same point could be made. Though it seems many want load-range E tires at higher pressure, it can be very desirable to need less PSI for the same or more weight capacity (volume), particularly in a very heavy, firm, big truck.

I’ve never ridden in an ER (I’ve been inside two, both were stationary), but I’m confident that if price was not a concern, and people were allowed to ride in trucks with the different tire/suspension packages, they would choose the air suspension big tire option by a wide margin.


Reasons I can think of to consider the premium tire package:
-- more ground clearance
-- more aggressive tread for off-road conditions
-- more air volume in the tire permits greater load capacity at lower tire pressure
-- beadlock rims keep the tire on the rim at low pressure
-- air suspension allows fine tuning of traction and ride quality to different conditions
-- totally **************' appearance

The 41 inch tall MPT81 has a 12.33% larger circumference than the 36.5 inch XDA tire, and 29% greater than the OEM tire. With the OEM gearing, that increase in circumference has to put extra load on the diesel engine. Maybe the 2011 F550's 800 ft-lbs of torque will overcome this problem without the need to re-gear the differentials.
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
looking at that video it doesn't seem like the rig is aired down very much, not really much sidewall bulge when going over the rocks.
I really like the amount of tire & sidewall these have and I would be aired down more to make the most use of it.
 

Marc1

Observer
Thanks for the up-dates Bill. It is this type of info that I think most of us were looking for earlier, and I think this will enlighten some of your critics.


marc :ylsmoke:
 

Redline

Likes to Drive and Ride
x2 Bill @ ER

I know it's frustrating to justify yourself and your equipment to people on a public forum, some of them disturbing, but you did so with the utmost professionalism and diplomacy.

You also included some very important info about the price and performance. You thought the cost was too high, but lacking a better choice or value, you decided to offer the upgrade. Not too surprisingly, some customers find it 'worth it' and have chosen the option for the performance it provides.



Thanks for the up-dates Bill. It is this type of info that I think most of us were looking for earlier, and I think this will enlighten some of your critics.


marc :ylsmoke:
 

trailsurfer

Explorer
x2 Bill @ ER

I know it's frustrating to justify yourself and your equipment to people on a public forum, some of them disturbing, but you did so with the utmost professionalism and diplomacy.

You also included some very important info about the price and performance. You thought the cost was too high, but lacking a better choice or value, you decided to offer the upgrade. Not too surprisingly, some customers find it 'worth it' and have chosen the option for the performance it provides.
Agreed. It seems like many owners are choosing this option for their new vehicle, as well as retrofitting their current LT.
 

camperman

Observer
My 5 cents

x2 Bill @ ER

I know it's frustrating to justify yourself and your equipment to people on a public forum, some of them disturbing, but you did so with the utmost professionalism and diplomacy.

You also included some very important info about the price and performance. You thought the cost was too high, but lacking a better choice or value, you decided to offer the upgrade. Not too surprisingly, some customers find it 'worth it' and have chosen the option for the performance it provides.
x3 Why you guys don't discuss price of XZL's on Unicats? Why not? Why I don't see question why this tire explodes?
Tire boom.jpgtire boom 2.jpg
P.S. I know that topic is old.
 
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MBurzon

Photo/Video, Mechanic, Cook, Driver, First Aid
This has been an interesting thread to read through. Can anybody comment on the long term reliability of a Kelderman air ride suspension system? What would a service schedule look like post installation?
 
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