Perfect off-highway tire = LTX? What?

pskhaat

2005 Expedition Trophy Champion
The off-highway tire debate is over, and I’m embarrassed. The winner has been anointed. Sans oil. The inevitable my-tire-is-better threads may now cease. Allow me to proclaim: I've found the tire and they are the prosaic LTXen. Or, rather the Michelin Defender LTX M/S as officially called.

¡Heresy I speak! “But brah, you don’t do the trails I do,” “Dude, you don’t know what you’re talkin’ ‘bout,” “Yeah my brother watched this YouTube video, and…”

But hear me out. As most revelations...well...reveal, time, patience, and a "I simply don't care anymore"-approach to things have led me to this nearly universal conclusion. The thing is, everyone who disagrees with the title of this post has every valid counterpoint and argument. For as many years as I dreamed of driving, I had the ubiquitous, full-on belief that “mud-terrain” tires were all there was to own. Nice big lugs, top and side, were the way to go. Better were when one could aftermarket sipe them and stud them out, ‘murica-style. Even as I write this, my daily commuter car in my driveway has Hankook ATMs on it and only because I couldn’t find proper mud-terrains in its P-series sizing.

But I age like fine milk. Classier, better, and more eloquent I don’t become. I realized many years ago that I just really liked the aggressive look of mud- and all-terrain tires. It changed the vehicle: made it--and me by extension--seem more adventurous. Who doesn’t want to play and look the part?

What changed for me was that I had sold my LC80 and switched to an LC100 and I needed new shoes for the new ‘Cruiser. Enter Craigslist: 295/70R18 used LTXen for sale. Interesting. A small hair too tall for the Hundy. Fair price. 5k miles rolled on them. Maybe I can save up for a few years for some real tires. At least these big street tires will get me through for a bit. Something aggressive with big side lugs for all those insane trails I do. Yeah, that. T’will make the truck look cool then. Fo sho!

On these LTXen went, and I took my chances. They trekked us all over across the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, you-name-it every trail we know and find in the Four Corners, and seemingly the breadth and depth of the Morrison Formation. Trailer in tow. These embarrassingly tame and lame tires ran at far less than 10psi for far too many off- and on-highway miles to which I should admit.

But once every day for a while I would feel like a total poser: a wanna-be who didn’t know what kind of tires real folks buy and should run. Then once a week for a while I would avert my eyes away from the tires when I drove somewhere. Then once a year for a while I would decide to rotate them. Maybe I kept forgetting these tires were there because they were so silent I could actually hold a conversation with my children at road speeds without the mud-terrain hum ringing in our ears. Yes, slowly I forgot that I was putting my overlanding cred in jeopardy every time I would pass a fellow wayfarer.

Of real jeopardy, I should tell you of a time last year where after several days of perfect low-pressure traction in deep sand dunes, my tire pressure gauge only reported about a ⅓ of the real, actual pressure. Took forever to fill the tires back up, then subsequently camped from mountain shale and forest roads for weeks at 120psi (←you read that right) wondering what could be so wrong with my suspension. I now carry two pressure gauges; I digress.

And there was that other time (of so many) just a few weeks ago at pavement speed coming around a blind turn on Highway 128 in Utah where we struck a large fallen rock straight-on so hard that one of the tires folded both sidewalls and made my steel OEM rim turn the shape of a valentine heart. No big hammer could ever get that wheel true again. That tire is now my spare, but escaped with zero discernible scapes or damage and balances perfectly.

I have found no terrain that I traverse where these tires don’t do exceedingly well. And they’re not extra-siped. Not studded. Not side-lugged. Not Mud Terrains.

Allow me to summarize:
  • Sand? Grippy with no torque yank,
  • “Moab”/Slickrock. Stick like old honey in your hair on slickrock. To be fair most tires will,
  • Highway? Quiet. Like really car-like quiet. No cupping. Marked increase in fuel economy,
  • Towing? High pressure inflation. No, don’t run 120psi,
  • Full trail use? No punctures, no chunking. Conformant at low pressures to wrap the surface. Not the slightest bit of negative anecdote for lateral traction.
  • Snow + Ice? Look at the designed sipes! and add soft compound. Out of the ballpark in comparison to any legacy AT/MT,
  • Mileage? 70k likely with compound still pliable and soft for high-mileage winters.

“Listen, I hear you amigo, but I need a truly aggressive and voided tread. I mean, what about mud?” I’m quite confident the LTXen suck in mud. But so does every mud-terrain tire I’ve ever driven. I’ve been trapped before in mild flash flooding on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in brand-new knobby MTs, they did jack all to help. Only a winch saved me there, and dozens and dozens of other times.

I need help letting go of my toxic desire for aggressive-looking tires; I’m too old and busy now to worry about my past postulant ways. How do I simply accept these LTXen as arguably superior tires?

523842
 

(none)

Adventurer
No argument, they are great tires. I've ran them in the past on a few vehicles. There is a reason they sell well. They don't look cool like a KO2, but they drive much better on road. Only issue i have with them is the relatively soft sidewall and tread giving a bit of a squishly handling feeling. I'd easily tell anyone with a truck or SUV that really doesn't see anything more offroad than a gravel road, LTX is by far the best option IMO.
 

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Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
...Looks like an adequate STREET tire...
...Might even work on salted /sanded city streets in the winter (Sipes do help)...
...some of us need more traction OFF ROAD... when the snow/water/ mud gets bumper to headlight deep (powder sand is relatively easy).

...might consider them for the primarily street DD/light duty O/R, Explorer... although I will likely recycle the quarter worn Mud Tires from the primary off road vehicle...
(Quiet is nothing, Traction is everything) IMO.

Have wasted lots of money trying all terrain tires that weren't, in the past; I may learn slowly but I do learn...

Enjoy!
 
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pskhaat

2005 Expedition Trophy Champion
...Looks like an adequate STREET tire...
Thank you (sincerely) for re-reading the post.

...some of us need more traction OFF ROAD... when the snow/water/ mud gets bumper to headlight deep (powder sand is relatively easy).
I assure you I am one of the "some of us" to which you refer. Like you, I've run nearly everything inclusive of XZLs, commercials, Dr. Brady's "arctic" special compounds. I'm the guy flooding engines, side-winched off precipices, getting brutally snowbound atop passes.

I'm telling you, these things are the real deal. Thus my embarrassment and thus my post to this point.
 

Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
Run what works for you!
Wide Boggers, they obviously ain't.

Off highway also includes off road, to my way of thinking... Street should include highways and at least semi-maintained gravel roads, IMO so they still look like they might (without trying them) be adequate street tires.

...so far this thread has been a pretty good advertisement for Michelin (who actually make decent tires).

Enjoy!
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Scott may not be competing at KOH with his 100 but he's no mall crawler. His testimonial is the real deal.

The only argument I might forward is what works exceptionally well on a 100 series Land Cruiser might not translate well to a general statement. I've seen 100s and 200s do some things something so ungainly and big had no right to do.
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
Happy Joe the first set of these I bought were for a '96 GMC Jimmy I had. They did well in mud (not deep gumbo but sloppy mud on logging roads) but what really opened my eyes was one January pulling my trailer down through my yard in the winter. We had a good foot plus of snow on the ground and I was pulling my loaded trailer (not too heavy but it had a new 8 person hot tub on it so not "unloaded" either.

I went through the snowbank by the road, drove down to the back yard (but I figured that was relatively easy due more to momentum than anything), but then I stopped and backed the trailer up to the patio, through the same snow.

That really made me (and my buddy who was with me) realize these were not typical AT tires. Since that time I have gone though probably 4 or 5 other sets on my Yukon.

They are very unassuming looking but i can honestly say the only time i got stuck was trying to drive through a 4 foot bank left by the plow which i would not have even tried were my buddy on the other side with his truck to pull me through (which he needed to do. Ha) and their own road manners are great as you would expect from the tread, but they are truly much more than a "street" tire.

Yes YMMV but i wouldnt scoff at these tires for any use. Just my $0.02.
 

aardvarcus

Adventurer
Add me to the list. I have had the exact same revelations about the LTX M/S2 and Defender offerings. I had two sets of wheels/tires at one point for my 2005 Tacoma, 235/85R16 LTX M/S2 and 255/85R16 Cooper Discoverers. The idea was DD on the M/S2 and off-road on the Coopers. The problem was I never swapped them back and forth, because I never needed to. The LTX did everything I needed. Primary offroading was on family property, up steep embankements, over downed trees, some shallow mud, (never intentionally went "mudding"), etcetera. I now run them on all my vehicles, hauling tools and gear where ever needed, pulling out stuck equipment, dragging trees, whatever needs done. Despite lack of snow/ice symbol they were excellent on ice.

The large number of sipes in the tread pattern are some of the secret sauce of why they work so well. I am convinced that benefit holds offroad as well as on road. No, I would not haul off into a mud bog with them, but I am not really interested in that anyway.

Meanwhile others which have much more aggressive tires get stuck in the same situations... Don't underestimate the role of driver, which is much more important than the tread pattern.
 

Shovel

Dreaming Ape
Those have always been excellent tires that punch way above their class on dirt. I have both of my 4x4's on a similar tire ( Continental TerrainContact) - looks street but really gets it done a lot more than the appearance suggests, off pavement.
 
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TooSteep

Observer
FYI - Consumer reports has these as their #1 rated All-Terrain Truck tire. They get top ratings for winter snow and ice, as well as rolling resistance.
 

redthies

Renaissance Redneck
Scott may not be competing at KOH with his 100 but he's no mall crawler. His testimonial is the real deal.

The only argument I might forward is what works exceptionally well on a 100 series Land Cruiser might not translate well to a general statement. I've seen 100s and 200s do some things something so ungainly and big had no right to do.
Word! These may not work on every vehicle, and in every condition, but having a 100 or 200 really helps you get away with things you shouldn’t be able too. It’s a bit like cheating. I may not be far behind in the leaving the MTs behind on my truck. That said, the LC and 4Runner do both still sport meatier tires...
 
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