Skinny vs wide tires pros/cons

scandy

Member
I’m looking at a few tires and in a few different sizes for my 16” wheels. I’m thinking 235/85/16, 265/75/16 or 245/75/16(probably not this as I want larger diameter)

I’ve got bridgestone revo 3’s in 265/75, and had cooper at3’s in the past in 235/85 Cooper’s were 10 ply and bridgestone are 4.

I remember not being very impressed with the coopers in 2wd and not aired down, would get wheelspin pretty easy and have to go to 4 in spots I should have been able to pass sticking to 2. with the bridgestone in similar terrain, loose soily gravely Colorado dirt, and loose baseball sized debris. I could cruise along in 2low in situations that I did not expect to be able to. And no airing down. I didn’t do much serious off-roading in the coopers to be able to judge.

now i think the bridgestone might just be a better tire, I’ve been super impressed with it. That plus I think i mistakingly ran the coopers at too high of pressure for the low weight of my rig and considering they’re 10ply, that could have been all the difference right there and maybe it wasn’t a factor of width.

so that’s my minimal experience.
Anyway I’m now deciding between a set of the same size revo’s or try the falken wildpeaks in 235/85, or in 4 ply 265/75.
Weights a big factor on my underpowered right that’s why I narrowed down to the revo’s, coopers and wildpeaks. Otherwise I really wanted to try the st maxx.

my off-roading is typically in Colorado conditions like described above, the typical loseish soil, some wet/ slime. And a good amount in Moab area, so slickrock, sand, loose debris and sand over sick rock.

I could see a wider tire working well for high grip slickrock type terrain, while from what I understand skinnier might be better for looser low grip surfaces?

A big concern of mine is off camber situations and traversing side hills, I’ve got a pretty top heavy rig, not sure how much tire shape can help to alleviate that though. I was thinking skinny tires with spacers would be better than wide tires with no spacers?
 

GoinBoardin

Observer
Skinny works good for me but they do suck if at high pressure off pavement. My truck varies in weight a bunch depending on what I'm doing so I'm adjusting pressure often. 15 psi empty off-road, 18-20 with camper, 40psi on road empty, 45-50 psi on road with camper, 60psi with a heavy load on flatbed. Half ton flatbed Ford with 235/85r16 e rated, 5200# empty. Used to have 33x10.5r15 and they seemed less pressure sensitive for good performance, c rated. I'd go back to that size if I still had the wheels. Can you fit a 15" wheel?

The Cooper AT3's I've driven were pretty terrible on snow/ice, acceptable when dropped to 32psi (and this was on a tundra double cab with topper and camp setup). Never spent time with them in the dirt. They seem to last forever which tells me they're awfully hard rubber and never going to be a great tire off dry pavement. Friend of mine has a set with 65k miles, not bald, says they're awful in the snow and ice. They feel rock hard.
 

scandy

Member
Skinny works good for me but they do suck if at high pressure off pavement. My truck varies in weight a bunch depending on what I'm doing so I'm adjusting pressure often. 15 psi empty off-road, 18-20 with camper, 40psi on road empty, 45-50 psi on road with camper, 60psi with a heavy load on flatbed. Half ton flatbed Ford with 235/85r16 e rated, 5200# empty. Used to have 33x10.5r15 and they seemed less pressure sensitive for good performance, c rated. I'd go back to that size if I still had the wheels. Can you fit a 15" wheel?

The Cooper AT3's I've driven were pretty terrible on snow/ice, acceptable when dropped to 32psi (and this was on a tundra double cab with topper and camp setup). Never spent time with them in the dirt. They seem to last forever which tells me they're awfully hard rubber and never going to be a great tire off dry pavement. Friend of mine has a set with 65k miles, not bald, says they're awful in the snow and ice. They feel rock hard.
yeah they just seemed like a stiff hard tire. So I don’t want to judge narrower tires just off that experience.

I’m considering going to a 15” rim to run a 31x10.5 that seems like a great size.

it seems like the advantage of a narrower tire is mostly that they deform to abnormalities more where wider floats over the top, but if the pressures so high that it can’t deform then I guess that advantage goes out the window and wider might be better.
 

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dreadlocks

Well-known member
I go skinny here in Colorado now, it does seem to necessitate deflating more than my last wide AT's I had but in the winter I've found its much harder to get stuck with the narrower tires, my light Jeep with fat all terrains could get its self stuck alot easier than my heavy SUV w/skinny all terrains.. they both have bout the same clearance and tire OD, and both rocking KO2's on 17's.. Just Jeep is 265 and SUV is 245..

Now on sand its the opposite, Jeep really takes effort to get it stuck with fat tires and less weight..
 

jadmt

Well-known member
I run two sets of tires one set of 315/70-17 ie 35/12.5 and one set of 255/80-17 ie 33/10-17. My 255/80-17 are Falken at3w's and they are an awesome tire for DD and for mild off-roading but when I head to Moab or do tougher trails I slap on the 35" cooper ST Maxx's. If for some reason I could only run one set it would be the bigger ones. I have done many back to back mpg tests and they get very close to the same highway mpg the skinnier ones do better in city driving by a mile or two mpg. I have a lifted 4 door wrangler. In off camber situations I do not think there is any difference between the skinner tires on stock rims with 6.2" backspacing and the fatter ones on AEV rims with 5.2" bs.

I have also had cooper at3's in load C and the Falken at3w are better in the winter driving. almost stick like studs yet they are quiet and smooth even in an E rated tire.
 

Robert Bills

Explorer
I recently completed a 3 week overland trip to Cabo San Lucas on Cooper Discoverer AT3, 265/75R16, Load Range C tires. They were good to very good in all conditions, including good pavement, bad pavement, graded roads, rocks, sand and mud, wet or dry. I have not driven in the snow with these tires and typically avoid snow when I can.

The AT3's replaced a set of Cooper Discover ST/Maxx, 265/75R16, Load Range E. I put 40,000 miles on these tires including three trips to Moab. These are a rugged tire with 3-ply sidewalls and an aggressive AT tread. I would have replaced them with another set of ST/Maxx in the LT255/85R16 size for the extra diameter without extra width, but the vehicle is now primarily a daily driver and is likely to be sold within the next two years, and I have since added a Jeep to my "fleet," so I decided to try the less expensive and less aggressive Cooper AT3's in the stock size.

There aren't many 255/85R16 tire choices. Its too bad there aren't more, at 33.1-33.3 in diameter with a 10" width it may be the "perfect overland size," but the size isn't as popular as it should be or once was. BFG, Cooper, Interco, Mastercraft, Maxxis and Toyo have options. There may be others and there is a thread here on Expo devoted exclusively to that tire size.

One moderately priced 255/85 MT is the Maxxis Big Horn MT-762. I am using one as my "skinny spare" for my '06 Jeep LJ with LT315/75R16 tires ("metric 35's") on the ground. The 33.3" diameter of the MT-762 255/85R16 is close enough to work as a spare with the 34.5" diameter of my 315/75R16 Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ/P3's and the MT-762 is lighter and less bulky. It is also likely that my next tires for the jeep will be MT rather than AT so I was thinking ahead.

My choice for an all terrain 255/85R16 would be the ST/Maxx.
 

Grassland

Well-known member
What are you driving?

I'd vote the 235/85R16 personally. I ran 235/80R17 and 34x10.5R17 KO2s on the same truck, both load E, and the fuel economy was better in the 235. Truck handled better on road. Didn't off road the 235 enough to say if its better than the 34.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
sandy / loose soil conditions, I'd go wider for 'flotation'

Skinnier if you can expect to cut thru loose overburden to a a more solid surface to grip on. Goes for shallow mud, too.
 

shade

Well-known member
I dug this up and posted it in another thread. The forum makes the links look the same, with text from the OP instead of the article I quoted, but I had to break the article into three unique posts due to the character limit.

Tire Selection for Expedition Travel: The Impact of Tire Width on Traction
 
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Shovel

Dreaming Ape
If it makes any difference to you, I went from a skinnier (255/80) to a wider (285/70) tire on my 2015 Ram 1500 4x4 - very similar outside diameter, both load range E, same wheels, both all-terrain tread pattern.

Not much changed about handling, not much changed about behavior on soft surfaces. I spent enough time with both tires by now that I'm certain I got somewhat better fuel mileage on the narrower ones, I could sustain 19mpg on interstate road trips with the 255's and can't really sustain more than 17.5 now. I do have a different front bumper now and it's likely that is involved in the MPG difference but nothing else has changed.
 

rayra

Expedition Leader
everything else being equal, you should get slightly better mileage with a narrower tire, due to less rolling resistance and the smaller contact patch.
 

Shovel

Dreaming Ape
everything else being equal, you should get slightly better mileage with a narrower tire
Yeah, expected - I just wanted to report that my measured experience agrees with the projection. A series of one doesn't prove anything but it's still some data to consider.
 

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Climberclimb

Observer
Hi
I am running a 235/85/16 Falcons on a 2015 Tacoma. Lost a bit of fuel economy, but I love the ride. They are fantastic in all conditions that I have put them through. No mud though! Ice and snow they are amazing. Hope this helps.
Cheers
 

scandy

Member
Yeah think I’m pretty set on the falken. Really like the revo’s but I’ve been wanting to try the wildpeaks for awhile now.

im leaning towards the 235/85 over the 265/75. Only thing is the 235/85 only comes in 10 ply, where the 265/75 comes in their SL casing, which I’m assuming would be more comfortable at normal pressures? With the amount of long rough washboardy roads I do comfort is a decent factor.
Plus the 235/85’s weigh alike 5-6lbs more. Not huge, but I need all the help I can get weight wise
 
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