TIRE TEST: BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 acts and looks better
On- and off-road, BFGoodrich’s latest off-road tire is quieter and more competent
Allie Marsh Published: July 1, 2018, 3:30 PM
Updated: July 5, 2018, 1:29 AM
BURLINGTON, Vermont – With 27 new tire sizes, 5% better mud traction, 8% better rock traction and 27% tougher side walls, the BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 tire provides off-road enthusiasts with both the performance and the control they need out on the trails. And the aesthetics aren’t bad either.
Available in 27 new tire sizes, the Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 tire is expected to capture 91% of the off-road tire market, monopolizing the extreme off-road tire size options you’ll find at your local shop.
Deeper grooves along the notched shoulder and sidewall ribbing help to collect and release any substance the KM3 tire encounters, improving traction in both on-road and off-road applications, and boosting mud traction by a reported 5%.
Michelin’s Krawl-Tek compound and an increased tread block size allow for more tire-to-surface contact on those difficult rock traverses, providing 8% better rock traction.
The sidewalls are 27% tougher, meaning any chance of punctures and/or sidewall splits are rare and difficult to achieve – not that you would set out to achieve this. Michelin’s CoreGard Max Technology provides 3 layers of protection within the sidewall to keep you rolling through -and between- those sharper obstacles.
And to top it off, Michelin plans to enter the UTV market later this year, providing sizes and dimensions specifically for side-by-sides and recreational off-highway vehicles.
On the road
Overall, I found this tire much quieter than its predecessor, the KM2. Finding I didn’t have to turn up the audio full blast to drown out that lobbing noise as you cruise down the highway.
Another on-road point is the softer compound. Don’t think that the softer compound will translate to fewer km and faster tread wear, though. Past products have proven to last well into their low tread zone, and some owners have sold them “used” with plenty more off-road mileage left on them. Even though these tires are made from a softer compound, it helps not only with the absorption of noise, but also helps provide a stronger grip on the hard surfaces. These tires actually feel like they stick to the surface and absorb any flaw in the pavement.
In the world of off-roading, you air down tires to allow for more surface area of rubber to contact the surface of the ground beneath you – more rubber to ground contact translates to better, more-controlled traction when navigating the rough terrain. It wasn’t until we aired down these KM3s that it became obvious how these tires work, and why they work so well. Their footprint increases exponentially, thanks to the grooving and notching along the shoulder and sidewall, becoming part of the tread at lower tire pressures.
You can also really see the benefits of the larger tread blocks as well, as their contact with the ground has also increased. These tires are designed to collect and pick up the loose surface beneath you and remove it – giving you traction to move forward – and they do that very well.
In the Mud
Getting down and dirty is where these tires really show their craftsmanship and capabilities. What makes these tires different and specific for mud, are the Mud-Phobic Bars that help to release compacted mud and loose soil from within the grooves of the tread blocks and out through the shoulder and sidewall areas, providing the driver with more traction and control in muddy and soft soil conditions.
The larger tread blocks help here as well, delivering grip from any approach angle. If you spend more time in the mud and loose ground surface than you do on rocks and harder stuff, you’re going to want these tires on your off-road vehicle. Those small subtle differences are what allow you to go farther through the rugged terrain to get to your destination.
Overall, this tire looks better than its predecessor, rides quieter on the highway and has improved in all the areas you want and need a tire to improve, which can only mean one thing — toughness and traction on and off the road.