Tire installation is fairly straight forward, so we won’t cover the specifics of our install. We brought all 5 new tires (which barely fit in the back of the FJ) to the install shop and they were mounted in a matter of minutes. We did decide to install a full set of DynaBeads that Innovative Balancing LLC offered to let us test out on the new tires. Our shop had never installed DynaBeads before, so we were all excited to see how they work. After installing the beads and tire on the first rim it balanced OK on the balancing machine, so we finished up mounting the other four tires with the DynaBeads in short order. For our initial thoughts on the DynaBead product, see the full article.
Once the tires were all mounted and our FJ Cruiser was out of the shop, the first thing we noticed is that the tires fill the wheel wells significantly better. The larger width and slightly taller tires really round out the truck nicely. The blackwall design also matches the TRD paint scheme well. These tires have a very aggressive tread pattern which is quite the contrast from our previous BFG All Terrain K/O set. It’s easy to tell that these tires are meant for serious off road driving.
The ride from the shop to FJC Magazine world headquarters is about 20 minutes on various roads, so we were quickly able to get a feel for how these tires perform on several types of pavement. I’ve ridden in FJ’s with mud terrains before and you can always tell when M/T’s are under you, the hum is quite noticeable. While the Trail Grapplers are louder than our previous A/T tires, they seem a bit quieter than others. When we had the FJ on the interstate a few days later, it wasn’t difficult to talk over the hum at all.
One thing we did notice immediately is that these larger tires ‘float’ on the road a little more than our old A/T’s. At speeds over 45mph we experience a ‘drift’ when adjusting the steering slightly right or left. It seems that the truck responds to the steering input about 1/4 second after we turn the wheel. Again, as a new driver to M/T’s I think this is fairly normal and nothing to be worried about, just something that should be noted.
Since we installed our new rubber so late in the spring, we haven’t yet had the opportunity to test them in snow. We should be able to report on snow and ice performance in the Jan 2011 issue. We have had a few decent rainstorms and after a few brake checks and puddle splashes we can report that they seem to handle the water very well. We’ll also be looking forward to a rain storm on the highway to see if there are any hydroplaning issues, but I’ll be surprised if we see any of that. One other note is that on our TRD wheels and with 3” of lift we haven’t seen any rubbing at all, which is always a question with 285 tires.
We know everyone REALLY wants to know how these tires perform on the trail. Honestly, we’ve only had them on for a little over a month so we don’t have much trail data to report yet. We have been on a couple of easier trails and have had no issues at all, but we haven’t really tested them yet. We’ll be at the FJ Summit in a few weeks so these Trail Grapplers will be getting the full workout. Check our site, Facebook, and Twitter feeds for updates from the field during the FJ Summit. Of course we’ll have a full on-trail review coming in the October issue as well.