I went to Moab, Utah to find out what makes an Off-Road tire, well…an Off-Road Tire.
The invitation read, “Come explore the Moab Desert where you’ll experience steep climbs and heart-pounding descents, rock crawling with Cosmo Tire’s new Mud Kicker.” Truer words were never written. Because one week later, as those same Mud Kicker off-road tires assisted us in crawling up a terrifying trail called “The Ladder,” my heart was definitely pounding. It may have even stopped for a moment or two.
Why go to Moab?
Home of the annual Moab Jeep Safari, fans of off-roading flock to Utah from all over the world to get a taste of these iconic trails. This extensive network of OHV (off-highway vehicle) trails is located just outside of Arches National Park. It’s an open use land area that is as breathtakingly scenic as it is exciting for motor sport enthusiasts.
Off-roading on this dry, sandy, rocky cliff terrain is not for the faint of heart. But it is indeed thrilling. If this piques your interest, or you’d just like to learn what abilities and protection a tire like the Mud Kicker can offer you, here’s what you need to know about off-road tires.
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Here are some Off-Road Tire Fundamentals
Equipping your 4×4 vehicle with a set of off-road tires is an essential part of outdoor adventuring and OHV motor sports. The additional grip capability they provide is vital, and will help you hit the trail with confidence.
Off-road tires are those designed with heavy-duty tread patterns, puncture resistant sidewalls, and broader grooves between the tread blocks. A good off-road tire delivers much better traction in mud, sand, or snow than a regular street tire. They also withstand more abuse than the typical street tire, which you need for challenging off-roading conditions such as crawling over rough boulders or grinding against rock canyon walls.
Whereas two of the most common types of off-road tires are all-terrains (A/T in tire-speak) and mud-terrains (M/T in tire-speak), the new Mud Kicker from Cosmo Tires are classified as a mud and snow all season tire (M/S in tire-speak). They have been thoroughly tested in all types of conditions, from mudding in the Florida Everglades to our recent test rock crawling in Moab, Utah.
To select the best option for you, think realistically about how you plan to use your tires, and what percent of the time will be spent off-roading. Because they are rated for both mud and snow, the Mud Kicker tires we used in the Utah off-road environment would also work well in winter conditions. These tires include an industry first, patented, reinforced bead area that provides grip features for added traction surface in deep mud or snow.
Comparing Off-Road Tires to All-Season Tires
Where off-road tires truly excel is in their durability and traction. However, they do not deliver the same level of ride comfort as an all-season tire, and suffer diminished tread life when used on pavement. Hence there are some tradeoffs with using an off-road tire versus an all-season tire. Typically, you will experience faster wear when using an off-road tire on pavement. You will also notice additional road noise, due to their hefty tread.
The Tires, They are A-Changin’
However, improved tire technology in recent years has been closing the gap between off-road and all-season tires. Tire brands like Cosmo Tires continue to innovate their designs in an effort to improve handling, durability and road noise levels.
When designing their new off-road tire Mud Kicker, one way Cosmo Tires addressed the road noise concern was by using a next generation low noise tread pattern. The design includes angled tread blocks to dampen that road noise.
So basically, if you want or need to drive an off-roading vehicle as your everyday ride, a tire like the Mud Kicker is the type of tire you want to consider. It will get you through the day-to-day grind but perform well off-road, too.
Cosmo Tires Aren’t New, Just New to You
The Cosmo Tire brand was new to me, and I enjoyed learning a little about the company’s fascinating history. Antonio Gonzalez’s father was in the business in Cuba for years. So at the young age of 22, the enterprising Gonzalez packed his suit and tie and headed to India to start his own tire company. This Miami resident knew the ins and outs of the industry well. But an additional spark came from his clear and inspired vision to create a new tire brand that would produce tough, over-built and over-engineered tires specifically for use on rough Third World roads.
The company was an immediate success, with their reputation and production levels growing stronger ever since, for the past 25+ years. To date, Cosmo Tires are sold and used in 58 countries around the world. They succeeded at their original mission of providing a durable product for not only commercial vehicles that drive on rough and undeveloped roads, but also offering a growing consumer product lineup.
Although they don’t consider themselves a “cheap tire” because of their quality standards, they can be found at a lower price point and continue to have increased availability here in the United States.
Even professional race car driver and MotorTrend writer Randy Pobst was impressed with Cosmo Tires. “The ride and directional stability all feel like a quality tire at a much higher price,” he said.
Mud Kickers Passed the Off-Roading Test
Being Miami based, you better believe the Mud Kickers have been thoroughly vetted by swamp mudding in the mucky Everglades. But how would they perform crawling steep elevations and rocky cliffs?
That’s what the Cosmo Tire Mud Kicker Moab Desert Expedition set out to discover.
Event organizer Jonathan Brownfield was happy to share that this drive event wasn’t just fun and thrills. “The team was also there to benchmark our rubber in extreme rock crawling conditions for the first time in the USA.” All of the Mud Kicker tires were in near perfect shape after a full day of rugged use in the hot sun. This test backs up why [Cosmo Tires] over-builds and over-engineers their tires.
Special features of the Mud Kicker off-road tire like the stone ejector ridges, patented shoulder claws, and patented bead grip all contributed to a superb extreme rock crawling, off-road experience.
Off-roading extreme trails in a Jeep was new to me, so I found our expedition equal parts thrilling and scary. But between the experienced drivers we had on hand, the impressive capabilities of the Jeep, and the obvious performance of the Mud Kicker tires, I felt confident during the feats we were tackling.
My experience in Moab left me with a taste for more of this particular brand of adventuring, and a new-found appreciation of what off-road tires can do.
Disclosure: I was Cosmo’s guest for this test drive, with accommodations and pro Jeeping guide provided. All opinions are my own