Sunday, February 01, 2009
Yep, they're loud ... but they're worth it. The first thing that came to mind when we looked at the Nitto Mud Grapplers was how much they kind of resembled a Swamper Bogger. The Mud Grapplers have an extremely aggressive (and loud) tread and sidewall. However, aggressive tread, noise, and bitchin' traction in the soft stuff is all the two tires have in common. The Nittos are probably the roundest radial mud tires we have ever come in contact with. We mounted our 35x12.50R16 Nittos on a set of aluminum 16x8s. One of the tires needed only 1/4 ounce of wheel weight to balance out. The rest of them averaged 2 ounces. If you're not familiar with 35-inch mud tires, that's unheard of and unbelievable. The Nittos are precision tires when compared to the rest of the mud-tire market.
The Mud Grapplers are available in sizes ranging from 33 to 40 inches, and Nitto offers two widths for some tire sizes. However, we'd like to see more Mud Grapplers for 15-inch wheels in sizes smaller than 33s and possibly larger diameters in wheels other than 18s, 20s, and 22s. The Nittos are typically a tad wider (mostly because of the aggressive sidewalls) and heavier than similarly sized radials. There are also two different sidewalls. One side of the tire is smooth between the sidewall lugs and the other has a sort of gimmicky reptile skin between them. We mounted ours smooth side out for a cleaner look.
The reptile skin between the sidewall lugs on one side adds a bit more protection and traction, but it's really for show. We mounted our Nittos with the smooth side out.Our Nittos run true after over 5,000 on- and off-road miles. There is no out-of-balance vibration, only the sound of the tread lugs slapping the pavement. Unbelievably, these aggressive tires stick well to wet streets, even on rain- and oil-soaked California roadways. Hard braking and heavy-footed stoplight launches are more predictable and slip-free than other more popular mud tires we have tested, thanks in part to the wide and deep sipes in the middle of the large lugs.
The Nitto Mud Grapplers are king in the soft stuff. Mud and sand is where these tires really shine. They move a lot of material, so bring your right foot to the party. It's needed to spin them in heavier sand and muck. At a relatively-high (for our Wrangler) 20 psi, the Nittos floated over and blasted forward through the dunes and quicksand-like mud. However, sidehill performance in slippery clay-based mud could use some improvement.
Bottom LineIf you need or simply like an aggressive tire, drive on the street a lot, expect your tires to wear properly and last a long time, and you don't mind overly noisy tread patterns, then the Nittos may be the right tire for you. Off-road there wasn't a terrain that they were lacking in. The soft stuff is the Mud Grappler's home, but they perform well on rocks, wet and dry streets, and even in regular ol' everyday dirt.