Sunday, February 01, 2009
One of the most important purchases any sport truck enthusiast will make is a set of tires and wheels. Not only does a new set of wheels and tires affect the look of the vehicle, the combo plays an important part in how well the truck drives and handles. So it makes sense to select the right combination based on vehicle usage.
Let's face it: Most truck owners spend 80-90 percent of the time on pavement. Their trucks see more mileage running back and forth to work than they do all year in the dirt. So with that in mind, an all-terrain tire with decent road manners is the hot ticket. But what if you want to run wheels bigger than 15- and 16-inchers? Is there an all-terrain-type tire out there that's made for 17s as well? You bet. Nitto, a name synonymous with performance street tires, has taken its patented performance technology to the next level in the truck market by developing the Terra Grappler line of all-terrain tires.
Not long ago, Nitto took the sport truck market by storm with its NT404 Extreme Force line of tires. Recently, the company set its sights on the all-terrain market, bringing along some of that sport truck market thinking and technology. Rather than just develop an all-terrain tire for the traditional 15- and 16-inch applications, Nitto designed the Terra Grappler for larger-diameter applications, currently as large as 18 inches. Like the NT404 Extremes, Nitto's new Terra Grappler is specifically designed for light-truck and SUV applications. And since they're also available in Load Range D and E ratings, they're an excellent choice for the eight-lug 1/2- and 1-ton truck owner seeking all-terrain tires with load-carrying capabilities.
The heart of the new Terra Grappler is Nitto's unique tread design, which provides all-season performance on the road with all-terrain traction on dirt. Staggered shoulder lugs ensure solid traction in deep sand, loose gravel, and even in the mud. Tread block coupling joints between the tread block elements reduce excessive flex for better on-road traction and handling. Other design elements, such as coupling joints, high-density siping, and a balanced void ratio, also aid in on-road handling characteristics, while enhancing traction off-road.
Nitto is also the first company to recognize the popularity of lifted two-wheel-drive pickups, many of which started life as lowered sport trucks. During their lifetime as lower street cruisers, many of these trucks sported 17-, 18-, and 20-inch billet wheels. Enthusiasts who lift their lowered rigs can keep their larger-diameter wheels as Nitto offers 17- and 18-inch sizes in the Terra Grappler, with new 20-inch sizes on the way. Currently, Nitto offers the Terra Grappler in nine sizes, ranging from LT265/75R16 to LT325/60R18. And for those of you seeking a mud-terrain-type tire, Nitto is currently working on a new design that will also be offered in larger-diameter sizes.
We put the Nitto Terra Grapplers through our rigorous tire test regime. Our test mule was an '02 Chevy 1500 HD fitted with a set of LT285/75R16s (33x11.00R16) wrapped around four of the hottest wheels on the 4x4 market, Weld's Stone Crushers. With a little tweaking of the front torsion bars, the 33s fit the Chevy like a glove, with no rubbing.
On-road, the Terra Grapplers are remarkably quiet, offering solid handling and good road manners, even in wet conditions. Even at 50 psi, the ride quality was good on this heavy-duty truck. On dirt, the Terra Grapplers come alive, offering positive traction under a variety of conditions, including sand, silt, and gravel, even at street pressures.
For the true off-pavement test, we aired down to 20 psi all around and hit the rocks. The Terra Grappler's wraparound tread design not only looks cool, but provides an extra measure of traction and sidewall protection on the rocks. Even with a Load Range D tire, the Terra Grapplers managed to efficiently form around big rocks.
Making a tire and wheel purchase for your truck should be dependent on how you drive it and where you take it. If you're in the market for a great all-around tire that offers excellent road manners and great off-road performance, check into Nitto's new Terra Grappler.
Hot WheelsOne of the easiest ways to change the look of your truck is with a new set of wheels and tires, and one of the hottest wheels on the 4x4 market today is Weld Racing's Stone Crusher. Part of Weld's Super Single lineup, the Stone Crusher is a tough, two-piece, forged-alloy truck wheel that is 100 percent CNC-machined. Built tough, with load ratings between 2,400 and 3,200 pounds per wheel, the Stone Crusher and sister wheel, Mountain Crusher, are some of the most popular wheels on the market today. They are offered in several sizes and backspacing, from 15x8- to 18x10-inch, and come in a variety of lug patterns. They really made a difference in the look of our Chevy 1500 HD test mule.
Tire Size Max Load
LT265/75R16 D 119Q 3,000 @ 65
LT265/75R16 E 123Q 3,415 @ 80
LT285/75R16 D 122Q 3,305 @ 65
LT295/75R16 D 123Q 3,415 @ 65
LT305/70R16 E 124Q 3,525 @ 65
LT315/75R16 D 121Q 3,195 @ 50
LT325/70R16 D 121Q 3,195 @ 50
LT365/65R16 D 125S 3,638 @ 50
P265/70R17 113S 2,535 @ 44