As off-roaders, we all have different styles and uses for our tires. One half of the group buys off-road tires, but does not push the tires to the limits they were designed for. For those that do, we headed out to Gateway, Colorado and Gateway Canyons resort and tested out a brand new mud terrain tire.
Yokohama unveiled its all-new Geolandar M/T G003. This tire is a complete redesign from its last mud terrain and a more aggressive option compared to the all-terrain option. We had an eventful day planned, testing the tire in both a Baja application and on a Jeep.
Tread Talk – Geolandar M/T G003
Yokohama really listened to the consumers and the market. The redesign of the tire fit what mud terrain tire users were looking for. In a brief presentation, Yokohama showed us the new features on the tire, set to launch in July 2017.
“The three-ply sidewall is available in all load range E and D tires,” Bob Abram of Yokohama explained. “The extra strength in the sidewall helps against punctures and holds up to heavy abuse.”
Yokohama listened to what people wanted and that played into the design of the tread. They have optimized tread block-to-void ratio, optimized sipes, and mud and stone ejectors. The siping has a depth of 80-percent of the tire tread. The tread also features a new block pattern and pitch variation, which evens out the harmonics and is supposed to decrease the road noise.
“The wider and flatter contact patches allow for more evenly distributed stress throughout the tire,” Abram explained. “When the stress is more even across the tire, there are less hot spots. Heat and friction are the enemy of tire life.”
The tire was also third-party-tested against some competitors in different conditions. In that testing, the tire was able to stop an average of 51 feet quicker in wet conditions. We would not be able to confirm this, but do have access to the third-party report.
Yokohama’s big push with this tire unveil was the motto, “Go Strong.” Fred Koplin of Yokohama was able to explain what this meant with the new mud terrain tire. “‘Go strong’ is a concept to cover all of the Geolandar tires,” he said. “For the mud terrain, it covers enthusiasts who are going out, racing, and getting air, to the people who use the tire to go out and do activities like hiking or rock climbing.”
Now that we knew about the tire, it was time to head out and test the tire in two different segments. Yokohama had set up a Baja driving experience, as well as a Jeep driving experience.
Being in Colorado makes it a little difficult to get to Baja to test, but Gateway Canyons Driven Experience gave us the next best thing. The co-owner of the experience, Ricky Johnson, was on hand in addition to the Vegas Off-Road Experience (VORE) crew.
VORE brought out some of its short-course vehicles for us to drive and see how the Geolandar M/T would handle the terrain. The course was set up with rocky, silty, sandy, and hard-packed sections, not to mention its six jumps and 12 chicanes.
The vehicles we were driving were rear-engine, independent front and rear suspension, and at one point had raced in either the Baja 1000, Baja 500, or other race. They were legitimate race vehicles, but did not have a ton of power.
It took a couple laps to get the hang of driving them, but the power was just enough for us to see how the tire handled the terrain. Being in the first group, we had no idea what to expect, but suited up and hopped in the car to hit the course.
The first couple corners of the course were rutted-out, soft sand. To get through the area, we had to plant the tires in the middle of the ruts to keep traction. Even when getting off the best line a couple of times, the tires still maintained traction and grip.
We then went into a long left-hand turn on hard-packed dirt, which made it feel as if we were driving on pavement. Then it came to the fun stuff – a couple of little jumps that gave us big air. There is something about being in the air. The only thing we could relate it to is being in the tube of a wave in the ocean – surreal.
A couple of blind turns later, we got to the most difficult part of the course: a right-hand turn banked by a field of silt. If the truck got to the outside, the silt would pull us in, but by maintaining momentum, the Geolandar M/T G003s gave us enough traction through some super-soft terrain.
Continuing on the track, we hit a G-out, another jump, and then a U-turn. The U-turn got closer together as we made it through the turn and once again had some soft silt. Also on the course were a couple rocky sections.
The end of the lap brought us through a left-hand turn and then down the front stretch to hit the main jump. The back jump gave us the biggest air, despite the front jump being the tallest.
After two more laps, we pulled into pit row to switch drivers. The first thing on our minds was to see what the tires looked like. We were anxious, considering what we had just put them through.
To our surprise, the tires had minimal damage. They were brand new when we hit the course, so this was a true comparison. They suffered no chunking, just some outer tread block wear.
The tires handled and performed exceptionally well in a replica of the Baja terrain. The tire outperformed our expectations and impressed us with what it was able to go through. With the silt beds behind us, it was time to hit the trail.
Jeep Ride N’ Drive
After lunch – letting our adrenaline come down from the Baja experience – it was time to climb the plateaus around Gateway. We loaded up in seven Jeep JKs and followed our guide out of the resort and up to John Brown road.
The resort was already above 4,500 feet of elevation. Over the next 30 minutes, we climbed another 2,500 feet to the top of the mesa. The road was a maintained service road to ranchers, but started as a mule road when the area had its uranium mines.
Gateway has plenty of secrets and hidden areas around it. We only scratched the surface on our trail ride. The trail was not very technical in the beginning, but it gave us a great chance to see how it would handle on a Jeep in addition to being able to see some amazing scenery.
The trail continued up and we hit sections of rocks and loose dirt, and despite being in four-wheel-drive, we could have done the road in two-wheel-drive. Our first stop up top was to a lookout above the resort and near a cell phone tower. After taking in the views and a brief history of the area by our guide, it was back to the driver’s seat and the trail.
On a little more of the same type of road, we turned down a narrow dusty trail. At the end of the it was something that we did not expect – an airstrip, and an active one at that. The next part of the trail was on the airstrip, like something seen in a movie. Our single-file line turned into an all-out land rush across the field.
After our next stop, we got to what would be considered the most technical section of the trip. This section of the trail was nicknamed Rocky Road and it lived up to its name. The road had a few sections where we were able to flex out the suspension, but nothing too crazy.
Despite the trail not being as technical as we had hoped it would be, it was still great to see how the tires handled on minor obstacles. We would have liked to have had more rocks to climb to see exactly how the tire gripped on the rocks.
During this outing, we also got to test the tire on pavement. Our return trip to the resort was deliberately extended so we could drive on the highway a little longer and listen to the road noise.
The tire was quiet up to around 30 mph. As we got closer to 50 mph there was a slight hum, but nothing as extreme as some other tires. The tires did not have any choppiness to them getting up to speed.
The Geolandar M/T G003 did well in all areas. The overall performance and well-roundedness of the tire really impressed us.
After seeing firsthand how the tire performed and handled the dirt, it was easy to make our evaluation. This tire is for someone who wants an aggressive look, but also goes out and uses their vehicle on the weekend. Even with the slight road noise, they were not as bad as some of the mud terrains we have tested.
For more information on the Geolandar M/T G003 and for a full list of sizes, be sure to check out Yokohama’s website.