There is no denying that one of the easiest and most noticeable upgrades you can make to your truck is a new set of wheels and tires. While the look of the end result is subjective, it’s a visual change that can either make or break the look of a truck. The upgrade can have either a good or bad result — depending on your perspective. So, when I was ready to upgrade the wheels and tires on Project WorkHorse, I knew my choice needed to be on point or live with the consequences.
With so many wheels and tires just a mouse-click away, my search for what felt would be the perfect setup began. After several days of contemplating the untold number of choices available, I finally narrowed it down to a set of Hostage wheels from Raceline Wheels and Mickey Thompson Legend EXP tires. The reasons for my choices are obvious just by looking at the images — they look great on the truck. However, it takes more than good looks to make a proper selection.
Taking A Thoughtful Approach
I want to start by saying that one of the biggest trends in truck styling is towards upsizing to larger wheels. Unfortunately, the end result is not always a good look. When I bought WorkHorse, it was wearing 18-inch OE chrome-steel wheels. While I could have kept with the 18-inch sizing, I decided to upsize the truck to a 20-inch wheel.
Although the change in wheel diameter is minimal when divided across the rim’s total diameter, it is still noticeable to me. Also, WorkHorse is a work truck, so I was not going to select overtly large 24- or 26-inch rims with a tire that possesses minimal sidewall height. Although a larger wheel was planned, I also wanted to keep the OE tire diameter to avoid the need to recalibrate the speedometer. The larger 20-inch diameter wheel will afford the use of a shorter sidewall tire which will inevitably offer a little more stability than a sidewall that is taller. Again, the difference is minimal, but in my mind…
My Thoughts Led To…
So, I did my research, and I feel the Raceline Hostage wheels are a good looking and affordable wheel. What’s more, the company is a family owned business, and I like that aspect. The Hostage rim is only one of many wheels to choose from and is available in either a chrome finish or a gloss black and milled finish. The wheels are constructed from heavy-duty A356 aluminum and exceed DOT standard load ratings. Not that you’ll likely need it, but they also come with a structural lifetime warranty. According to Nick Huff, of Raceline Wheels, “We use a low-pressure casting method that results in a longer-lasting and stronger wheel, and each wheel is engineered and tested to exceed all DOT requirements.”
For WorkHorse, I chose a 20×9-inch diameter wheel, and in this size, the wheels are available in either a zero or plus-12mm offset. I ordered the zero offset as I did not want the mounted tire to stick past the fender lip an exorbitant amount. With the plus-12mm offset, the tires would have stuck past the fender lip much more than I would have liked.
As I previously mentioned, choosing rims can lead to unsatisfactory results. Another thing that led me to choose Raceline Wheels is the Configurator Page. This page on the Raceline website allows you to actually see the wheel you are thinking about on your vehicle. Having this option ensures your choice is what you really want before you click the Buy Now button.
Where The Rubber Meets The Road
One of the more important pieces of real estate on your truck is the four contact patches of the tires that actually meet with the ground. That band of round and black material is a complex assembly of cables, rubber, and polymers mounted on a wheel and inflated with air to give it shape and definition. Those few square inches of rubber determine so much about how your truck will react to a given surface and/or circumstance.
As I said, WorkHorse originally came with 18-inch wheels and tires, and I am “upsizing” to 20-inch wheels. However, since I planned to keep the rolling diameter the same, a little research taught me that a 2019 Ram 2500 was available with both 18 and 20-inch rim sizes. So, I simply chose the factory-recommended 20-inch tire — a 285/60-20. An 8- to 10-inch-wide rim is recommended for this size and the Raceline wheels are 9 inches wide, so this is perfect.
But how do you know what tires are right for your truck? I gave this some serious thought and although WorkHorse does mainly spend its time on asphalt, there are times when I get into areas that do not feature a paved surface. Mind you, WorkHorse is not an off-road vehicle, but I have found myself on some questionable terrain when picking up loads for people. This means a “summer tread” or even a steering tread tire is not a great option. If I never traveled off-road, a nice all-season tire would have been the right choice. But, since I do occasionally venture off the beaten path, I want a tire that features some “mild” off-road capability but retains a focus on highway use. The Mickey Thompson Baja Legend EXP fits that need.
The Best Of Both Worlds
Although it might look strictly like a mud and snow tire, Mickey Thompson says the Baja Legend EXP is a hybrid all-terrain tire that was developed with a balance of on-road performance and off-road traction. The off-road capability is evident with the Sidebiters (treads that extend outward on the sidewall), large surface area tread elements, and wide tread voids.
The Silica-reinforced compound fortifies wet-performance treadwear durability and a tread life backed with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty. The next-gen high-tensile construction provides a smooth ride and durability in what could be considered a lightweight package. Like I said, the best of both worlds.
Also, the Baja Legend EXP is a 10-ply (Load Range E) with a max load rating of 3,640 pounds at 80 psi of air pressure. They are more than capable of supporting any loads that WorkHorse hauls or tows.
With the tires mounted on the rims and then on the truck, I took WorkHorse to the local dealership for an alignment. Why anyone would replace tires and not do this is beyond my comprehension. An alignment ensures the tires wear evenly and not prematurely.
My First — And Lasting — Impressions
The tires I replaced were more of an all-season tire that was better suited for a truck or an SUV that doesn’t tow or haul a lot of heavy stuff. Since the Mickey Thompson Baja Legend EXPs are a 10-ply tire, I expected them to deliver a harsher ride. I know, I know this is a 3/4-ton truck. If I am expecting a car-like ride, I need to purchase a car. That is not what I expected and in fact, I was pleasantly surprised about the ride. Although the EXP tires carry a maximum inflation pressure of 80 psi, when not loaded or towing, I do keep them under 65 psi. The ride is surprisingly not harsh. However, I will say that — not surprisingly — because of the tread design, the tires do emit a small amount of road noise. The noise is not overbearing, and in fact, during a recent trip from Florida to Pennsylvania, the noise was actually something I didn’t notice after a short distance.
Since WorkHorse’s introduction, it has been a testbed that I can use to report back to you guys about how products work over the long term. In the case of the wheels and tires, be sure to check back as I plan to do several follow-up articles. My plan is to do my very best to be diligent about maintenance and rotations to give the tires the best possible longevity. In other words, at approximately every 5,000 miles, I plan to rotate the tires and also take a tread-depth measurement to see how they are doing.
So check back now and again to see how they are holding up and what might need to be done to help them last as long as possible. Let’s face it, tires can be expensive so let’s take care of them.