So its more than just coincidence that both Toyo and BFG introduce brand new tires in one of the largest and most profitable segments of the industry. While neither of the tires is likely to be found on a dealership lot as factory installed options (perhaps the Ford Raptor excepted) both are likely to be bought in larger than stock sizes and by enthusiasts willing to pay a good deal of extra money for the additional capability and/or appearance.
BFG AT KO2's new tread pattern:
In the case of BFG it is their iconic BFG All Terrain KO tire that is getting a brand new version. Introduced in print ads this month, BFG has invited a whole host of media and drivers (Andrew Comrie-Picard, Brad Lovell, and Rob MacCachren as examples) down to Baja over the past week to introduce the BFG AT KO2. Running the new tires on a host of buggies, rock crawlers and other desert racers you should anticipate a raft full of "reviews" of the new tire to begin popping up all over the internet in the next few weeks and then in print a month or two from now. Its doubtful that there were many competing products present for any true testing of the new carcass. The new BFG KO2 is the 4th generation in this tire and is meant to recapture a lot of sales lost in the Balkanization of the offroad tire segment and, in my opinion, is a direct response to General Tire's introduction of its General Grabber AT2 a couple years back which is a shockingly good, dare I say, knockoff, of the BFG AT KO2 and sold at a significantly lower price point. Showing up with big corporate backing the General Tire AT2 has been a big seller for General if the parking lots of most offroad events and malls are any indication. General's bite out of the market required BFG to respond in a big way and the reportedly tougher sidewalls, redesigned tread pattern (which actually looks even closer to the General AT2's), and side biting tread blocks may have done just that.
Old BFG AT KO tread pattern:Over at Toyo they have been busy in the past couple weeks in introducing its new Open Country RT. Toyo is trying to position this tire as one that falls between its MT (Mud Terrain) and AT (All Terrain) but truth be told, Toyo's AT has always been viewed as being TOO street oriented to be a popular offroad option with a bit too many and too small tread blocks, too much siping, not enough lug spacing and not enough tread depth. Therefore, while Toyo says this tire is an "all new category of tire" that falls somewhere between the AT and MT, its more likely to compete against the BFG AT KO2 and General Grabber AT2 than it is to create its own niche. Like the new BFG the Toyo RT also has some sidewall lugs to grab the dirt and rocks and it retains Toyo's reputation for toughness with a 10 ply, E load rating as well as significant weight with the 35" tires tipping the scales at 77 pounds a piece (point of reference--my General Grabber AT2s in a 31" size are around 45 pounds). The Open Country RT has already been introduced to the public and there are a handful of "reviews" of them out there already.
An "apples to apples" comparison will be interesting to see between these two tires as they represent the newest technology, thinking and compounds from the two tire company behemoths, though whether we ever see such an honest comparo is debatable as most media tire competitions are merely just regurgitation of tire company PR pamphlets. Let me know if you have any first hand experience with these as it would be nice to hear a real world report.
With the introduction of these two high profile and highly profitable tire models, we as competitors can only hope for a few things--improved performance for whatever our sport of choice, stable prices (new technology and designs shouldn't result in a large increase in prices given the scale of these operations--does a new Camry result in a huge increase in its price? No), and, if we're lucky, a bump in marketing dollars put toward offroad motorsports in order to get their message out.
General Grabber AT2 tread pattern: