One of the most important purchases an off-road enthusiast will make is 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 on how well the truck drives and handles, both on- and off-road. So it makes sense to select the right combination based on vehicle usage.
Let's face it: most 4x4 owners spend 80-90 percent of their 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 inches? Is there an all-terrain tire out there that's made for 17s and 18s 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, and recently set its sights on the off-road market, bringing some of that sport truck market thinking and technology with them. Rather than just developing an all-terrain tire for the traditional 15- to 16-inch applications, Nitto designed the Terra Grappler for larger-diameter applications; currently as big as 18-inches. Like the NT404 Extremes, Nitto's new Terra Grappler is specifically designed for light-truck and SUV applications. And since they are also available in load range D and E ratings, the tires are an excellent choice for the eight-lug, 3/4- and 1-ton truck-owners 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 a lowered street cruiser, many of these trucks sported 17-, 18-, and 20-inch billet wheels. Enthusiasts who lift their lowered rigs can keep their larger diameter wheels because Nitto offers 17- and 18-inch sizes in the Terra Grappler - new 20-inch sizes on the way soon. Best of all, these larger diameter tires come in load ranges to accommodate eight-lug heavy-duty trucks and SUVs. 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 as well.
OFF-ROAD magazine was one of the first to get its hands on a set of Terra Grapplers and put them through rigorous tire testing paces. Our test mule was a '02 Chevy 1500HD fitted with a set of LT285/75R16s (33x11R16) wrapped around four of the hottest wheels on the 4x4 market, Weld's Stone Crusher. 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 came 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 wrap-around 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 form around big rocks well.
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.
One 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 Singe lineup, the Stone Crusher, is a tough two-piece forged-alloy truck wheel. It is a true forged aluminum alloy that is 100 percent CNC-machined.
Built tough with load ratings between 2400-3200 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 backspacings from 15x8- to 18x10-inches in a variety of lug patterns. They really made a difference in the look of our Chevy 1500 HD test mule.
Nitto Tire North America Inc.
6021 Katella Ave.
Weld Racing Inc.
933 Mulberry St.