©Pablo Rey. Published December 11th, 2015, on Expedition Portal.
Global Nomad Pablo Rey shares his long-term review of the General Tire Grabber AT2
With the wrong tire, the loneliest and most beautiful beach can become an insufferable sand trap, mud a dark and viscous nightmare, ice a slippery game of Russian roulette, and sharp stones akin to Freddy Krueger playing God with your future.
Over the last 15 years of overlanding the world we’ve bought tires in four continents and been able to compare many brands and styles. We don’t always get it right. Some of them lasted for just 18,000 kilometers while the best have achieved is a more reasonable 48,000 kilometers.
Though we have always run all-terrain tires, at certain moments we would have appreciated tires with a more aggresive tread. For example, when we were churning through mud in northern Kenya near Turkana Lake during a biblical flood, or during a trip through Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe, when we got stuck in a riverbed and spent the night away watching a distant storm and waiting for an impending flash flood. And how can I forget that day we had 11 punctures. Yes, 11!
The first detail that struck me on the General Grabber AT2 was the aggresive design of the tread block and Deep, doublé-v shaped pattern. I said to Anna, my travelling partner, “With these tires we’ll probably go further.” They seemed to be more appropriate for our life on the road, and also added much needed centimeters (height) to La Cucaracha –our 1991 Mitsubishi L300/Delica 4WD. The van, which is equipped with a rather tired 2.4-litre, 4-cylinder diésel and is always fully loaded, has benefited from the improved grip –very useful when overcoming obstacles we find on the loneliest roads.
We had the chance to try the Grabber AT2 tires on mud (I really hate mud… miserable stuff) in Manti-La Sal National Forest, Utah, and in New Mexico snow. We never felt the van lose traction, as was the case with our old tires. The five-row thread pattern and multiple traction edges cannel the mud with surprising efficiency. To put it simply, we’ve been travelling for many years with tennis shoes. The AT2 feels like proper boots.
After 12 months and more tan 20,000 kilometers on all types of terrains, it looks like we are going to beat a new personal record.
We were not as fortunate with them on sand in Baja, Mexico. Despite deflating them to 20 psi, we got stuck –several miles from the closest Margarita. The wide and open tread that helped us in mud seemed to dig in more tan our previous tires. Maybe we should have deflated the tires more tan we were accustomed to. Maybe I was just having a bad day. I believe it was the later, as in Southern Utah we crossed fast moving creeks like they were dry riverbeds. We climbed steep hills in Chihuahua, Mexico, that could have been scaled by Pancho Villa’s horses 100 years ago.
When we took to the highway we discovered noise levels were reasonable considering the more aggressive tread pattern. This is something to appreciate if you want to listen to music without the annoying rum-rum sound of asphalt. We expected a slight drop in fuel economy (larger diameter, more aggresive tread), which turned out to be an aceptable four percent: a fair tradeoff for the increased performance.
After 12 months and more tan 20,000 kilometers on all types of terrains, it looks like we are going to beat a new personal record. We still have more tan 75 percent of the original 16/32nds (12.7mm) tread waiting for future travels. Overall, the General AT2 looks good and has performed well in a variety of conditions and terrain. We are heading back to Baja’s sand traps in a few weeks to perfect our “air down” skills –and arrive at our favorite margarita cantina on time.