At the end of 2016 the LJ was in desperate need of some new tires. Truthfully it needed tires at the start of 2016, but I had to make due. When I set out on my quest to choose a new tire I started off by listing a few criteria and expectations. With those in mind I eventually settled on the Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx tire.
|Out logging some off-pavement miles with the new Cooper Tire Discoverer S/T Maxx
Michaux State Forest, PA
Probably the hardest part in choosing a new tire was balancing the three functions of the LJ. First and foremost it’s a daily-driver. So the tire needs to handle everyday driving around town and on the highway. I also live in a four season area so the tire needs to work well not only when it’s dry but in the rain as well as the snow. Second, the rig is (obviously) an overland adventure vehicle. This means the tire needs to handle a variety of terrain types. This means pavement, hard-pack, soft-pack, sand, dirt, rocks, gravel, and the occasional mud puddle. Factor in weather and that makes for an interesting mix of potential scenarios involving reduced traction. The third and final function of the LJ is that it’s a rock crawler. While I’m not out there tackling the toughest terrain, I do enjoy taking on technical terrain beyond unmaintained forest roads. These three criteria, in that order, make up my leading criteria for what I not only expect but demand from my tires.
|Test fitting the new wheels and tires.
Most importantly checking clearance of the valve stem for the Coyote Enterprises boltless beadlocks
(More on the beadlocks once I go rock-crawling)
While it seems like an impossible task, the S/T Maxx really is a magic bullet. To say the tire meets my expectations is an understatement. Although I’ve only been running them for 3,000 miles I’ve already done my part to torture-test them as best I can given the short time frame. I’ve had them aired-down on forest roads and done a few long highways stints. I’ve had them around town, in the rain, and in the snow. So far so good, but let’s dig deeper.
Daily Driver Tire
As I said, my LJ is my daily driver. This means I spend a lot of time on pavement. That’s one reason I wanted to stay way from a more aggressive mud-terrains. The M/T’s I ran on the 2016 No Highways Tour were noisy on the road. That large lug hum got to me on longer highway drives. It also got to me around town during the warmer months while driving around with the windows open. Worse yet the large lugs and lack of siping made wet-weather traction all but nonexistent. Very few worse things than feeling your two-ton 4×4 start to slide sideways as you come into a busy intersection on a rainy day. The S/T Maxx, while aggressive, is a well siped tire. The large outer lugs are balanced by smaller inner lugs. That makes them much quieter than I was expecting. I honestly don’t know how they pulled it off, but Cooper managed to make a tire quieter than the old A/T’s I ran. Even in the snow the S/T Maxx holds it’s own as a M+S rated tire with little to no traction loss when driven responsibly. I actually had to try and purposely kick the rear of the LJ out on a snowy road in order to get the tires to break loose. Under normal driving habits appropriate for the condition I never felt the tires slip in rain or snow. Absolutely amazing.
|Those grooves in the tire lugs are refered to as a “sipe”
Sipes help move water and air out from under the tire lugs for better traction.
Those holes in the outer lugs are for studs – yes, you can stud these beasts!
Overland Adventure Tire
Here’s where the S/T Maxx really shines. When I go on an overland adventure I know I can see highways, back roads, and trails in one trip (sometimes all in one day). Having a good highway tire usually means giving up a little off-road traction. Having a good off-pavement tire usually means giving up some street manners. The S/T Maxx is the first tire I’ve ever run that makes no compromises.
|Two out of three are rolling on Cooper Discoverer S/T Maxx tires.
(The other one wishes he was.)
As I mentioned above, on the highway and backroads it does a great job of providing great traction and handling in all weather conditions. Off-pavement the tire does an equally well job at maintaining good traction on dirt and gravel. Just like in the snow I had to purposely try and get the rear tires on the LJ to break loose on a dirt road — and I couldn’t. At least not while aired down. In the wet slick muddy sections I could feel a little bit of wheel-spin while in 2wd (which is rear-wheel-drive for the LJ) but the loss of momentum wasn’t all that much. In 4wd I barely noticed any wheel-spin, due to the front locker and rear limited slip, so I’m sure someone with an open/open rig might experience more wheel spin. There were a few days I drove to the trail head, aired down, logged a bunch of miles off-pavement, aired back up and drove home on the highways, the entire time the tires never skipped a beat. When it comes to an overland adventure tire the S/T Maxx does not leave me wanting a thing.
I have not yet had the LJ out in the rocks with the S/T Maxx. I honestly can’t wait to do so. Sadly I just haven’t had the opportunity lately due to the weather. I also need to shim up the rear suspension a little since these 255/85R16’s are a little taller than the 255/75R17 or 31×10.50R15’s I was running. They’re even bigger than the 33×10.50R15’s I borrowed last fall. That said, given how well Phoenix’s Tacoma does at Rausch Creek ORP with his S/T Maxx’s I have no doubt they will work well. Seeing how well his Taco did during last year’s “Rock the Clock” event was a major factor in me choosing to go with Cooper Tire.
|Phoenix’s Tacoma making it’s way through some technical rocks during RTC2.
As you can see, I’m paying particular attention to his tires.
(I’m also in a bad spot between his rig and his tree. I realized this and moved shortly after the photo was taken).
A few other things played into my decision to go with the S/T Maxx over a new set of A/T’s like I had been running. First, the 255/85R16’s I went with an an E load-range tire. The 31×10.50 and 33×10.50 A/T’s I had run last year were only a C load-range. The 255/75R17 M/T’s were a D load-range. While an E-rated tire may seem a bit overkill for something as small as my LJ, I was turned off by the smaller 2-ply sidewalls of the new 33″ A/T’s. I also felt that the extra weight of the gear I carried in the LJ as well as the extra weight of the trailer would mean a lot more impact on the tires. In other words, I didn’t think a C or D range tire would hold up to the abuse of a fully-laden overland Jeep, especially when aired down. The stiffer thicker sidewalls of the E-rated S/T Maxx gives me a lot of piece of mind knowing I can air them down and not have to worry about a weak sidewall blowing out on me. Not that it’s happened to me <knocks on wood> but it was something I worried about a lot last year with the D-rated M/T’s. Their sidewalls just didn’t seem as strong as the Cooper ones.
|Not all tires are created equal, and not all handle the snow equally well.
In this case the S/T Maxx has nothing to worry about and is awesome in the snow.
Another criteria, as embarrassing as it is to admit, is how the tire looks. I’ll be the first person to admit — or at least claim – that aesthetics don’t play a role in my decision making process when it comes to how I build up the LJ. I don’t mean I don’t care at all, I do in fact care a lot. What I mean is I don’t choose a mod just because it “looks cool.” I didn’t choose the S/T Maxx because of how it looks, but I really do like how they look. The tall skinny look (32.8″ tall and 10″ wide) looks great on the LJ especially with the wider stance of the aftermarket wheels kicked out a few inches beyond the stock backspacing. The aggressive M/T style outer lugs combined with the A/T style inner lugs make for one mean looking tire. Even the sidewalls have a little more aggression to them compared to most other all-terrain tires. So while I didn’t pick them just because they look cool, I’m pretty happy they look cool none-the-less.
Making Dean’s List
Traditionally one needs a 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in order to make the Academic Dean’s List at their school. I think for my own list I’ll use a similar scale to see if the Cooper Tire Discoverer S/T Maxx should stay on my list.
- Daily Driver Tire = A-
- Overland Adventure Tire = A+
- Rock-Crawler Tire = TBD
- Wet Weather Traction = A
- Winter Weather Traction = A
- Dry Weather Traction = A+
- Road Noise = A-
- Soft Road Performance = A+
- Tire Wear = TBD
- Load Handling = A+
- Aesthetics = A+
Aside from the unknowns of how the S/T Maxx will do in the rocks and how the long-term tire wear will be, so far the S/T Maxx is at the top of my list right now. As I’ve said, they have far exceeded my wildest expectations for an all-around tire that can handle the grind of a daily-driver but also hold up to the demands of an overland adventure vehicle.
“But wait, aren’t you just saying this because…”
I do my best to be pretty transparent about the what, why’s, and how of what I do here with ECOA and the NHT. I know how skeptical people are when it comes to product reviews (trust me, I am just as skeptical of the reviews I read). Especially in these kinds of situations. Without beating around the bush, I’ll say I sought out Cooper Tire as a corporate partner for the same reasons I sought out JKS for the LJ’s suspension. I believe in their product, I believe in their brand, and I believe in their company. I don’t go after companies just to get free stuff. The only difference here was it being a bit of a risk on my part since I have no prior personal experience with Cooper. I did enough homework to know, with only a reasonable smidgen of lingering doubt, that’d I’d be happy with the S/T Maxx. At the very worst I figured I’d be content with them.
|The moment of truth.
New wheels and tires.
There were a few nervous butterflies in my stomach.
They’re gone now… replaced by desire to drive this Jeep all the time now.
These tires are awesome!
What I wasn’t expecting was to be totally blown out of the water by them. This doesn’t mean I sandbagged my expectations. I still expected them to hold their own as an all-terrain tire. Phoenix was pretty sure they’d work for me, and I watched his rig like a hawk for the last few months, which helped. I just… well, wow. Yeah, these tires are that good. That’s not praise I give out lightly. It’s also not something that can be bought and come from obligation or expectation based on a partnership. If they didn’t measure up I’d tell you. So have a little faith that the above review is about as honest and genuine as it gets.