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Expeditions West: Tire Selection for Expedition Travel

Saw this posted at another forum and the paper discusses tire width from the viewpoint of off-road use & Expedition build. ie, should I go wide or narrow.

Narrow tires let you go taller with less rubbing and less lift. Wider tires give you flotation.

It is his argument that a narrower tire when aired down (to the same pressure as a wider tire) will wrap around obstacles more & give better traction.

Again, he stays away from the specific uses that NEED flotation (Deep sand, Deep mud, Deep snow)

If you're going to the sand dunes, then a flotation tire/paddle tire is your best option. Mud? Mud terrain tire...

Let the debates begin!

-frag out-
 

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I'm running 235s right now. This is the first time I've ever purposefully bought a 235 width tire in my entire life. But after running 245-285 width tires (and a set of 33x12.50s) I decided to switch it up on this truck and try something new.

In the mud these tires do surprisingly well. In the snow they are freaking amazing. We had snow up to the bumpers in February and again in March. Like, to the point that my truck was just pushing snow. And I never spun or got stuck. The narrow section width allowed these tires to just dig in and bite. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I'll tell you something else too...when the roadway gets "slushy" as the snow starts to melt off...these tires don't hydroplane or jump left or right nearly as bad as wide tires do. Same thing for hitting standing water in a thunderstorm. They just feel safer.

Steering effort was also noticeably reduced over the factory 265s.

Weight is noticeably reduced over a wider tire of the same diameter. I've seen listings of most AT and MT tires currently sold and the 235/85 is typically 5-10 lbs. lighter than the same tire in 265/75, with load ranges being equal. This results in better fuel economy.

I really haven't found anything bad to say about the "pizza cutter" tires at all except that they are ugly. And ugly is subjective of course. I think the Frontier looks best with a 265-305 width tire and just a hair of them sticking out past the fenders. Functionally, however, I think the 235s are king in almost every environment you can think of except sand dunes.
 

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For snow tires (on-road), I always go narrow.

Thought has always been narrow tires to dig down to traction, whether its snow, mud, whatever. However, I've not wheeled in desert sand, bottomless mud/clay, or 4ft deep snow. I do acknowledge there are times that wide tires are the only way to go, but most times I prefer a narrow tire, and world expedition vehicles bear it out (Turtle Expedition, Camel Trophy, Rain Forest Challenge...)

Some of the 'best' off-road trucks/jeeps have been on skinny rubber. There was a diesel powered jeep with what looked like tractor tires (& chains) when I was stationed in western WA and he'd just throttle up to power band, clutch out and GO... didn't matter what or how deep the muck, he just went. Meanwhile everyone else was stuck. Some of these obstacles were tank trap calibre (and some were, when we were on East Ft Lewis)

As to the jumping left/right... My father has a mustang and I believe he runs 305/335 (f/r) and he cusses when he's on Rt 495, 128, 3, 1 and a few others around NewEngland where the trucks have worn trenches in hte road surface... on a clear day, the car wanders back & forth like a pinball in a narrow track thats just too wide to keep it straight and on a rainy day he's found himself switching lanes without moving the wheel (tires try to grab a track, fight with eachother and then toss him into the adjacent lane) fortunately there hasn't been a car there yet.
As a result, he only drives it on sunny days...
 

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I'm thinking of going 235/85/16 for next tire purchase, Pizza Cutters!
I had a locomotive, err, Ram 2500 4x4 with 255's on it and it drove great. 255/80/17. Those were narrow tires for a big 7,200lb truck.

235/85 is almost identical to 265/75 (31.7 vs 31.6 inch)

The more narrow tire should yield better fuel economy, have you found this to be true? and Even going bigger diameter is mpg same, better, worse on a skinny tire?

In theory the skinny tire will have the same foot print as any wide tire. The weight of the vehicle squishes the tire out so footprint is always the same area (assuming similar sidewalls). For a skinny tire the foot print will be an oval shape going front to back, yet for a wide tire the oval will orient side to side. Side to side is great for a sports car in corners, but front to back theoretically give more traction to push forward. Keep in mind we cannot bring sand into the discussion as that is different animal altogether.

Pics of your pizza cutters would be great, all these post are old and do not show pics anymore.
 
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