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Tire Selection – BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain

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Wheel and tire choice to drive 80,000 miles around remote Africa is an extremely important decision. I expect to drive tens of thousands of miles on extremely rough terrain, and I expect to encounter basically every surface possible – from good highways to sand, mud, rocks, snow, rain and severely broken up paved roads with potholes, nails and every form of nasty imaginable.

After a lot of research I decided the extra weight of a second spare wheel and tire was not worth it. Mounting a second spare on the JK is an undertaking, and I’ve never talked to an International Overlander that wished they had a second spare. I’ve spoken to quite a few that actually ended up getting rid of their second spare in an attempt to ditch weight.

From Alaska to Argentina I had a total of 16 flat tires, which always turned out to be a nail, a piece of steel, or some other object embedded in my admittedly low quality tires. For that reason I’m carrying tires spares and tools to deal with anticipated flat tires – namely spare valve stems and valve inners, spare steel lug nuts (not the OEM plastic covered ones which gave me trouble last time) and lug studs (I snapped one last time). I’m also carrying an ARB tire repair kit with plenty of plugs and an ARB Air Compressor mounted under the hood.

I decided long ago steel wheels are better for a trip of this nature than alloy, primarily because they can be beaten back into shape with a sledge hammer in the event of damage. Beadlocks add weight and are not common in Africa, so I choose not to run them. With that in mind I’m running the Mopar Winter Steel Wheels in 17”, which have the added benefit of protecting the valve stem by tucking it behind the face of the wheel.
I had the wheels powder coated in a textured black to match the AEV bumpers, and a set of Rugged Ridge all-steel black lug nuts and locking nuts finish the look nicely.

bfg ko2 spare 720x480

BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain Spare

Should I need to replace an entire tire due to a sidewall tear or similar, 17” tires will not be as common in remote Africa as 16” tires, though I’m told there are enough high-end 4x4s getting around using that size to make them available, albeit expensive.

For tires I need as much capability as possible, without badly impacting mileage or handling of the Jeep. I also don’t want to run wide tires that require the use of wheel spacers, because that introduces another point of failure, and puts more stress on steering components. The choice between Mud Terrain and All Terrain comes down to durability and longevity. A long-lasting tire is very important.

After hundreds of hours of research I’ve chosen the BFGoodRich KO2 All Terrain in 34×10.5r17 size. This is BFGs latest A/T design, and at that size they are almost identical in width to the stock Rubicon 255s I’ve been running, and add almost two inches of height, filling the guards nicely.

bfg ko2 comparison km2 mud terrain 720x480

BFG KO2 All-Terrain 34×10.5r17 versus BFG KM2 Mud-Terrain 255/75r17

bfg ko2 comparison km2 mud terrain side 720x480

BFG KO2 All-Terrain 34×10.5r17 versus BFG KM2 Mud-Terrain 255/75r17

Using BFGs official numbers the tires stack up as follows:

Tire Size Weight Max Load Actual Height
BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 34×10.5r17 55.1lbs 3085lbs 33.5”
BFG Mud-Terrain T/A KM 255/75r17 46.7lbs 2305lbs 32.1”
bfg ko2 size 34 10.5 17 720x480

AEV 2.5 inch lift, Mopar Winter Steel Wheels and BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain Tires

I’m already extremely impressed with the tires – from the first minute of driving I noticed they are much, much quieter and smoother than the old worn-out Mud Terrains. The steering wheel is now completely free from vibrations at any speed. The tires have already performed well on the highway in a torrential downpour, and in a sleet/rain/snow mix. So far mileage appears to be a wash between the two tires – the extra diameter of the 34” tires is keeping the revs a little lower at 65mph.

bfg ko2 34 10.5 17 720x480

BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain Tires in 34×10.5r17

After hundreds of hours of research, I strongly believe the steel wheels, AEV 2.5” lift and these BFG KO2 tires are the best possible combination for an overland journey of this nature on a JK Wrangler.

africa jk with bfg ko2 720x480

Africa bound JK with AEV 2.5 inch lift, Mopar Winter Steel Wheels and BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain Tires in 34×10.5r17

-Dan

13 Responses

  1. Terry says:

    Interesting. I just chose to put the 34×10.50×17 ko2 on my jeep. Will be following your trip around Africa with great interest. Besides your great adventure, I’ll also watch for those tire reports. Good luck and have fun!

  2. WES says:

    HI DAN
    ALL IS WELL HERE WISHING YOU SAFE TRAVELS.
    MISS SEEING YOU AROUND.

  3. Gary says:

    Hey Dan, saw you enjoying the river at my place today, ” Cool jeep”!
    Good luck on Africa.!

  4. Ross says:

    Where these rubbing without spacers? I saw elsewhere on your site that you had moved back to stock tire/wheel combo? Best of luck on your upcoming adventure.

    • Dan says:

      Hi Ross,

      Absolutely no rubbing at all, I’m running these wheels and tires for the trip, no spacers.
      Any photos you see of stock were taken before I moved to the BFG A/Ts and the Mopar winter wheels.

      -Dan

  5. Harry says:

    Hi Dan, I was just wondering about the weight of the vehicle A) – after build completion and B) – fully loaded for the start of the expedition. Have you had your rig weighed? According to Jeep the legal GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of the JKU Rubicon is 5700 lbs, the curb weight 4500 which leaves a payload of just 1200 lbs. That is for everything, all the mods, driver, fuel, water, gear, etc, etc.

    Would be really interested in the weight issues you encountered. I am putting a mod package and overland package together myself and am really struggling to keep withing legal weight limits. Looking forward to your reply. Thanks Dan.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Harry,

      Yeah, weight is for sure a problem with the JKUR. I did have it weighed, with myself, half a tank of gas, half a tank of water all ALL my gear for the expedition (food, clothes, spares, tools, etc.) it was just shy of 6,000lbs.
      That’s a few hundred pounds heavier than I was aiming for, though I’m struggling to think of how I could have “made” it lighter.
      Even now, six months in, I can’t think of a single thing I have with me that I could do without.

      Good luck on your build, I’d love to see it / hear more if you have a build thread somewhere!

      -Dan

  6. J.R. says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your web site and will continue to watch with keen interest! I have a 2014 JKU and because of your recommendation am replacing stock tires 34×10.50 r17 TA KO 2’s installed. I have a 2 inch OME lift. Should I keep my 1.25 spacers or can I removed them and still have clearance?
    Be safe and continue the journey!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi J.R.

      Great choice, I am really loving the KO2’s in the 34×10.5 size.
      I think the spacer question will depend on what wheels you are running – how much backspacing they have. Depending on the wheels you might be able to find the answer on a Jeep forum, or you could just try it and see!

      -Dan

  7. Garth says:

    Hi Dan, been following your trip and choice of mods for overlanding. I’m designing a JKU build and have chosen to swap out the axles for Dana 60’s. I figure the extra carrying capacity is worth it, Arb lockers front and back and ARB, the Dynatrac pumpkin is a great design with a 4.88 ration and running 35″ should give me ample clearance and power when needed, I think your tyre choice is great. Running aluminium bumpers, auxiliary fuel tank under the vehicle ( Frontrunner). Water tank fits in passenger foot well. ( Front runner) Warn winch, Wanted your opinion on this set up thanks. Happy travels let us know when you’re in South Africa.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Garth,
      Wow, that’s a seriously big build. Much bigger and stouter than mine. Will you really be carrying enough weight to justify the new axles?
      Also, 35s are big tires – do you need that much clearance? I don’t know about South Africa, but I have never, ever seen a 35″ tire anywhere on the West Coast of Africa, so I think you’d be hard pressed to get replacements if you venture far from home.
      I’m sure your Jeep will be seriously capable!
      All the best,
      -Dan

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