Every all-terrain tire wants to be n the same league as the infamous KO2s, but not every tire is worthy of that position. However, one brand that has been paving the way in new technology for off-road and all-terrain tires has brought forth a worthy opponent. So how does the General Grabber ATX stack up against BFGoodrichs KO2’s?
The first thing we looked at was the price of each tire; after all, if one tire is considerably more expensive than the other, we would expect considerably better performance.
These tires are fairly similar in price, with the KO2s being slightly more expensive. At the time of testing, the ATX was $230 for a size 285/75R16, the size we run on our Land Rover Defender, and the KO2 was $265 for the same size.
While the KO2 is slightly more expensive, it’s worth noting that it is a much more popular tire and has a good reputation; hence, they can charge a little bit more.
Designing an all-terrain tire is no easy feat. Many companies have tried and failed. It needs to be capable off-road while having manners on the road. It’s rare to end up with a perfect all-around tire, but these two brands got damn close.
Anybody who knows anything about off-roading will be familiar with the KO2 tread pattern, it’s been around for a long time, not that it is outdated technology, rather the opposite, it performs well and doesn’t need to be updated.
The KO2 uses big blocks and large grooves for optimum performance off-road.
Any tire you take off-road should have an uprated sidewall, even if it is only an all-terrain tire as opposed to a mud terrain tire. Regardless of the type of tire, you still need to be able to deflect sharp rocks and sticks, as well as lower the tire pressure without running the risk of popping a bead.
BFGoodrich knew this and has constantly been striving to improve the KO2 sidewall structure. The KO2 is one of the best sidewalls you can find in an all-terrain tire, the sidewall is constructed using twin steel belts with BFGoodrichs TriGard. They also feature an aggressive shoulder which improves off-road performance. The upper shoulder is manufactured from a rubber compound twice as thick as it’s predecessor, it also utilizes a serrated shoulder design to aid in off-road traction.
There is no denying that both of these tires would be considered high performance by most standards, however, we found that their performance is stronger in some areas and weaker in others.
Both the ATX and the KO2 are more than capable of handling mild to moderate off-roading and it is tough to choose which is better overall. By breaking it down, we can compare these tires in much more detail.
Sand is one of the toughest off-road surfaces to drive on, it requires a large profile tire for a long footprint. To achieve this, it’s essential to air down your tires. This requires a tire with a strong sidewall
Comparing these two tires, the KO2 seems to be a better tire for sand due to its reinforced sidewall. The ATXs also seem to be sporting a slightly more aggressive tread pattern which is not ideal in the sand.
Mud is where a lot of off-roaders find themselves and out of all the surfaces you can find off-roading, mud is the one place you want your tires to shine.
Both brands gave a solid attempt to create an all-terrain tire capable of handling mud. However, if we were to choose one tire for only mud it would be the ATX. The KO2s are a solid tire for mud but it’s no secret that when the mud gets too wet or sticky they start to stop clearing and lose traction.
The ATX’s on the other hand has a more aggressive 5-way thread pattern with better self-clearing allowing it to grip better in mud.
It’s difficult to get an all-terrain tire that performs well on rocks because the compromise would be on-road manners. A good rock tire needs big lugs and a soft compound, this would make on-road handling difficult and noisy.
With that being said, these two tires perform as well on rocks as any all-terrain could. Both tires have aggressive shoulders allowing for better traction and both of them make a compromise in the compound in the favor of on-road manners.
All-terrain tires spend much of their time on paved roads if not most of their time. So, it’s important to not overlook the on-road performance of the tire when trying to find the best tire for your needs.
The secret behind the KO2s success is its on-road manners as well as being able to handle moderate off-road conditions. BFGoodrich knew that the majority of people will spend more time using their all-terrain tires on highways and paved roads.
The KO2 handles exceptionally well on highways, so good in fact you wouldn’t know you had an all-terrain tire. There is minimal to no vibrations.
The General Grabber ATX falls behind the KO2 in this category. It’s respectable on the highway but has some mild vibrations and does not handle as well as the KO2s
One of the hardest challenges for an off-road tire manufacturer is to make quiet tires. This is because the aggressive tread patterns and big lug required off-road make for a noisy paved road experience.
With that being said, the KO2 is one of the quietest if not the quietest all-terrain tire on road. There was no off-road or all-terrain tire as quiet as the KO2 on-road until the ATX came out.
The ATX puts up a solid challenge to the KO2 in terms of on-road quietness. However, although the difference is negligible the KO2 is slightly better.
All-terrain and off-road tires don’t usually fare so well in bad weather, this again is because of the tread pattern and lug size, there is rarely enough rubber contact with the road.
While both tires are ok in this department one is certainly ahead of the other.
Ice and Snow
Both brands carry the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake. This is a respectable badge for any tire. However, in practical experience I found the KO2s lacking in grip on ice or in shallow snow.
On deeper snow the KO2s perform exceptionally well, this is because their aggressive threads can grip the deeper snow.
The ATX’s performed well across the board, in shallow snow and ice you almost wouldn’t know you had an all-terrain tire, and in deep snow, they performed similar to the KO2 and had plenty of grip.
The KO2 is legendary for its lifespan. BFGoodrich gives a 50,000-mile tread life warranty, however, most people find that they get considerably longer than 50,000 miles with these tires. It’s not unusual to find these tires still going strong at 55-60k miles.
General Grabber is so confident in their ATX that they have offered them an exceptional warranty of 60,000 miles.
The KO2 has been the reigning king of all-terrain tires for quite some time now, and for good reason. Its on-road manners are next to none and it’s more than capable off-road.
However, the new kid on the bloc, the ATX has put down a respectable challenge.
I think the question comes down to if you plan to spend more time on-road or off-road, if on road is your answer go with the KO2s, but if you plan on spending more time off-road the ATX might just be better suited to you.