ENSENADA, Mexico—The BFGoodrich brand and the Baja 500/1,000 are inextricably linked.
BFG has been using the grueling 1,000-mile run through the hills, valleys, goat trails and arrayos of Mexico's Baja peninsula to test its light truck tires since the mid-1970s—so it was a proverbial “no brainer” for BFG to bring dozens of journalists to Baja recently for the launch of its newest all-terrain tire, the All-Terrain T/A KO2.
BFGoodrich, under the wing of Michelin North America Inc. since 1990, calls the KO2 its “toughest all-terrain tire—ever.” BFG execs are basing their bravura on what they claim is “industry-leading” sidewall durability coupled with increased treadlife and traction.
The new line—the successor to the decade-old T/A KO design—will hit dealers' showrooms this November in a dozen sizes. They will be followed in 2015 by 13 more sizes in the spring and 31 by fall, the company disclosed at a ride-and-drive event in Mexico that retraced portions of the course used in the annual Baja 500 and 1,000 off-road races.
Using technology from BFG's series of competition-tested off-road tires, including the Baja T/A KR2—used by nine of the top 10 finishers in the 2014 Tecate SCORE Baja 500—the tire maker increased the integrity of the sidewall to improve its resistance to splitting, which Dan Newsome, BFG's country marketing manager for light truck tires, said is responsible for 84 percent of all all-terrain tire failures.
Bundled together as “CoreGard” technology, the development combines new sidewall and tread compounds with a slightly reinforced upper sidewall/belt-edge to produce a tire that the company claims is 20-percent stronger than the KO—“K” = key benefit; “O” = off-road—as well as outperforming major competitors' products in the all-terrain product category.
BFG is rolling out the KO2 38 years after it launched what it contends was the industry's first radial all-terrain tire, the Radial All-Terrain T/A. Since then, BFG-shod racers have notched 80 class wins at the Baja 500, including 30 overall victories.
Last year BFG invited a handful of racers from other disciplines—motocross, rallyes, etc.—to run the pre-production versions of the KO2 on open-wheel buggies in the Baja 500 as a final pre-launch test and durability promotion. None of the cars running on the KO2 suffered a tire failure during the event, BFG said.