A part of the process in taking the risks of buying low-cost tires includes this question, ‘can a cheap tire perform just as good as an upscale one?’ Hey, I’m no expert. So, here I’ll discuss my insights about the Ironman All Country A/T and M/T tires. Recently, I talked about Ironman tires in an article, of which I mentioned how I discovered these inexpensive off-road tires. With my Ram truck, I averaged nearly 50,000 km per year for the past four years. Meaning, I have gone through more than a few sets of tires with that high mileage.
About the Ironman All-country Tires
The two rugged rubbers are a proof that you should never have to compromise quality for price. Both All-season entry-level touring tires have fairly good dry and wet traction. Each is practically engineered with features that work well in its respective purposes. Hercules released Ironman All-country in the first quarter of 2016 since its introduction in 2014.
Both mud-terrain and all-terrain are all-season touring tires. That means they are designed for spring, summer, fall, and even winter; for use on everyday passenger automobiles. I must say that these tires have the gratifying inclination to provide the combined aesthetic appeal, tenacious performance, and affordability on/off-road.
Ironman All Country A/T (All-Terrain)
On Dry Surfaces
It’s what I have on my 2014 Dodge Ram. Not like I infer an all-terrain tire to be better than its mud-terrain brother nor have I not tried other brands. It’s just I drive equally on paved roads and off-road surfaces, and my opinion is based on the level of problems I encounter with it that are acceptable. Drove them around town on a rough road, the tires endure well and doesn’t shake.
Ironman may be cheap, but it allows me the freedom to explore on and off-road, without major difficulties. With just a few hiccups, it’s great for summer driving. They hold pretty well on the highway, although, I can hear a bit of noise. To be fair, the noise is not in-your-face loud. A/T also has good handling and response. So, for the good price and performance, I’m not complaining.
On Wet Surfaces and Snow
Let’s face it. There isn’t any tire out there that will perform flawlessly on the ice, not even winter tires! At least, without studs or chains. I plowed with the tires for months to know how well it wields in the snow. I’ve also had plenty of chances to test them after a full night of torrential downpours which exposed more rocks to drive on. How I think of them is fifty-fifty if I compare them to the more expensive brands like Goodyear’s Fierce Attitude MT.
The tires run stable with no hiccups in heavy, down-pouring of rain on the highway, at least, not as of yet. I was more concerned with losing sight of the road than the tires. It displaces water effectively,—making them impressively painless. In my opinion, the ironman A/T’s traction on any surface and durability are comparable to its ancestor, the Hercules tires. Perhaps because I don’t drive like a lunatic.
On snow, those chunky lugs grab OK in slushy ice. Luckily, the ice didn’t seem to get stuck on the sections between the blocks. But, with bad winter, it still can make you feel a little uneasy. Of course, it’s given that it isn’t for winter. Another worth mentioning, these tires not only look cool, but they are also great for fuel economy too. For the past six months of using it, the tread still looks good, far from a dying condition.
On Sandy Grounds
Given that tires are designed with a wide array of environments in mind, some target specific attributes essential for specific terrain types. One of the key elements of a tire to run well in the sand is flotation. It results in the flexing of the sidewall as air pressure is lowered. Without it, the tires will simply sink up to the chassis. The all-country A/T’s void ratio has just enough depth to run successfully in the dry or wet sand without the tire sinking.
The way a tire’s body is constructed executes a difference in how it functions both on and off the pavement. While the all-country mud-terrain tires do excellent at the local mud bogs on a set, the all-terrain does better job on soft sandy trails. The tire’s tight lug spacings are generally quiet and its compounds work really great in sandy environments. You would really appreciate how good the tires are conforming to most terrains.
Ironman All Country M/T (Mud-Terrain)
Let’s talk about Ironman’s mud-terrain tires because I find mud tires highly competitive in general. I tried them several times to test my driving skills, and even an amateur off-roader like me didn’t budge the wrong way. Drove a 4×4 Big Horn with these tires to mountain tracks. It rolls along effortlessly with all the good mixture of chunky rocks, sand, and fallen branches. I have to say these monsters hold up well and are aggressive in their grip even on the thickest mud.
On Dry Surfaces, Including Paved Roads
They‘re made for a brawl, which means, the verdict is centered on strength, flexibility, and endurance. I don’t own the 4×4 and my friend who owns it told me he’s rough on the tires, often driving them with heavy gear. His previous set of all-country M/T lasted 40,000 miles. He has 20,000 on his new set at the time I drove it. As I clawed my way over steep, jagged slopes and ledges, I felt I was in a death trap.
Now, let’s talk about trying them on a normal road surface. As anticipated, mud tires aren’t and will probably never run fast on the highway. It all makes sense of how the void ratio relates to how much rubber is touching the ground. It’s simply not designed for road use as it creates much more friction than is actually needed to propel forward. At least, that’s the only drawback.
On Wet Surfaces and Snow
In the end, it demonstrated to have some serious off-road traction. The M/T’s staggered buttress appeared to have managed in defending the tires against sidewall cuts and stone drilling. It didn’t didn’t seem to shred too bad. The only caveat is perhaps that the all-country M/T is not at par with subfreezing temperatures. They are OK on wet surfaces, at least, not as good as the A/T. But, that’s considerable for me.
On Sandy Grounds
In most cases, you would not know how well a tire will do in the sand until you almost get stuck. I hate to say that I couldn’t agree more. Not only when your truck sits higher off the ground due to larger tires should you worry about sinking in the sand. Your Tire’s ability to float over loose dirt is definitely a must. What I observed is that tires trying to make turns take a lot more to accelerate through the sand than going straight.
Like other mud-terrain tires in general, it doesn’t have the narrower tread pattern to have the proper flotation. We still drove it on a sandy trail despite our awareness that mud-terrains aren’t too good on the sand. We tried these tires for a sand-slinging’ road trip and had to deal with an immobilized, partially sunken vehicle. Where it was tested the sand wasn’t as soft since it’s mixed with rocks, so, the Ironman all-terrain mud tires didn’t suffer that much.
Driving skills still play a huge not to sink. I learned that continuous forward motion is essential when driving on sand. I actually don’t expect the tires to do an excellent job, but it didn’t disappoint me either. I’m surprised at how well these cheap tires manage to pull just fine in sand.
All-Terrain vs. Mud-Terrain Tires
So, how do you help identify your sweet spot! Unfortunately, there’s no perfect off-road tire for everyone and every condition. But, there’s always a few that wins your demands, which is determined by your personal performance preferences. One thing is absolute; choosing would mean sacrificing performance in some areas in order to gain performance in others.
Generally, these two hunky meats surely look cool, and they work extremely well for almost every other type of condition. They have strategically outlined siping in the tread for enhanced traction. Albeit, with one tire, is better than the other based on its direct duty. Certainly, we avoid one with a bad case of traction on snow, wet or slick pavement. Let’s get down to the information!
The all-terrain tire is the offspring of a highway tire and mud tire. It has the open-tread design of mud tires with the good handling of highway tires, making them suitable for on and off-road. It doesn’t have the maximum capability of a highway tire and a mud-tire. Yet, being the mongrel, it works as an ‘all-purpose’ type used for traction on all kinds of surfaces.
All-terrain tires also have sufficient grip and performance on icy roads not colder than 7˚C. With the tire’s closely spaced tread blocks, it bites into snow better than mud-terrain tires. Moreover, it consumes less fuel due to propel. Since it has lower rolling resistance, it has better floatation over sandy surfaces. And perhaps, the best takeaway is it is less noisy on paved surfaces.
Why do A/T tires last longer on the pavement and not on muddy terrain? Well, notice how mud can pack into the tread? It’s because it doesn’t have the M/T’s element of self-cleaning. Due to closely spaced tread blocks, more rubber is in contact with the road. Therefore, the siping help the tread blocks flex better. As well as improve the tire’s grip, reduces noise, and shed water well.
Simply put, a mud-terrain tire’s deeper and wider sections between the blocks, enables it to self-clean and go where all-terrain tires can’t. Those huge tread blocks are designed to eject soft mud, dirt, and gravel by centrifugal force. Furthermore, considering that dry and wet clay needs more digging, the construction and compound of mud tires provide a strong grip on steep slopes.
While Mud Tires look grand and score an aggressive flash to your vehicle, there are some drawbacks. When analyzing the effects of different road conditions, namely puncturing or as simple as bruising the rubber, it presents further from a conjecture. Apart from the importance of high void ratio, consequently, mud-terrain tires must be sturdy and flexible to withstand pressure.
However, the upshot is that those chunky, meaty treads and deep voids are also the reason this tire can’t do well on snowy roads. Unlike the mud, powdery snow forms into solid allowing it to easily pack its way into the wide sections of the mud tire and cling there. The outcome, as you may imagine, it drastically cuts down on traction, speed, and response.
Both off-road tires are great. I didn’t make an elaborate detail about the durability of all-country A/T and M/T tires. In my opinion, every brand of tires has its signature tread patterns that work in the benefit of every environment. But, what dictates the durability of a tire is the construction, rather than the tread pattern. For budget tires, Ironman’s all-country tires perform just as excellent as its expensive counterparts. If you’re doing more pavement driving than off-road but still does off-roading every now and then, go with all-terrain tires.