If there are two things in this world us four-wheel drivers will argue about, it’s where the best pie shop is, and what is the best off-road tyre. No matter what facts are presented, once you make your own mind up it’s really hard to sway opinions. Now, I’ve used the same tyre brand pretty much for the last 10 years. I’ve seen no reason to change, as it simply worked. Much like I use Samsung phones as I’m yet to kill one. Does that mean they are the best? No. But my needs have been met. I decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone and try something new, so I fitted up a set of Bridgestone Dueler 674 mud terrains purely based off the run our New Vehicle Editor, Sam Purcell, had with the set on his Defender. He’s had them for nearly four years, and taken them everywhere from the Madigan Line in the Simpson Desert (twice) to rock crawling at our local test track without one single failure. Without chipping out. And without sacrificing road handling in the process from what he tells me … not that his Defender has any road handling (no offence, Sam). So, here’s what I’ve found out this far into the experience.
Are they loud?
This is a tough one to answer, as my GQ Patrol is hardly the pinnacle of a compliant ride. It’s very loud inside, thanks to a lack of insulation and a dirty old lump of a diesel motor (not to mention that iconic GQ window rattle). But so far, these tyres aren’t as loud as I thought they would be considering how aggressive the tread pattern is. I actually find them to be rather quiet and certainly not an annoying pitch like other muddies I’ve driven on, even at highway speeds. If you are looking purely for a quiet highway ride, perhaps a mud tyre isn’t for you, but in my eyes the additional traction off-road far outweighs a little hum on the highway. Fuel economy has gone slightly south since fitting them, not much but it is worth noting. I put this down to the aggressive tread pattern, and again this is something I’m willing to live with as the benefits far outweigh the negatives for my needs.
Do they bag out?
As they say, a picture says a thousand words. So I decided to show you how the Bridgestone Dueler M/T 674 responds to pressure adjustments.
What are they like?
It is very early days, with these tyres doing just under 5000km so far, but my initial impressions are positive. I’ve found some slight understeer on loose dirt, but this is the result of having a tight LSD in the back of the Patrol pushing the vehicle forward through corners. There are zero chips or cuts, as you’d expect. I’ve had no punctures and there has been no funky wear patterns either. As mentioned earlier, my fuel economy has gone up slightly, and being a naturally aspirated TD42 with over 500,000km on the clock, a slight drop off in power was noticed over the all-terrains I had on previously. Nothing a turbo won’t fix! The on-road noise and handling dynamics exceed the ability of a 1989 GQ Patrol’s steering and braking performance. One thing I hate with some mud terrains is how poorly they pull-up on wet roads … they just don’t. This has not been an issue with these so far. They stop well without skating, and have very few annoying quirks worth mentioning. I know, kind of boring right … but it’s nice when things just work. Off-road, they suit the conditions we experience in the NSW Blue Mountains to a tee. Being such an aggressive tyre, they clear mud and clay without complaint, and mould to rocks well. I’m yet to try them on sand, but will be putting them through their paces in the warmer months.
What do they cost?
I had these fitted up at Bridgestone Eastern Creek, which is a huge (and incredibly clean) store. The cost per tyre (285/75R16) fitted, balanced and with the old tyres disposed of was $350 per corner. So for five tyres, the total bill comes to $1750. Naturally, this will vary depending on the size you require.
What do they weigh?
This might sound like a weird thing to include in a review, but I feel it is an important consideration in the interest of developing technical data. Now, I didn’t get the chance to weigh the tyre carcass on its own, but after doing some research the alloy wheel I have fitted weighs approximately 11.8kg. With 40psi in the tyre, mounted on the wheel it comes in at 36.14kg.
While my measurements were somewhat crude (a stick placed on a tape measure), I was sure to take the measurement several times. The result? On a new tyre, there was approximately 17mm of tread. Now, that is not an unsubstantial amount of rubber.
Sizing is somewhat limited in the range, but if I’m honest they are the sizes most four-wheel drivers need, which is clever. The smallest size in the range is a 235/75R15 which is basically a 29-inch tyre favoured by the Suzuki crowd as well as camper trailer owners. The largest size listed is 285/65R17. For my GQ Patrol, as mentioned, I run a 285/75R16 which is a very popular size and readily available.
Do they measure up?
I decided to physically measure the tyres when new, and they measured in at 33.26 inches. Using a trusty online tyre size calculator, the results I found for a 285/75R16 tyre was an average of 32.8 inches. So the Bridgestone M/T 674 actually measure slightly larger than expected. Cool!