The budget beater.
Rubber is rubber, right? Er, no; not really. When it comes to tyres there are big differences in shape, size, tread, compounds and performance. Around 500 kilometres ago we fitted a set of Achilles Desert Hawk XMTs to our 2006 Jeep Cherokee. Over this time I’ve managed to give them a good work out over a variety of terrain. On the blacktop I found them to be like any muddies – they are noisy, but not as bad others I’ve used. You could easily hold a conversation with the windows down at around 90km/h.
For images, videos and the full Unsealed 4X4 experience, read this in our online magazine.
I actually don’t mind the higher pitch and slight rumbling noise… it beats the usual drone from road tyres. But there is no chance of trying to sneak home late at night, as they make a distinctive sound on the driveway. With the recent rain we’ve had I was keen to see how they handled wet roads – and they got a bit more of a test than anticipated. There is always someone out there who cannot drive to the conditions and I had to do some hard braking on cold tyres to avoid being T-boned at the roundabout on my morning commute. The Achilles tyres surprised me. They didn’t skip on the surface and they gripped pretty well, avoiding what could have been a nasty accident. In general, I did find them rather soft when cornering and they squirmed a bit on twisty roads… but once you remember you’re driving a 4X4 and not a sports car, they corner well for such aggressive tyres.
OK, enough about the on-road stuff; let’s get these things dirty.
Off-road, these tyres are very good. With an interesting tread block design and large voids between the blocks, the self-cleaning properties through the slop were better than expected. A few river crossings and several mudholes later and I was really starting to gain confidence in the Achilles rubber. The rock-grip ability also got a good workout. There was no slipping up the rough tracks I drove along. After a few river crossings I did notice that small rocks tend to get stuck in the wider grooves and it’s advisable to check the treads when you get back to base – to dislodge any stowaways. While these tyres offer good grip in most off-road situations, they are not the best for sand driving and I found them slipping around a bit; but by dropping the pressures they handled a lot better and made the drive much better.
The Achilles ‘Extreme Mud Terrain’ tyre is designed for off-road, with an incredibly rigid and high load construction and a unique block design. This tyre is an aggressive off-road tyre for drivers wanting good off-road performance, and it is a decent choice as an all-rounder for the budget-conscious. Pro tip: If you do happen to buy a set of Achilles XMT tyres, on the sidewall you will see a yellow dot and a red dot. Make sure the fitter aligns the red dot with the valve, and you will be surprised how little balancing they’ll require.
As I have only done 500km I cannot comment on the long-term wear and tear of the tyres. I have found that my fuel consumption has increased slightly – which is to be expected with any brand of larger or more aggressive tyres. Overall, I’m quite impressed… and I think the Achilles XMT is worth considering if you are doing a lot of low-range work.