Starting the year off with new product is nothing unusual, but in the tire market there have been several new products geared toward the mud and trail riding enthusiasts. Luckily, many of the tires were due to be released around the same time as the 10th Annual High Lifter Mud Nationals, and we felt what better place to put these new meats to the test. To make sure that we were getting the best feedback possible, we enlisted the help of two riders who race for team Gorilla Axle. Steve Hittle and Julia McGinnis not only race in both the Mud Bog and Mudda Cross events, but they also like to hit the trails on their play machines. These two know just what to look for in a good tire from ride quality to traction capabilities in the thickest of sloppy conditions.
Gorilla Silverback X-Lite
Available sizes: 25x8-12, 25x10-12, 26x9-12, 26x11-12, 27x9-12, 27x11-12, 26x9-14, 26x11-14, 27x10-14, 28x10-14 (tested), 30x10-14
With the overwhelming success of the original Gorilla Silverback tire you will find many who are a little leery of getting a lighter tire with less tread. Truth be told that not everyone in the world of mud riding wants to twist a huge lugged mud tire while out on the trails, especially if they don’t spend a lot of time in the deep stuff. This is where the Silverback X-Lite shines like a new penny. Not only is this tire a direct descendant of its mud-churning brethren, but it also boasts a similar tread pattern with a few pounds taken off. Plus, the Silverback X-Lite comes into a price range the average rider will appreciate. As we prepared for the ride, a general overview of the tire and wheel revealed an impressive stance for the type of consumer the guys at STI had targeted. The wheel was a new release and is called the Machined Black HD3. With this tire and wheel mounted on our Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT it had no trouble creating a comfortable ride on the hard-packed surfaces, which our testers felt were as comfortable as the stock tires that came from the factory. Once the Silverback X-Lite was dropped off into the mucky waters it seemed to have no trouble getting forward momentum, and cleaned out through the peanut-buttery mud-filled swamp. The semi-pliable tread on the new Silverback X-Lite grabs at the trails with plenty of traction in or out of the mud and is a bit more controllable on the hardpack as well.
ITP Mega Mayhem
Available sizes: 27x9-12, 27x11-12, 28x9-12 (tested), 28x11-12 (tested), 27x9-14, 27x11-14, 28x9-14, 28x11-14
ITP has long been connected with the world of ATV tires, and in 2012 a new tire or two were added to the fold. The ITP Mega Mayhem is in a similar category as other medium-lugged mud-riding tires and offers general trail use with strong mud capabilities. If you remember the Mayhem tire, then this is where ITP had started the bloodline. The Mega Mayhem is offered in a 27- and 28-inch height with a longer-wearing tread rubber. The trail manners of this tire are enhanced by the lighter six-ply carcass construction that, according to ITP, keeps the tire stable under excessive speed and hard braking. The tribal embossed tire has a great look with an even better bite. The Mega Mayhem came to us in Texas mounted on ITP SS316 wheels. The wheel is also a new offering for this 2012 season and added to the tires’ great look. Rolling our Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT into the marsh we noticed the Mega Mayhem tires worked well on the rutted root-filled entrance trail. When we were able to cross a distinctively deep section of the muddy bottoms the tire grabbed into the stinky mud and plowed its way on out. The tread design seems to cross the centerline of the tire, which gives a good contact point for the rubber to the road with a minimal bumpy feedback that would come with a super-aggressive tire. Overall the Mega Mayhem performed well, and it looks like the only difference between the original Mayhem tire and the Mega Mayhem are the size offerings and lug depth.
High Lifter Outlaw 2
Available sizes: 29.5x9-14 (tested), 29.5x11-14 (tested)
Shreveport, Louisiana–based High Lifter is unlike the other companies mentioned in this tire review. High Lifter isn’t solely in the business of creating tires, but more of developing great products for the entire spectrum of mud and off-road enjoyment. The minds at High Lifter went to work to create a very universal yet very mud-capable tire, and if it was to be anything, it had to be aggressive. Just like the other tires aforementioned, the Outlaw 2 is a descendant to the original Outlaw tire. The name Outlaw seems to bring to mind the ultimate bad boy, and when the original Outlaw was released it earned that distinction. The Outlaw 2 is a tire built to be a second-generation mudslinger. With the new Outlaw 2, the tread wraps all the way over the sidewall to the rim itself. This feature allows for very good deep-rutted pulling due to the sidewall lug that grabs at everything against the sides and propels the ride forward. Not to mention this too could be a good rim saver as it spaces the wheel from the sidewall of that rutted mire. Having a wide, deep lug not only makes the Outlaw 2 a great mud tire but a performer on the hard stuff as well. We had the Outlaw 2 mounted on M17 Elixir wheels from the MotoSport Alloys collection. With our past experience with the High Lifer Outlaw tire, we knew it was meant for some serious mud-slinging action, and our test rider Julia McGinnis wasn’t scared to witness this firsthand. She sent our Outlander 1000 into one of the deepest mudholes near our testing location, and with a little throttle finesse and body English, she was able to get the tires to hook up and claw their way out of the muck maximizing the use of the side lugs on the tires. While on the hardpack, both riders noted there was a significant amount of bouncing and feedback through the bar because of the aggressive tread pattern, but you can’t have the best of both worlds when picking a serious mud tire.
EFX is a brand hoping to build momentum in the tire industry, and with the newest 2012 big brute called the Moto Monster, mud has never been more afraid. This 30-inch tire brings a familiar broken-chevron lug pattern that should dig its way to success. The long centerline-crossing lugs look more like a mud-racing tire instead of a trail-mannered tire. With heavy 2-inch-tall lugs and the paddle extensions on the leading lug step, the Moto Monster is in position to earn its name as a true swamp tire. Mounting this tire on a MotoSport Alloy 14-inch wheel was a no-brainer, and with the great looks of this M18 Pilot tri-tone wheel this proved to be a great combination. The EFX Moto Monster rolls down the trail with a significant bump, but being more of a competition-style tire we really expected that. The true test was the drop into that deep peanut-buttery swamp water that seemed to suck the life out of other machines. Luckily, the Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT was able to spin these big lugs and launch the ride forward. Digging deep in the seat-high mud filled us with confidence that this tire worked as expected. Only during high-center situations did we notice the slowing of our progressive movement. All in all, our testers felt that this tire is definitely something riders should consider if they’re looking to play in the stickiest swamps.
After sitting back and reviewing the tire/wheel combinations we had ridden it was clear that every area of obstacles could be overcome with any of these four tires. Some of the facts may be different, but the end result for each tire’s purpose was indeed fulfilled. Our opportunity to ride these four very impressive tires in their prime environment keeps the feeling of growth alive. There are many different types of tire customers in the world of ATV off-road, and with companies like these staying on development to satisfy them we will always have an option for traction. Hopefully our review of these new tires will help you in your future mud tire purchases. - ATVR