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Old 23 Jun 2004
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XZL tyres ???

I will need to buy a new set of tyres soon and XZL's are on my shortlist, in fact the only other ones under consideration are BFG AT's. I'd be interested to hear any opinions/experiences of XZL's in relation to other tyres in particular to XZL rates of wear and suitability for normal road use. I'm also thinking of using only 5 not 6 tyres to save weight and space - any views on this would be appreciated.

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Old 23 Jun 2004
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For trans-africa, I'd recommend XZY in 7.50x16. Ours held up better than pretty much everything else we saw. Including XZL. Several people with BFG ATs had the tread delaminate so bad that the wire mesh underneath was showing in places after a relativly short distance.

In total we had 3 punctures in 65000 km and all were caused by things that would have punctured any tyre, like steel bolts etc. The punctures were easily fixed with a "string plug" from the outside. The first plug lasted from Sudan and down to RSA, and is still working, so they obviously last a while!

Erik D.

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Old 23 Jun 2004
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Actually I have XZY's now,in 7.5-16 and while I find them long lasting and damage resistant they are not ideal in dunes, which is why I am interested in something wider like BFG AT's, which I have seen in action on fellow travellers vehicles. They are pretty tough I know but I don't think they're as tough as a Michelin XZY or XZL. I won't be doing trans africa - at least not yet - only desert trips, especially involving demanding dunes.


[This message has been edited by Andrew Baker (edited 23 June 2004).]

[This message has been edited by Andrew Baker (edited 23 June 2004).]
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Old 23 Jun 2004
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Sorry. For some reason I thought I had read earlier that you were going all the way down...

For dedicated dune driving, I agree that XZYs aren't optimal. We did use them successfully in dunes, but had to take them down to 8 PSI quite often. If you could get them in a taller/wider size like 8.25x16 I'd still keep them in mind as the tread seemed to "cup" the sand more then dig down like I would presume an XZL, being mud based, would.
I have used a set of XZL here in Norway and have liked them alot although I havn't used them in desert sand myself.

Another option I've heard good things about is Goodyears MT/R which is also a "mud" tyre, but it's maybe more allaround then the XZL.

Erik D.

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Old 24 Jun 2004
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If you'd consider tubeless on old five spoke steel disco rims (very robust)the following may be of interest:

I've just gone through this scenario and have bought a set of US made Wild Cat Durango XTR's in 235 85 R16. The company is owned by Avon, John Craddock are the sole distributor and with the US exchange rate they can give you a good deal (they work out cheaper than BFG's).They are an AT tyre with quite an aggressive profile anbd I'm very pleased with them.

Ref how many, I'd go with the formula of carrying six tyres with 5 on rims and one loose. I'd also take five tubes for back-up (run them tubeless) and a puncture repair kit, tyre levers and compressor (this probably goes without saying though).

I recently spent 2 weeks in Libya running at low pressures for long periods and endured delaminating sidewalls, punctures and leaks. Not much fun fixing & swapping tyres at lunch or after dinner when you should be sitting back watching the stars!

The trouble is you have a good run of things you tend to think that the risks that made you cautious in the first place arent there, when in fact they are and just waiting to catch you out given a chance!

The BFG's looked OK on the outside when I left but soon developed unhealthy looking cracks on the inside, suffered sidewall delamination in one case and also picked up the odd puncture (thorns). The moral is dont travel in the Sahara with old tyres, even your spares should be in good nick!

[This message has been edited by ctc (edited 23 June 2004).]
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Old 27 Jun 2004
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Hi there Andrew, You haven't mentioned your vehicle, loading, where you are going and time of year - all these factors will effect a tyre decision.
I took my 90 into the Sahara on 265/75/16 BFG Mud Terrains and they were great !!!
WHY ? If you look at most Paris Dakar vehicles they nearly all use BFG Mud Terrains and Trucks all use Michelin XZL - Mud Terrain Pattern.
Yes they have a few more horsepower than you or me but if you have a lighter vehicle they will work a treat- also in Sahel conditions the MT's offer much better puncture resistance than an XS.
An XS or XZY when it spins in Sand will dig itself down as much as a MT pattern - the difference being a MT will slowly claw away at the sand inch by inch and drag you out with its aggresive lugs (1st/Reverse Low Range Difflock)- XS or XZY will just spin - ive seen it plenty of times trust me - its exactly the same for overland trucks, if you ask any Overland Trucker the best tyres for sand they will say Mich XZL....Mud Terrain Pattern.
If you are running a SWB or a lightly packed LWB fine,
HOWEVER for a Heavily Laden LWB in the Saharan Summer, with super soft hot sand go for BFG AT 265/75/16 you will get a bit more vital flotation.
I am a Huge fan of Tubeless tyres Why ? They Work !!! and give less problems than Tubed....
When you lower the air pressure you increase the heat build up in the side wall and in a tubed tyre the friction between tyre and tube will give you punctures.
Tubeless run cooler - and the less parts within a system the more reliable it is.
Also with the use of repair strings for tubeless its a lot easier to fix - if you do it properly they are very good - Don't use them on Sidewalls though, patch from the inside, or use both if its bad.
I Dont work for BFG...I genuinely think they are very good Tyres. Ive had 120,000 miles out of a set of MT's Thats pretty good !!!

Dont skimp on tyres - like the guys say its the difference between relaxing in the evenings or fixing endless punctures.
Make sure you leave with new or nearly new - or buy some in Spain, In Algeceras they are a bit cheaper than UK - theres a few Mich/BFG dealers there, shop around.
Make sure you have a good poweful reliable compressor (5 CFM+)- in my opinion more important than a winch - you will be using it several times a day if you are doing the Sahara full on.
If you would like any other advice on things dont hesitate to email me - Im in Ferndown, Dorset if you need a chat, whatever you do - pack light, use good quality gear - if something doesn't have 2 uses leave it at home !
The Sahara is one of the most Beautiful, Captivating places on this planet, Be Safe and Enjoy, Cheers Grif.

Ex Drago/Encounter Overland Driver, DR650/LandRover90 300Tdi Overlander.

'09 Suzuki DR650
'00 Discovery Series 2 V8
'95 Defender 90 300 Tdi Overlander
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Old 17 Oct 2004
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we met up with the rally raid uk team from the paris dakar in january. They were one of the few teams to run BFG ATs (why do so many run mud terrains?)they only got stuck once (on a particularly tough year) and had one puncture. I've also run BFG ATs and would have no hessitation recommending them to anyone. Also they are of more use than 'proper' sand tyres when you get back on the black stuff, especially if it is wet as well.
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Old 17 Oct 2004
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Looking at Reinhart Mazurs site, and he seems pretty experienced, he uses...

This is the auto-translation...

BFG RK, 235/85R16, schauchlos, on 6J16 star rims - shorter Saharareisen (6 weeks): Michelin XS, 7.50R16, with hose and wulstband, on original 16x5.50F SDC circlip rim - longer journeys (Sahara, Africa, Arabia, central Asia): Michelin XZL, 8.25R16, with hose and wulstband, on original 16x5.50F
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Old 24 Oct 2004
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Just adding my 2p worth...

Gipper and I differ in opinion when it comes to AT versus MT in the sand. I will concede that if you are likely to enocunter both mud and sand, it would be better to use a mud terrain tyre, which is why so many people (including me) choose MTs for an overlanding trip. Tread pattern makes a BIG difference in mud, but a fairly small difference in sand.

Flotation is the big issue in sand, which firstly means that you need a tyre that can run at low pressures (Michelins seem to have the best overall reputation in this regard). Secondly, to stay on top of the sand, it's important that your tyre doesn't dig.

As long as the vehicle is moving, the tread pattern won't have much effect, but if you get into some soft stuff unexpectedly, heavy lugs will sink you several inches into the sand before you even realize you need to get out and lower the pressure. Those inches make all the difference - sometimes as Gipper says, you can grind your way out in low gear, but sometimes it's too far gone and you will end up on the diffs or chassis.

So my advice if you are doing sand, gravel and asphalt mileage with little likelihood of serious mud, would be to stick to a less aggressive tyre. The more important criteria are how well the casings handle low pressures, how robust the tyre is, and how tall the tyre is (taller is better, with all the usual caveats).


Michael & Sandy
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