Michelin Malaysia has introduced the latest Michelin LTX Force all-terrain tyre that is targeted at the growing SUV and 4×4 market. Michelin touts the LTX Force as a versatile tyre, possessing the ability to tackle tough conditions off-road yet be comfortable and quiet on the road.
Although it is marketed as an all-terrain tyre (AT), the LTX Force has a more on-road bias than some other all-terrain tyres, allowing it to behave similarly to highway tyres (HT) in terms of ride comfort and tyre noise levels. This is due to the adoption of Michelin’s CushionGuard technology which utilises a layer of special filtering rubber to absorb road imperfections and minimise vibrations. Its use of a rounded sloping edge design Michelin calls BevelTread also helps reduce tyre noise. Additionally, for better grip and enhanced driving safety, the tyre has reinforcements between the tread blocks to increase contact surface for better traction. These tiny reinforcements (CompacTread technology) reduce the chances of the tread blocks deforming and compacting, especially when braking, thereby ensuring optimal contact area for grip.
The CompacTread characteristic also helps with off-road traction and is one of the tyre designs Michelin brought over from its experience in the World Rally Championship (WRC), along with the RallyForce rubber compound for better wear resistance. In addition to that there is the BitingShoulder design for better off-road grip as well as cut-chip resistance. This design features a deep and open shoulder design that provides a large biting surface with an extra 1.5mm thickness in the rubber for additional biting force as well as cut resistance.
To demonstrate these properties of the LTX Force, Michelin pitted it against its more extreme all-terrain sister tyre, the BFGoodrich T/A KO2, in the off-road section. While in the road test, the LTX Force was compared to a rival brand’s latest tyre. Both tests were done with identical vehicles for a fairer comparison i.e. Toyota Fortuner for off-road, and Toyota Hilux for on-road.
The off-road obstacle course involved climbing in and out of a water-logged mud rut, descending and ascending a 35° dirt slope, elephant steps, driving along a side slope (to showcase lateral grip), traversing a rocky path, and climbing a muddy slope before descending it.
As expected, the BFGoodrich T/A KO2 passed with flying colours. The KO2 uses tougher sidewall rubber, up to 4.5 mm thicker, to resist cuts and splits; it also has a thicker, extended shoulder as well as an advanced deflection sidewall design to reduce tyre failure in extreme off-road conditions. The tread rubber is also specially formulated for gravel road endurance and the tread blocks have an interlocking design for better stability and wear. The stone ejector design between the blocks also prevent stone retention which can harm the tyre. Further, off-road traction is gained with a serrated shoulder design and side biter lugs. The mud-phobic bars also help to release compacted mud and ensure optimal grip.
In comparison, the Michelin LTX Force took to the same course and conditions and performed nearly as well as the KO2. It wasn’t as effortless as the KO2 but it wasn’t far behind.
For the road test, the LTX Force was put through a slalom course, a comfort trial, as well as a dry and wet braking. The slalom once again highlighted the high level of grip possessed by the LTX Force, compared to a competitor’s latest tyre. With the LTX Force, your hands are less busy with steering input to get the Hilux around the cones. Entry and exit speed around the cones were also a little faster with the LTX Force.
The comfort test had the Hilux driving over triangle strips and while it isn’t easy to discern the tyre noise intrusion into the cabin for either brand of tyres, the noise from the LTX Force sounded more muted. The bounce experienced by the passengers when the Hilux is driving over the strips is also less apparent than the rival tyre. Overall, this will provide for a more comfortable and quieter ride experience.
In the braking test that is tracked by GPS, the LTX Force consistently recorded stopping distances about a metre shorter than the rival tyre.
The Michelin LTX Force is available for wheel sizes 15″ to 18″ and retails from RM550 per piece. It is available at TYREPLUS car service outlets, MICHELIN EXPERT CENTRES and authorised dealers nationwide.