General Tire Drives Grabber AT Into European Market
General Tire has announced the European market launch of its latest 4×4 tyre, the Grabber AT. According to the manufacturer, the new tyre has been specifically designed to be rugged and offer high grip and good handling in both on- and off-road applications – all whilst ensuring comfortable driving characteristics. “The aim was to further improve the already very good off-road driving characteristics of the AT2 model, which is highly popular among 4×4 fans, and at the same time meet increased expectations in on-road use” said Pascal Resetta, General Tire’s product manager for 4×4 tyres. In terms of handling on dry roads, the new tyre is said to perform around three per cent better than its predecessor, whilst driving characteristics in the wet have been improved by up to ten per cent.
Offset rows of angled tread lugs of different sizes are intended to provide good grip when driving off-road, interlocking well with the ground both longitudinally and laterally. The tyre’s circumferential tread lugs are stiff in their design so that the forces needed when starting off and braking are transmitted directly to the ground. V-shaped tread grooves and the tyre’s shoulder, which is open in alignment with the traction grooves between the tread lugs, work in combination to improve grip and self-cleaning capabilities on slippery ground when ‘mudbaths’ loom. Angled, central tread lugs, separated by channels of different widths, are provided to give extra grip during off-road driving. General Tire notes that even pressure distribution gives the Grabber AT a large ground contact patch, which it says ensures optimum driving performance in sand and slush and on wet grass.
High levels of grip alone are not enough for 4×4 tyres that are to be used off-road. Resistance to damage from stones and sharp edges is also important, which is why Eckhard Quentin, the tyre developer responsible for the new Grabber AT, made sure the lugs were sufficiently stiff yet supple. “An even balance between both properties protects the tread pattern when used in rough terrain and at the same time ensures that traction forces are transmitted smoothly” he explained. “High forces and flexing can easily result in tread lugs tearing or even shearing off completely if the tread is too stiff or too soft.” To prevent stone-trapping, the tread features V-shaped grooves and curved lug edges where stones cannot become embedded. The tyre shoulder and sidewall are also particularly rugged in their design, adds General Tire, in order to prevent damage when driving in rough terrain. Additionally, the tyre features a flange rib to protect the rim from damage.
All terrain – or AT – tyres also have to deliver safe driving characteristics on the road. It was for this reason that the tyre compound was developed to provide a healthy balance between the demands made by off-road driving on the one hand and use on the road on the other. The tyre, the manufacturer explains, is thus rugged enough to resist gashes and scuffing, and yet at the same time it provides safe grip for the transmission of braking and steering forces on both wet and dry roads. The main tread grooves run both longitudinally and laterally to enable water to escape quickly from the ground contact patch when driving on wet roads. The same grooves also pick up water swiftly and channel it off to the side of the tyre when going through ruts or flooded sections of road. The additional micro-drainage effect provided by sipes in the tread pattern further enhances grip on wet asphalt and in the rain.
Eckhard Quentin states that the Grabber AT’s wide tread contour with its balanced pressure distribution plus the tyre’s particularly stiff lugged structure enables high mileage performance to be achieved. “The lugs in the contact patch where they meet the road hardly move at all relative to one another, so they are subject to only minimal wear” he explained. “This enables us to achieve a high mileage performance.” In terms of rolling noise, too, General Tire says its new AT tyre comes off extremely well: “Off-road tyres frequently tend towards high noise levels on the road, because of their rugged tread pattern design” he commented. “We used angled tread lugs to counteract this problem, as they run offset into the contact patch.” This design, comments the manufacturer, provides the ideal conditions for avoiding noise and vibrations when driving on the road.
The new Grabber AT will be available from tyre retailers in numerous sizes from the start of spring and will gradually replace its predecessor over 2011 and 2012. The full Grabber AT range will cover 57 sizes for 14 to 20-inch rim diameters and Q to H speed ratings.