— DIRT WHEELS TIRE TEST: Tire and wheel that “fuel” your off-road fun —
We were impressed with the performance of the Gripper tire. It helped our Can-Am climb some gnarly rock terrain, worked great in the sand and improved the handling of the car on high-speed sections.
When you hear the name Fuel wheels or Fuel tires, you probably think of their killer-performing and killer-looking truck tires and wheels. Well, recently they’ve started a full assault into the ever-growing UTV tire and wheel game. With their knowledge from the truck tire and wheel lineup, we were jazzed to get a set to test on our new Can-Am Maverick X3.
Since it’s a new segment for Fuel, they only offer one tire for UTVs—the Gripper. When compared to their Gripper A/T and Gripper M/T truck tires, the UTV Gripper seems to be a blend of both. The UTV Gripper is an eight-ply all-terrain tire. It boasts an aggressive lug pattern with a 1-inch tread depth and decent clean-outs for mud. The sidewall has a beefy 4N design for great puncture-resistance, along with a molded-in rim protector. To add to these great features, the Gripper is DOT approved for on-road use. The UTV Gripper is offered in 28-, 29- and 30-inch tires; 32-inch tires will be available soon.
VECTOR BEADLOCK WHEEL
Fuel offers four different styles in their wheel lineup, and we chose to go with their Vector beadlock wheel. The Vector wheel and the beadlock ring are made from quality aluminum and are offered in 14×7 and 15×7 sizes. There are two offsets to choose from— 13mm and 38mm—to fit your needs.
There are several bolt patterns to choose from to fit the popular UTVs and some ATVs out there. Each wheel can handle 1000 pounds of load capacity. A cool feature of the Fuel beadlock wheels is additional holes where the beadlock rings bolt on. If you happen to cross-thread a hole or damage a bolt in any way, you can simply rotate the ring to the second set of holes and continue on your way.
IT’S ALL IN THE NAME
For our test, we headed out to Sand Hollow State Park in southern Utah. Sand Hollow is famous for its lake, red rocks, desert terrain and sand dunes. It’s also a great stomping ground to test machines or products. Before installing them onto our X3 X ds, we put the Fuel wheel and tire combo on the scale, along with the OE 29-inchMaxxis Bighorns with the Can-Am beadlock wheel. The Fuel combo came in at 64 pounds and the Maxxis/Can-Am combo came in at 42 for the front and 45 for the rear. Now that is a big weight increase, but there is much more rubber with the Gripper tire being that it’s an eight-ply rating and a gnarly sidewall. The Vector beadlocks are stronger, have more aluminum and are a taller wheel. These factors come into play to explain the weight difference.
For the test, we went with the 30×10-15 Gripper tires and the Vector 15-inch wheel. Having the taller yet narrow tire and the larger 15-inch wheel really gave our Can-Am a new look and a more aggressive stance. Since we would be rock crawling and in the sand for most of the test, we dropped down to 8 pounds of air pressure.
The taller tire and wheel rolled over the rocks much easier than stock. The Gripper tires have tremendous traction, which helped out the X3’s 4WD system crawl over treacherous rock climbs. They also did very well in sandy corners, which we can attribute to the Gripper’s side tread design. The added ground clearance that we achieved with the Fuel combo made us more confident in driving abilities in any terrain. The X3 also did better in the large whoop sections with the larger tires and wheels as it stayed on top of them rather than dropping into them. We did feel that the weight of the tires did make our Can-Am struggle a bit at small throttle openings, but it added more top end to the car.
Overall, we were very happy with the performance of the Fuel Gripper tires and Vector wheels. They made our Can-Am friendlier while rock climbing, and added better performance in the whoops and sand sections. The best part is the added puncture protection and peace of mind for the driver while wheeling. Each 30×10-15 Gripper tire retails for $255.00 and each 15×7 Vector wheel retails for $225.00. For more information visit www.fueloffroad.com.