My favorite LT255/85R16?

Check out my current favorites below

Link: Mastercraft CXT and Cooper S/T MAXX


I was asked about my favorite 255/85R16 tire these days. Favorite? Just one? Singular? This was a tough assignment for me. All my buddies know it’s impossible for me to have only one set of truck tires in my shop. It depends on the application, but what’s my final answer?

For most of us price is at least somewhat of a consideration, if not a major factor, when choosing tires. I’ll give cost some consideration, though I prefer to buy the rubber I want, and think of the relative value over 40,000 miles or more. Sometimes a little faster rate of wear is a fair tradeoff for performance.

Maxxis Bravo MA-761 and Toyo M55 in 255/85R16

Mostly Muds

While I wish there were more all-terrain or commercial traction treads in the 255/85 size there are only a couple. The Toyo M55 is one commercial traction tire that comes to mind, and the load-range D, 3-ply sidewall Maxxis Bravo MA-761 is a the only stout, low-void tire in this size. The rest are essentially mud-terrain tires.

Regional availability varies and I suggest considering this before a purchase. With few exceptions, most stores will need to order a set of 255/85 tires. In my part of The West, 255/85R16 Toyo M/T, M55, and Maxxis Bighorns can be found at many Les Schwab Tires stores, and if not in stock, will arrive a few days after an order is placed. I’d be willing to bet cash that few (if any) local tire stores stock the BFG Mud-Terrain. However the online tire giant, Tire Rack, has a warehouse nearby, and a short drive any business day would put a set of 255/85 KM2s in my pickup.

LT255/85R16E BFG KM2 treads on a 2006 4Runner

Toyo M/T 

If you’re looking for very heavy-duty construction (and heavy), smooth running on pavement, and a reputation for balancing well, the Toyo M/T is a top choice. Tread wear can be very good, or lousy depending on the rig and the driver. Their tendency to pull, often right, on (my) Toyota 4WDs and many Dodge trucks has made me reconsider my praise for Toyos in recent years where I used to swear by them. Their cost is a little scary too, though the 255/85 size is small enough to be affordable; all tires have become more expensive.

When the stoutest tire is not needed, I don’t like the extremely low pressures needed to make the Toyo M/T ride nice and flex the way I prefer off-pavement. At normal pressures on-highway ride is also firm, this is the price that must be paid for extreme-duty construction, the 3-ply sidewalls, and 7-ply tread. Some dislike the appearance of the Toyo M/T, but I think it’s a sharp looking tire. Noise is moderate for a mud terrain tire.

The previous BFG KM Mud-Terrain and the Toyo M/T in 255/85R16.

BFGoodrich KM2

With enough saddle time above a set of 255/85R16s and 285/75R16s to know how they perform off-highway, the BFG KM2 has impressed me as a load-range E, 3-ply sidewall tire that flexes well when the air pressure is dropped. BFG claims this in their advertising and it’s true. So while I’m not a BFG fan, this flexibility has my respect because I like flexible tires that are tough enough.

BFG also deserves credit for their commitment to the 255/85R16 size, as they made it for many years in the previous Mud Terrain design, for years now in the KM2 pattern, and offer essentially the same 17-inch tire, a 255/80R17. I’ve not had any failures with BFGs, but they’ve also never been my favorite tires, so I never put more than a few thousand miles on a set.

Most seem to be satisfied with how KM2s perform and last, but for years I’ve heard reports of inconsistent balance with BFGs. I experienced this myself with a set of 255/85 KMs (not KM2), which were only slightly worn and started to require more lead to balance after a few thousand miles. BFGoodrich deserves credit for taking chances when designing the KM2 which is a nice, different looking tire that has plenty of sidewall tread. A good price for a set of 255/85 KM2s should be much less than Toyo M/Ts.

Maxxis Bighorn load-range D and BFGoodrich KM2 load-range E LT255/85R16 tires.

Maxxis Bighorn MT-762

When Les Schwab Tires started selling the Bighorn a few years ago, including the 255/85R16 size (blackwalls too!), I was quick to buy a set. At the time they did full-time duty on my built 4Runner and were an exceptional value, about $150 per tire. On many occasions I was thoroughly impressed by the grip the Bighorns delivered. Part of their traction advantage comes from the relatively soft, flexible tread compound, which also results in pretty fast wear. Bighorns are also a little loud, not howling ‘swamper’ loud, but a typical mud tire hum, a bit more to listen to than either the Toyo M/T and KM2, particularly as they wear. As I mature, I’m less tolerant of everyday tire noise, and actually prefer something quieter than all three of my examples here. If you’re not averse to a little mud tire noise, the Bighorns are a great tire. They are still a load-range D 255/85, only a 2-ply sidewall design, though I’ve yet to rip one open. I’d like to see Maxxis update their design and add thicker tread material on the upper sidewalls.

My first set of Bighorns made me a fan of Maxxis light-truck tires, when they balanced with very little weight. This spurred me to purchased a set of Bravo all-terrains, which also required little weight to balance and were great on the road. My second set of 255/85 Bighorns also balanced well, but never saw much use before being traded. A third set of Bighorns, used 285/75R17s, that I acquired for testing a few months ago also balanced very well even though they had some uneven wear. A little noisy and fast wearing they may be, but they are still a decent value if you don’t have to pay full retail, and even better if you’re able to use them mostly off-highway.

Copyright © 2012 James Langan

5 Replies to “My favorite LT255/85R16?”

  1. Now if the Dick Cepeck FC II was a 255/85 the choice would be easy for you, right?

    1. Most certainly!

      I would not have a bit of hesitation, because the F-C II is my (current) favorite all-around tire, and the 255/85R16 remains my favorite tire size…even if I don’t own a set (right now).

  2. Nice writeup. So which is your favorite 🙂

    Any reason you didn’t mention the Cooper ST. Its one all terrain available in that size. I thought you tried a set at one time. Or is it just not a favorite.

    I’ve been very happy with my Cooper STTs in a 285 but I do wish they made it in a 255/85. I often think a 255/85 would be a better size for me.

    1. That Cooper ST is my favorite 255/85 tire. I will admit that I have not tried any other 255, though, so my experience is limited to the one excellent tire. However, if Cooper made the ST Maxx in a 255/85 load range D, the original ST would have to fall back to second place…..

    2. Yes, I did have a set of Cooper S/T treads and used them intermittently for a few years; I liked them but never loved them. I think that James loves his Cooper S/T treads like I love the Dick Cepek F-C II design. I used 4/32″ of tread on the S/T tires before selling them to a guy who’s running them on a Dodge/Cummins.

      I didn’t mention the Sure Tracs (S/T) in the original post because I was purposely trying to narrow the field, and not write about every 255/85. The Sure Trac is a 60/40 (road/dirt) tire that is difficult to classify as either an all-terrain or a mud-terrain, but I love a good 60/40 tire, whether there is a slight road bias like the S/T, or a 40/60 road/dirt design the Mickey Thompson MTZ (percentage per the manufacturers). My biggest complaint about the S/T—and its brother the Dean SXT Mud Terrain—is the extremely narrow tread atop an almost standard width casing, which results in a very exposed sidewall. I’ve owned both designs in 255/85R16 and never damaged one, but I also used them lightly and carefully most of the time, always having a more rugged tire at my disposal. The S/T & SXT are also a very soft and flexible tires, with only a 4-ply tread in the 255/85 size. As good as the 255/85 Cooper S/T is, if I was going to buy a new set of 255/85R16 tires today I would pick something else.

      Back to the original question. Which is my favorite 255/85…what a tough question, I’m still struggling with this! My current favorite all-around tread is, without question, the Dick Cepek F-C II, though it’s not offered in a 255/85. I’m still not sure I can commit to a particular 255/85R16 as a “favorite” just yet, but I may be closer. It will be telling when I decide to spend money on a new set of 255s in the future.
      Yesterday I called my local Les Schwab Tires to get the current retail price on a few of the tires discussed here, then called a Discount Tire store to get their price on the 255/85 BFG KM2. Man light-truck tires are expensive these days!

      Toyo M/T $308.00
      Toyo M55 $324.01
      Maxxis Bighorn $242.32
      Dean SXT MT $240.00
      BFG KM2 $240.00

      If I was to buy a new set of 255/85 treads in the near future it would be for my old 1996 F350 4×4 diesel. This Ford has been ignored for a few years while I’ve played with Toyotas, but it’s about to get a new lease on life; I have a two month deadline before a deer hunting trip. Once rolling and loved again this truck will see very few miles annually. For the Ford I would purchase either the Maxxis Bighorn or the Toyo M/T. As noted above, the Bighorn has ride and grip on its side, while the Toyo is stiff but more rugged. While traveling in the firmly sprung F350 I don’t like to add stiff tires to the suspension.

      Yesterday and today my first thought would be the Maxxis Bighorns, but the Toyos are a great tire. Based on the retail pricing listed above, each Toyo M/T cost about 27 percent more than a Bighorn, and that’s likely about the additional wear the Toyos would (or could) offer. Both tires come with 19/32″ of tread depth when new. During the first 5/32” or tread my 255/85 Bighorns gave 2,363 miles per 1/32″ of tread under a built V8 4Runner (5,500# wet, unloaded). Adding 27% to that would be about 3,000 miles per 1/32″, and I doubt the Toyos would offer much more than that, maybe less? However the Toyos are more puncture resistant…

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