Mounting the Bighorns on the Tundra and hitting the highway confirmed what the balance machine told us: The Bighorns and 17-inch forged aluminum RW wheels are a good combination and well balanced.
Backing out of my shop I was immediately reminded of how flexible the Bighorns are, at 35 psi the ride was very compliant, almost soft.
Up to 70 mph on the freeway the only thing I could feel was a slight rumble on the rear axle caused by the prior uneven wear. After a few thousand miles on a properly aligned and conservatively driven truck the poor wear patterns should disappear.
Perceptions and opinions about tire noise vary, and the truck can make a big difference too, though except when new I’ve found Bighorns to be a little on the loud side. This set didn’t disappoint, and the irregular wear added to the rumble.
Noise aside, the Tundra seemed happy with the Bighorns mounted and they’re a nice addition to the fleet for my upcoming multi-tire fuel economy test.
It was obvious these Bighorns had been stored outside as there was varying amounts of desert grit inside the tires. A thorough cleaning with compressed air prepared them for a trip to the tire shop.
The Bighorns were not going on my nicest set of wheels, but my local Les Schwab Tires still used their nice, new rim-clamp machine to insure damage free mounting.
My experiences with Maxxis tires, all LT255/85R16D prior to buying this set of used 285s, have been positive. The Bighorns are a little loud, a softer, nicely gripping tire, and I’m usually impressed with how little weight they require to balance.
These 285/70R17s did not disappoint, the Hunter GSP9700 balance machine indicated the tires needed little weight to balance, even with their uneven wear.
On my shop scale these 17-inch Bighorns weighed 55–57 pounds depending on how much rubber remained, and 80 pounds mounted on the very light forged aluminum 17″ TRD Rock Warrior wheels. Although I’ll often use a static, single-plane balance for truck tires, these Bighorns were dynamically balanced.
2.00/4.75 (The most cupped, unevenly worn tire.)
The lack of wheel weight required to balance these 33-inch mud tires was amazing. Tire #3 needed 6.75 ounces, still very respectable for a new tire, and simply impressive for one that has notable uneven wear.
Careful inspection of the tread confirmed what I’d thought upon initial scrutiny: It’s obvious which pair of tires had been on the rear axle of the turbo-diesel Cummins and which had been on the front. The rears were evenly worn but had about 2/32″ less tread than the fronts, an obvious result of the substantial diesel torque, loading, and type of use they received.
The additional tread in the centers of the fronts was nice, however the outer edges were unevenly worn due to poor front-end alignment, driving style, or both.
Below you can see there is 10/32″ of remaining aftermarket siping in the center lugs.
My friend Paul recently referred to Craig’s List (CL) as “the end of the internet”, and I found it both funny and appropriate. Paul says he and his brother Chuck will visit their favorite sites, and then end up on Craig’s List looking for deals. A recent CL find in a nearby town seemed worthy of investigation…
“Almost new Maxxis Bighorns, paid $900, only asking $600, still have the nubbies on them”. Since I’ve used and enjoyed Bighorns before, and had a naked set of wheels begging for new rubber, I called and got the skinny. I was told the tires had “about 1,000 miles on them”, from a few trips to the neighboring city, taking kids to school, etc. The guy said he would take $500, sounded genuine, so I decided they were worth a look and made the 1.5 hour drive one morning.
1,000 Miles x 5
Exiting my truck with my tread depth gauge in-hand, the first tire I measured had only 15/32″ tread in the center. I showed the seller, who used to work at a Les Schwab Tire store in Idaho, and he responded with: “Wow, I didn’t realize they were wearing that fast”. New 285/70R17D Maxxis Bighorns come with 19/32″ of tread, and though they can be a fast wearing tire, there was no way they lost 4/32″ in 1,000 miles, even on the rear of a powerful turbo-diesel with a young right foot driving them. During further discussion one trip from Nevada to Idaho and back was mentioned, and from the wear I guessed the tires had logged at least 5,000 miles. The fronts had more tread in the centers but the outer lugs were feathered from poor alignment or driving.
Since I needed more tires like the preverbal hole in head, and wanted to insure I could resell them if the the Tundra or I didn’t like them, I told the seller I didn’t want to offend him, and then offered him $300. He said he wouldn’t go that low, and that there was a much better market for his tires back in Idaho. I increased my offer to $350 (add $50 in gas to that), and said I understood if he didn’t accept, I enjoyed the drive and would be on my way. He and his wife tossed it around for a few minutes, and then accepted my cash.
Loaded, strapped down, and heading home, I stopped for a cold drink at the local gas station, it was a warm spring day. I took a few pictures of the new toys, had a snack, and watched a tow-truck driver try to perform a lockout on a new, 5th Generation 4Runner for over a half-hour. This reinforced the value of my practice of always carrying two ignition keys, one in each front pocket. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been locked-out of one of my vehicles, more than sixteen years.
While driving home I planned the mount & balance and test-drive with the new to me Bighorns.
Long before my route was paved there were much hardier travelers who passed this way. I stopped for a brief photo and took a moment to reflect. Lately I’ve been reflecting on how thoroughly spoiled we are with easy, efficient, convenient long distance travel. Several decades ago vehicles were not as low-maintenance and relatively trouble-free as they are now. Before the transcontinental railroad, traveling across The States was a serious, life-threatening endeavor. As modern motorized backcountry travelers there is always the possibility that our machines and computers will fail and we will be reunited with primal overland travel; walking.
Below is a poor grab shot through windshield glare and at a substantial distance as I drove through the small town of Quincy, California. It’s not everyday that one sees an nicely restored original Bronco with uncut rear fenders, and nice, narrow original size tires.
Onward further into the country where I met Brian and his family—very kind people. Brian and I visited for over an hour, talking mostly about trucks and tires, before I started reversing my path.
After several miles I drove down a dirt road where I enjoyed lunch. I really like having a tailgate for picnics, one of the advantages of a pickup over most utility vehicles.
Excellent Highway Fuel Economy
After lunch and enjoying the sights and smells of the forest, my fuel economy mission resumed. Theoretically, there are many ways in which to improve fuel economy. Though if your vehicle is outfitted the way you like it and your maintenance is up-to-date, the best way to increase fuel economy is to drive slower and pay attention to your driving technique—there is more to it than simply lowering your top speed.
My not-so-speedy-delivery was a 183.7-mile all highway roundtrip, on which the 3UR-FE 5.7L aluminum Toyota V8 consumed 9.761 gallons of gasoline. The math says that’s 18.81 miles-per-gallon. Excellent.
I’d love to attain this type of economy all the time, but mixed driving, living at altitude, and driving up and down mountains makes it nearly impossible. Though for a lifted truck with a big gasoline-powered V8 engine, and reasonably large & wide 33-inch LT285/70R17D tires (Dick Cepek F-C II), being able to top 18 miles-per-gallon is an accomplishment. Some of the credit has to go to the very tall sixth gear overdrive, which lets the engine lope at very low revolutions-per-minute when lightly loaded, and use little fuel.
I’m not a big custom wheel fan, partly because I’ve never run very wide tires so narrower OE wheels work well, and partly because wheel bling is not my thing. I’ve purchased exactly two sets of custom wheels in all my years of tinkering with four-wheel-drives, one set for my old F350, and one set for my 4Runner—both were later sold after very little use. There may be another set in the F350’s future if I stay with 285s, but that’s down the road.
However, I have purchased many sets of original equipment wheels—either take-offs or new—including an extra set of steelies for the F350, several 16-inch Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD wheels for the Mall Crawler, and now a couple sets of forged 17-inch TRD take-offs for the 2nd Gen. Tundra. Extra wheels are needed for tire testing, not because I have a wheel fetish, tires on the other hand…
It’s much easier to find take-off wheels for new or current platforms, when enthusiasts are removing OE tires and wheels and replacing them for appearance or something bigger. For example, it’s very difficult to find a nice set of 16×7-inch factory forged aluminum wheels for the 1996 F350. Few are modifying these trucks that ceased production in 1997, and the supply of OE wheels dried-up long ago. Ford changed the bolt pattern on the heavy-duty 1999 F-series, so newer OE wheels don’t fit.
Six Spoke 17-inch 4Runner Sport Wheels
In the case of the 4th Generation Toyota 4Runner which ceased production just a few years ago, OE take-off wheels are not terribly difficult to find, but finding the exact style I wanted for a reasonable price was a bit of a challenge. The 4th Gen. 120 platform 4Runners were sold with 16, 17, and 18-inch wheels, and in a few different styles.
It should be clear from my Wheels, Tires and Sidewalls post last month that I prefer more tire and less wheel. But I wanted to procure a set of seventeens so I could eventually mount some of the 285/70R17 tires I’m amassing for the Tundra, onto the 4Runner. I was specifically looking for the earlier 6-spoke, 17-inch Sport wheels, not the later, 5-spoke design which is more common and the same or very similar to the 17-inch Tacoma wheels. These seventeens are 7.5-inches wide, just wide enough for 285 tires.
The 6-spoke seventeens are just old and uncommon enough that there are fewer offerings, and the prices are higher than other 4th Gen. take-offs. When it comes to shopping for used wheels Craigslist is a blessing (or is it a curse). I missed a local set for $250 a few months ago, and while I continued to search nationwide, I didn’t want to pay for shipping. After months of intermittent shopping, I found a set in Oregon that did not sell for the original asking price of $400.00. A potential buyer looked at the wheels but passed due to scuffs. The listing expired, but I stayed in contact with the seller, as a planned trip to Eugene, Oregon, was going to put us within 100-miles of the rims. Without seeing a good picture of the damaged wheels I made a tentative offer of $300, which was accepted, and weeks passed.
It was a two hour drive to meet the seller, but even at $4.00 per gallon for diesel, the cost to pickup the wheels was small. Driving the little VW TDI hatchback about 70 miles-per-hour the round trip fuel economy was 48.66 MPG.
We met the seller and inspected the wheels, which did have a few typical gouges near the rims from normal use. The one with the most damage appears as if it was mounted on the wrong tire machine, with a circular gouge near the center of the wheel. I would prefer no such marks, but I use my four-wheel-drives in the rocks and dirt, so there’s a good chance I’ll further damage these wheels during off-highway travel. I do not need, nor am I will to pay for new or perfect wheels. I offered him $250, he countered with $275 and I agreed.