Torture Testing Tires on 400 Miles of Baja
The Baja 1000 is one of the most grueling races in all of motorsports. Running nearly the entire length of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, drivers haul ass for 24 hours on motorcycles, production vehicles, trucks and buggies across some of the most varied terrain in the world. BFGoodrich’s original K0 tire was “born in Baja” — so it seemed like the perfect place to test their new version, the K02 All-Terrain tire. Despite being loaded with features like locking 3D sipes, stone ejectors and side-biter lugs, it was the 20 percent tougher sidewalls that came in handy during the climbing, careening and cussing that comprised the 400 miles of Baja terrain.
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It’s tough to test a tire when the wheel travel on the buggies is 18 inches; but there were enough jagged rocks and gut-busting bumps to know these tires are just as crazy-tough as the terrain. After three days driving through rivers, deserts, silt, boulders, wide-open fields and narrow trails, it was tough to tell whether the K02s last twice as long on gravel or have 19 percent better traction in snow as BFGoodrich claims — but one thing was for sure: at any moment’s notice in the Mexico’s backcountry, a cow, a car or a kid could jump right in front of your buggy, which is why instructors advise testers to drive at about 80 percent of their skill level to leave a slight cushion for such unexpected happenings.
After nearly 400 miles, two breakdowns and a few close calls, it was home sweet home — back over the American border. In a few weeks, some of the craziest and most skilled drivers on the planet will hit these trails — many of whom will be run K02s and live to tell about it.