DICK CEPEK FUN COUNTRY II
“Hybrid” radial all-terrain fits well with many driving surfaces contractors encounter every day
by Bruce W. Smith/Editor
Dirt. Sand. Gravel. Rock. Asphalt. All surfaces over which the newest iteration of the Dick Cepek Fun Country II radial all-terrain tire performs quite comfortably.
At least that’s our take from a 2,000-mile-long road test on our 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4.
We had the tires mounted on D-C’s Torque rims before being slide beneath the ample wheel wells of our big diesel Crew Cab.
Good tire performance, both aesthetic and functional, was somewhat expected: Dick Cepek has been a premier tire designer for decades using the boondocks of Baja to the streets of Los Angeles as their test centers.
The Radial F-C II, a “hybrid” design between mud tires and all-terrains, is the newest addition to a long list of Cepek’s light-duty truck tires well-suited for working pickups.
“This tire is actually an updated version of the Cepek Fun Country design that was inspired by off- road desert racing,” explains Jason Moulton, Dick Cepek’s Product Development Manager.
“A conscience effort was made for a flotation design that was able to provide plenty of traction in sand or loose dirt terrain without digging into the terrain. As a bonus, this also applies to snow as well.”
We found the tire performs well in most jobsite conditions. It also works quite well on wet pavement and in heavy rain conditions because the tread design does a good job of channeling water away from the center.
The added bonus for heavy-duty pickup users is this tire retains the “E”-range load ratings so there’s no loss of either OEM towing or hauling capacity.
Another important factor is the F-C II has very good sidewall puncture and tear resistance, which bodes well for its use around road construction sites, aggregates facilities and landscaping projects.
Cepek uses thicker rubber in the sidewall than one would typically find in light-truck tires, and the “DC” lettering adds another level of protection while providing improved protection in this vulnerable area.
Tough tire carcass
The F-C II is built on a mud-tire carcass, which results in a 20/32-inch tread depth, which is considerably deeper than found on standard all-terrains, such as the factory BFG T/A KO tires we took off our Ram 2500.
Deeper tread blocks aid in both wet and dry traction, and they also extend tire life. By how much depends on the vehicle and driving conditions.
“Mileage with this type of product is hard to estimate, especially across different terrains,” says Moulton.
“The FC-II is one of our higher-mileage tires thanks to the tread design, construction, and rubber compounds. We’ve seen mileage that exceeds 50,000 miles in light-truck applications.”
This tire is ten pounds heavier than the factory BFGs we replaced. It also provides more flotation (less ground pressure) over softer surfaces and more surface-biting area over hard surfaces than the OEM treads.
Its weakness, like all “all-terrain” tires, is in mud—especially red clay. The close tread pattern, even though more aggressive than the typical A/T tire, doesn’t clean well in the center blocks. The result is these tires like to spin in soft or slippery conditions, not dig down.
Road noise and ride quality
As for road noise, there’s little to say. The F-C IIs exhibit a slight high-pitched whine at highway speeds above 30mph that registered just 1dBA above that of the stock BFGs (67dBA) regardless of speed or road surface.
The F-C II’s relatively quiet demeanor is a testament to the tire designers ability to use computer modeling in their selection of multiple tread block sizes and angles that reduce sound harmonics at various speeds.
Speaking of speeds, we wanted to see how well the F-C II’s are at hauling down 7,600 pounds of Ram 4×4 during an emergency-braking situation. So we went to Holiday Raceway to conduct our series of 60-0mph panic stops.
The Cepeks stopped in 145.6 feet, which is a foot-and-a-half shorter than the stock BFGs despite having a 500-pound weight disadvantage due to the aftermarket accessories we’ve added to the truck since we began the tire test.
Such braking performance from a tire is comforting when towing and hauling heavier loads enter the big picture.
Finally, overall ride quality. The Ram’s ride is slightly harsher than it was with the stock tires. We noted uneven road surfaces, broken pavement, expansion joints and frost heaves are felt a little more through the wider tread face.
On the other hand, our heavy-duty Ram test pickup responds faster to both steering and braking input.
Overall, we like both the design and cross-functionality of the Fun Country IIs. They provide a pickup with a more muscular look while giving an above-average all-terrain tire performance.
Metric Size: LT305/60R18
Weight: 65lbs. (+10)
Load Range: E (Same)
Max Load: 3,195 lbs (Same)
Max PSI: 65 (-15)
Rim Size: 8.5”-11.0”
Section Width: 12.9” (+2.2)
Tread Width: 9.8” (+1.3)
Diameter: 32.6” (+0.8)
Tread Depth: 20/32” (+4/32)
Stopping Distance 60-0mph: 145.6 ft (-1.5)
Noise @ 70mph: 68dBA (+1)
(Notes difference of tire replaced: BFG T/A KO LT265/70R17E)