ProPickup Tire Review
Dick Cepek Mud Country
by Larry D. Walton
Most of our equipment has tracks and tires designed to operate on specific types of terrain.
Our pickups, however, don’t have that luxury. They must run on a variety of surfaces including dry pavement, wet pavement, sub base, slick rock, gravel, sand, hard-packed dirt, soft dirt, mud, snow and ice.
But most mud tires spend most of their time on pavement, which is why the designers at Dick Cepek kept the highway in mind with their Mud Country tire.
“The fact that it’s a radial tire helps the street-ability,” according to Jason Moulden, product development manager at Dick Cepek Tires. “You get longer wear and better ride than you would a typical bias tire.”
- Extra tread blocks help protect the side walls, provide grip in ruts and give the tire a more aggressive look. The Dick Cepek design team also added siping to the tread blocks to help with water and ice traction. Siping cuts small grooves in the tread blocks to create more gripping edges and increase flexibility. Siping also gives water a place to hide so more tread can touch the road surface.
A third ply on the tire’s sidewall makes it stronger for off-road, but it also improves the tire’s ability to handle side-to-side torsional load, which improves the tire’s handling while cornering.
When I was a kid, I could hear mud tires from our country home on the highway a half mile away. Irregular tread blocks on the Mud Country tires were designed to break up resonance at highway speeds, but they still produce a bit of the old mud-tire drone.
The Mud Country tires perform admirably on the street, but they really shine when it comes to off-road performance. A closer look at the tread pattern reveals why.
The first thing you’ll notice is large tread blocks with sizable gaps between them. This high void design gives mud a place to go, exposes more biting edges and cleans out to keep biting edges exposed.
As we mentioned, the tread blocks themselves have irregular shapes. Part of the design concept was to make the elements as non-uniform as possible, according to Moulden. This not only helps reduce noise, it constantly presents differing biting edges to the driving surface, which increases traction.
Taking a close look inside the canyons produced by the tread blocks reveals steps on the sides of the blocks. These steps are important to the tire’s traction. Not only do they produce a void shape that cleans out more efficiently, the steps also provide more biting surfaces to grab the terrain.
In our testing, we found the tread design quite effective at self-cleaning; even the stickiest clay dropped out and exposed tread blocks for the next pass. This is perhaps the single biggest factor in muddy road traction.
Moving out to the edge of the tire, you will notice that alternate shoulder blocks have a concave notch. “What we’re doing there is removing part of the block so the block behind it has more of an exposed edge to it,” says Moulden, “And this exposed edge increases traction.”
The sidewalls feature chain-link pattern tread blocks as well as other tread block elements. Not only do these add shadow lines for an aggressive look, they provide added traction for climbing out of ditches. This extra rubber on the sidewalls also helps protect from rock damage.
Watching these tires in action we noticed that the tread blocks in the center of the tire, although irregular, provided a nice center void around the tire, which we learned was designed to handle standing water and slushy snow.
When it comes to rain, the Mud Country tires were a mixed bag. The large voids helped the tires handle standing water well by minimizing hydroplaning. However, the large, flat surfaces of the tread blocks do not provide the best traction on wet pavement. Our findings were similar in freezing conditions; the tires performed quite well in snow but struggled a bit on ice.
The ability of the stepped tread-block design to self-clean in mud is this tire’s greatest asset as it ejects even the stickiest mud with the best of the specialty tires we’ve tested thus far.
We also logged a lot of miles on gravel roads, most of which were surfaced with 3⁄4-inch-minus crushed rock. We noted that rocks did not stick in the voids, which is a common problem for most of the tires we test on these same roads. The Mud Country tires also had a stable feel on gravel surfaces, which is an added benefit when towing heavily laden trailers of hauling a full load in the bed.
At low speeds you can actually feel the tread blocks, and as would be expected of an aggressive mud tire, they are a bit noisier than the all-terrains we took off of the truck.
But overall the Dick Cepek Mud Country tires are a street-able mud tire with excellent off-road capabilities and aggressive good looks. Sizes range from 31×10.50R15LT to 40×13.50R20LT.