THE EXPERT’S CHOICE: Johan Badenhorst (Voetspore)
In 2020, the year of COVID, we embarked on the second “Voetspore in South Africa” adventure. We were forced into this. The original plan was to travel in Russia, but with the closure of all international borders, we had to limit our journey inside the borders of Mzansi. And what a blessing it turned out to be. South Africa is a world in one country!
A few adjustments had to be made after ‘Voetspore in South Africa’, abbreviated as ‘ViSA’. Now we would embark on ‘ViSA 2’.
We grabbed the opportunity to fine tune and improve the vehicles in every way, and once finished, we felt the Cruisers had never looked better. We also took the time to focus our attention on the most important aspect of any 4x4: The four contact patches with the road… the tyres!
After serious consultation with the experts at Cooper Tires, we decided to mix things up, fitting three different tyre patterns, to three different Cruisers. We expected our journey to cover a variety of terrain types, and because of this, it seemed like a great opportunity to evaluate how each Cooper tread pattern performed along the way.
I took the Cooper AT3 XLTs on my Double Cab. It’s a dual-purpose tyre, so knowing that we would drive a combination of off-road terrain, as well as long stretches of tar, I wanted a tyre that could deliver great performance on both road surfaces.
Gideon, in his Cruiser 76, opted for the far more aggressive Cooper STT PROs. Admittedly, I always feel jealous of a guy riding in a Cruiser 76. The vehicle just looks the part, but with the STT PROs fitted, it looked even more aggressive and purpose-made for the job.
Streicher drives the Single Cab. His Cruiser is the workhorse of the pack. That said, his vehicle is loaded with several tons of gear, and when you combine that sort of weight with off-road terrain, you need a tyre with strong sidewalls and extreme puncture resistance. The Cooper S/T MAXX was the logical choice for this vehicle.
We completed our journey from Pafuri to Agulhas at the end of August 2020. Three months and just over 10 000 km were behind us. So, what’s the verdict on which tyre did best? Well, it’s difficult to say because as we all know, when it comes to tyres, it’s all a matter of application.
Gideon’s 76 handled loose, muddy terrain with ease, while I had to work a little bit harder. At times, I even had to deflate more than him. Yet, when we hit the tarred roads, I felt very confident with the AT3 XLTs and certainly had much less road noise than he did. So from that perspective, I’d take the STT PROs (over everything else) when it comes to off-road terrain, but on the long highway roads, I was very happy in my comfortable (and quiet) Cruiser.
On that note, Streicher had the best of both worlds. The S/T MAXX’s ability to carry a heavy load, provide incredible traction off-road, excellent puncture resistance, but then still deliver great on-road performance, really sets this tyre apart.
With all of this in mind, it really comes down to what you want the tyre to do, and needless to say, my requirements won’t necessarily match your own. However, there is one thing about the AT3 which can’t be ignored, and that’s the 100 000 km mileage warranty, 10-year manufacturer’s guarantee, and 2-year road-hazard plan. Obviously, a lot can be said about tread patterns and picking the right for your 4x4, but a warranty package like that shows supreme confidence from the brand and can’t be overlooked.
Johan Badenhorst is the producer of the ‘Voetspore Television Series’. Over the past two decades Johan and his team have traveled across Africa numerous times, visiting 40 countries and covering more than 350 000 km. Recently, they also visited Madagascar and India, and just completed their second adventure within the boundaries of South Africa.