Mickey Thompson
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We Put Mickey Thompson's Baja Claws to the Test

On the trails
On the trails, we've run the Claws between 6 and 17 pounds. At 6 they are pretty cushy and you can really see them mold around rocks. At 17, they are really way too stiff, but if you're on one of those runs where you have to do street driving from trail to trail, it works out better. At low trail pressures, the tires will get very far out of balance and on our rig, would cause a "death wobble" on the road if not aired up enough. Once aired back to 30 pounds, however, they were fine again on the street.

I found that the optimum pressure on our rig was about 10 or 11 pounds. At this inflation, they kept most of their height but were plenty gooshy enough. I also feel like they grabbed better and the Jeep was more stable on off-camber hills than at 6 or 7 pounds.

Some people think the Claws are ugly with so much tread on them. We think they look pretty darned cool.

This shot has been a lot of fun. The Project TJ walked right up this boulder like it was flat. The tread just grabbed on and did what it was intended to do.

On the Road

With 6" of suspension lift and 1" of body lift, the 35x13.50 Baja Claws fit very nicely under out Project TJ. On 10" rims with 3.5" backspacing, they stay away from our fender flares quite well. We have done no trimming at all to clear them.

Obviously, a tire like the Baja Claw's forte is not going to be on the street. The aggressive tread pattern and bias-ply construction makes for a somewhat uncomfortable ride on the pavement. In addition, I don't think I've ever heard a louder tire than the Claw. At 70-80mph, the howling is enough to drown out the stereo in the Jeep completely. Mickey Thompson has brought out a radial version for those who do more street-driving.

Having 13.5" wide tires on a tall rig is great. The extra width gives a very sure-footed and more-balanced stance. The Claws kept the Jeep stuck to the road, even under heavy acceleration on very twisty roads. We have been running them at 30 pounds and have used them for about six months as both daily driver tires and trail tires. The wear has been what we expected. Again, they are not really intended to be street tires. Any 35" tire is going to be hard to balance and even harder if on a bead-locked rim. Our set started on regular steel rims and did quite well for a couple thousand miles. We then put them on bead-locked rims. One tire took as much as 16 ounces of weights to "balance" but we discovered that the rim itself was not perfectly round. This took its toll on the tires up front (and our wheel bearings). The tires eventually wore unevenly and could not be rebalanced. We have since removed them from the bead locks and are going to put them back on regular steel rims, hoping they will balance once again.

In situations like this (driver side rear), the Sidebiters wedge against the rocks and pull you forward. It's like having tread on the sides, as well.

OK, so Baja Claws won't get you out of everything. Driver-error can still foil even the tires' best attempts at moving forward.


Final Thoughts

This is typical of any hardcore tire that actually gets used. Small chunks out of the tread are normal and to be expected. After enough miles, you will feel them on the road a little more, especially at low speeds.

How have they held up? Well, because we've used them as daily drivers, as well as trail tires, they have certainly seen some wear. However, the tread is still very deep and well-shaped, though the lug edges are now rounded out very slightly. In addition, some of the lugs have some cuts and chunks out of them.

One thing to keep in mind, though, that these are no different than other competing tires, such as the Interco Boggers. They are based on the same idea; huge, aggressive lugs made out of a softer compound with armour-like sidewalls. So, wear and chunks have to be expected on a rig that's truly used on the trails.

So here's the bottom line. If you're looking for a true off-road tire that will get you just about anywhere you point your rig, then you should consider the Baja Claw. If you're still undecided, find someone who owns a set and ask them, or better yet, watch them on the trails. The people who have run with us on the trails have certainly been seen scratching their heads and wondering if maybe they should convert to Claws. Many of those people have been long-time users of Boggers, Swampers, and other aggressive tires.

Mickey Thompson has, once again, proven itself a real contender in the off-road arena...this time with the hardcore boys. Try a set on your rig. You won't regret it.


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