Previous tyres used by this blogger include the Goodyear Wrangler A/T, Cooper ST, General Grabber AT and Bridgestone’s Dueler M/T D673.
Let’s get a couple of facts out the way first; I believe any tyre review is going to be subjective and this tyre review will be no different. Every driver has a certain driving style and feel they enjoy as feedback from a vehicle and tyre and as such, no tyre review regardless of publication and journalist can be taken as gospel. Secondly, no tyre can excel in every terrain and consequently compromises have to be made as to driver expectations from that tyre. Now that these simple facts have been said, let’s get onto the review of the Kuhmo MT51.
Depending on the existing marketing material you read, the Kuhmo MT51 is either rated as an aggressive 50/50 all-terrain tyre, a ‘mixed traction’ tyre or a mild mud-terrain. From this blogger’s perspective, I’d rate Kuhmo’s latest 4x4 tyre as an aggressive all-terrain which, save for a 4x4 competition vehicle, is all you’d ever need to traverse most terrain when travelling outback or going for a long overland expedition. Given that, I’d suggest Kuhmo’s closest competitor on the market right now would be the Cooper ST Maxx tyre rather than Goodyear’s Duratrac due to the ST Maxx’s reputed greater sidewall strength when compared with Goodyear’s offering.
The tyres the MT51’s were immediately replacing on our 4x4 was the General Grabber AT tyre which by comparison, is a light weight all-terrain tyre. The difference in weight between the General AT tyre and Kuhmo Road Venture MT51 is very apparent and not unexpected given their different target market of the 4x4 fraternity. Kuhmo’s MT51 is a heavily constructed AT tyre and general tread depth as measured by this blogger was 15mm. The tyre size as used on our 4x4 rig which is a WJ Jeep Grand Cherokee is 245/75/16 which measures 30.6 inch in diameter – so the equivalent of a 31/10.50/15. By comparison, the tread depth on the General AT tyre when new was approximately 12mm.
Aside from tread depth and weight, the other immediate visual difference is the tread pattern and sidebiters. Both tyres have them but, whereas the General AT tyre sidebiters are approx. 1-2mm deep/high, on Kuhmo’s MT51 they’re easily double that depth. The General AT tyre also had a much more road biased tread pattern when compared with the open, deep and chunky tread pattern of the MT51. This is itself no bad thing for either tyre as they have different target markets. In sloppy mud the General AT tyre gave much more traction than I ever expected however, after the first 4x4 outing, sidewall cuts on the driver’s side front and rear tyres showed this 4x4 enthusiast, their weak point. And it was the ease with which the sidewall cuts happened on the General AT tyre that prompted the purchase of the new tyres from Kuhmo to test. By comparison, on a recent 4x4 outing to Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire with the UK's Jeep Owner's Club, the Kuhmo MT51 went through thick mud, clay, chalk and flint with as much apparent ease as other 4x4 owners who were predominantly using either Cooper’s STT or Toyo’s Open Country MT tyre. And they performed their task without a hint of any sidewall cuts. I’m sure there is a cross-over point where the additional traction afforded by a mud terrain tyre will become apparent but given the terrain driven this last weekend, that cross over point would have to be so extreme as to lead this blogger to believe a mud terrain tyre is almost irrelevant for anyone wanting travel overland or build an outback expedition rig. The Kuhmo MT51 is all the tyre you’d ever want in that regards.
On road, Kuhmo’s MT51 is the first tyre I’ve ever driven from new which felt ‘knobbly’ for want of a better phrase. Initially you’d think that’d be because they were poorly balanced from factory, which they weren’t. These tyres went straight on the wheels with very little balancing required at all. Even the Bridgestone MT D673 which I’ve used before felt more compliant than the Kuhmo’s when new. I can only put this down to Kuhmo’s chosen tyre composition to ensure a long life. By comparison on all other tyres previously mentioned as being used by me, the Kuhmo MT51 appears to have the most heavyweight construction and hardest compound of all; I can I only suggest this is why I could feel the tread when driving on these tyres when new. After about 1,000 miles / 1,600km of driving however, that knobbly feeling did calm down and now, after driving around 4,000 miles on these tyres in total, that feeling has gone completely. I do wonder however, if my experience of this feeling on these tyres will be unique to me or if it will be commonplace amongst other 4x4 owners using the Kuhmo MT51. Although similar in tread pattern and target market, I’ve not heard or read of similar comments of those using Cooper’s ST Maxx offering. And I certainly never had such issues with Bridgestone’s mud terrain tyre or Cooper’s ST tyre.
As is well known, here in the UK we get a lot of rain and as such, the MT51’s have been tested thoroughly in wet conditions. I’m happy to report that despite the open tread pattern and heavy tyre construction, the Kuhmo MT51’s perform better braking in heavy rain than any other 4x4 tyre I’ve used. Although on damp, greasy roads I’d say they’re not as good as the previous General AT tyre which did understeer less on the WJ Grand Cherokee. However I’d suggest that such an experience is to be expected given the General A/T softer composition and more road biased tread design.
Another road-based observation is that despite the aggressive design of Kuhmo’s tread pattern, road noise is no more apparent on these MT51’s than it was on any other tyre I’ve previously used; despite the knobbly feeling mentioned above. Furthermore, there has been no additional increase in fuel consumption with a recent 600 mile round trip to Belgium and back showing a 31mpg average on these tyres from the 2.7 CRD Jeep which is the same as I recorded on the previous A/T tire. This has surprised me greatly as I honestly expected the Jeep’s fuel consumption to get noticeably worse with the MT51’s on its wheels. So well done to Kuhmo for developing an aggressive A/T which doesn’t have a noticeable adverse effect at the pumps.
It’d be interesting to test these Kuhmo MT51 back-to-back with Cooper’s ST Maxx tyre but at the time of writing that just isn’t possible. However given the similar target market and tread design, my belief is that overall traction when off road would be similar in most conditions with only the more extreme muddy and rock crawling conditions favouring the Kuhmo MT51 due to its more open centre tread design when compared with Cooper’s ST Maxx.
Would I buy these Kuhmo MT51 tyres again over say Cooper’s ST Maxx offering? Absolutely, if the price is right. That is to say if they are of similar price. When searching online, I’ve come across a difference of £35 per tyre sometimes in Cooper’s favour and other times in Kuhmo’s favour which, if you’re buying a complete set of tyres, 4 plus the spare, could leave you £175 worse off. And, despite not testing the two tyre competitors back to back, I can’t see how such a difference in price would be worth it when the extra saving buying one brand over the other could buy you a second spare tyre which’d be much more useful in the real 4x4 world.
Would I buy a mud terrain tyre over the Kuhmo MT51? Absolutely not. Recent experience shows me that the Kuhmo MT51 tyre is, with the exception of very extreme conditions, all the 4x4 tyre you’ll ever need if you’re planning an overland expedition or weekend getaway that’ll take in mud, chalk, flint and clay.
I hope you found this review useful. If you have, please comment below and feel free to share a link to this review if you believe it will help others in deciding what the best 4x4 tyre is for them