BF Goodrich KO3 vs KO2

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Overall, the BF Goodrich KO3 is a superior choice for diverse driving conditions, offering improved grip, and handling performance. But is there are still a few areas, where its predecessor, the BFG KO2 still takes the upper hand.

BF Goodrich KO3 Sidewalls
Although there’s room for improvement, the BFG KO3’s sidewalls are still sufficiently robust for off-road performance.

Key Takeaway

The BF Goodrich KO3 excels in:

  • Longitudinal grip and handling traction due to an optimized contact patch and improved tread design.
  • Wet performance with better water absorption and evacuation, resulting in improved wet braking and handling.
  • Snow performance with better grip and flexibility due to evolved design and higher silica content.
  • Noise comfort by effectively reducing tread noise through closely packed lugs and advanced rubber compound.
  • Maintaining consistent performance over time due to its lighter structure and equal tread technology.

See Detailed Review of KO3: https://tiredriver.com/bf-goodrich-ko3-all-terrain-t-a-review/

Whereas the older KO2 still takes the lead in terms of:

  • Off-road performance on rocky terrains due to enhanced durability and sidewall lugs designed to bite at angles.
  • A more balanced mix of lateral and circumferential traction in rocky conditions.
  • Slightly longer tread life due to its dual-layered tread and harder rubber composition.

See Detailed Review of KO2: https://tiredriver.com/bf-goodrich-ko2-review/

Tread Pattern

The BF Goodrich KO3 has been introduced with an innovative and refreshed design.

BFG KO3
BF Goodrich KO3

So, to begin with, the tire presents a more refined and streamlined pattern, reducing the amount of empty space found in its design.

So what does that mean?

Well, while the central lugs no longer interlock as closely as those on the KO2 variant, they now incorporate enhanced aqua channels.

These channels improve water evacuation from the tread area, reducing the risk of hydroplaning.

The design of the lugs has been updated to be more angular, featuring chamfered edges for better grip.

Moreover, these tread blocks boast a sophisticated interlocking system and are equipped with full-depth siping.

This design is complemented by notches that are oriented in various directions, enhancing traction.

BFG KO2
BFG KO2

Similarly, the shoulder lugs share these improvements, with sharp chamfered edges and interlocking siping for increased stability and grip.

Although the tire maintains stone ejectors within its lateral grooves to prevent stone retention, it transitions away from the triangular stone ejectors of its predecessor, favoring a different approach to minimize stone trapping.

Overall Dry Performance

We’ll examine the key components of tire performance on dry surfaces: the linear/lateral grip and the steering response. Let’s begin our assessment.

Longitudinal Grip

Longitudinal grip is the measure of a tire’s traction when traveling on straight roads, primarily assessed by its braking distance and acceleration performance.

Now a lot of factors affect this straight line grip, but yes the main one comes down to the tire’s contact patch.

Having said that, comparing both BF Goodrich tires here, its seen that the KO3 shows a slight improvement in directional grip. And this improvement stems from two main factors:

  • The KO3 features a more optimized contact patch, which maximizes the area of rubber in contact with the road and promotes even weight distribution across the tire. This leads to a smoother and more efficient motion.
  • The design of the central lugs, especially the S-shaped ones, is focused on providing essential features for grip. Basically with chamfered edges, more pronounced offset sides, and notches, the KO3’s tread design ensures a stronger bite, improving traction further.

So overall, these enhancements make the KO3 tire superior in providing a stable and reliable grip on straight paths.

Handling Traction

Handling traction is significantly influenced by the tire’s shoulders, as they bear the most weight and therefore make the most contact with the road during cornering.

And having said that, it can be seen why the BF Goodrich KO3 is also ranking here too, for the very same reasons it excels in longitudinal grip.

I mean the KO3 has been updated to feature denser shoulder lugs with fewer gaps and a more effective arrangement of traction-enhancing elements.

So, by employing closed shoulder lugs, the KO3 significantly increases the rubber’s contact with the road, which in turn, enhances lateral grip. Plus the addition of chamfered edges and interlocking notches of these shoulder blocks, placed both laterally and longitudinally, that grip gets further boosted up.

But yes the main reason why the tire excels in overall dry handing is due to its more responsive steering feedback.

This is thanks to its lighter weight not pushing down on lugs as much as they do on KO2. Why this matters? Well because it keeps the lugs from bending that much, and you don’t get that floating feeling you get on KO2, especially with LT sizes.

Wet Performance

The BF Goodrich KO3 tire showcases notable advancements in wet performance over the preceding KO2 variant. These enhancements include:

  • A siping design that’s been tweaked for grabbing onto water better.
  • More streamlined grooves that facilitate efficient water evacuation.
  • A softer overall rubber composition for increased flexibility.

Let me explain all of these, starting from siping.

So sipes are small slits in the tire tread that open and close to absorb water, requiring flexibility to function effectively. And with BF Goodrich KO3 updated interlocking siping design, the tire keeps the sipes water soaking abilities better.

And this water suction ability of these sipes, is further enhanced by KO3’s relatively softer rubber, which basically prevents sipes from getting stiffened up (particularly during sharp corners).

And lastly, the newer tire’s optimally designed grooves significantly lessen the demand on the sipes for water evacuation, (as more goes through grooves in the first place), thereby boosting the tire’s overall wet traction.

That’s why compared to KO2, the KO3 provides a 15% better wet braking now, and 10% superior wet handling (as seen by braking distances and lap times on average).

Snow Performance

Evaluating a tire’s performance in snow involves examining critical elements such as its ability to grip and bite at a micro level, how it responds to steering inputs, and its competence in navigating various snowy or icy conditions.

Now here, the BFG KO3 takes the upper hand. According to my tests, this newer tire now provides almost 5% better snow acceleration and braking compared to BFG KO2 (even though both tires have 3 peak mountain snowflake ratings).

This superior performance of KO3 is largely due to the it’s evolved design, which incorporates slightly increased number of sipes with (more aggressive) interlocking (wave-like) and linear patterns, alongside multiple angled, serrated lateral notches.

These basically bite in to snow better and create a better snow-to-snow contact in comparison (which is important because snow sticks more to itself, than tire’s rubber).

Moreover, as the BF Goodrich KO3 is made from a comparatively softer rubber compound, it is more responsive to changes in temperature.

In other words its tread remains flexible in colder temperatures, you don’t see that gradual lacking of overall performance you see on KO2, (with prolonged exposure to colder and icy conditions).

Noise Comfort

Tread noise primarily arises from air particles colliding with the walls of the tread.

These particles often enter through the shoulder grooves and collide with the surrounding walls, creating resonance within the grooves and vibrato in the tread. This interaction produces various tones and cavity noises.

Now the BF Goodrich KO3 excels here, mitigating this issue better through its design. It features closely packed lugs that effectively limit air entry, thereby diminishing noise at its source.

Furthermore, the tire’s tread is crafted to minimize noise deflection (echoing of sound waves).

I mean the advanced rubber compound used in the updated KO3, excels at absorbing noise energy, leading to a reduced in-groove resonance.

Tread Longevity

When assessing tread life, it’s important to look beyond mere longevity.

Having said that, the KO2 may last longer, its does not wear better, meaning its performance tends to degrade more noticeably over time. Whereas, the KO3 maintains its performance more consistently, as it wears down.

The KO2’s dual-layered tread and harder rubber composition may contribute to its durability, but this same hardness compromises its traction particularly on wet surfaces as the tire ages.

On the flip side, the BF Goodrich KO3 benefits from a higher silica content in its tread composition, which helps it maintain better wet traction throughout its life.

Moreover the updated KO3 also has the advantage of lighter structure, and its new equal tread technology.

With lighter weight, it put less pressure on the lugs as they rub against the road, lowering friction and enhancing tread longevity.

And with equal tread tech. it optimizes its contact patch further, allowing for a more even pressure distribution across the tread, resulting in a more uniform wear as well.

Off Road Performance

Off-road, I analyzed both BFG tires in three following terrain types.

On Rocks

Navigating rocky landscapes demands tires equipped with a multi-directional grip and sturdy sidewalls. This design minimizes the risk of overturning, enhances durability, and ensures a more reliable traction, even at lower air pressures.

Having said that, it can be explained why here the BF Goodrich KO2 is taking the lead.

This advantage stems from its enhanced durability, sidewall lugs designed to bite at angles, and full-depth sipes that expand the lugs (allowing lugs to bite the rocky surface).

Moreover although both tires feature hook shaped lug designs, the KO2 still delivers a better (and balanced) mix of lateral and circumferential traction compared to KO3.

Sand Driving

Since sandy terrains are very loose, you need a tire here that can maximize its contact with the ground (preventing it from sinking in, and getting stuck).

That’s why here lowering air pressure of the tire is usually the first step.

Now, the BF Goodrich KO3 has been upgraded with optimized sidewalls, featuring thicker lugs and more flexible sides. So in this tire’s case lowering of air pressure allows its sidewalls to better conform to the sand.

And yes the tire’s relatively lighter construction weight also helps with that.

On the other hand, the BFG KO2 is very lacking here. And the main issue with this tire is its stiffer tread edges which are more prone to digging compared to KO3.

Mud Driving

Although all-terrain tires are not specifically engineered for muddy conditions (as its the area of expertise of mud-terrain tires), the BF Goodrich KO3 performs above expectations.

And yes, the tire provides slightly better performance compared to its predecessor even though its having relatively less voided-up shoulder lugs.

Basically KO2 isn’t really great at letting go off mud. In fact it’s hook shaped design is actually good at trapping things inside the grooves.

And with less mud going out, the tire gets packed with its more easily in comparison here.

To Conclude

In conclusion, the BF Goodrich KO3 tire outperforms the KO2 across various parameters.

It offers better longitudinal grip and handling traction due to an optimized contact patch and improved tread design, leading to enhanced stability and steering response.

The KO3 also shows significant advancements in wet performance with better water absorption and evacuation, resulting in improved wet braking and handling.

In snowy conditions, the KO3’s evolved design provides better grip and flexibility. The tire also reduces tread noise more effectively and maintains its performance more consistently over time due to its higher silica content and lighter structure.

And although the KO2 excels in rocky terrains, the KO3 performs better in sand and mud driving.

So overall its pretty much a win for the newer updated tire.

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