BF Goodrich Trail Terrain vs Michelin Defender LTX MS


Both the BF Goodrich Trail Terrain and the Michelin Defender LTX MS are designed with a bold tread pattern which helps in off-road traction, though its not too aggressive, so things stay quiet and comfortable on highways as well. Let’s compare the technical specifications and performance data of both of these tires, to determine which one is the better choice for you!

Michelin Defender LTX M/S

Being a tire engineer, form my experience, I can confidently tell you that the Michelin Defender LTX MS offers a much better on-road traction in both wet and dry conditions. The tire has superb handling abilities and gives out very fast steering feedback. Moreover, it also does better in the fuel and tread department as well. On the other side, the BFG Trail Terrain is a better tire for off-road use, in all types of terrains, including sand, rocks and even mud.

Sizes Facts

Starting with Michelin Defender LTX MS, it comes in 68 sizes in 15 to 22 inches with following specs.

  • Speed Ratings: T to H
  • Tread depth: 10 to 13/32″
  • Load Ratings: SL, XL, C and E
  • Weight Range: 35 to 60 lbs,
  • Michelin offers 70k miles warranty for P metric sizes and 50k for LT

On the other side, the BF Goodrich Trail Terrain comes in 44 sizes in 15 to 22 inches. They have following specs.

  • Speed Ratings: T and H
  • Load Ratings: XL and SL
  • Tread depth: 12.5/32″ on all
  • Weight Range: 30 to 46 lbs
  • 60k Miles warranty

Tread Design

The Michelin Defender LTX MS tire has 4 longitudinal channels that are interconnected by lateral gaps between the blocks.

Michelin Defender LTX MS
Michelin Defender LTX MS is less aggressive, so it comes in the category of all-season.

All blocks have full depth 3D siping with an interlocking pattern that provides improved wet traction.

The overall design of the blocks is uniform, with all of them featuring similar elements, including interlocking lateral gaps that act as groove notches or biters.

The blocks also have offset edges on their sides that help with off-road performance on mild terrains.

The shoulder blocks on the tire have ridges in between that act as connectors and enhance tire stability.

The lateral gaps in this area are wider and do not form groove notches, but the same elongated, rectilinear siping pattern is present which also extends down to the sidewall a little bit. This provide some added grip when the tire is ran with low air pressure, although they are not as effective as those on a more aggressive tire.

The BF Goodrich Trail Terrain has some wild sidewall lugs, but overall, it’s tread design is more geared towards road use.

BF Goodrich Trail Terrain T/A
BF Goodrich Trail Terrain T/A

The shoulders feature staggered lugs with traction scoops, but they don’t form proper blocks (with gaps) as the outer ribs are continuous.

Though they do have deep incisions in them, and zigzag wavelike full depth sipes, that provide off-road grip.

These ribs create two outer (wider) longitudinal channels, that contain the central blocks.

The middle section of the tire has six main blocks that run in pairs and create three columns. These blocks also have full depth sipes, although they are not as interlocking.

Furthermore, the tire does not have traditional stone ejectors due to the lack of gaps between the shoulder blocks, but it does have triangular ones hidden in the grooves, which still offer efficient tread cleaning.

Fuel Usage

Although the Michelin Defender LTX MS gets to have a heavier structural weight (on average), it still consumes less fuel in comparison. So why is that?

Well, this has to do with 2 things, one is the longitudinal arrangement of the lugs, which allows the tire to roll smoothly on the paved road.

And 2nd, with more packed up lugs arrangement, even with heavier weight, all lugs still get to bear less overall distributed weight.

On the other side, being more aggressive, the BF Goodrich Trail Terrain although gives worse gas mileage, compared to an all-season tire here, it’s still one of the best ones out there in the all-terrain category.


Factors like tread depth, rubber compound, and rolling resistance can affect how long a tire’s tread will last.

As I discussed above, how Michelin Defender’s tread lugs bear smaller weight concentrations on them, they get to rub off the surface (they’re on) with less force.

So you see a smaller burning rate on this tire.

BF Goodrich Trail Terrain on the other hand, does the opposite, it has interlocked central lugs, so it’s weight distribution isn’t that great, and it’s smaller tread depth (on average), isn’t helping that as well.

(Greater tread depth allows for longevity, as it takes longer to reach down to 2/32″ of legal limit).

Highway Performance

A technical analysis of an all-terrain tire’s traction, steering, and cornering abilities is crucial in determining its dry performance accurately and effectively. Let’s delve into each of these key components in more detail.

Dry Grip

The central portion of the tire tread is crucial in determining grip, as it should have as much contact with the road as possible for optimal performance. (That’s the reason why you see wider ribs in the middle).

Though some factors such as the tire’s structure, composition and rolling resistance also impact grip in a significant way.

And considering all, it’s not a surprise to see Michelin Defender LTX providing better results here.

It features longitudinally aligned lugs which helps in rolling (straight), so you get to see shorter braking distances with this tire.

The BF Goodrich Trail Terrain on the other hand, comes with wider gaps between the grooves, limiting overall tire’s stability and traction (with its smaller contact patch offering).

Dry Handling

Handling is two parts, lateral traction, and steering response. And in both the Defender LTX M/S gets to excel.

This all season tire comes with packed up blocky design on the outer ribs which offer a great rubber patch to meet up with the road (as the weight gets shifted towards them, during turns).

Moreover, with a relatively stiffer compound, and smaller tread depth on average, the lugs don’t get to flex a lot providing a direct steering response.

The BFG Trail Terrain on the other side although has continuous running lugs, providing firmness to the tread while cornering, it’s still not as much mainly because of the tire’s weight, and pliable tread composition. That the it tends to (mostly) under-steer more in comparison, delaying steering response.

Wet Grip

On wet roads, sipes play a vital role in clearing water from the surface of the tire. They work by soaking up the water particles in their slits/gaps.

That’s why Michelin Defender LTX MS with more number of sipes (having interlocking structure) does better.

Note: The interlocking structure of the sipes basically stay pliable, as the tire turns, and so sipes remain flexible to wipe water off.

Though still the major reason, why BF Goodrich Trail Terrain lacks here in comparison is hydroplaning resistance. Let me explain.

Hydroplaning Resistance

Hydroplaning is inevitable at high speeds, as it has to do with how “fast” water can leave out of the tread.

That’s why Michelin Defender LTX MS with it’s clear cut longitudinal and lateral grooves (especially towards shoulders), offer superb efficacy.

BF Goodrich Trail Terrain on the other hand, with its packed up outer ribs lacks. Its not able to evacuate water outer “laterally”, and so more of the water hangs around behind, increasing the chances of the tire to float.


Most of the durability is dependent on the inner construction of the tire, where sidewalls are the most crucial.

That’s why both tires with 2 ply polyester casing, layered with 2 belts and single ply nylon offer what you call 2 ply sidewalls.

Yet, the overall protection is still offered better on BF Goodrich Trail Terrain, as the tire comes with thicker sidewall lugs, protecting that area in a better way.

The Defender LTT M/S on the other side is missing with those.

On-Road Noise

The noise produced by a tire is caused by the movement of air within the tread. As the tire rolls, it mostly comes in through the shoulders, and hit the walls around, generating unwanted sound waves.

The Michelin Defender LTX MS although doesn’t have interlocking grooves in the middle, it still has a lot of void area out there. So it tends to be louder in comparison.

BF Goodrich Trail Terrain on the flip side, comes with packed up shoulders, disallowing air to move inside, in the first place, killing noise at the source.

Moreover, you also superior variable pitch technology on this tire as well.

I discussed it in more detail here:

Winter Grip

The versatility of all-terrain tires allows them to handle a range of winter conditions, including ice, deep snow, light snow, and hard-packed snow.

And after testing out both tires, I’ve to go with BFG Trail Terrain, considering all of these variables, and terrains.

On snow, the more biting edges a tread has, the better, and with a more random, interlocked placement of lugs (in the middle), the BF Goodrich’s boy gets to have upper hand.

Its lugs together form in-groove biters, all its full depth sipes split open all the way, providing added snow grabbing abilities.

Michelin Defender LTX MS on the other hand, has longitudinal grooves, which don’t offer snow scooping abilities. Though you do get good enough on-road-snow traction with it’s numerous 3D sipes, all over the tread.

For Your Info: Out of both tires only BFG Trail Terrain is rated with 3 peak mountain snowflake rated, which means its the only one here, eligible for sever winter conditions.

Off Road Performance

To excel in off-road conditions, tires should be able to resist holding onto stones, handle rough crawling, have powerful LT sizes with thick lugs, and have strong self-cleaning abilities.

Soft Sand

Sand requires you to reduce air pressure for a “floating” effect. Meaning with lowered PSI values, a tire gets to expand its footprint, decreasing its density.

That’s why with sidewall lugs, the BF Goodrich Trail Terrain gets to be a lot better here. It’s lugs spread out, providing ample contact patch to meet with the sand.

Michelin Defender LTX M/S on the other side, is not only missing with sidewall lugs, but it’s structural weight is also a lot more comparatively.

So it tends to dig in more. And sinking on sand means game over.

Muddy Tracks

Less aggressive tires face a lot challenges in muddy conditions due to their limited evacuation capabilities. This is because these tires have narrower grooves which retain mud, leading to reduced traction and decreased grip.

That’s why Michelin Defender LTX MS being just an all season tire can not handle this type of terrain.

BF Goodrich Trail Terrain on the other hand, although has packed up shoulders, not allowing the mud to easily leave out through sideways, it still has staggered outer margins, and thick sidewall lugs.

Both of these act as traction scoops, paddling the tire’s way out of the thick mud, where the ground gets scooped backwards, and a forward momentum is generated.

Read moreAre all-terrain tires good on mud?

Rock Climbing

A tire fit for rocky roads should have a pliant tread with lugs that bend to provide better traction and grip in every direction.

Furthermore, it must also have strong (enough) sidewalls to defend against sharp obstacles, ensuring optimal stability and protection.

Considering these both points, it can be easily understood why BFG Trail Terrain gets to have an upper hand.

The tire has interlocking central lugs where the sipes split open them further, both of these grip on to the rocky surface at multiple angles, ensuring the tire would not slip in any direction.

Michelin Defender LTX MS on the other hand, is directional. Meaning it’s lugs make very straight longitudinal grooves and the tire lacks in providing ample biters to grip form all sides, when climbing rocks.

Moreover, it’s also missing with sidewall lugs which come in real handy with lowered air pressure. Though the main benefit of that is seen on sand.

Take Home Points

Although its not recommended to miss anything above, let me try to summarize things below for the folks who are in a hurry.

Overall, the Michelin Defender is a better pick when it comes to all types of on-road performance metrics. It has superior traction in both wet and dry environments, along with superb steering response, provides comfortable and fuel efficient ride, and has a longer tread life.

On the other side, the BFG Trail Terrain, does better off-road, though on dry roads, it’s traction is only a tiny bit lacking, and you’d not feel much of a difference there.

Moreover, it does better in terms of on-road noise, as it offers you with a quieter ride even being a more aggressive tire.

2 thoughts on “BF Goodrich Trail Terrain vs Michelin Defender LTX MS”

  1. both BF Goodrich and Goodyear are reputable tire manufacturers with their own strengths. BF Goodrich is often associated with off-road and rugged tires, while Goodyear is known for its wide range of tire options and innovation.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, James. Indeed, both BF Goodrich and Goodyear have their own strengths and areas of expertise. BFG is renowned for its off-road capabilities and yes durability, while Goodyear is known for range.


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