Nitto Ridge Grappler vs BF Goodrich KO2

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With its unique blend of M/T and A/T characteristics, the Nitto Ridge Grappler is an exceptional hybrid rugged terrain tire. On the other side, the BF Goodrich KO2 is a traditional all-terrain tire, designed for more conventional off-road experiences. But which one is for you? Let’s find out.

BF Goodrich KO2 Jeep
The hook shaped ribs of BF Goodrich KO2 provide ample traction on rocks.

As someone deeply involved in tire engineering, I find the BF Goodrich KO2 to be better equipped for snowy conditions (evidenced by my multiple tests), and more efficient in wear, fuel usage, and maintaining traction in wet and dry conditions. The Nitto Ridge Grappler, however, is unparalleled in off-road environments, offering superior traction in mud, sand, and particularly on rocky landscapes.

With a total of 90 sizes available, the BF Goodrich KO2 offers rim sizes ranging from 15 to 22 inches. The speed rating varies between S, R, and Q, while the load rating spans from C to F.

Despite its durability, the tire maintains a reasonable weight, ranging from a low of 35 lbs to a high of 67 pounds.

Regarding tread depth, most sizes feature 15/32″ (with the exception of four sizes, which have 13/32″). You can learn more about this in the detailed post: BF Goodrich KO2 Review.

In contrast, the Nitto Ridge Grappler tires are offered in rim sizes from 16 to 24 inches, with most sizes available in 20 inches. The speed ratings are T and Q, and the load ratings range from C to F. However, the overall weight of this tire is higher, varying from 36 to 91 lbs. The tread depth varies from 13 to 18/32″, with the majority of sizes featuring 16.4/32″.

Detailed Discussion on BFG KO2 tire: https://tiredriver.com/bf-goodrich-ko2-review/

Detailed Discussion on Ridge Grappler: https://tiredriver.com/nitto-ridge-grappler-review/

Tread Appearance

BFG ko2 tread 1
The BF Goodrich KO2 features more aggressive shoulder blocks compared to the central blocks.

Starting with BF Goodrich KO2, the tire offers a very uniform design of small blocks inter-linked with each other, making a web of grooves.

All central blocks have full-depth siping, which further divides the blocks and aids in off-road traction.

Moreover, triangular stone ejectors are embedded on the outer margins of these central blocks, helping to expel dirt and stones more effectively than traditional stone ejectors (also present between the shoulder blocks on this tire).

Speaking of which, the shoulders of the tire are notably aggressive, with staggered lugs and prominent mud scoops providing a rugged appearance.

The angled cuts on the blocks add additional biters, and the sidewall lugs are beneficial when the tire is run at lower pressures.

On the other hand, the Nitto Ridge Grappler features four triangular blocks in the middle.

Nitto Ridge Grappler tread
These tires have Z-shaped grooves that make them highly resistant to hydroplaning.

They offer substantial biting power with notches, sharp edges, and rectilinear siping.

The blocks also have reinforced foundations, enhancing stability.

Unique features of these blocks include traction notches on the two side blocks, while the other two are connected to the shoulder blocks.

Together, they form Z-shaped grooves connecting the outer two longitudinal channels.

As aggressive as the central blocks are on this tire, the shoulder blocks appear very stable.

Each block has only one sipe, with no additional biters or features.

That’s why it makes sense why the tire lacks so much in wet. Though more in that in its section.

A Side Note Here: If you’re new here, and looking for a decent A/T (or even R/T like Nitto here), you should start from my main all-terrain tire page, here: https://tiredriver.com/all-terrain-tires/

Durability

The BF Goodrich KO2 is the king of durability. Even though the tire is less aggressive compared to Nitto Ridge Grappler, it still provides just as great of the “toughness”. (Actually I ranked this tire in my list of top all terrain tires, for the very same reason).

These tires can handle everything, from sharp logs, thorns, rocks, to high speed gravel… you name it.

And its all credited to its durable 3 ply polyester construction.

Plus those 3 ply polyester have 2 wide steel belts on top, and spirally wound nylon cap plies as well.

On the other hand, the Ridge Grappler provides you with similar 3 ply polyester casing (providing similar strength), and on this casing are 2 more steel belts, again similar. And these belts are reinforced with 2 more layers of nylon, which aren’t spirally wound though.

On-Road Performance

On highways, the tire has to be good in traction of course, but it’s nothing without a responsive steering and lateral stability.

Let’s see how both of these boys performed in each of these key areas.

Dry Directional Grip

On dry roads, both tire provide a very good balance between stability and traction. But the overall handling is seen a little better on the BF Goodrich KO2.

The tire provides a stiffer rubber compound, which stays firm on road and provide stability.

Moreover, it’s compactly packed central ribs provide more real estate of rubber to get in contact with the road which translates in to grip.

And it’s full depth sipes, split open the blocks and aids in the overall grip further.

Same is the case with handling, the tire’s stiffness and multiple biters provide good lateral traction. But it’s very surprising to see how close Nitto Ridge Grappler is in overall handling performance.

This credit goes to it’s shoulder blocks where there are no notches or features that reduce rubber, so the tire makes a good rubber to road contact here, and provide with a very satisfactory lateral traction values.

Steering Response

In terms of steering response, although it varies from sizes to sizes, the BF Goodrich KO2 on average provides better effectiveness. The tire besides providing more durability is lighter in weight (on average).

It’s strong biters on the shoulder blocks make it very responsive while cornering, but on wet roads the tire lacks a lot, and same goes for the Ridge Grappler, as this tire is good enough on dry roads, but on wet roads, besides hydroplaning, the tire does not provide enough siping to clear water from it’s path.

This causes oversteering in Nitto and understeering in BFG KO2.

Handling Stability

Surprisingly, the Nitto Ridge Grappler offers a decent lateral stability on roads, despite being in the category of rugged terrain tires.

Although the tire tread gets eaten away with wider grooves, the shoulder blocks are very well optimized for highway stability.

One, these blocks offer more contact patch with the road as there are no notches here, (and siping is low), and second, it’s shoulder blocks are attached to the central blocks with ridges (which act as foundation supports).

That’s why the tire offers more speed ratings up to T, where the BF Goodrich KO2 offers up to S.

Wet Performance

Just like dry highway performance, the on wet tarmacs, some key areas to consider include, grip and handling, but often underrated, hydroplaning also plays a big role overall.

Let’s disuses all of these.

Wet Traction

Let me start off here by saying both tires are not going to impress you on wet tarmacs.

In case of BF Goodrich KO2, the tire although offer full depth sipes, they are not effective as one, they stiffen up under pressure, during handling and braking, and two, the tire’s tread is already harder.

So the sipes don’t get the flexibility to squeeze water in and shower it out as the tire sweeps over.

On the other side, although Nitto Ridge Grappler provides a silica rich tread which is softer, the tire now lacks the total no. of sipes overall, so good enough results are not achieved in both tires.

Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is a good wet traction factor which indirectly affects it.

Both tires offer good enough performance here, channeling the water out quickly and shows you with good float speed (max speeds with which a tire can roll over standing water without floating).

Winter Performance

On snowy terrain there are a few features which all terrain tires try to steal from winter tires, in order to perform better.

Besides being rated for 3 peak mountain snowflake rating, (3PMSF, which is the acceleration test for snow), A/T tires also try to make snow to snow contact, as snow sticks better on snow, and they have a softer compound which don’t get stiff with freezing temperatures just like the winter tires.

In comparison, the BF Goodrich KO2 shows up with more such features and is also 3PMSF rated unlike the Nitto Ridge Grappler.

The tire’s interlocking design with traction notches, and full depth sipes, everywhere (including the shoulders), trap in the snow particles and make efficient snow to snow contact.

On the other side, the Nitto Ridge Grappler, although provides sufficient biting edges, the wider grooves of the tire don’t provide enough snow holding.

Moreover, the tire also lacks severely in terms of siping, especially on shoulders, that’s why this tire is not able to outperform it’s competitor here.

Comfort and Noise

Let’s talk comfort first, which depends on the tire’s inner construction and the tread’s composition.

Now, as I explained in the durability department, that both tires have 3 ply polyester casing and 2 ply nylon caps, their inner construction is hard.

But out of the two, the BF Goodrich KO2 provides a slightly stiffer construction, as it’s nylon is wrapped spirally, so the sidewalls are not as flexible.

Furthermore, the tread of the KO2 is also stiffer and the tire offers less tread depth. So with overall stiffer compound, the tire is not able to marinate the on road vibrations, and with less tread depth, there’s less area for the bumps to get dissipated.

In comparison, the Nitto Ridge Grappler, provides less stiffer inner construction, despite being a more aggressive tire, and with softer tread and tread depth reaching up to 18/32″ (compared to it’s rival’s 15/32″), it has more area to soak up the imperfections of the road.

But still with wider grooves, the tire is louder in comparison. The BF Goodrich Ko2 has less area (of tread voids) where air can flow around and hit the walls (which is what noise is, basically), so it’s silent of the two.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel Efficiency is mostly calculated by measuring the rolling resistance of a tire. But that’s an indirect correlation, as rolling resistance depends on weight and tire’s overall construction.

Now even with more durable construction, the BFG KO2 keeps it’s weight in check. I don’t know how do they do it. So this combined with it’s stiffer compound and consistent design, the tire produces less rolling resistance and so less fuel is consumed (although it’s not too good compared to other on road oriented tires).

If you are wondering, the best in the business, when it comes to fuel economy is, Firestone Destination AT2.

On the other side, the Nitto Ridge Grappler with more weight puts more pressure on the road and it’s softer rubber need more force to roll, decreasing tire’s overall fuel efficiency.

Tread Wear

When it comes to tread wear, the BF Goodrich Ko2 is one of the most long lasting tire that you can get, it’s chip resistant stiffer rubber is very resistant to wear, and it’s consistent design promotes uniform wear throughout.

The tire also does not weigh too much despite have 3 ply sidewalls.

In comparison the Nitto Ridge Grappler although has more tread depth, the tire’s softer rubber wears off faster.

Also, the tire shows more rolling resistance as it’s quite heavy, so with that it’s bound to wear off quicker.

IT does not comes with any kind of tread wear warranty as well, where the BF Goodrich KO2 offers you with 50k miles.

Off Road Performance

Off road there are a lot of things to consider, besides variety of terrains, there’s tire’s durability and it’s biting power, and tread wear.

Now the good thing about these tires that they are good in the later, tread wear off road, as they provide you with cut resistant rubber.

Mud traction

Mud is not all-terrain-friendly terrain. And out of them, the BF Goodrich KO2 is probably the least efficient tire that you can get (for deep mud).

The tire has 3 interlocking ribs in the middle (as I explained in the tread section), these create a pattern which is very effective in trapping in the mud, and you don’t want that.

You need quick mud evacuation here as mud to mud contact loses friction.

That’s why the Nitto Ridge Grappler being a hybrid with wider tread voids (and deeper too), provide more volume of mud to come in and escape.

The Z shaped grooves connecting the outer longitudinal channels offer a clear path for mud to escape efficiently.

The BF Goodrich KO2 is not effective at this, but like the Nitto Ridge, it still provides you with mud scoops on staggered shoulders so this helps this tire a little bit, but still overall it’s not as effective.

Sand Traction

Sand traction is significantly affected by the tire’s weight and tread composition. So in case of Nitto Ridge Grappler, which is heavier in weight, the tire is not able to do so good on slopes (even with the lowered tire pressure).

But with bulkier sidewall lugs the tire still shows some acceptable traction, if you know what you are doing.

On the other side, the BF Goodrich KO2 although offers good footprint from sides (as it’s lugs are pasted on a larger area), the tire again suffers due to it’s stiffer sidewalls and more weight (though still less than Ridge Grappler).

But with stiffer sides, the tire digs more and you need to go forward instead of digging, so overall Ridge Grappler shows better effectiveness here.

Traction on Rocks

The BF Goodrich KO2 is amazing on rocks. With 3 ply sides provide you with carefree crawling and the smaller ribs in the middle provide gripping in all directions.

The Nitto Ridge Grappler although also provides 3 ply sides, they are not reinforced with nylon like seen in BFG KO2. But the tire’s sidewall lugs (which are bulkier) provide better traction values when you air down these tires.

The tire is also equipped with more biters, as all central blocks have sharp, chamfered, and off set edges, making Z shaped grooves, which provide more biting capabilities.

Ending Note

Although the BF Goodrich KO2 is one of the toughest AT tire out there, it’s still not able to out perform Nitto Ridge Grappler on rocky and muddy terrains.

But the tire is an all rounder,meaning it does not compromise too much on roads and other terrains like, as it’s branded with 3 peak mountain snowflake rating.

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