The BFG KO2 tire is one of the most popular, best-selling, and widely praised all-terrain tires of all time, yet somehow it still has its fair share of critics. We decided to get to the bottom of the KO2 debate by mounting up a set on our test truck and taking them through every type of terrain we could find. Below we answer all the internet’s most popular questions and most notorious rumors about the KO2.
If you’re planning on taking your vehicle off paved roads, swapping out your OEM tires is both the simplest and the single most impactful upgrade you can make. With that being said, any decent set of new tires is a big investment, and doing your research before pulling the trigger is key. You asked, and we delivered: Here are the most common questions we found about the KO2, and our take on each after putting a set through its paces.
Are BFG KO2 tires good on the road?
Believe it or not, road manners are actually one of the strong suits of the KO2. Our test tires actually felt more confident cornering on both wet and dry pavement than the street-focused OEMs, which we chalk up to the increased contact patch as well as the wider shoulders and stiffer sidewalls of the KO2. We pushed our luck on many a curvy backroad and interstate on-ramp, and never managed to break traction once (unless we were intentionally hooning around, which is tough to avoid with a manual transmission and switchable traction control).
From a ride quality perspective, we will note that the heavier/stiffer construction of the BFGs translated to a slightly rougher/bumpier ride than the stock tires. You’ll feel bumps, rough pavement, and potholes much more directly if you’re coming from a highway terrain tire, but the KO2 was on point with other all-terrains we’ve used in the past like the Falken Wildpeak and Cooper Discoverer.
Are they loud on the highway?
Any time you increase the spacing between the lugs of your tires, they’re going to make more noise on the pavement. Part of that is due to the taller and wider tread “squirming” around under load, and part of that is the sheer amount of air being caught between the lugs.
With that being said, we were pleasantly surprised at just how quiet the KO2 is compared to other AT and MT tires we’ve tested. Granted, they definitely have a low audible “hum” that’s more noticeable than the old highway tires, but they are by no means loud or obnoxious. We never felt the urge to crank up the stereo to drown them out, which is more than we can say for others we’ve used in the past.
Is the BFG KO2 better than the KM3?
This is one of the most common questions we see from folks looking for a more aggressive off-road tire. Ultimately the decision all comes down to your intended use, so here are a few things to consider.
First, unless you’re planning on taking your vehicle rock crawling or through deep mud on a regular basis, chances are you’ll be better served by the BFGoodrich KO2. Don’t get us wrong, the KM3 (aka Mud-Terrain T/A) is a fantastic tire for aggressive off-road use, but its tread pattern is specialized for more “hardcore” situations, and as such, it doesn’t perform as well as an all-rounder.
Second, KO2s have fantastic off-road prowess and are insanely tough (they share the same CoreGard sidewall technology as the KM3), but they also benefit from improved road manners and better all-weather traction in wet or wintery conditions (we drove ours in both rain and snow). If you’re looking for one off-road tire that does it all and does it all well, you’ll be much happier with the KO2.
How long do BFG KO2 tires last?
We haven’t run our current test set down to the wear bars yet, but we will say they’ve been “aging gracefully” for the 5,000 or so miles we’ve had them. To date, our current set has lost a little over 1/32″ of tread. Assuming we maintain regular rotations (between 6,000 and 8,000 miles) and stay on top of our air pressure, we expect the KO2 to deliver a solid 50,000 miles or so of enjoyment. Typically with all-terrains you’ll want to swap them out before they reach the “legal limit” of 2/32 for ideal off-road performance, but if you’re looking to get your money’s worth, we belive they’ll go the distance.
If ever there were a reliable place to find someone with a contrary opinion, the internet would be that place. Somewhere lurking within the swamp of every YouTube comments section is at least one person who doesn’t agree that 1+1=2. As such, it should come as no surprise that even a tire as popular as the KO2 has its naysayers. We tested each of the most common gripes about BFG’s most popular all-terrain, and here’s what we found.
“They’re way too heavy.”
Any all-terrain tire is going to be heavier than its highway-only equivalent, and there’s a reason for that. Tires like the BFG KO2 (and any AT worth buying) employ thicker and stronger materials throughout their construction to make them competent and reliable when the pavement ends. Thicker tread, reinforced sidewalls, and tougher tire beads all work to increase a tire’s capability off-road, but they add weight as a consequence.
With that being said, the only fair comparison to test this complaint is to compare the KO2 to other popular ATs on the market of the same size and see how they stack up. For the purpose of this test, our tire is a size 265/75/16 with a heavy-duty “E” load rating.
- BF Goodrich KO2: 53.6 lbs
- Goodyear Wrangler Adventure Kevlar: 48.0 lbs
- Falken Wildpeak AT3W: 55.3 lbs
- Toyo Open Country AT III: 50.0 lbs
- Cooper Discoverer ST MAXX: 54.0 lbs
- General Grabber AT: 58.4 lbs
Now obviously, not everyone needs an E-rated tire (we certainly don’t on our little Tacoma), but as far as objective data goes, the BFG KO2 fits right in with the competition in terms of weight. In fact, the only tire that weighs significantly less in this list is the Goodyear Wrangler Adventure, which we only included because it’s the factory tire specced on the Tacoma. In real-world terms, the Wrangler doesn’t even compare performance-wise with any of the other tires on the list above since it’s designed to favor fuel economy over traction for regulatory purposes, which brings us to our next complaint.
“They’ll kill your gas mileage.”
A tire’s effect on your gas mileage depends on several factors. Tire size, weight, tread pattern, and even tread compound all play a role in your final MPG. When we hear owners complain about their gas mileage after switching from OEM tires to dedicated all-terrain tires like the KO2, however, there’s one factor that’s almost always to blame: Bigger tires.
Look, we get it: Half the appeal of moving up to all-terrains is the look of the tire, and getting a larger and/or taller tire that fills up the wheel well adds curb appeal to any truck. Keeping that in mind, we equipped our test truck with the largest KO2 that could fit on our stock suspension and evaluated the results.
After running several full tanks of gas through our test vehicle on a mixture of highways, city traffic, and off-road terrain, we found that we lost an average of 1.2 mpg over the previous tires. That’s particularly impressive considering the street-oriented Toyo Open Country A31 tires we pulled off the truck were smaller, narrower, and over 20 pounds lighter than the KO2s.
We’re gonna go ahead and call BS here, all things considered. Keep in mind though, that the bigger you go, the harder your engine has to work to maintain the same speeds as before. Expect to lose more mpg’s the further you drift from stock sizing (especially if you aren’t regearing your vehicle to match a larger diameter tire). Had we stuck with the OEM size, the mpg difference would have been even less, but even with a significantly heavier and larger tire, we didn’t experience any drastic change in fuel economy with the KO2.
“KO2 tires aren’t worth the money.”
This is a complaint you’ll hear from folks who have purchased and enjoyed more budget-friendly all-terrain options like the General Grabber AT mentioned above. While tires like this will certainly be an improvement over OEM tires off-road, you’ll want to consider the other tradeoffs that typically come with budget ATs. These tires tend to lack important metrics like wet stopping distance, all-weather handling, and chip/tear resistance on off-road terrain. We won’t dig into the specifics of each, but here’s a quick rundown of current prices for the same tires/sizes mentioned above:
- BF Goodrich KO2: $231
- Goodyear Wrangler Adventure Kevlar: $301
- Falken Wildpeak AT3W: $247
- Toyo Open Country AT III: $257
- Cooper Discoverer ST MAXX: $265
- General Grabber AT: $220
Again, the KO2 fits in right alongside other popular brands in terms of price, and is only marginally more expensive than budget-friendly favorites like the Grabber, which, truth be told, borrows heavily from the BFG tread pattern. Considering that the KO2 is a well-documented and proven performer in damn near every environment out there, cost doesn’t seem to be a relevant sticking point to us.
- Bridgestone Tires’ new Potenza Sport AS promises better wet and winter condition performance for true all-season tire
- How to use tire wear patterns to identify vehicle problems
- Here’s how to live in your car comfortably for a few weeks (or longer) like a pro
- What’s the ideal amount of horsepower for a sports car?
- The best tire chains for every vehicle (for when snow tires aren’t enough)