FOR SEVEN years and 200,000km my 2005 Toyota Hilux V6 has been my daily driver, tow-rig and adventure truck.
I place a fair chunk of importance on tyres, and an all-terrain (A/T) tyre is the best choice for my driving habits. So when editor Matt said there was a set of Bridgestone Dueler A/T 697 tyres at 4X4 HQ, I didn’t need to be asked twice.
The Japanese-made Dueler 697 is the latest in a long line of respected off-road tyres from Bridgestone. Many new 4WDs are showroom-shod with Duelers, but these 697s are tougher and more durable – that’s not to knock the showroom Duelers, but to point out that the touring performance expectations of many of us are different.
The Duelers have 9mm tread depth over the tread-wear indicators. Tread depth isn’t the only indicator of tyre life (a hard-compound tyre with less tread depth may outlive a soft tyre with more depth), but monitoring the change in tread depth – and hence wear – is a good way to extend the ‘life’ of a tyre.
To get the best life and performance from my tyres I always rotate them every 5000km – front to rear and side-for-side. Measuring tread depth every 10,000km, down to 50 per cent of the original tread depth, will provide an accurate indication of the 697’s expected life.
I run a 225/75 16LT size. My 2005 model 4.0-litre V6 petrol/LPG Hilux runs a 205 tyre as standard, so the 225s won’t affect the gearing (it’s within two per cent), fry the clutch, destroy low-range ability in steep terrain, inhibit towing performance, or worsen overall touring economy.
First impressions of the Dueler are terrific: It’s quiet, grippy and supple, and the low-void tread pattern provides sharp response.
The wide tread block means there’s less tread squirm (where the tread block moves around like the bristles on a broom, affecting stability) and more rubber on the road for greater grip and longer life.
Unlike a more open-treaded tyre, there’s none of that annoying drone and, for better puncture resistance off-road, the tighter rubber blocks do a better job of shielding the body of the tyre.
Based on past experiences with Bridgestone tyres, I’m expecting good things – but I’ve had significant disappointments with two other major tyre brands in recent years, so I’ll keep you posted.