Predictable Control With Toughness To Back It Up
Story By: Brandon Bunch
Photos By: Tom Leigh
OBOR Tires is relatively new to the UTV market having released its first UTV specific tire in 2020, and I really didn’t know what to expect when putting them to the test on our 2021 Kawasaki Teryx KRX 1000. We mounted the 32x10R15 Predators to the OEM 15×7 beadlock wheels on our KRX, and set them at 14 psi for the rough and choppy Lake Havasu desert I was determined to destroy them in. With all of our tire tests, I set out to drive the UTV as hard as I can while sometimes letting the tires eat a few rocks that could absolutely rip through a tire in the worst case scenario… I feel like I have to push the tires hard to feel the differences between them, as almost all of the new tires I’ve driven on in the past couple of years perform exceptionally well at easy cruising speeds.
I’ve caused a few flats in my days testing tires here, and today I was surprised to encounter zero flats with the 8 ply Predators even after smashing over a few rocks that I did not feel good about hitting at speed. These strikes happened in the beginning of testing and gave me quite a bit of confidence to continue pushing the limits of the UTV, without worrying about having my miles cut short.
Once comfortable with the amount of body roll exhibited by the KRX 1000 it’s easy to push the burly UTV right to the edge of control, and the Predator tires responded on all terrains with predictable traction. The KRX is obviously not a horsepower monster, so being able to carry lots of momentum though corners is key to making it go fast, and the predictable nature of the Predators made it easy to do so whether in the gravel washes, on rocky hard packed trails, or in the sand. There were a few scenarios where I felt the rear end of the KRX wanting to step out of the loose gravel ruts when carrying a lot of speed, but I was given enough warning to back it down and settle the UTV. That loose feeling may have been caused by the nasty wash board SXS chop. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen here in Havasu thanks to the influx of traffic, and will usually rattle your teeth out in minutes. However I felt none of the SXS chop behind the wheel of the Kawasaki which does handle it very well thanks to the light steering and plush suspension, and I never had the unpleasant experience of feeling like I’m hydroplaning as I’ve felt with other tire and UTV combinations.
On the slick loose-over-hard pack trails and wide open areas, I felt extreme confidence in the Predators, with my willingness to slide the car only limited by the KRX’s body roll. I could four-wheel drift with reckless abandon thanks again to the predictable high level of traction, but the lean angle made me nervous to end up on my side by myself in the desert. It’s the only time I felt uncomfortable in probably the most comfortable sport UTV on the market, and that’s definitely not a bad mark against the tires.
Forward bite and braking performance was also very strong with the Predators, and I felt like I could use the throttle and brake like an on-off switch. The Kawi is heavy with not a lot of power, so it was hard to overwhelm the tires under acceleration, even in 2WD, and it was so stable under braking that I could stab the pedal at the last minute to scrub off speed entering corners. Traction was good in the sand as well, even with the tires not being exactly designed for the super soft terrain.
The Predator does look more similar to an all-terrain truck tire rather than a hardcore UTV tire (besides the rounded center section), and performs like one on the road. Obor says the “multi-pitch tread design” is that way to reduce noise and increase tread life, and I definitely can say the tire is quiet on the road even when mounted on the very quiet KRX. Tread life also seems good to me, having pushed the tires very hard in the dirt and they show very little wear, besides the leading edges of the tread blocks being a bit chewed up. The rubber compound also feels very hard to the touch, which should obviously help to provide a longer life.
All in all, the OBOR Tires Predator performed extremely well on the KRX 1000, and they gave me the confidence to drive as fast as the UTV would let me. I always felt connected to the ground, with great stability even at high speeds, and the Kawi would just go wherever I pointed the wheels. It was impressive to say the least, and the toughness I experienced just adds to the confident handling I felt making the Predator a great all purpose desert tire. The look of the tire is not my favorite if I’m honest, but does not look bad by any means and the performance more than backs up OBOR’s tagline of “Proven. Control. Traction.”. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these tires to a friend, and the price is not bad at $196 per tire for the 32x10R15 size. Check out more information and available sizes at obor-tires.com.