The most common modification made to a stock Jeep, and the one that makes the single biggest impact, is wheels and tires. Even before you buy a Jeep you’re thinking wheels and tires. How big can I go? How big should I go? When we started working on the Roadfly Black Bear Jeep we knew we would be changing out the stock tires and wheels, but we weren’t sure how big we would go. Tirerack.com has hundreds of wheels and tires to choose from so that is the first place we went when we went looking for after-market wheels and tires for the Roadfly Black Bear Jeep. In Northern Virginia, there are a ton of Jeeps on the road. Most are stock and of the ones that are modified, most of those are modified for light off-road use. The most common after-market tire size we saw were 35’s and typically these were mounted on 17 inch tires with a 2-2.5 inch lift. Even the local dealers were selling new Jeeps with 35 inch tires on 17 inch wheels with a 2 inch lift – for $10-12,000 over the base Jeep price.
We didn’t want to be like everyone else so we wanted to go bigger then 35. Of the guys with bigger tires the most common size we saw were 37’s. A few had 38’s. Maybe one had 40’s, but that was a real rock crawler. Wheel size varied from 17-20 inches. Since we were building a driver, but that would also be very off-road capable, we ended up going with 37 inch tires on 18 inch wheels. We liked the slightly larger wheels size so the tires didn’t look quite so balloony and we figured we would get a little better ride on the road with a slightly larger wheel.
Once you decide what size of tire you want, you need to determine the type of tire. Do you go with a mudder or an all-terrain? Since the Roadfly Black Bear was going to spend more time on the pavement then in the mud, the only real choice was to go with an all-terrain. Mudders while more capable in mud and dirt, are typically very loud, more uncomfortable, and not as capable on the road. So we talked with our friends at Tirerack.com and we went with an awesome new tire from General Tire – the General Grabber all terrain tire. The lettering on the sidewall is bright red and really looks awesome. We didn’t realize how cool the red lettering looked and had them mounted lettering inside. Whoops. Huge mistake! We won’t make that mistake with the next set.
The consumer reviews on the Grabbers overall are excellent. The tires received a superior rating for dry conditions on cornering stability, dry traction and steering response. The Grabbers received an excellent rating in all of the following: wet conditions for hydroplaning resistance and wet traction; comfort for ride quality, noise and treadwear; and winter/snow for light and snow deep traction. The tires were rated good in ice traction (fair and poor are the lowest ratings). We were excited to get rid of those tiny OEM wheels and tires and get these monsters on the Jeep.
Now that we had selected our tires, we needed wheels. The OEM wheels weren’t going to cut it. We wanted something that would make the Roadfly Black Bear stand out. There are literally hundreds of wheels to choose from and we weren’t sure where to start. One wheel set that we see on almost every lifted jeep in our area is the XD Series and KMC XD Series wheel. We were looking to set the Roadfly Black Bear apart from all the rest so we wanted something a little different. Method Race Wheels located in Temecula, California, produces off-road racing, rock crawler, short course and street wheels for trucks, buggies, Jeeps and SUV’s. They have tons of cool wheels that look amazing on Jeeps so we looked through their collection to see how they would look on our Jeep.
Tirerack.com has a really awesome tool on its website to help you choose your wheels. You select the year, make, model and color of your vehicle and it will display a picture with the different wheels on your vehicle. It even adjusts for the different sizes of the wheels you choose. We inputted the parameters of the Roadfly Black Bear Jeep with variousMethod Race Wheels and ended up going with the MR309 wheel in 18×9 with a -12mm offset in a matte grey with a black lip finish. We chose grey to give a little contrast to the all black look of the Jeep itself. These were going to look really cool. We couldn’t wait to get them.
In fact, we didn’t have to wait long. We were unpacking our latest off-road LED lighting package from Rugged Ridge and shooting some video in the Roadfly Garage. A guy walks up the driveway asking us if we had ordered some tires. We thought it might have been a joke from one of our buddies because it had seemed like we had just spoken with Tirerack. Sure enough. It was our new wheels and tires. And they were huge. We shot some video of the guy delivering the tires. Check it out.
We couldn’t wait to put the tires on. So we got out the impact wrench and got to work. Of course the OEM rock sliders didn’t fit in the rear, so we had to take those off. A few minutes later, we had our new wheels and tires installed. The Jeep looks totally awesome and a million times better with this tire and wheel set. Go big or go home.