NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

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cruiserlarry
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NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#1

Post by cruiserlarry » Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:53 pm

Nitto is releasing a new tire, the DUNE GRAPPLER, and has asked me to test / review them for the benefit of the members of OAUSA.

As many here know, I have used all different types of tires and wheels on my FJ Cruiser in it's short 2-1/2 year life, for both professional and personal reasons.

In the interest of full disclosure,Nitto provided these tires to me at no charge - I provided the wheels and mounted/balanced/installed them myself. All they requested, however, is that I give my honest impression of their fit, form , and function, based on my 35 years in the automotive industry and 25 years of off-road specific experience.

So here goes the first entry in what will be a multi-part review over time:

Nitto Dune Grapplers

The specific tires I am using are Nitto Dune Grapplers, LT305/70R17, load range "E". They are mounted on ProComp 7089 wheels, size 17X8" (I have used this style wheel previously with several other tire combinations, including BFG A/T K/O, ProComp X-Terrain, ProComp Extreme A/T, and ProComp Extreme M/T, so I can remove the wheel effect from the tire review).

Dyna Beads

Another interesting first (for me) is the use of DYNA-BEADS to balance the tire / wheel combination. I was intrigued after reading some of the other threads posted here, and having had experience with other brands of dynamic wheel beads in larger tires over the years, decided to test them out, too.:bigthumb:

Tire Design

First, a physical description: The Nitto Dune Grapplers are different than any tire I have used in both tread design and sidewall style - definitely something you'll either like or hate. The tread uses an interlocking, side to side oriented varying height lug design, that should work like min-paddles in softer terrain, without compromising on highway traction and handling. The sidewall has extended ridges shaped like flames - so, if you are into flames, you'll cheer; if you're not, well you've got flames.:lol: The Nittos are designed to be strong when at low pressure off road, yet remain flexible - they are load range "E", yet have a two-ply sidewall.

First Impressions

I installed the Nittos 2 days ago, and have had a chance to run them up to higher speeds to see how well the Dyna Beads worked. First impression - the Dyna Beads work flawlessly. No vibration whatsoever at any speed I've attained so far. The Nitto tires are smooth as glass on the freeway, which is a noticeable difference from the more aggressive tread on the ProComp Extreme M/Ts that I just removed. On the street and on the freeway, the Dune Grapplers feel excellent - very smooth, and grippy around corners, with no soft "wobble" feel at speed that some other larger tires tend to transmit. Braking feels sure and steady as well. So, my first impression is a good one - the Nittos feel sturdy, look good, and on the street, work very well so far.

I'll continue to post my impressions of this tire as I get some more miles on them, and more importantly, as I get to test them out on the trail. So, stay tuned as the Nitto Dune Grappler experience continues... :D
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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#2

Post by gon2srf » Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:35 pm

Bling Bling, Bling Bling. :lol: :lol: :lol: Kiddin' sort of. Nice review Larry, I look forward to seeing you rip em' up in the dirt!

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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#3

Post by big dave » Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:58 pm

Good review on street manners. Obviously Nitto was aiming toward the "bro" crowd with the flames and the name "dune grappler". All the bros go to the dunes :lol:

Im interested in seeing if those flames can actually grab a rock and pull you up.
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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#4

Post by cruiserlarry » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:22 pm

While the "bros" might spent a lot of time at the dunes, I, too, find that a majority of my wheeling adventures tend to be loose terrain / desert oriented (Anza Borrego, Stoddard Valley, Death Valley, Mojave, etc.), so I agreed to this review in the hope I would find a tire that excels in this type of environment. Seeing most folks who do mild rock crawling use all-terrain style tires in order to make the drive there and back livable, I would expect these tires to do a good job of handling the rocks as well as the the soft stuff. This will be one of the situations I will be reporting, as the trail permits.

Nitto is known for very well built, albeit expensive, tires. Their Terra Grapplers and Mud Grapplers has excellent reputations for function and reliability, and I'm hoping the Desert Terrain Dune Grappler will continue this trend. While I've sold Nitto tires for many years, this is the first set I've had on my own vehicle. Again, I've only had them on the street, and only for two days, so I have no way to judge their overall performance yet.

Thank you, Scott for posting the pics of the tire - I completely spaced on that in the first post.

Looking forward to using them on the trail soon ;)
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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#5

Post by BlueFJ » Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:03 pm

They may be good tires, but those flames spell one thing... P-O-S-E-R :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#6

Post by cruiserlarry » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:02 am

BlueFJ wrote:They may be good tires, but those flames spell one thing... P-O-S-E-R :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Poser, huh ??
Well, you are always welcome to try and follow me.... :shock: :mrgreen:

While I am not a big fan of flames, myself, I am surprised at the initial reaction the look of this tire generates; this might be something for Nitto to consider if they are planning on marketing the Dune Grappler to serious off-roaders.

I do have to say most people who have commented on the tire after seeing it in person have been very positive - so I look forward to more of you telling me your "in-person" impressions when we next meet. :D
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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#7

Post by BlueFJ » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:33 am

No worries Larry...I wasn't calling you a poser...I was actually commenting on the tire's appearance. I like the tread design, I just find the flames to be a bit on the cheesy side. :)
-Craig
N6CJW


'07 FJ Voodoo Blue MT6 CQ UR GY
Mods: 3" OME coilover lift, Trail-Gear sliders, All Pro Skids, Bandi Mount,
Midland 75-822 CB, Yaesu FT-8800R, Lowrance XOG, K&N Air Filter, Baja Rack & Ladder, BFG 285/70R17 AT KO


"Show me a 4X4 that's never seen dirt and I'll show you a poser"

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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#8

Post by cruiserlarry » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:38 am

BlueFJ wrote:No worries Larry...I wasn't calling you a poser...I was actually commenting on the tire's appearance. I like the tread design, I just find the flames to be a bit on the cheesy side. :)
I was just joking in return...and I agree with you on the flames... :roll: :mrgreen:
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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#9

Post by cruiserlarry » Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:14 am

Having returned from a fantastic 3 day trip through the Mojave Desert, I thought I'd present my impressions of the Nitto Dune Grappler tires as they fared in the "home" territory:

The tires were aired down to 15 psi for the entire 3-day excursion, including some short on-pavement sections where we cut off the main route to visit some other features in the area. As I have mentioned previously, the Nittos are amazingly smooth riding on pavement, and they continue to provide an excellent ride on pavement.

As a "Sand Terrain" tire, one would expect them to perform well in desert terrain. The Nitto Dune Grapplers did not disappoint, as they rode as smooth on the sand and whoops of the Mojave as they do on the freeway. They are very comfortable on soft terrain, and, with a "E" load rating, remain very stable, even at low pressure. We encountered rain while in the desert, and that makes for some soggy conditions. While we did not encounter a lot of mud, there were areas with plenty of soggy lava and wet sand, and this showed the Nitto Dune Grappler's weakness, IMO - they do pack up quickly in the mushy medium. In fairness, I noticed all the tires seemed equally affected, as none of those participating on our trip had very aggressive tires - most were some type of all-or mud terrain tread.

The Mojave is unique in that there is a large number of cinder cones and lava flows, and as anyone who has driven on lava can attest, it plays havoc with the tread of most tires. Lava is brutally sharp, like glass, and very sturdy stuff; Most tires, after having spent any time transversing a lava field, look like shrapnel, with chucks of tread missing and edges of the tread cut up from the unforgiving rock. This led to a very pleasant surprise: despite climbing several lava cones, and driving across many lava-infested trails, including an active "lava mine", the Nitto's seemed no worse for the wear - in fact, they had no cuts or damage whatsoever. No tire I have previously used has come through lava trails unscathed, so this was a testament to the quality of the tread material and construction of the Nitto Dune Grappler tires.

Another note, unrelated to any performance characteristic: Visually, the comments have been almost unanimous so far - the flame design of the sidewalls is not in character with a tough off-road tire; it is more attune to a poser / heavy metal / 16" lifted Ford Super duty street truck-type of look. While the tire's performance to this point has been very good, and the street ride has been outstanding, Nitto would do well to lose the flame sidewall (what does a flame have to do with sand, anyway?), and put on a more generic, aggressive design on the tire, IMO...

Stay tuned for the next installment of "As the Nitto Dune Grappler Tires Turn".... :lol: ;)
Last edited by gon2srf on Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Ass to as. LOL
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Re: NITTO DUNE GRAPPLER Tire Review

#10

Post by gon2srf » Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:19 am

You were down to 15lbs. huh, I would have never known? Great review Larry.
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