Off-Road Expert Puts the Dueler D694LT to the Test
If you're looking for someone who knows how to test 4WD tyre performance, you won't get much better than David Wilson.
As the owner of 4WD training company, Adventure 4WD and the co-presenter of Channel 9's Motovision, David is certainly a man who knows a thing or two about off-road driving.
David recently put Bridgestone's new Dueler D694LT's - with light truck construction technology - to the test and, after driving 30,000km during the last 12 months, he had quite a lot to say about the tyre.
"I've been using the new D694LT tyre fitted to a 2006 Nissan D40 Navara dual-cab ute in a LT265/75R16 size with an incredible 123 load index (1550kgs) and speed rated R (170kph)," David said.
"This tyre meets my selection criteria because the key to endurance is load index. The standard Continental rubber fitted to the Navara is passenger (P) construction with only a 114 load index (1180kgs) and S speed rating (180kph). With its lowly ply rating carcase it likely won't survive an outback experience without a lot of care.
"The D694LT is different. With a 10 ply rating build and a 35% increase in load index, this is one tyre you'll have trouble putting holes in."
David discovered that the D694LT excels in almost every environment - and the fact that he has spent more than 20 years in the industry says even more about the tyre.
"I've had outstanding service from Bridgestone products over the years in probably the most demanding commercial environment of all - 4WD driver training," he said.
"Plenty of tyre makers make fairly brave calls about the suitability of their products on Aussie outback roads, but very few actually last the distance."
That is, apart from the D694LT.
"In fact, the D694LT puts to shame so many tyres I've seen on so many 4WD vehicles - it's incredible," David said.
"The dilemma for a vehicle owner is to select a tyre that will work across all of the driving tasks he or she will face. The D694LT provides comfort, sharp and accurate steering, as well as grip at speed when travelling on bitumen - whether it's around town or on the highway en-route to a destination."
Not only does the tyre perform well on the bitumen, but David exposes the D694LT to the ‘tough stuff' - sand, rock, mud and slush - almost daily.
"In rocks it grips, in sand it powers through - no matter what the gradient is I don't have to worry," he said.
Twelve months of off-road driving has only taken 4mm off the original 13mm tread depth on David's D694LT's, with no chipping of the tread blocks. Even regular towing - usually known to create toe-in type chafing up front - has failed to cause feathering or scalloping of the tread face of the tyres.
"That wear rate offers the potential of around 90,000kms life, but realistically I'm expecting about 80,000kms because I don't believe in wearing tyres down to the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI)," David said.
"While I'm sure other drivers will get even greater D694LT life, 80,000kms for us is extraordinary."
According to Burkhard Kabelitz, Bridgestone's National Technical Field Service & Product Planning Manager, the Dueler D694LT's feature a range of tough technology.
"The D694LT's have a deeper tread depth, thicker under-tread rubber and heavy gauge steel belt cords giving the tyre superior puncture resistance and better wear life," Burkhard said.
"The tyre also has heavy duty carcass reinforcing cord for higher load carrying capability - meaning it's seriously tough."
As for David, there's no question about what his next set of tyres will be.
"I'm a sworn fan of the D694LT, just as I was with Bridgestone's old outback stalwart the D661 - great tyres with few peers!"