Friday, October 5, 2012

Holden announces 25th Anniversary Edition HSV GTS

Source: TopSpeed
Holden Special Vehicles is Australia's equivalent to our AMG, ///M, SVT, SRT, or any other acronym-named in-house performance tuning brand you can think of.  They modify cars like the Commodore to be pavement-crushing powerhouses and within the next year we'll get our own version of the Commodore as the Chevrolet SS here in the States.  Unfortunately, it's doubtful that we will get the range-topping HSV version, but for those Aussies lucky enough, Holden's HSV is celebrating its 25th birthday by doing a 140 unit run of the special-edition 25th Anniversary Edition HSV GTS (15 of which are destined for New Zealand).

Source: TopSpeed

Although there is no power increase over the "regular" GTS, the limited edition HSV still utilizes the engine straight out of the Corvette, so think of it as a practical, slightly over-weight Vette from the Land Down Under.  Holden is equipping the Anniversary Edition with added features like lightweight wheels, cooling ducts behind the front fender, "Vector" hood vents, Bluetooth, LED's, beefed up brakes, and perhaps most importantly, a dual-mode exhaust to hear the LS3 roar.

Prayers are out to the Car Gods that Chevrolet builds a higher-performance model of the SS for us when it reaches our shores next year.

- Ross, 10/5/12

All photo credit to TopSpeed

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Update: Interco Reptile Radial tires (w/Video)

A while back I compared the ITP TerraCross, Maxxis Bighorn, and Interco Reptile Radial (read the full article here).  Long story short, the ITP was my a world with no budget constraint.  The Reptile turned out to be the best for all-around performance value, but that was eight months ago, and at the time my Reptiles only had a couple hundred miles on them.  So now, a few months and a few hundred miles later, does the Reptile still hold up as a good answer to every question?  Let's see...

Going back to the original review, I said that the Reptiles didn't rob any power, were great in the mud, did well on the rocks with the exception of "floating," and that they were one hell of a good value in terms of all-around-performance for the price.  Yet at the time they were still relatively new, so things were bound to change.  Unsurprisingly the mud situation is the same; they still pull great in the muck and have gotten me through situations in 2WD where other quads on Bighorns or stock tires have struggled in 4WD.  Months later, I still really like how the Reptiles perform in the mud, and I wish it did everything else as well.  Unfortunately that's not entirely the case.

On the trail they still feel great: there's not an excessive amount of sidewall roll, they transmit an appropriate amount of feel through the handlebars, and they display decent handling characteristics overall.  But as much as I'd love to talk about how well they do blasting down a fire road or tearing up smooth trails, the Northeast has rocks, and a lot of them, and that's where the Reptile begins to lose its bite.

So let's  The Reptiles' dry performance is fine; no complaints here other than the previously mentioned "floating" which happens primarily blasting down faster trails with smaller, loose rocks.  But it's how they do when the rocks turn wet that really concerns me.  Whether it's a wet trail or the tires are still soaked from a previous obstacle, the Reptiles can get scary on rocky climbs.  There's been a good deal of situations where the line I picked wasn't the line I ended up on, a direct result of the Reptiles not having enough tread in contact with the ground (or enough horizontal lugs) to be great on the rocks.  It can get a little nerve racking when you approach a reasonable rock-strewn climb in 2WD, start your ascent, and end up a few feet to the side of where you want to be as the rear tires spin wildly in a ferocious attempt to gain traction and propel you up the hill.  Even in 4WD, steeper climbs can get the best of the Reptiles, and they'll spin all day if your thumb is too throttle-happy.  On the bright side, having to think significantly more about setting up for harder climbs makes you a better rider, but I guess that's part of the Reptiles' charm.  You really have to ride these tires when the rocks get wet, not just "point and shoot" like the TerraCrosses are able to do.  Yes, you can end up in a bad situation.  Yes, they can choose a line entirely on their own.  But at the same time, yes, it's absolutely what you expect from a directional tire with open tread blocks.

Soft sidewalls don't help, either.  Push too hard on a rocky trail or when you cut the handlebars hard on a climb and you can feel the sidewall flex under the combined weight of the quad and the forces pushing the wheels in the direction it doesn't want to go.  Just another quirk, just another thing to think about if you spend a lot of time on trails littered with geologic tire-shredders.

When I left off last time the Reptiles were showing slight signs of wear on the rear tires.  Well...the last few months haven't been as kind to them.  Harder and faster rides have started to beat the tires up a little, and an increasing number of sideways exits from turns (powerslides = my favorite) has created an effect similar to that of tire cupping: the outsides of the tread blocks are starting to wear prematurely as compared to the rest of the tire.  Meanwhile, the rocks have chewed at the tread itself, cutting and ripping small chunks off and splicing sections of lugs.  The rears have worn down significantly more than the fronts, and while the wear isn't awful (considering the terrain and riding style), it's more than I'd expect considering the number of miles ridden on them.  And if that's not enough, my right front has a slow leak; after measuring the pressure in both front tires after my most recent ride, the right has gone down 1 PSI while the left has held pressure.  There's a good-sized ding on the inside lip of the wheel, but it doesn't look bad enough to cause a leak.  Hello, Interco?  Something's wrong.  Obviously, durability isn't the name of the game here, but hey, it's not a Bighorn.

All in all I'm still fairly satisfied with my Reptile Radials.  While they're turning out to be a handful on the rocks they still kick absolute ass in the mud and have decent trail manners.  No matter how badly I scare myself climbing a steep rocky hill in 2WD only to find out I'm going more sideways or downhill than towards where I pointed the quad, it's still great to comfortably go from rocks to trails to mud and to have a tire that can do everything and not fall completely on its face.  We'll see how the tires do in the upcoming months, but as of now they're still exceeding my expectations.  Now, to get that leak figured out...and then a real beating to see if they can hold up for another round of hard Northeast miles.

In other news:

No Reptiles were harmed in the making of this video...only the rear set of my old TerraCrosses.

UPDATE: The 2nd update can be read here.