Monday, March 24, 2014
Interco Reptile Radial Update #2
Cigars, wine, muscle cars: all items that get better with age. Interco Reptile Radials? Not so much. When we last left off, the budget do-it-all tires were holding up but taking an absolute beating in the process. Put simply: time and mileage has perhaps done more bad than good for these tires. The Reptiles are still going, though not strong, and will probably make it through the spring on the 'ol Brute, but come the summer when a very much anticipated Maine trip is happening - including between 200 and 300 miles over 2 days of riding - I don't think the Reptiles will be around to see the beautiful trails up north for a second time. Unfortunately, the years aren't as kind to the Intercos as they are to the aforementioned cigars, wine, and muscle cars.
First and foremost for a tire is durability: turns out the Reptiles are not meant for the rocks like we have in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The extremely choppy, jagged, and abusive terrain chews away at the rubber worse than I could have expected and, accordingly, the result is that the tires end up losing air in some way or another. Durability: fair at best. 2 tubes later, I still have 3 slow leaks. As for treadwear, the rears have about 1/2 tread left at around 900 miles. For a soft tire on such punishing surfaces (including a fair mix of drifting and spinning while stuck in the mud) this is still a pretty poor showing of wear characteristics. The fronts are better at about 2/3 treadlife remaining, but hey, you don't slide the back end out on the front tires. Admittedly, I've undoubtedly accelerated the rate of the Reptiles' wear; wheelspin is among my favorite things about riding, powerslides in particular, and I only use 4WD when I have to (which in turn abuses the rear tires even further). As such the rears have worn down a fair share because of the way I ride. And as I always say, your results will vary, but I can't see these tires going for more than 2000 miles on any machine.
Otherwise, the Reptiles' performance hasn't changed and the decreasing tread depth on the rears has not yet become an issue worth being concerned over. In the mud they still do great but are by no means an Outlaw and, to be brutally honest, they haven't proven to be that much better than Bighorns (in some situations Bighorns have even out-done the Reptiles). On the rocks it's the same story: not as good as a Bighorn but not as helpless as a true mud tire. Trails? You guessed it, middle of the road here too. Better than if you were running a full-blow, open-block tire, but worse than a horizontally-biased trail tire. The one real "trouble area" is when climbing a hill littered with (or composed entirely of) wet, offset, less-than-ideally-located rocks. Here the Reptiles fall flat on their face and can be utterly difficult to control. This isn't new; I've been saying it since my first ride on these tires. Other guys who have dedicated trail tires can climb in 2WD while the Reptiles claw for traction and spin wildly until they grab or until your frustration turns to anger and you hit the 4WD selector. Or, as I've experienced on isolated steeper obstacles, you simply can't make it and have to go to the all-mighty savior and put those front axles to use.
Everything about these tires screams middle-of-the-road, and that's fine by me considering how much they cost. You give up treadlife for ability in the mud, but pay less for the tire itself. Let's call the Reptile a good compromise. Not the best, not the worst: the compromise of compromise tires.
So here's my advice: if you ride primarily in the mud, buy a mud tire. If ride primarily on the trails, buy a trail tire. If you're looking for something that can do both on a budget, don't overlook the Reptile. But, conversely, don't limit yourself to Interco's "do-it-all'er" as there are other options out there worth exploring. The number and expanse of tires on the market seem to multiply daily, and with great options from companies like GBC, Pitbull, STI, and those old-school names like ITP and Maxxis, you should really think long and hard before making a purchase. As much as I've enjoyed my time with the Reptiles, and as much as they've made me a better rider because of how much they struggle on certain kinds of obstacles, it's a guarantee I'll be looking elsewhere for my next set of tires.
Just to solidify my point: I'm not alone on this. My dad is running identically sized Reptiles on his RZR 800 and has the exact same complaints. No, the Reptile wasn't the best choice for him either (especially on the heavier RZR) but at the price point they were hard to argue with. He'll be replacing his this summer, and I'll likely follow suit. For what they cost and what they are, the Reptiles are a great option - but they're not great tires, and that's quite a problem.