Nicholas Fluhart

December 26, 2010

Tire Change: 27″ SwampLites on the Foreman

Filed under: Project: 475 Foreman — Nicholas Fluhart @ 9:21 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I recently experimented with a tire change on my Omni Recovery Foreman. As previously discussed in my first Tire Change Post, I’ve been running a set of 26″ Dirt Devil XT’s which are no longer in production. They are essentially the most aggressive of the Dirt Devil family. Overall, I’ve been happy with the Dirt Devils, but there are a couple of areas I’d like to improve in. One, is performance in wet sand such as that found in creek bottoms and on banks. In many cases I have to climb steep, wet creek banks, but I don’t want to compromise too much in mud traction, so finding a balance is difficult. Second, is overall driveablity. My Dirt Devil combo, although superb in mud, is a heavy and rougher riding set. I’d like to try something a little more nimble and smoother riding. I recently got an opportunity to try something different…

I purchased a Foreman to part out, and it happened to have a nice set of 27″ SwampLites on ITP steel wheels. I had to give them a shot on my machine. The rims they were on had gotten a bit rusty, so the first thing I did was strip them down and paint them low-gloss black. Then I installed them on my Foreman.  You can see the difference one inch in tire diameter can make as seen below:

SwampLite on the left, Dirt Devil on the right.

The SwampLite on the left is taller, and the Dirt Devil on the right is wider. I’ll discuss the pros and cons at the end of the post. Here is what the finished product looks like:

Conclusion:

Shortly after installing the new tire combo, I took it on a good night ride and developed some conclusions. In comparison to the Dirt Devils, I found that the SwampLites certainly rode smoother overall, and the larger diameter gave my Foreman a better top cruising speed. Also, I was surprised at how much the additional ground clearance helped. In wet sandy conditions, the improvement was moderate but not as much as I had anticipated. And for the cons… I immediately noticed that the SwampLites didn’t get near the traction on most surfaces that the Dirt Devil XT did. This is due to a combination of the less aggressive tread (in soft terrain) and the more narrow footprint (in all terrain) of the SwampLite. I wouldn’t mind that too much if the combo was lighter than my Dirt Devil setup, but when I compared them, they were both about the same weight so I really didn’t gain anything there. And finally, I learned that 27″ tires, a bit taller than the 26″ (and certainly taller than the stock 25″), proved to be a bit much for the stock suspension geometry. The front tires rubbed the fenders when the suspension flexed heavily, and I could feel some pops and tweaks in the chassis that I didn’t normally notice. My synopsis: I believe the SwampLite is a decent all-around tire, but if I were to run a set, I would downsize to a 26″ and place a wider size on the rear for better traction. I actually think they would be a good combo for my machine. But at the end of the day, the 26″ Dirt Devil XT is a better fit for my machine and riding style than a 27″ of any brand. So that’s what I’ll stick with for now. If I can find a deal on something a little less aggressive but keep the current size, I think we’ll have a winner.

Oh, and I’m still keeping an eye out for a set of factory style aluminum rims…

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