Testing the Pit Bull MadDog Radial Mud Terrain Tire

Nov. 11, 2009 By Pete Bach

The Pit Bull Tire Company – there is no longer an introduction needed to one of the most hard-core tire manufacturers on the market today. Everyone has now heard of them, seen them, knows someone who has ‘em, or is lucky enough to own a set of Pitbull Tires for their rig. With a new lineup of radials to compliment their highly touted bias-ply rubber, Pit Bull now has everyone covered, from daily drivers and weekend rock crawlers to competitive rock racing and mud bogging, Pit Bull now has the right tire for you.  

We tested the new Pit Bull radial MadDog Tire.

Mike Green, President of Pit Bull Tire Company, tells people, “Don’t believe us,” when boasting that their tires are the best performing and toughest tires made. Well, we do believe him, as we were lucky enough to test out a set of their bias ply Rockers on our JK Project and only have great things to say about them.

Our bias-ply Rockers kicked ass.

Our 37-inch Rockers were some of the best performing tires we’ve ever had a chance to test in the dirt and rocks. We managed to abuse these bias-ply tires for two years, on and off road, while putting a total of 35,000 mhttp://img.off-road.comiles on them, without one mishap or flat. So, when we heard that Mike Green was about to release the Radial MadDog, we got in line with everyone else that was begging to be the first to try them out. 

At first glance, the MadDog does not look like we had expected. We’d seen pictures of it but never seen them in person. We were even doubters of its “aggressive” look and “sex appeal.” We were way off! The Radial MadDogs measured at a whopping 38.75-inch tall mounted on a 17 x 8.5-inch wheel, despite the 38.5x13.5 sidewall print … they are big, aggressive and look great.

Our Pit Bull tires and Pro Comp wheels make a great-looking package.

After busting them onto their new home, a set of black, Procomp 7028 Wheels, they looked as mean as their K9 name and logo. In fact, we’ve had many people comment, “Wow … That’s the Mad Dog?!”  They are not as wide as we had expected either. In fact, the tread width is about 10.5 inches and the section width is right at 12.5 inches; again, mounted on an 8.5-inch wheel. This is a true radial tire. Tall, narrow, flat tread surface with no crowning … and yes, they are heavy. At 92 lbs. each, our semi-retired 3.8-liter JK engine is starting to hate us. Looks and size? Passing Grade: A.

It’s odd that we were almost more excited to test these new Pit Bull Tires on the street, than in the dirt and rocks, but that’s because the true test was if they were more street friendly than their bias-ply brothers. So, did they buzz down the highway like a B-17 Bomber? The distinctive Pit Bull sound is there but no louder than any other, very aggressive mud-terrain tire. With the Jeep’s top off and no stereo on, one is definitely reminded that you are riding on one of the most aggressive mud-terrain tires offered on Earth, and that WWII bomber sound is unmistakable. With the hardtop on, however, you’ll hardly notice the sound. Noise? Passing Grade:  B+.

Our biggest surprise came during the actual mounting of the tires. Believe it or not, three of our MadDogs balanced out at under 2.5 ounces of weight. Our odd ball fourth took a less respectable 13.25 ounces, even after rotating the tire 180 degrees on the wheel.  However, that tire does run smooth, with no noticeable or unwanted balance issues, even on the front of the Jeep. The MadDogs ride as smooth and straight as any other radial tire we’ve ever owned, especially for as large as it is. The sidewall is flexible enough over most terrain, soaking up much of the shock before it ever hits our Jeep’s suspension. It does not grab highway grooves or imperfections and tracks nicely at any speed. We’ve now grown accustomed to airing these big tires up to 32 lbs., which is more than what we are used to for street use. At 32 lbs., the Jeep handles well and still rides smooth. While they do not carve the pavement like our previous three-ply sidewall, 37-inch tire, mounted on 18-inch wheels, they do still offer confidence at high speeds and cornering.  At pressures lower than 24 lbs., you start to feel slightly less control from the MadDogs during cornering … but considering that they are an off-road tire with a tall side wall under a 6,000 pound Jeep, they are still impressive in their road manners. Comfort and street ability? Passing Grade:  A-.

With over 7,000 miles on our MadDogs, we have a very good idea of what these tires are like and what their wear characteristics are. They have worn very well, with some minor cupping, likely due to an alignment issue. Chunking in rocks is a non issue, as all the big tread blocks show very nice “graining” after some tough rock work.



We have observed no major chunking with our tires.

Surprisingly, the MadDogs use a two-ply nylon-constructed side wall. While many tire companies are reinforcing their tires with high-tech materials and extra plies, Pitbull has chosen to use the traditional two-ply side wall in the MadDog. Why? We asked the same question directly to Mike Green. Mike has many trade secrets within his tire company, and his special rubber compound is one of them. 

“Go out to try and shred those MadDogs as hard as you can, and you’ll see that we don’t need any special materials or extra plies,” Green confidently told us. “Our rubber is the best and strongest in the industry.”

By using less plies and more rubber, the side wall is able to flex better in rocky terrain as well. The side wall lugs and shoulder of the MadDog tell a lot about its strength. They are thick and extend down far enough to provide traction and protection. The rest of the tire?  Two-ply side wall, six-ply tread (2 ply polyester, 2 ply steel, 2 nylon) tire wear and construction?  Passing Grade: B+.

Extreme off-road performance is what we wanted most out of our Pitbull MadDogs. We originally considered waiting for the new 41.5x13.5 Radial Rockers; however, our Dana 44s would be much happier with the 38.5 MadDogs. We weren’t sure that the MadDogs would be up to the task of being a true trail and rock tire, as Pitbull classifies this brute as their best mud tire. We were wrong again! Flying down fire roads pitted with potholes and rutted with washboards is a pleasure … when aired down to 9 lbs. The tires soak up large bumps and glide through the roughest terrain at 40+ mph; however, once you get into a corner at this low air pressure, be ready to hit the brakes, as the sidewall flex is detrimental to this type of driving. By airing up to a more reasonable pressure of 15 lbs., cornering is more predicable and confidence inspiring.

Airing back down to 9 lbs. for the rocks is a must for the MadDogs. With beadlock wheels, we’d suspect that 6 to 7 lbs. would be perfect for this tire. Nine or 10 lbs. seemed to be just right on our Procomp wheels, as 15 lbs. and 12 lbs. were, unfortunately, too much to allow this tire to flex during testing. Once we figured out how much air these tires like to hold, away we went in search of rocks that hate rubber.  Pointing the sidewalls directly into sharp rocks proved to be one of the MadDogs best assets. The thick rubber sidewalls absorbed and brushed off the hardest hits, and the huge shoulder and sidewall lugs grabbed at anything in front of them. 

The Mad Dogs wrapped around rocks well.

Our favorite part of the MadDog tire in the rocks is the open shoulder lug that extends down the sidewall. This lug is really two thinner lugs that look like bent index fingers.  They flex and claw but never fold all the way over onto themselves. Directly next to these thin lugs is an alternating solid lug bar that creates pulling power, much like a paddle. This combination is visually and audibly noticeable when fighting for traction in smooth river rock, sharp granite and sandstone. The center tread sections, along with the rest of the tire, provide excellent lateral traction and stability, consisting of diamond lugs and Pit Bull’s star-shaped lugs that work very well when side-hilling on any terrain. Dirt and rocks? Passing Grade: B+.


The center tread loaded up with muddy sand.

Was there anything we found that hindered the MadDog’s traction in dry rock?  Not really. In fact, we found traction as good as the bias-ply Rocker. We gained a ton of confidence in the super tough sidewalls as well, even after hesitating with the two plies.  Now, we did encounter a slight faulter in these beasts. Colorado wheelers’ worst enemy on the trail is, without a doubt, the sandy mud that is found on almost any trail. Once this cover the rocks, it is very hard to gain any type of traction. We also had a hard time clearing the tires when loaded up. The shoulder lugs faired well under some throttle, however, the center section of tread suffered “slick syndrome.” We have yet to find a tire that excels in this type of mud. Mud? Passing Grade: B.

The MadDogs handled the snow so well we wished for another Colorado storm.

Ok, we never got into any deep goopy mud, but we did get a few snow storms during our testing. While the MadDogs had their troubles on icy pavement, even with generous siping, we have not run a tire better suited to trail snow. From a dead stop, buried deep in snow, the MadDogs churned through like there was nothing there to slow them down.  We felt so much traction and control while blazing through the white stuff at 40 mph, we hoped it would snow all year long! Snow? Passing Grade: A.

We have now officially tested six sets of LT off-road tires on our JK Project and have found many pros and cons to each of them. Simply put, the PitBull Radial MadDogs are the best all-around tire we’ve tested to date. They are super tough, have seemingly unlimited traction in any terrain, including snow, and look all business … and they are smooth on road thanks to their new radial design. What more could you want out of a 38.5-inch-tall tire?

Pit Bull Tire Company
A Division of Tire Mart, Inc.
St. Louis, Missouri USA
314.621.5396 Fax


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