Product Test - GBC Dirt Commander Tires
Changing the tires on your ATV or Side x Side is a great opportunity to upgrade with a tire that better fits your needs. We use our Polaris RZR 900 for trails that range from loose sand, to rocky, former railroad grades, and for prowling around the woods. The stock GBC Dirt Commanders are a good overall fit for our normal type of riding, but we’ve often longed for a little more ground clearance and when GBC introduced a 29” tire we were anxious to give it a try.
THE DIRT COMMANDER
As a stock tire the 27” Dirt Commanders are a good match to the RZR 900. They grab traction without bogging the motor, and if you’ve ever followed behind you know they can throw an impressive roost with everything from sand to rocks the size of softballs. With that in mind we opted up for the new 29” Dirt Commanders and at the same time we upgraded to a 14” wheel.
The first thing we noticed about the GBC Dirt Commander tires is they measure all of 29 inches and slightly more! With the 29” Dirt Commanders our RZR sat noticeably taller, almost as if it had suddenly copped an attitude. It looked great!
Tires are really the final gear in your drive system and going up or down in size can make a big difference not only in ride and handling but also power delivery. A larger tire usually creates a little more top speed at the expense of acceleration. It takes more power to get them turning, especially with a larger contact patch and extra traction. The Polaris RZR has a 900cc engine with plenty of power to work with though.
Our first section of trail on the new Dirt Commanders was an old railroad grade converted to trail. That means it’s got a solid base packed by 100 years of trains, but the surface is loose stones. The Polaris had no problem getting the machine up to speed and the new tires clawed at the ground. We cruised along at normal speed for a few miles then decided to see what our new top speed would be. It is then we learned something new about these tires. With a larger contact patch on the ground you get increased flotation, and that meant rather than biting into the terrain they were riding up on top of the loose stones, making it feel a little loose at higher speeds. It didn’t bother us much, but it’s not something everyone can get used to, almost like driving on snow. Still, we had to remember these tires are called DIRT COMMANDERS and made for the dirt, not marbles.
The next area we tried was a sand pit and in this area the Dirt Commanders excelled! It was no problem grabbing all the traction you wanted here, and as usual, the sand did suck a little more power from the motor. The larger traction patch and slightly different gearing meant there was a little less roost but more acceleration. Our biggest benefit came in the woods though.
We love riding in the tight woods with technical trails. It’s even better if there are obstacles to climb over, and when we came to downed limbs, rocks, or deep ruts the Dirt Commanders made a very noticeable improvement thanks to the extra ground clearance. It was the tire size we needed!
THE LONG TERM
Since our first ride on the Dirt Commanders we’ve made a couple changes and learned more about them.
To bring back the power a clutch kit from DALTON CLUTCH definitely brought our RZR back to where it previously was, with no tradeoff in belt life. The Dalton kits always come with a clear set of instructions, all the parts you need, and even a tool if required! You can’t go wrong with the Dalton kits and it’s why we’ve used them for years. We also really appreciate that Dalton does EXTENSIVE testing on their kits and they won’t sell it to you if they feel it’s not perfected yet. We’ve tried to talk them into selling us parts we wanted in the past and they wouldn’t do it because they didn’t feel it performed up to their standards. You’ve got to love a company with that kind of integrity!
Like many riders, for unknown reasons it seems every time we mount up a new set of tires we experience the 50 mile curse. That means we punctured the tire in the first 50 miles and had to install a plug. Our plug has been holding since then with no problems.
There are two curious things we have noticed about the GBC Dirt Commanders as well. The first is, even though they are an 8ply tire they are a bias tire and they have the odd habit of going out of round when sitting in the garage. It’s not an overnight occurrence, but if they set a week you’ll notice it at the beginning of the ride and then they’ll quickly go back to round. We also noticed tires with large, open lugs tend to show wear quickly on the leading edge as it is the first part to make contact with the terrain. After that they tend to settle in and wear at a normal pace.
A GOOD CHOICE
The GBC tires are a good choice for a tire upgrade with ride characteristics similar to stock. They’ve performed for us in sand, mud, and even snow and not let us down. Best of all, the extra ground clearance is a very welcome feature for our favorite type of riding, and they look great too!