DUELLER CHALLENGE

RATED

WORDS GLENN TORRENS

gear PRODUCT TEST Ė BRIDGESTONE DUELLER 697 A/T

RATED

AVAILABLE FROM: www.bridgestonetyres. com.au RRP: $269 (inc. fi tment).

WE SAY: Longer wear life on- and off-road, with a tough construction.

GT STICKS A SET OF BRIDGESTONE DUELLERS BENEATH HIS TOURING TOYOTA.

FOR SEVEN years and 200,000km my 2005 Toyota Hilux V6 has been my daily driver, tow-rig and adventure truck. Itís taken me to Moreton Island, down the Darling, across The Simpson, around the High Country a few times, and itís towed a race car to all corners of Australia.

I place a fair chunk of importance on tyres, and an all-terrain (A/T) tyre is the best choice for my driving habits. So when editor Matt said there was a set of Bridgestone Dueller A/T 697 tyres at 4X4 HQ, I didnít need to be asked twice.

The Japanese-made Dueller 697 is the latest in a long line of respected off-road tyres from Bridgestone. Many new fourwheel drives are showroom-shod with Duellers, but these 697s are tougher and more durable Ė thatís not to knock the showroom Duellers, but to point out that the touring performance expectations of many of us are different.

The Duellers have 9mm tread depth over the tread-wear indicators. Tread depth isnít the only indicator of tyre life (a hard-compound tyre with less tread depth may outlive a soft tyre with more depth), but monitoring the change in tread depth Ė and hence wear Ė is a good way to extend the Ďlifeí of a tyre.

To get the best life and performance from my tyres, I always rotate them every 5000km Ė front to rear and side-for-side.

Measuring tread depth every 10,000km, down to 50 per cent of the original tread depth, will provide an accurate indication of the 697ís expected life.

I run a 225/75 16LT size. My 2005

model 4.0-litre V6 petrol/LPG Hilux runs a 205 tyre as standard, so the 225s wonít affect the gearing, fry the clutch, destroy low-range ability in steep terrain, inhibit towing performance, or worsen overall fuel economy.

First impressions of the Dueller are terrific. Itís quiet, grippy and supple, and the low-void tread pattern provides sharp response. The wide tread block means thereís less tread squirm (where the tread block moves around like the bristles on a broom, affecting stability) and more rubber on the road for greater grip and longer life. Unlike a more open-treaded tyre, thereís none of that annoying drone and, for better puncture resistance off-road, the tighter rubber blocks do a better job of shielding the tyreís body.

Based on past experiences with Bridgestone tyres, Iím expecting good things, so Iíll keep you posted.

THE DUELLERS ARE QUIET, GRIPPY AND SUPPLE

Itís always wise to install fi t-forpurpose tyres before any money is spent on front bars, winches, driving lights, recovery boards, dual batteries, snorkels, seat covers, and all the other bling íní jingle stuff.