January 22, 2012

Bombardier Iltis Tire Talk: Michelin XCL vs Michelin XZL

Counting the rims and tires the Iltis came with, as well as the spares, and another couple I purchased after the initial purchase, I believe I have 16 rims and 18 tires. Of course, I thought this was *pleanty* and I was set for life. Not so, I discovered. As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, tires grow old just being exposed to the air, and do not need to bake in the sun to deteriorate. I also discovered that one of the tires attached to my running and plated Iltis was weeping rust from the cracks in the rubber, a sign that both the rubber, and the steel belts, were shot.

The Michelin XCL tire seems to be the original tire used by the Canadian Forces in the early 80's on forward.  It is a heavy duty 10 ply tire, weighing about 34lbs, that stands ~29.5" high. Later the forces would purchase the Michelin XZL, a non-directional tire, allowing the rear-mounted spare to be used on the left or right side of the vehicle. The Michelin XZL, to the best of my knowledge, was a late 1990's purchase by the military. I've discovered that most of my tires are XCLs and have cracking sidewalls - a sign that they are no longer road-worthy. Only about 6 of my tires are XZLs, and as of last week four of them are mounted on the running Iltis. While the Michelin XZLs that I have are ~12 years old, and past their prime, they are in far better shape than the ~20 year old XCLs.

Unfortunately I've had to dispose of almost all of the Michelin XCLs. They were simply not safe.

I'm not sure why the specifications for the XZLs say they're meant for "snow, sand, mud, and highway"... they are pretty horrible tires for everything but dirt/mud. Snow comes with ice, and they're atrocious on ice. The highway?  Well, not bad I guess, but they're quite loud and hard as a rock.

From what I've been told, 205/80R16 or 215/85R16 tires can fit on the rims, with a minor skew of the speedometer. The catch is, 205/80R16 tires are not common, and finding a matching set of four 215/85R16 tires in good shape, used, is difficult at best.  The original size for the XCLs and XZLs is 650R16 (NB not metric)

My search continues...

I recently found someone on Kijiji selling 5 XZLs for $1500.  It's deplorable that someone would sell 10-15yr old tires to some unsuspecting person for that kind of price, and since you can't "post" like you would a forum on Kijiji, I can only hope nobody buys them.  I asked for the DOT codes from the tires, but they didn't respond.  I figured maybe they were "new", as in made in the past few years, and I was completely wrong - but I doubt it.  I suspect they picked them up from someone for cheap, and figure they can make a quick buck.


  1. After reading this post It is seeming that you have much experience of the best companies of rims and tires. I have a business of shipping heavy luggage from one place to another so the wheels of trucks have to change after few months. can you tell me best company of wheels for trucks?

  2. Hello!
    It’s time to start preparing for the perils of winter driving, and commercial tire chains are an important and often overlooked part of this preparation. A lot of truck drivers might simply throw them in the truck