February 19, 2012

Modern Iltis Tire Replacement

Kumho Road Venture KL71
Meet the Kumho Road Venture KL71
After much frustration and searching I have picked a new tire for my Iltis.  I'm going to buy a new set of 5 tires, because I cant find a used set that aren't 10+ years old that the owner doesn't want an arm and a leg for.
I expect I'll have a spare set of Michelin XZLs on hand in case of emergency, but a new tire, made with new rubber, will be far safer, and have much better traction than any antique tire can provide.

I had several criteria that I was trying to match, which were all rather difficult to accommodate.

The original tire is a 6.50R16, which is 29.4" tall.  I wanted a tire close to the same size, so similar performance would be achieved, and the speedo wouldn't be too out of whack.
The replacement tire, to be closest to original, will be a 205/80R16 (28.91" tall)

Big lugs, I expect them to be loud!
I wanted an aggressive tread pattern, to be similar to the military Michelin XCL, XZL or XML; with the hope it would deliver similar off-road/mud.  The XCL and XML are directional tires, the XZL was not.  Unfortunately the KL71 is directional - why do I care?  Well, the spare tire has to be mounted one way, or the other... I have a 50/50 chance of using it in the correct direction, depending which tire blows.  Not the end of the world, especially if I just need to limp back to my mechanic.

I needed to find the tires on the North American continent.  Yes, the continent.  I gave up quickly finding 205/80R16's (or 215/85R16's) in Canada for a reasonable price, so my search spread to the USA quickly.  Even then, there are very few tall narrow tires for sale in North America! 
Australia?  No problem!  
Europe?  No problem!
Why?  I expect it's because Land Rovers the world over use tall thin tires for expeditions in darkest Africa, the Australian outback, or the UK back country .  The North American tire manufacturers sell to big American truck types; nobody uses thin tires around here.

Once you limit your search to aggressive tread + 205/80R16 there isn't much selection.

Quoting from the kumhotyre.co.uk site, here are the features:
  • Extreme mud terrain.
  • The ultimate in mud traction and rock crawling performance.
  • Massive lugs deliver huge reserves of traction in mud and on rock.
  • Tread highly resistant to cutting and chipping.
  • Solid centre blocks for quiet and comfortable on-road driving.
  • Side biters protect the tyre by absorbing external impact.
  • Stone ejectors prevent stone drilling and retention.
  • Gradation groove aids rapid mud drainage providing firm anti-skid support on rocky surfaces.
  • Joint winner of 4x4 Magazines Ultimate Tyre Test
Cross-border-shopping I can get them for ~$90USD ea.  I can't get a better deal in Canada, I'm happy to drive down to Ogdensburg NY to pick them up, and pay the tax on the way back.


  1. Those are sweet looking tires, Stef. And $90? Grand price....

  2. Great write-up. Where did you buy the tires?

  3. Could you post picture of your iltis with the new tire on? Thank you

  4. hello!
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