BFGoodrich was founded by Benjamin Franklin Goodrich in 1870. Throughout its long history, they developed many tire innovations. The company created the first tubeless tire and were the first to make radial tires in the US. They’ve also supplied tires to 23 Baja podium toppers and 13 Paris-Dakar title winners. In 1988, French tire maker Michelin bought the tire production business from the Goodrich Corporation. They maintain 21 tire plants throughout the US and employ 23,000 staff.
Cooper Tires started out in 1914, growing rapidly. During WWII, Cooper Tires manufactured pontoons, life jackets and tires for the Allied forces. Later, Cooper Tires became a Fortune 500 company and is currently the second largest US tire producer after Goodyear. Cooper also owns Mickey Thompson tires.
BFGoodrich vs Cooper Tires are direct competitors and quality is comparable. Tires are subjected to extensive internal and independent tire tests.
Take, for example, two comparable all-season, all-terrain tires, the BFG T/A KO2 and the Cooper S/T MAXX. Both of these tires are great options for a light 4x4, truck or van, where you need to be able to tackle mud and gravel whilst maintaining a safe level of asphalt performance.
Tread life for the popular KO2 is covered by a standard warranty and up to 6 years after the purchase date. The ST Maxx also has a 6-year warranty, in practice, both tires should be good for up to 50,000 miles. That figure is based upon regular tire maintenance, including checking pressures, rotating every 5,000 miles, and having the wheels aligned.
The KO2 has 20% tougher sidewalls than the original KO tire and will resist sidewall abrasions and chipping. The ST Maxx uses a cut and chip resistant compound.
In terms of quality and construction, both tires are comparable.
Tread design makes a huge difference in handling, off-road and on-road performance and the ability to maintain grip without aquaplaning or sliding. Tire manufacturers spend a lot of money developing and testing treads to prevent debris from lodging in the grips and to maintain low noise levels.
Using our two all-terrains as an example, we can see the different approaches taken by engineers. BFGoodrich has opted for an interlocking tread design, with tightly packed siped tread blocks separated by tessellating groves. Within the grooves are stone ejectors that help push out any gravel that might get lodged. The blocks have sipes designed to increase snow traction. The KO2 features serrated shoulder lugs that are designed to grab onto snow and mud, these are even more effective when aired down. The KO2 has a less aggressive shoulder design than the ST MAXX.
The ST MAXX, on the other hand, has 2 continuous grooves running around the circumference of the tire with a hybrid 4 and 5 rib design. The tire is more open. The groove walls are chamfered and staggered to resist cutting and stone retention. Cooper use ribs to eject stones rather than the dots used by BFG. Sidewalls are more aggressive.
The two companies have taken differing approaches to producing an all-season tire. The KO2 tires appear to have more surface area, whilst the ST MAXX is a more open and aggressive design. The BFG tire is 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake Rated whilst the ST MAXX is only M+S rated. That might make a difference for those in colder climates.
For some, the appearance of a tire can be a deciding factor. When building the ultimate rig, they like the option of white wall lettering for example. Both Cooper and BFGoodrich have optional white wall lettering. The BFG tires are more square, filling out the wheel well, whilst the Cooper tire looks like a more aggressive off-road tire. Both options are available in all popular sizes.
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Again, prices are very similar, with perhaps Cooper just edging BFG slightly.
Which should I choose?
In this article, we’ve tried to outline the differences in approach BFGoodrich vs. Cooper Tires take to tire design. Both are well experienced and manufacture superb tires. It really comes down to your personal preference, budget, and intended use. We personally use and fit both tires to our vehicles and are happy to recommend either company’s tires. When purchasing tires, always do your research, for example, with regards to a proper 3 peaks tire versus an M+S rated offering. Read the reviews on the manufacturer's website, both good and bad, and make sure you rotate and inspect your tires often.