Why Billing Off-Road Show Was Awesome!

The last weekend in June we took a trip to the Billing Off-Road Show. And yes I took the truck around the infamous lakeside offroading course, obviously it showed those Land Rovers how it was done!

The show itself was incredible. Just the parking lot alone was full of nice looking Land Rovers, and of course my Nissan!

Land Rovers! Land Rovers everywhere!

I would say that 90% of the show catered to Land Rover owners (so my brother in law was very happy as he had just purchased a disco 1). With only a couple specialising in non Land Rover modifications. But then again it was still pretty cool seeing all the different things you could do to an old truck. It also gave me some ideas: a hidden winch system, creating a rear bumper with a spare tyre holder on, among many other things. So my goals for the truck have been completely overwhelmed with new ideas.

The demonstration area seemed to be a big hit. I mean there’s no reason it wouldn’t be. High powered 4x4s racing around a dirt track, climbing over logs and various obstacles, then throttle down to jump a small mound in front of the spectators. It was great to watch. All the kids watching seemed to be entranced by it.

There was camping right next to the show area, with a bar and live entertainment (basically just a guy singing karaoke from what I could see, but he was pretty good). I think next year I will camp there and experience the whole weekend of 4×4 relaxation!

The Lakeside off-road course was incredibly well done, hard challenges – with bypasses, and nice easy ‘green lane’ style parts. I think any standard 4×4 could have driven around it, as long as you were sensible and avoided the things that you’re rig couldn’t do. Learn from a brand new Land Rover Evoque that tried to do a water crossing with street tyres and no snorkel. He got stuck in the middle and killed his engine. Poor guy had to be towed out, and it would not start again. But with the abundance of Land Rover parts and expertise, I’m sure he drove home from that show.

My truck on the other hand attracted attention. There was only a couple other non Land Rovers, a Hilux and a D-max. But mine seemed to handle everything, only occasionally needing a little throttle to get myself out of trouble.

The areas I thought I would get stuck on such as the camel humps (basically a mound with a steep incline/decline), the truck handled with ease. Just gliding up, grounding out ever so slightly and gliding down. No issue.


This was called the ‘Bomb Crater’, just a small muddy hole!

The long water crossings didn’t pose much of a challenge. I just got in second gear low, and kept up a little momentum and it was easy. The back did try to float away a couple times but the truck would not stop (Some may say this was due to skillful driving… others would say it’s just a good truck!).

Water crossing seemed no issue for the skunk!

Even the infamous mud run. Second gear low and go go go! I couldn’t hold back for this. Not having big gnarly mud tires put me at a disadvantage here, but I tell you what, the truck did it with grace. Thank you BFGs! Made a big splash and the crowd loved it, Land Rover fans cheering at my import. How unconventional!

Loved playing in the mud (thanks to http://www.picman.co.uk for the awesome picture!)
(This one is going on my wall!)

I was like a proud father driving home in my muddy truck after the show. It conquered everything that those big, jacked up Land Rovers could do, and then I cruised home at 70mph no issue.

The truck looked good back in the parking area, it was nice and muddy!

Overall the Billing Off-Road show was awesome, and definitely worth a visit if you are interested in anything 4×4. Plus it gives you the perfect opportunity to test new mods to your rig without the worry of getting stranded.

I’ll be posting more pictures/videos from the show over time on my instagram @overlanding_skunk, so go check that out!

Till next year Billing!

What Tyres Should I Have? (Mud or All Terrain)

From bald street tyres to budget all terrains misery, it was now time to pick some tyres that suit my needs. Then I got lucky acquiring them!

When I first got my truck, it came with practically bald street tyres. They were terrible and had to be changed straight away. So initially I bought a set of the cheapest all terrains I could find. A set of four 255/65/17 Gripmax A/T cost roughly £300 from eBay and they were delivered quickly.

I have to admit these Gripmax tyres did surprise me. For the price I thought they would be terrible. They were fitted and balanced fairly easily. No road noise to begin with, and they had no adverse effect to my mileage. So I was fairly happy with them on the road.

Off of the tarmac they were about what you’d expect from budget all terrains. Dry dirt, grass, they had plenty of traction. Gravel made pulling away a bit difficult sometimes. They would put up a fight in mud, spinning and swerving, where other all terrain brands seemed to drive right through. But overall they did the job with some persuasion.

Now we come to their performance in the wet. From a standing start they seem to lose grip quite easily. Spinning when pulling away at junctions. This was replicated in the snow. Struggling where street tyres were performing well.

Unfortunately I didn’t have much confidence in the Gripmax A/T.

This led me to believe it is time for an upgrade.

So what tyres should be next?

What did I want?

  • Bigger tyres
  • Better control off tarmac
  • More control in the wet
  • A harder sidewall
  • Better tread pattern
  • Aggressive stance.

Mud tyres?

Initially I thought that getting a big set of mud tyres would be the best course of action.

I had looked at quite a few but had narrowed it down to these few:

  • 265/65/17 Insaturbo Dakar Mud Terrain?
  • 265/70/17 Maxxis Bighorn MT764  Mud Terrain?
  • 265/70/17 BF Goodrich T/A KM3 Mud Terrain?
  • 265/70/17 Falken Wildpeak MT01 Mud Terrain?

The Insaturbo were cheap and my brother in law had them on his truck with no issues. Maxxis have a good reputation but they are quite expensive. BF Goodrich. I think that says enough. Unfortunately again out of my price range. The Falken Wildpeak at the very edge of my budget and seemed to have good reviews on and off road. These were my main consideration.

But then do I really need mud tyres?
Cons:

  • They are expensive
  • They wear easier that all terrains
  • They increase fuel consumption
  • They cause loud road noise
  • They are good only for mud and rock crawling.

But then again,
Pros:

  • They look cool
  • They are good only for mud and rock crawling.

The cons seemed to outweigh the pros. So I decided that yes mud tyres would be cool, but for a truck that I use daily, and very rarely use in deep mud, all terrains were the way forward.

All Terrains

The amount of all terrains on the market is a bit crazy. But above them all stood the BF Goodrich KO2’s. I cried a little when I saw the price for a set of four. Easily going over £1000…

I was about to settle on keeping my poor tyres for a while longer until I had saved the money for the upgrade. That is until I found a guy selling four that had done roughly 2000 miles, for about £400 online.

Four almost new 265/65/17 BF Goodrich KO2’s for £400!

I couldn’t believe my luck. It felt like a set up. Surely he’s not going to sell them for that price? I wondered if I would turn up and leave missing a kidney. But he turned out to be really nice guy, just needed them gone asap.

I pulled up to his house and hiding behind a bush was a huge Ford Raptor. It was lifted and had at least 35 inch wheels (making mine look small…). It was awesome. We had a little chat and it turned out he was shipping his truck to Central America soon (one more thing to add to my bucket list!) and he needed the space in his garage for bigger tyres! 

I couldn’t thank him enough. Wished him luck on his travels and left with four almost new tyres. Result!

Now I am just waiting to get these tyres mounted and then to buy a spare. Once they’re on I’ll let you know if they really stand up to the hype.