Ridge Grappler Testing Phase I: Jesse Spade Wheels

There are few things that get us more excited than new tires. By now, you’ve probably heard about Nitto’s all-new Ridge Grappler tires. While most of the rubber in the Grappler family can be considered multipurpose, the Ridge Grappler is breaking boundaries in a big way. As is the case with many of Nitto’s tires, the Ridge Grappler is the result of enthusiast demand, along with the company’s drive to create the most dynamic on- and off-road tires.

So what makes the Ridge Grappler so unique?

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1. It's the Best of Both Worlds

For starters, it refuses to be just an all-terrain or just a mud-terrain tire. In fact, it’s really a smart mix of both. This hybrid tire concept isn’t necessarily something new in the tire market, but it’s something rarely executed perfectly. Creating a tire that has the low road noise and excellent on-road handling of the Terra Grappler G2, while making it shine in extreme off-road conditions like the Trail Grappler is a big ask.

2. Experience

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Understanding what your consumer demands from a tire ultimately leads to a better product. For years, Nitto has made significant investments in the recreational and motorsports side of the off-road hobby. The result? Tires such as the Mud Grappler and Trail Grappler that can survive under the most extreme conditions.

Recently, we logged just under 2,000 miles on this year’s Nitto JK Experience Alaska trip, and got to see a set of the 37x12.50R17 Ridge Grapplers perform on Mel Wade’s 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. While we were definitely impressed with what we saw on Wade’s JK, we wanted to get a set all our own to start our long-term review.

3. The 35s Have Arrived

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We picked up a set of the Ridge Grapplers in a 35x12.50R17 configuration. These ground-breaking treads will be stuffed under our 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Currently, our JK only has a modest 1.75 inches of lift, but we have plans for a more performance oriented suspension, which we’ll be showing you very soon.

4. Sidewall A

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As is the case with all Grappler tires, the Ridge Grapplers come with two distinct sidewall options. We opted to showcase the more aggressive patter shown here.

5. Sidewall B

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A slightly milder, but still very knobby sidewall pattern rest on the other side. Thanks to an ultra-thick load-range E sidewall, the side lugs are more than just decoration.

6. Jesse Spade Wheels

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For wheels, we opted for 17-inch Jesse Spade Wheels in a Satin Gun Metal finish (SKU: 15303.92) from Rugged Ridge. These 17x9 cast-aluminum wheels are designed to be light and durable. We were also digging the design. 

7. The Right Numbers

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At nine-inches wide, the new wheels allow to take full advantage of the 12.50-inch-wide Ridge Grappler footprint. The 4.53 inches of backspacing is also ideal for our upcoming suspension upgrade.

8. Valve Protection

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One often overlooked wheel feature people sometimes don’t consider when selecting an off-road oriented wheel is the placement of the valve stem. If the stem rides too close or sticks out beyond the bead of the tire, you risk damaging it on the trail. Given our JK still runs the slightly pricey, and extremely helpful, TPMS sensors, we were glad to see the Jesse Spade wheels protect the stems extremely well.

9. Sipes & Lugs

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The lug spacing and tread pattern of the Ridge Grappler definitely sets it apart from the pack. The deep lug depth and larger tread voids are typically reserved for mud-terrain tires, while the gracious siping lends itself to the all-weather-side of the all-terrain family.

10. Low For Now

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Our current setup is extremely low. While we could bump the suspension cycle and retain this low-lift setup, we have plans to give the new treads a little more room to breathe.

To Be Continued…

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We have a few trips and additional upgrades planned for our JK, so we’ll be showing you more about our setup over the coming months. While we still have low miles on the tires, our initial impressions are that the tires are very quiet and extremely smooth-rolling. As the miles roll on, we’ll have better idea of just how these new shoes will hold up over time.

We paired the Ridge Grappler with three very different vehicles to see how it makes sense in different environments – see why it really is the hybrid tire of your dreams.

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