Review: 305/70R19.5 Founders Tyres For Light Trucks – First Impressions

After much searching, we’ve finally found a replacement for our Toyo tyres. We’re trialling a set of Founders 305/70R19.5 mud tyres, supplied by All Terrain Warriors.

Founders 305/70R19.5 mud tyres fitted to our Isuzu NPS.
A brand new set of six (2 spares) Founders 305/70R19.5 M/Ts installed on our truck.

If you’re running 19.5 inch super singles on a light truck, you’ll likely know that Toyo abandoned the Australian truck tyre market.

You’ll also know the options for 19.5” off-road tyres are extremely limited.

Unfortunately, Toyo blindsided the local market. With US sanctions on a whole swathe of Chinese goods, Toyo redirected their truck tyres from the Australian market into the US market. Who’d have thought US sanctions on China would ripple down to the availability of tyres!

The problem is, the first many local distributors heard of this decision was when their promised shipments didn’t arrive.

Outback Equipment - big savings on 4x4 gear.
Outback Equipment - big savings on 4x4 gear.

To be fair, Toyo aren’t alone. Other Japanese tyre manufacturers have done exactly the same thing. Why bother with the tiny Australian market when they can sell as many tyres as they can manufacture to the US.

It’s a shame because the 285/70R19.5 Toyo tyres were incredibly reliable.


A Bulletproof Tyre

The Toyos really were bulletproof. We used them for 185,000km and nearly 6 years… without a single puncture, let alone a blowout.

That reliability is priceless when you’re travelling remote and running relatively heavy in ridiculously hot weather. We lost count of the number of people we met with light trucks and heavy loads that were having major issues with 35s and 37s… blowouts, bubbles, ripped sidewalls, rocks punching straight through the tread.

So it’s difficult to forgo such a reliable tyre. But it’s a reality, so we searched around for a suitable replacement.


Other 19.5” Tyre Options

There are a few other possibilities, but not many. They’re mainly on-road tyres, so are unsuitable for our needs. We were looking for an all-terrain tyre, something that would perform well on the dirt and be acceptable on tar.

Here’s our shortlist of off-road tyres. It’s not a complete list of 19.5” tyres that are available in Australia… it’s just our shortlist. Be aware, they may well be out of stock in Australia at present:


Goodride CM986 285/70R19.5

These are made in China, cost around $400ea and have an all-terrain tread pattern. They’re also marketed as Westlake tyres in Australia.

All Terrain Warriors have been supplying Goodrides for several years now. They’ve proven to have a good compromise between price and tyre life.


Kumho KRD02 305/70R19.5

These are made in Korea, cost around $750ea and have an all-terrain tread pattern. Being 305, they have a slightly larger rolling diameter. I don’t know of anyone who’s running these, so can’t comment on tyre life.


Founders 305/70R19.5

These are made in Thailand, cost around $800 + GST and have a mud-terrain tread pattern. They haven’t yet covered enough kilometres in Australia to comment on reliability or tyre life.

As you’ll have guessed by now, we chose the Founders.


An Ideal Test

We settled on the Founders after All Terrain Warriors offered to supply a set for us to trial. Why did they do this? Well, our type of travel is an ideal test bed for these tyres:

•  We travel full time in the truck, so will quickly get an indication of wear patterns and tyre life.

•  We travel on a typical mix of dirt and tar. Many of the dirt roads are rough, corrugated, and rocky… an ideal test bed.

•  We often travel in hot conditions, with temperatures well over 40°C.

I’ve never been a big fan of mud tyres. They’re often noisy, tend to wear quickly, and 99% of the time the aggressive tread pattern is overkill. I’ve always run all-terrains on every 4WD we’ve owned.

But hey, I’m willing to give the Founders 305/70R19.5 M/T’s a shot!

A couple of other things to be aware of. Coincidentally the truck had just had a wheel alignment, which will hopefully help with scalloping of the front tyres.

The other point? About 9 months ago, we changed the shocks to King Shocks with remote reservoirs. This alone meant a massive improvement in ride quality. These two factors give the new Founders tyres the best shot at showing their true colours.


Tyre Pressures – Our Starting Points

Over the last six years, we’ve tweaked the Toyo tyre pressures for a compromise between ride quality and tyre wear. Since the Founders are taller and softer tyre, we’ll do the same with the Founders. But where to start… what’s a good pressure to start at?

After speaking to Nick Campbell at All Terrain Warriors, we’re running similar tyre pressures as the Toyos. Remember, the truck is always loaded, with around 2,800kg on the front axle and 3,800kg on the rear. Here’s the comparison:

Toyo

  • On tar – Front 70psi, Rear 90psi (maximum speed 100km/h).
  • On dirt – Front 40psi, Rear 55psi (maximum speed 80 km/h).

These figures are a good compromise between tyre wear and ride. On both dirt and tar, we couldn’t go any higher on the front. If we did, the ride was too rough.

Founders

  • On tar – we’re starting with Front 80psi, Rear 85psi (maximum speed 100km/h).
  • On dirt – we’ll start with Front 45psi, Rear 55psi (maximum speed 80km/h).
Founders 305/70R19.5 mud tyre on front axle of Isuzu NPS.
Since the Founders tyres provide a softer ride, we can run them 10psi higher on the front when compared to the Toyo tyres.

These pressures are just starting points for now. We’ll fine-tune them as we cover more kilometres.

One other minor, yet important point. Being a 305, the Founders have a slightly larger rolling diameter than the 285 Toyo tyres. They’re marketed in the US as a 36”, whereas the Toyo tyres were equivalent to 35”.

So the speedo is slightly out. Here’s the difference:

Toyo – Speedo @ 100km/h = 98.1km/h on GPS.

Founders – Speedo @ 100km/h = 102km/h on GPS.

This raises an interesting point. How does this affect braking – is your truck still compliant?

It depends on the make and model. Our 2016 Isuzu NPS 75-155 complies because All Terrain Warriors have done the brake testing for this model. Before you buy a set of these slightly larger tyres, check with the truck manufacturer first.

With these trucks limited to 100km/h in certain Australian states, keep a close eye on your speedo. Highway patrols love speeding trucks…


Founders 305/70R19.5 Specifications

Here are a few more specs in case you’re after all the details:

  • Overall Diameter: 36” (approx.)
  • Max Load: 3,000kg
  • Max. Pressure: 120psi
  • Ply Rating: 18
  • Steel Plies: Tread = 5, Sidewall = 1
  • Tread Depth (measured at centre): 13.5mm
  • Load Index: 146/143 (max. 3,000kg for singles, max. 2,725kg for duals)
  • Speed Index: K (max. 110km/h)

Firematic’s website in the USA has a few more details. These tyres were designed for the fire and emergency vehicle market in the US, so you’d expect them to be durable. In Australia, All Terrain Warriors are the exclusive dealers.

The tread depth is 13.5mm when new. I’ll continue to monitor tread depth regularly.

Measuring tread depth of new Founders 305/70R19.5 mud tyre.
We measured tread depth in the centre of the tyre.

Take note of the Speed Index. Being a mud tyre, the Founders 305/70R19.5 tyres are limited to 110km/h. For those of you in Australian states where the 100km/h speed limit doesn’t apply to your light truck, you might want to back off a bit.

So with just a couple of thousand kilometres under our belt, what are our initial thoughts?


A Smoother Ride

So far, we’ve travelled west from south-east Queensland on Queensland’s notorious regional roads. Then we drove down regional tarred roads to Wollongong.

Broken edges, bone-jarring joints between the patched-up sections, potholes, and sections where you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered onto a Winter Olympics mogul ski run.

No doubt, Queensland still hold the dubious title of the worst regional roads in Australia… although most of the other states are unfortunately pushing hard for the crown.

And we did a short run on a couple of dirt roads. Unfortunately, nearly all dirt roads were closed due to heavy rain. One section was pretty rough. We ran tar tyre pressures.

The result? The Founders tyres give a much smoother ride than the Toyos. Even on the ridiculously bad tar roads, the harshness is pretty much gone.

And on the dirt roads, we would have been shaken to pieces with the Toyos at tar road pressures. Yes, the Founders could have done with a bit less air. But the ride was still acceptable.

On the dirt, we even had one unexpected encounter with a patch of deep, wet clay. I was onto and into it before I had a chance to even think about locking the front hubs. The rear tyres grabbed, dug in and pushed us through no worries at all.

The sticky mud cleared quickly from between the lugs, as expected. And the aggressive tyre pattern extends quite a distance down the sidewalls. It helps to protect and strengthen the sidewalls to some extent, and adds to the overall grip of the tyre.

Founders 305/70R19.5 mud tyre on rear axle of Isuzu NPS.
The mud clears out quickly from between the tread. The aggressive sidewall lugs also help in deeper mud. The downside is they throw a lot more mud onto the sides of the truck.

The wide gap between the lugs does have one downside though. Not surprisingly, it allows the tyres to pick up bigger stones than with the Toyos. So we might need to look more closely at better protecting a few items (like fuel filters) behind the front wheels.

The Founders seem to bag out more readily than the Toyo tyres. So we assume the sidewall is softer… even though the ply rating is slightly higher.

Whether this translates to more sidewall damage, we’re yet to find out. But it certainly does translate to a softer ride.


A Thumbs Up… So Far

We’re super-keen to see how these tyres perform. I do wonder how long they’ll last though, as the compound seems extremely soft. But we know they’re a mud tyre… and we know mud tyres wear quickly.

The best summary? After just a few kilometres, we both agreed it would be difficult going back to the rougher ride of the Toyos. This should give you a feel for how much better the ride is with the Founders.

But the real test will be how reliable the Founders prove to be. If they match the reliability of the Toyo tyres, then I’ll be prepared to put up with a shorter tyre life and their higher price tag.

These tyres were made for the US market, specifically fire and emergency vehicles. But US tyres tend to run softer compounds which often don’t survive in Australia’s brutal conditions. I do wonder how they’ll hold up.

We look forward to giving these tyres a proper workout. We’ll let you know how they fare.



Thanks to Chris and Nick Campbell from All Terrain Warriors for their generous offer to supply this set of tyres for us to trial… and for organising fitment, despite the pressure and uncertainty of unreliable supply chains.

Note: ATW have supplied these tyres at no charge to us. However, all our reviews are open and honest – we tell it how it is.


Go here for more Reviews on our 4×4 Isuzu NPS truck.


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10 thoughts on “Review: 305/70R19.5 Founders Tyres For Light Trucks – First Impressions”

  1. Thanks for the update on the new tyres. We look forward to reading your reviews on different terrain. It’s interesting seeing the tyres pressure you ran in the Toyo tyres as the ATW Booklet says 102psi rear and 86psi front on bitumen. You mentioned 90 psi rear and 70 psi front. We will have to play around with tyre pressure more as the ride was quite rough.

    Reply
    • Hi Andy,

      Thanks. We’ll keep you updated as we get more experience with these tyres.

      Regarding the Toyo tyres, the pressures you run depend on the weight on the axles. We took our truck to a weighbridge, measured both axle weights, then contacted Toyo Tyres Australia. They told us their recommended tyre pressures for our weights.

      For us (running at 3.8T on rear and 2.8T on front), they recommended 85psi rear and 65psi front. We increased them slightly, trying to reduce tread wear.

      My recommendation? Get your truck weighed (front and rear axles), then contact Toyo Tyres. They’re super-helpful and will be happy to work out the correct tyre pressures for your setup.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers, Andrew

      Reply
  2. Great review, thanks. We are running the exact weight as you, we also have a set of founders and have found them to be a great tire to date with 10,000k on them. We were running the rear at 75psi however experienced a little more wear than the front which showed little or no wear running at 70psi. I have just increased the pressure in the rear to 85 and I will see how we go. Would be grateful for further reviews to see how they wear with your Aus travels.
    Cheers, Jonno JNA Downunder

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experiences with the tyres to date Jonno. We’ll play around with the pressures and see what works best. From what you’ve experienced though, it sounds like we’re close to the mark. Cheers, Andrew

      Reply
  3. I liked your informative Founders Tyres info.
    Do you run a TPMS with your tyres? If so what type/ brand etc?
    I just placed Goodrides on my 75 /155 4000k ago, so I will monitor your feedback, safe travels

    Reply
    • Thanks Neil. We don’t run a TPMS. I’d always intended to buy one. But because the Toyo tyres were so ultra-reliable, it sort of fell off the list. Nick at ATW mentioned the Safety Dave TPMS as being a good option. However I can’t vouch for them personally.

      It’ll be interesting to get your opinion on the Goodrides once you get some KMs on them.

      Cheers, Andrew

      Reply
  4. Hi

    I’m wondering if these are wider tyres why you would run higher pressure?

    If the ATW tyre placard shows 285/70R19.5 are these 305 width tyres still complient?

    For me I’m pretty happy with the Goodride 285/70R19.5’s. I’ve had them for 4 years and they seem to be wearing ok and the all terrain pattern is not too noisy. At almost $900 the Founders don’t have that much appeal – maybe if I was bogged in mud I might think differently though……

    Cheers

    Brad

    Reply
    • Hi Brad,

      The reason we’re running higher pressures is because the Founders tyres give a softer ride than the Toyos, so we can run at higher pressures. Why do we want to run at higher pressures? Because the wear pattern on the Toyos was consistent with them being under-inflated (more wear on edges than centre). But we couldn’t run higher pressures because the ride was too rough.

      We may well decrease the pressures, it’s too early to say yet. The pressures we’re running are a starting point.

      The 305 tyres are compliant for our truck. However, it depends on the vehicle you have. So check with the manufacturer of the truck (after-market manufacturer, eg ATW) first.

      That’s good to hear the Goodrides are working for you. I’ve never run them, but am curious how they’d go in our application. What tyres you choose really depends on the loads you’re carrying and the conditions you travel in/on (eg heat, sandy tracks, muddy tracks, mainly tar, etc). For our application, the Founders tyres seem to be a good option. Time will tell.

      Cheers, Andrew

      Reply

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