Project F150: Part Three - Center Line Wheels and Nitto Tires

by S.Tate


In Part Two, we addressed concerns with our truck’s forward lighting situation. The comments section caught fire in a hurry, and we were happy to see that! Our LEDs continue to provide a big boost in headlight output, and our position remains the same regarding the poor light performance of our stock F150. For those that missed the comments, we’ll point you to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Highway Loss Data Institute). 

“Most pickup truck headlights rate poor” - and that unfortunately, applies to our F150 (2016-2017 F150 trucks were rated “Poor”).  We got over that with our upgrade, and if you find your rig in the same boat, you know one good way to handle it!

Here in Part Three, we’ll deal with a basic but important set of decisions when selecting wheels and tires for your vehicle. We’ll freely admit that aesthetics are a big part of our choice, but we have other considerations too. We selected Center Line RT3X wheels and a set of Nitto Trail Grappler M/T tires.


The wheels look great in the increasingly more popular 20 inch form-factor (even OEMs have gotten into the game).  In terms of specs, these Center Line RT3X wheels are 20”x9”, 6 x 135 mm bolt pattern with an 18mm offset. On our own scales, it weighs in at 74.3 pounds per corner — a lot, but in the ballpark for a 20 inch truck wheel, especially one that is designed to take off-road abuse.  


Our wheels are shod with a new set of Nitto Trail Grappler M/T tires in 305/55-20. That works out to roughly being a 33 x 12 inch tire. 

This newer hybrid tire borrows from Nitto's full off-road Mud Grappler M/T lineup. So, what other considerations are there beyond looks? We’re after an all-weather fighter with our tow rig, and tires are a big consideration. No, we don’t plan on any hard core off-road events, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want the durability that comes with a typical off-road tire. 


The tires have three ply sidewalls for increased puncture resistance, and that’s something we have come to value on a street tire! Who wants to deal with flats caused by typical highway debris? Right, neither do we — and we figure this will give us a fighting shot at avoiding a late night tire swap on the way home from the track! Also note, these tires have a load range rating of "E", which means that it is a heavy duty tire that is also good for towing purposes- a perfect fit for our F150 tow rig! Even though our F150 is a relatively lightweight 1/2 ton truck, these tires would be right at home on a 3/4 or 1 ton axle setup too.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:07 AM
74 pounds each?!
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 6:29 AM
That is soo damn heavy, they are made from steel?
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 8:47 AM
Yeah, but can you drop a 100lb steel tool box into the truck bed!?
Just kidding. I would buy an F150 over a silverado any day, based mostly on looks.
I live in pickup truck country. 80% of the vehicles in my area are 4-door pickups. Wheels and tires are a popular upgrade. But I don't get the whole big-suspension, big-tires modders that have never got their trucks dirty? I see these lifted monsters with LED light bars and they have never seen a grain of dirt in their lift. The tires are worn from all the highway miles they put on it. Anyway, Point is. If you lift it, you better take the damn thing off road!!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 10:46 AM
Super heavy is pretty normal for 20-inch truck wheels. They have to be able to take a pretty large GVW in testing.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 11:04 AM
Fake beadlocks?????? Barf.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:05 PM
People are all about decreasing fuel economy and acceleration, increasing NVH, brake wear, and braking distances, so that they can look unique like all the other trucks. Any benefit gained is almost never utilized. Why not swap to your superduperswampers the day you go off roading like a sports car at a track day?

Harsh? Yes! I'm sick of it!
S. Tate
S. Tatelink
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 2:39 PM
These aren’t “fake beadlocks”, rather they are genuine “bead-look”! :)

On a serious note, I’ve run plenty of beadlock type wheels for baja style runs in our local deserts and boulder crawling. These things shine in that kind of environment, and it’s the only way to safely run very low tire pressures (without breaking a bead and separating your tire from the wheel). Whether you’re racing or a fairly hardocore enthusiast, you know that’s the price of admission.

On the flipside, it’s a lot more work to mount a tire and to generally live with beadlock wheels unless you have a dedicated off-road rig or something close to it. There are good reasons NOT to run a “real beadlock” on a street-oriented truck. Not the least of which is legal reasons. It’s not legal in some places, and our state is one of those places. Yes, the Highway Patrol knows this too.

Think about the evolution of automotive trends. There’s trickle-down in tech from racing development of all flavors, and invariably, it also influences styling. That plays here. Anyone that knows what a real beadlock wheel looks like doesn’t think this is the real thing — rather, it’s a styling element that is showing up everywhere. Like it or not, that’s also why we have 20” wheels on a truck.

Nothing we’ve done here hinders our intended use of the truck. We freely admit that looks are a big part of it, but it still increases durability for street use. In the same spirit we don’t have to jump dunes to appreciate a long-travel suspension setup. The vehicle will handle better, cope with surface irregularities, and maybe even look good while doing it.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 3:04 PM
You notice no one criticized the 20" wheels on Project Tundra!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 3:07 PM
We had to fit 20's to clear our brakes!
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 3:57 PM
My guts nearly came out of my body lifting those brakes and I work out a ton.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 4:11 PM
nobody can criticize TE37's, Mike. ever.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 10:29 PM
Moar TE37s please. Also what happened to the Miatabusa??????? Obviously it would have been easier to make your own set of cases and just bolt on the hayabusa top end but hey. Did project 300zx go to the crusher too? Old Japanese cars are going to be what gets cut up and made into.cool projects, pretty sure only people on f1 budgets modify new cars
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 2:19 PM
I thought the tundra was silly but looked good, and also it's a Toyota so all of my biases were being addressed in a positive way.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 3:15 PM
The Tundra rips ass and is one of my favorite vehicles of all time.
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