First off, we grew up riding dirt bikes, so we knew the Deegan namesake from following him on two wheels. We also knew that Brian Deegan had made the shift to truck racing and found success as a five-time Lucas Off-Road series champion. As is the case with successful racing sponsorships, you do well and your sponsors will likely name a product after you.
In this case, Mickey Thompson chose to slather the Deegan namesake on the side of its new tire, the Deegan 38. If you assumed that the 38 meant that the tire was 38 inches tall, you’re probably not alone. It’s actually Deegan’s racing number from his dirt bike days and has stuck with him over the years. Think of it like Michael Jordan’s number 23 or Earnhardt’s number 3.
While Mickey Thompson labels the Deegan 38 an all-purpose mud-terrain, its marketing ties with a SoCal racer and founder of the Metal Mulisha might have you questioning if this tire more pop culture than dirt-thrower. The question stands to reason: Had Mickey Thompson caved to the Bro culture? You know, the ones with the flat-bill hats, trucks that sit tall in the front and low in the back, and always have some righteous sugar-spiked caffeine juice in their hand? Could this be the Crystal Pepsi of the tire world?
Despite our closet full of flannel shirts and decidedly uncool bottled water habit, we decided we would turn a blind eye to the hype and give the tires a chance. While the Deegan 38 is currently offered in sizes 31 to 37 inches tall (curiously no 38), we got a set of bro-lite 33x12.50R15 tires. We even went as far south on the spectrum with these by testing the tires in the polar opposite of their roots in the muddy southeast. Carving out over 5,000 miles on the rubber, we tread over sand, rock, mud, and plenty of asphalt.
On the road, the tire offers all-terrain-like handling and only a slight mud-terrain hum. Balancing easily on our aluminum 15x8 Mickey Thompson Classic Baja Lock wheels, the set has been extremely livable under our ’05 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Extra sipes in the deep tread blocks help maintain grip in wet conditions, which is a spot where many mud-terrain tires falter.
Mud in the southeast can range wildly. Hardly any tire is a match for sticky clay, but the Deegan 38s proved very effective. The irony of a SoCal racer’s tire doing great in the southeast backwoods didn’t escape us.
In the dirt, we wasted no time mixing up the terrain. Aired down, the tires gripped and conformed well on the rocks, and dry trail navigating at speed was especially sure-footed and impressive. Since it’s a mud-terrain, that’s where we spent the majority of our time off-road. While tire speed is a must to keep the lugs cleared of clay, the Deegan 38’s never left us spinning in place, though we came extremely close to land-anchoring the Jeep a few times.
Ultimately, this isn’t the first time a tire has come outfitted with a racers name. After all, Mickey Thompson was a racing great in his day too. We’re still going to lovingly laugh at the often over-the-top Bro culture, but the Deegan 38 is a serious contender in the ever-growing mud-terrain field. Just like the man, the Deegan is sure to leave a mark in the off-road world.