Published on May 3rd, 2022 | by Joe
GBC Ground Buster 3 Sport ATV Tire Test Review: VIDEO
GBC Ground Buster III, Rating
Summary: If you ride in typically dry, hardpack to intermediate conditions and want enough versatility in performance for light mud and sand use, the Ground Buster III fits the bill perfectly. Relying on their tread design rather than a super sticky compound for grip, their long-lasting tread makes them a performance tire that’s affordable to own at the time of purchase and over the long haul. Best of all, the Ground Buster III delivers race winning performance good enough to win pro GNCC championships, so they should certainly be good enough for your sport ATV.
1 Year Test
Walker Fowler’s Pro GNCC Championship Winning Trail Tires the GBC Ground Buster 3
Affecting acceleration, braking, cornering precision, stability, and ride quality, picking the right set of tires is the single most cost-efficient and impactful performance upgrade you can make on your Sport ATV. No one knows that better than Pro GNCC Champion, Walker Fowler, who relies on GBC tires to help him get maximum performance out of his Factory Yamaha YFZ450R.
Walker formerly ran GBC XC Master tires at both ends throughout the season, which we reviewed a few years back. He now runs GBC’s most recently released high-performance rear trail tire, the Ground Buster 3, at most events.
It stands to reason that the tires Walker Fowler relies on to repeatedly reach the top tier of the podium would also be a top choice for anyone looking for the ultimate trail tire for their sport quad.
To test the Pro GNCC champ’s tire setup for ourselves, we met up with cross-country racer and test rider, Jim Nemacheck, and his very patriotic Honda TRX450R at Haspin Acres off-road park in Laurel, Indiana, offering the wide variety of terrain needed for a proper evaluation.
About the GBC Ground Buster 3
Designed for racing in intermediate to hard-packed conditions, the Ground Buster 3 is available in a rather standard trail size of 20×11-9” exclusively, although GBC has a habit of adding additional sizes over time. At a claimed 14.9lbs for the two-ply and 15.5lbs for the 6ply versions, they are the lightest tires of their size among GBC’s different rear sport ATV tire options. Overall tire size and a tread depth of 14/32” is a touch shorter as well. The Ground Buster III’s search for traction is based on their uniquely shaped X-knob tread pattern, which is slipped for increased knob flexibility and additional biting edges similar to the way GBC’s GNCC racers Walker Fowler and Johnny Gallagher groove their XC Masters to enhance grip. Wraparound side knobs are designed to aid traction in ruts and are said to optimize cornering traction.
According to Johnny Gallagher, who helped develop the Ground Buster III, the two-ply tire was designed with additional sidewall flex for optimal performance and ride quality with run flat tire systems commonly used by racers, with the six-ply version best suited for everyone else.
After years of racing GBC’s XC masters, Jim has accumulated a year’s worth of racing experience on the Ground Buster III, which went into this review. Jim’s 450R came setup with 21×7-10 XC Master tires front and 20×11-9, 2-ply Ground Buster III tires out back. Tire Balls were installed at both ends and 6 pounds of pressure were used up front with 3 pounds in the Ground Busters with 4psi in the tire balls. We’d be running 7lbs front and 6lbs in the rear as a starting point without Tire Balls.
There’s some crossover in performance capabilities between the Ground Buster III and the XC Racer in moist, tacky, intermediate terrain where the knobs can easily penetrate the ground’s surface. Whether it’s wet or dry, if the surface is hard and dependent and biting edges knob flex to find grip, the Ground Buster reigns supreme. Traction is plentiful in intermediate conditions with enhanced acceleration, braking, and cornering predictably in hard-packed conditions. Accelerating from a dead stop on dry dirt that’s as hard as concrete, the GB3s are able to find traction. They hook up predictably on rocky climbs with notably less spin than the XC Masters, holding their own on the way back down. While we filmed in dry conditions, Jim happily sang the praises of the traction the Ground Busters provide on wet, slick, rocky, or muddy creek banks.
On dry to intermediate dirt, the Ground Buster III likes to rail hooked up like the XC Master, but once broken loose, provides a better balance between side grip and forward drive making the more predictable sliders. Their cornering predictably really shines in slick, wet, hard-packed turns with a very fine line between forward drive and spinning out. Ride quality is good over bumps without excessive bounding further aiding traction.
For a dry to intermediate terrain tire, the Ground Buster III can hold its own in the mud with good cleanout, but for deep mud that will inevitably develop deep ruts, the XC Master has slightly taller tread. The 20” XC Master is actually a bit taller and is available in a 22” version. In the little cross-country sand track we frequent at Haspin, there’s plenty of traction getting in, through, and out of the banked rutted turns; although, we felt the slightly taller tread of the XC Masters could give them a slight edge in the sand.
With plenty of side bite, it will take a little effort to break the rear end loose on smaller machines, but as GBC’s lightest tire in its size, we would definitely recommend the Ground Buster III for full-size sport ATVs with engines of all sizes. Sticking with a similar, long-lasting rubber compound similar to the XC Masters, Jim typically gets around 6 races out of a set of Ground Busters, still showing only modest wear. Our Ground Busters had only minor scuffing on the leading knob edges after a race day’s worth of use.
One minor setup tip if you’re switching from XC Masters or an equally tall rear tire, the GB3s are a touch shorter so you might want to add a touch of preload to the rear shock to maintain the same ride height and weight distribution.
If you ride in typically dry, hardpack to intermediate conditions and want enough versatility in performance for light mud and sand use, the Ground Buster III fits the bill perfectly. Relying on their tread design rather than a super sticky compound for grip, their long-lasting tread makes them a performance tire that’s affordable to own at the time of purchase and over the long haul. Best of all, the Ground Buster III delivers race winning performance good enough to win pro GNCC championships, so they should certainly be good enough for your sport ATV.
For more information on the GBC Ground Buster III and their full line of ATV, SXS, truck and lawn and garden tires, log onto gbctires.com