Adventure tires – ‘my personal experiences’

I went back to riding adventurously in 2011. Since then I’ve ridden around 250,000 miles/ 400,000km on a few different bikes from 250’s to 1200’s, on all sorts of terrains all over the world, tried lots of brands, some I like, some I really like and some that were just so, so.

– below are my experiences.

The bikes I have ridden the various tires on are –

  • Yamaha xt660z
  • KTM 625 sxc
  • Honda xr650r
  • Yamaha wr250r
  • Yamaha xt1200 Super Tenere
  • Suzuki DR650

Firstly the xt660z –

When I bought the bike the PO had mounted Continental Trail Attack

These are an 80/20 tire at best, they feel good on pavement but off-road, they really felt like street only tires, there seemed minimal grip in any circumstances offroad, to the point of being scary. I rode these tires in Argentina (from Ushuaia), Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico. For this particular ride, I was primarily on the pavement (90/10) so they were fine. I got around 8000 miles out of a set; when I changed them the front still had about 20% tread left.

Personal opinion – would not use again!

 

The next tire I tried on the 660 was the TKC80 40/60

These tires I used to ride Mexico, US (to Prudhoe Bay) and Canada, I now did a little more offroad, around 70/30 and these are a 40/60 tire and handled everything I threw at them, gave excellent grip in almost most scenarios, barring slick mud, which most tires fail in.

They do have a major downside…wear…the first set I used were worn out in 2500 miles, the second set (I was partially sponsored for the 2nd) was done in 3000 miles.

Personal Opinion – would not be my first choice, due to bad mileage, would not use for international riding!

 

Next tire up, Kenda K270 50/50

I have used these tires on the xt660z, wr250r, and dr650. First, off they are 50/50 tires and cheap in comparison to all others dual sports tires. They have a noticeable flex in the tread when you are in a bend on dry pavement. On dry graded roads, they are good and offer good grip, once it gets the slightest muddy they struggle to clear themselves and hold mud too much to be a help.

Riding the 660 I got around 12,000 miles out of a rear and 6000 miles out of the front, which cupped very quickly. This a rear with 12,000 miles after riding 90/10

The second time I used one on the 660 I only got 6000 miles from the rear and the same from the front from riding 60/40

On the wr250r I got 4000 miles from a rear riding 80-90% offroad.

On the DR650 again around 6000 miles riding around 30% offroad shown below on the right.

Personal Opinion – would buy again because of the low price, only if I knew I was riding 50/50 maximum on good dry trails, not for hardcore offroad

 

My KTM 625sxc

 

I was heading to Russia from Vegas so I knew I’d change tires before I left the US or Canada so I tried a combination that I’d heard good things about from a lot of riders. Pirelli MT21 10/90 front and MT43 rear

This combination just plain and simple works on lighter bikes, I rode with it in mud, sand, gravel, rocks, snow, and pavement. The rear clears itself of mud amazingly well and grips with everything, the front is very sure-footed. Only downfall the wear on the rear was quick, 2500 miles and it was done. Most riders I speak with don’t even get close to that number because its a trails tire. This would be a perfect combination for the TAT or any BDR’s

Personal Opinion – I would 100% buy this combination again for local rides up to a month or so

My next tire choice for the KTM was Heidenau K60 Scout

The reason I picked this 50/50 tire was that I was headed to Canada, South Korea and then Russia where I knew initially had a lot of pavement to cover before I hit the dirt. The Scout is a good tire on dry pavement and on well-graded roads, when new the rear hooks up well but once it wears about 30% then the grip reduces dramatically. The front is terrible off road giving minimal grip at best. In the rain on the pavement on a cold day, it can be treacherous due to the extremely hard compound its made from for longevity.

Personal Opinion – I would 100% buy the K60 Scout again if I knew I was going to be riding only 20-30% dirt

My next tire for the KTM was the Mitas E09 20/80

This is an expensive tire in the US but in Europe, it is a bargain and wears like steel, I rode this tire across Russia, Mongolia, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan in some terrible conditions and it never failed me in any terrain I tried it on.

The photo below on a Kyrgyzstan mountain pass, the tire has around 5000 miles from 80% offroad and still around 40% tread left

I have also tried the Mitas C17 front but didn’t find the grip any better but the wear was quicker.

Personal Opinion – I would 100% buy the Mitas E09 again

 

Next bike, Honda XR650R, what a bike, wish I’d never sold it!

On the BRP I used Dunlop 606 10/90

I used this tire about 95% offroad, it handled perfectly in every terrain

Personal Opinion – I would 100% buy the Dunlop 606 again.

 

Next bike WR250R

Once again the Dunlop 606 10/90, I rode the TAT and it was the perfect tire for any terrain, wear was decent, the tire is affordable so that makes it a good choice, also would be great for BDR’s

Personal Opinion – I would 100% buy the Dunlop 606 again.

 

 

Next bike Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere.

This bike has been ridden around 90/10, the main tire I have used has been the Heideau K60 Scout. The only downfall to this tire as mentioned earlier is if its cold and wet, it has a certain pucker factor, besides that its a great tire, long lasting for primarily road use.

Rear tire wear is good, always 11,000 miles + and around 16-20,000 miles from the front

11,806 miles

14,540 miles

Personal Opinion – I would 100% buy the Heidenau K60 Scout again.

 

Other tires I have used on the S10 have been a Shinko 705 front 80/20, it had good wear and grip but after about 40% wear it became noisy. It was used 100% on pavement and offered good grip.

Related image

 

Personal Opinion – I would buy the Shinko 705 front again only as an alternative if, the Scout it wasn’t available.

 

DR650

We have tried a few different option on our DR’s. First, we tried the Kenda K760 Trackmaster

This tire is amazing that it’s street legal, when you see how big the knobs are in the flesh you’ll understand.

It gives exceptional grip, we rode with these around 90% offroad, the tire is confidence inspiring in all conditions, a low price point but reasonably quick wear characteristics. Rear tires were completely worn at around 4000 miles, but good grip had ceased at around 3500 miles.

Personal Opinion – I would buy 100% the Kenda 760 Trackmaster tires, the price is right, but only for domestic riding because wear is too quick.

 

Mitas E07 rear

E07 on left with 6000 miles wear

The E07 is expensive in the US and cheap in Europe, at 6000 miles it still has a lot of tread left but not much grip due to the center stripe. If you ride the majority of the time on pavement then this is a good alternative to the Heidenau and a similar price point.

If you mostly ride offroad then at mid wear you will be very disappointed. In the US you can buy two Trackmasters for the same price as one E07 to do the same distance, the two Kendas will give you more grip for longer.

Personal Opinion – I would buy 100% the Mitas E07 if I was riding 80/20, if I was riding more than 50/50 I would go to the E09 for more grip for longer from the same company

Metzeler MC360 mid hard – front

We only used the front because they don’t make a 17″ rear. The 21″ front is nothing short of amazing. Great grip and extremely long life for a knobby tire

At 5000 miles

Personal Opinion – I would buy 100% the Metzeler 360 Mid-hard if I was riding 60/40 or more.

 

We matched the MC360 up with the Metzeler Karoo 3 on the rear. Metzeler describes it as a 70/30 and it feels great on pavement, but offroad it feels a lot more than a 30% tire. From the first day to the last this tire digs a trench and is great on hard pack and light sand.

 

***Tire changing in Newfoundland

At 8700 miles, from riding on pavement, dirt, gravel, sand and in the Rockies, the Karoo3 still has around 15% life left

Personal Opinion – I would buy 100% the Metzeler Karoo3 if I was riding 60/40 or more.

 

The new kid on the block – MotoZ Tractionator GPS – above and below

This might be a company and a tire you haven’t heard of, but you will. They are from Australia and are giving Heidenau and Mitas a run for their money.

On and off the road they just feel better than the other two…especially on the road it feels like a 100% street tire. In light dirt and graded stuff, they hook up. The biggest difference is in the wet, the Heidenau and Mitas let you know that they aren’t there for you 100%, but the MotoZ does.

These are the tires we are running right now on our two DR650’s and we have ridden on pavement, graded dirt, dirt, rocks, sand, bulldust, light snow/ ice and torrential rain and not once have I had to think about the tires…they just do what you want them to do.

To date we have 4000 miles on the set, the rear still has more tread left than a Heidenau or Mitas comes with, and the front shows virtually zero wear!

Personal Opinion – I would buy 100% the MotoZ Tractionator GPS, for long distance national or international travel where I was going to ride 50/50 or less 

 

18 Comments

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  1. -Heard of three international overlanders in the last months with only 2000km-3000km with Motoz on big dualies getting serious cracks and had to replace them. Tyre pressures were to spec, riding slow so nothing out of the ordinary. Would rather opt for something else than Motoz and until they fixed that flaw.
    -K60’s I would rather avoid if possible, if only option then okay. But they went backwards with that strip in teh middle and the bikes aqua plain easy. Compound is too hard and although good mileage it sacrifice grip. The k60 front is rubbish to say the least.
    -Mitas eo7 is a good compromise for overlanding and long term travel. Even had them in river bed sand worn down and they were still doing kay.
    -TKC80 is an overpriced BMW fan boy’s choice.
    -Dunlop 606 is sweet in sand and a good choice for sub 650cc bikes.
    just my 2c 😀
    Nice post Paul!

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    • I’ve seen that about big bikes and the MotoZ, it can be mounted in either direction, maybe one direction doesn’t suit the big bikes. For the 650 they are great amazing grip in most terrain, minimal wear…I have no complints at all so far.

      K60 is a dry weather street tire, E07 pretty much the same

      I wish you could by Mitas for the price they sell in Europe

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      • We have been using eo7 Mitas in South Africa on all sizes of adv bikes and now on our 3rd set through rain, asphalt, sand, whatever and they do akay. Forsure they are not the best at everything but between the current crop of adv 5/50 bikes they do a great job.
        Unfortunately your choices when travelling are very limited so in the USA sure, pick a nice knobby and so some miles, but when you get to where we are now and in Africa you want something that can gives miles and at least work in most conditions. In Peru now we can’t get Mitas or K60’s and have to opt for TKC80’s at 160us per tyre or some other rubbish.
        It is easy in Eu, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, Aus and the USA. When out of those countries things get interesting.

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      • Yeah for sure, getting comments on FB and I’m just letting guys know its what we find available when we need them

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      • I mounted the GPS on my KTM 1190 in the off road direction, have about 12000km on them with no issues at all. You nailed the review on them as that is exactly what I think of them. My setup with me on it weighs in at around 400kg. 70/30 split with the off road being in really sharp mountain rock. I’m really heavy on the acceleration, so the wear is what is should be given the amount of tire spin I experience.
        The failures I’ve heard of were on the tractionator adventure tires. Not the GPS.

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  2. Forgot to mention, the Karoo3 somehow lasted on my HP2 for around 6000km but Suzie and Kelvin on Dr650’s fitted them 4000km odd ago and they are done, finish. So for overland long term trips way too expensive and with low miles.

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  3. Hi Paul, good info on tire choices. Have you tried the Mefo Explorer? I ran a set on a KLR650 a few years ago for about 2000 miles before selling the bike. They were very good on pavement and seemed to work as well off-road as any compromise tire. I recently put a set on my DR650 but have only done a few hundred miles. No problems so far.

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    • All the tires we’ve used are what has been available to us when we need them and wherever we are. I know of that tire, but have never seen one in person at a shop when tires are needed…I’ll look out for it, thx

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  4. Thanks for the tire testing! Gonna try the K60 Scout soon. Happy trails.

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  5. Out of curiosity how does the Motoz GPS front handle the dirt, I plan to do some slow single track teaching my wife to ride (faster when she’s taking a break) I am stuck between the Motoz GPS, Motoz ADV, and the Karoo 3. I also do a 104 mile a day slab commute. I can and do spoon my own tires in my shop if that impacts any suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • it depends on what you are calling dirt, do you mean graded fire road type stuff or full on muddy conditions? The GPS is really a more road oriented tire, they call it a 50/50 and i would say its close, has a good feel but i think if you added a knobby at the front for dirt you would like the rear better in loser conditions, if that makes sense.

      The ADV matched pair would be a good all-around set for sure and give about 75% or less of the life as the GPS, the Karoo3 with a knobby front, I matched it with an MC360 hard and it was a great combination.

      I think if she is a new rider I would use a heavy knobby front to help avoid washouts, help grip and boost her confidence, its easier to control a loose rear as opposed to a loose front as a newer rider.

      As for mounting I have never had a problem mounting any tire that I’d shown in the shop or in the field, the Mitas Dakar tires were probably the hardest, but still went on ok with hand tools only.

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      • Shes on a XR100 with some gnarly knobbies. She wants a XT250 at some point but I figure before the road she should learn how to handle a bike. For dirt it will be mostly dry loamy single track stuff. I do not think for the most part we will go play in the mud too much maybe some sand sections but really just good old Texas black clay and red dirt. I currently use the Shinko 804/805 but I am not impressed with the preponderance of sideways movement. Think any of the rears could last at least 6k miles on an Africa Twin? For front I was thinking ADV or TKC80 anyway as I guess the Karoo 3 front is not quite knobby grip in the front.

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      • for where you are riding the rear karoo3 will be a good choice, a heavier knobby front would definitly be better than the karoo3 as i don’t think it will give the ‘feel’ you are looking for as it’s more road biased

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      • Think a karoo 3 will last +5000 miles on the rear?

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      • the photo of the Karoo3 next to the Motoz has 8500 miles on it with tread left

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  6. I am just about to put a set of Motoz Tractionator Desert H/T’s on my 990 for racing. Can’t wait! 🙂

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