Adventure Bike Tires

For adventure bikes you might be looking for general off-road performance, sand performance or asphalt / road performance, and at the end of the day you can't have it all. Think about the motorcycle you've riding and the terrain you're looking to get the best result from and you should be able to fit some tires that give you the best overall result – otherwise known as the best compromise.

If you're like me, you might get your kicks from twisty road sections as much as you do in the dirt, so choosing a tire that provides consistent grip on the tarmac might be important. Ir, like some riders, you might want a tire that just lasts, at all costs. That theory sounds good, but I know of many riders who have dropped their motorcycle in the wet with budget 'long-lasting' tires fitted. Some riders are so tight I'm sure they'd consider any tire as long it's cheap.

Mach tires to your motorcycle's strengths and the type of riding you do most.
The motorcycle you ride probably rounds down the choice in some ways. For instance, if you're on a dual-sport/enduro machine, chances are you're “normally” not looking for sportsbike tires. And if you're riding a bigger adventure bike, chances are you might want a good mix of on- and off-road performance.

I do see some riders fitting budget tires to non-budget motorcycles and it does worry me a bit, especially when it comes to riding on wet asphalt or concrete roads. Almost always, these budget/high-mileage tires don't grip on the road like most of the higher quality, brand-name tires. Anytime someone on a twin-cylinder adventure bike fitted with traction control tells me they came off on the tarmac in the rain I ask the question, budget tires on the motorcycle. Generally they look at me shocked, like, 'How did he know that?' Again, it really comes down to common sense. Saving money on tires can end up costing you a lot more than that. But if you're happy with the longer-lasting cheaper rubber just be aware of the possible issues on wet roads and you'll hopefully avoid any problems.

The other issue I've seen with the budget tires is with tubeless wheels. Sometimes they don't seal at the bead and can have very slow leaks, so you have to check and top up your tire pressures a but more.

I've had some experience on both knobbies and dual-purpose tires, but only the brand-name product (Pirelli,Continental, Michelin and Metzeler mainly) and the only thing I can say is, it's very surprising how well a knobby like a TKC80 or Karoo 3 can work on the tarmac. And how equally surprisingly well a dual-purpose tire like a Metzeler Tourance or Michelin Anakee can work in the dirt. There are many times riding off-road, wet or dry, where the dual-purpose tire actually hooks up better then a knobby. It goes against what many people believe, but it happens.

It's true that most of the time a knobby will provide better confidence off-road and the dual-purpose tire will work better and last long on the road. That's just common sense. So try different tires, see how they work for you and pick something that suits the type of riding you do the most.

I wish I got some money for everyone who has asked me, 'What pressure do you run?'

It's a fair enough question, but at the end of the day there's no magic number. It all comes down to some pretty basic facts.

Running higher pressures provides the following advantages.
  • A reduced chance of pinch flats on tubed wheels,
  • A reduced chance of rim damage from impacts,
  • It promotes more even tire wear,
  • It possible offers better fuel economy.
There are a few disadvantages, too. Higher pressures may reduce grip levels (but not as often or as much as people would think).

On the other hand, lower pressures offer better deep-sand control and possibly more general grip levels. Some of the disadvantages include a higher chance of flats, rim damage and tire-wear issues.

I'm aware some riders are so concerned about tire pressures that they'll change them regularly to suit different conditions. Maybe hard pack versus mud, for instance, or road versus dirt. That seems a bit over the top. The only time I drop pressures is for long sections of deep sand, never for wet versus dry or gravel versus road. If I know I'm going to ride in deep, sandy conditions for more than a couple of hours I'll start to consider dropping pressures, but not for one or two kilometers of sand – unless I'm having a few troubles due to the conditions of the loading on the motorcycle. I'm more than happy to run full pressure in moderately sandy conditions, or very low pressure on asphalt for a short distance until I hit a servo to pump them up. The key here is to be aware of your pressures and ride accordingly and the sand changes to hard pack. You need to slow down, ride smooth and absorb impacts or you'll get a flat or trash you rims.

Some modern adventure bikes come with tubeless wheels while most come with tubed, and I can tell you that almost all of the time it's much easier to repair a flat on a tubeless wheel, especially if your motorcycle is fitted with a tire-pressure warning system and tells you pressures are dropping very early on. Once you know there's an issue it's just a matter of popping the motorcycle on the centerstand, find the problem, remove the object if it's still there, then plug it and pump it up. Nine times of of 10 this doesn't mean removing the wheel, and if you're lucky it probably won't have fully deflated so it'll be easy to pump up. If you're unlucky and have slashed the tire worse than a plug will repair, you may have to remove the wheel and tube it. That happened to me for the first time ever two years ago.Tag: Adventure-Bike Tires Dual-Purpose Dual-Sport Off-Road Enduro Knobby-Tires Road-Tires
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