by their very nature are a compromise. Tasked as they are with
providing traction and control on both paved surfaces/tarmac and
dirt/mud and snow, dual sport tires have a tough job. Knobby dual
sport tires are excellent in dirt, mud and snow. On pavement,
asphalt or tarmac they provide a rough ride, though. While more
street-biased tires provide a more comfortable ride on paved surfaces,
street-focused dual sport tires often give up significant performance
off road. Due to tighter tread block spacing, which cuts noise,
increases on-road traction and smooths the ride, road-focused
dual sport tires are usually what come equipped from the factory
when you buy a new dual sport.
When a new
dual sport is shipped, it's often shod with very street oriented
tires to ensure test rides are as smooth and quiet as possible.
There's also liability concerns, as aggressive, knobby dual sport
tires offer significantly less traction on paved surfaces, especially
when wet. You can easily spin a rear knobby dual sport tire on
even a tame 250cc bike.
your dual sport tires is probably the single biggest improvement
you can make to the performance of your bike off-road. This is
literally the single component which transfers power to the ground
and results in control and motion. When the going gets dirty,
muddy or snowy, aggressive dual sport tires will keep you moving
and steering. Less aggressive tires will pack up with dirt, mud
and snow and essentially render your tires slick on the surface.
The real genius in aggressive dual sport tires is their ability
to clear the dirt efficiently from between the tread blocks. Big
gaps ensure this happens while tight block spacing makes it much
harder. An added benefit of the aggressive dual sport tires is
the exposing of the tread block edges to the surface, giving them
aggressive works better off-road and non-aggressive works best
on paved surfaces.
If you want
to know what to buy for your bike, go talk to other riders. Discuss
riding styles and locations/terrain. Learn what they have and
why they like them. Riders are always willing to share their experiences
and by simply asking, you can make an informed decision. Just
be sure to check with a number of folks to at least get some variety
in the answers.
manufacturers, despite the limits they must work within, often
try to supply the right tire to match the most likely use their
bikes will be put to. A KLR 650 can get by shipping with a non-aggressive,
street focused dual sport tire because Kawasaki knows a couple
things. First off, they know most riders of that bike will stay
on road most of the time, so it's a reasonable trade off. They
also know that to hold the price point on the model as low as
possible, they need to ship the bike with a tire that meets a
price point for them.
with a KTM Enduro 690 R, which is little more than an off-road
race bike with street legal equipment added. When KTM ships these
bikes, cost is less of an issue and exceptional performance off-road
is of paramount importance. These bikes only ship with very aggressive,
dirt oriented dual sport tires because KTM knows their buyers
will use these bikes off-road more than on road.
Your job as
a dual sport owner is to determine what mix your riding entails.
Do you enjoy fire roads and ride 50 miles each way to reach them?
A tire which leans more towards the street side of the equation
will likely make you happiest. Are you only a few miles away from
tough single track trails? Or maybe you trailer your ride to a
local motocross track? Spooning on aggressive, dirt-oriented tires
will probably suit you just fine and you'll be very impressed
with your bike's performance. Along with setting up your suspension,
getting the tire choice right for you will ensure you get the
most out of your dual sport ride.
of rubber used in the construction of your dual sport tire plays
a huge role in not only traction, but also the lifespan of your
dual sport tires. Aggressive tires with sticky rubber often have
very short lifespans. The opposite is true, too. Harder compounds
last longer, but offer less on-road traction.
claim to have various ratings on their dual sport tires. 80/20,
70/30, 50/50 and so on. In truth, these are very general guidelines
and rather than thinking they are true measurements of a dual
sport tire's capabilities, you should concentrate on other factors
such as tread depth, block spacing and projected mileage.
Once on the
road, though, you need to realize that most tires will suffer
a very short life indeed when used off-road. Wear and tear from
dirt, rocks and sticks combine to grind down even the sturdiest
of tires. Hard or soft compound tires can easily suffer from rocks
slicing off chunks of rubber, too. Keep this in mine and adjust
your riding style to help reduce tire spin and save wear and tear
on that rear tire. Riding on shale is particularly damaging as
this sharp-edged, flat rock type can act as a blade and slice
sections of your tire with ease.
of dual sport tires from Dunlop:
D908 Rally Raid dual sport/desert tire
Dunlop describes these aggressive dual sport tires.
dual-sport D908RR is designed to handle severe racing and cross-country
conditions and provides exceptional durability and grip over
rocks, hard ground and pavement.
specifically to cope with the speed, horsepower and weight of
large displacement rally-type dual-sport machines.
D908RR is DOT-approved for road-legal use.
tread blocks yield exceptional traction and stability.
open space around the shoulder area provides ultimate traction
in sand and mud.
casing for excellent bump absorption and allows lower air pressures
for a larger footprint and increased traction.
D606 dual sport/off road tire
Dunlop describes these aggressive tires:
designed the D606 tire to be street-legal but with an emphasis
on aggressive off-road riding and great durability.
- A full-depth
tread pattern designed for rigorous off-road use yields excellent
traction on everything from hard-packed fire roads to soft single-track
- At the
same time, the D606's tread compound is engineered for good
highway durability and grip.
D607 dual sport/street tire
The Dunlop D607 dual sport/street tire is a great option for those
who'll spend more time on road than off road. It's obvious how
it's a more street oriented tire and will give up some dirt performance
for on-road performance. Such is the trade off of dual sport tires.
Here's what Dunlop has to say about these tires:
D607's tread pattern features wide, stable central blocks with
large grooves for superb water drainage and small grooves for
rear tire combines Jointless Band (JLB) construction with Dunlop
Carcass Tension Control System (CTCS) for enhanced cornering
and wear performance, excellent high-speed stability and exceptional
design maintains a consistent footprint at different lean angles
for improved feel and progressive steering response.
is the example shown above, other manufacturers such as Kenda,
offer excellent dual sport tires of their own. Avon,
also offer solid dual sport tire options. Just be certain whatever
tire you opt for, that it is DOT approved for street use. Off
road tires don't need to stand up to the same stresses as road
tires. Avoid using off road tires on the street.
their Trakmaster II dual sport tires as an affordable dual
sport tire biased at 80% off road and 20% on road.
The Kenda K270 dual sport is billed as an excellent replacement
for your OEM (original equipment manufacturer - what cam eon your
new dual sport, essentially) tires. With their 50%/50% dirt/road
rating, they offer enough dirt traction to perform decently off
road, while the tighter block spacing ensures a better on road
ride as well as extending the life of the tire.
For an more on-road focused tire, Kenda offers the K761 dual
sport, biased at 20% dirt and 80% road. Still, this tire should
hold up to light duty use on well groomed fire roads.
up their Scorpion Trail dual sport tires for light duty trail
More serious trail and dirt work can be better handled by the
Scorpion MT 60 dual sport tires. In truth, however, unless you
want to move over to their dirt-only range, Pirelli's dual sport
tagged offerings aren't that aggressive.
Bridgestone has a few offerings, spanning the breadth of the category
and covering most people's needs.
Michelin brings the Anakee 2 to the dual sport party. These tires
should be thought of as being about 80% road and 20% dirt. Still,
if your needs run more on road than off, Michelin brings typical
high quality to market along with increased tread life. They do
offer a much more aggressive rally raid tire, so check out their
site for more info on that option.
No matter the tire you choose for your dual sport, you should
look at them as a test. Will they meet your needs? Would you buy
them again or should your next set of tires be more or less aggressive?