Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In Search of the Right Tires

The Triumph Tiger 800XC is probably the best all around Adventure Bike on the market. Its does everything it was designed to do reasonably well and some things superbly. I use my Tiger as a all around machine and for my daily transportation needs. That includes my daily commute which means i put 100 miles a day.  I need tires that can last on freeway commutes but still have enough tread for off roading on the weekend rides and other adventure rides in between. In other words i need a tire that is designed like the bike itself, It needs to perform on and off road and needs to last. It could perform outstanding but if i can't get the mileage its a bust.

I've put 26K on the Tiger now and for most of those miles have been clocked on Full Bore M40's. They preform reasonably well both on dirt and on pavement. I get between 8 to 9K from the front and about 6K out of the rear but have gotten as much as 7K. The problem is the front tire in off road wet muddy conditions. Not something i see that much of in Southern California but occasionally i do have to cross a mud hole but when i do it can be a little scary!! The mud monster has a way of grabbing that front fullbore and yanking it to the side. A multi-purpose tire like the Full Bore is like a ADV bike which means its a compromise.  Its never going to be as good on dirt as a full knobby like a TKC 80 or as good on the road as a road tire but it should do reasonably well on both. At $180 for both the front and rear they are a bargain. For example the Hiedenau K60 scout is $180 just for the back.

I read on some of the forums about some riders using a Hiedneou K60 scout on the rear and a TKC 80 on the front calling it a "mullet". The idea is to get a more aggressive front to prevent that side slippage while riding in the soft stuff but it takes advantage of the long lasting K60 rear. I read a recent review of the Kenda Big Block  on ADV Moto ( The back tire got bad reviews for wear but they reviewed the front much better. This made me decide to try a knobby on the front on my recent Southern Sierra Adventure ride while sticking with the trusty Full Bore for the rear. This would be my budget version of the mullet idea.

I certainly liked the look of the Kenda Big Block on the front. That aggressive tread just looked cool for sure. It was cheap as well going for about 80 bucks for a front tire. Here in Southern California I usually order my tires from They ship fast and don't charge for shipping.  I ordered the Big Block and had a local shop put it on. 

At freeway speeds i didn't notice any buzzing but i did notice a wierd sensation a couple times where it felt like it was going to slip out from under me. It got my attention quickly!! After a couple days of riding that went away. On the Southern Sierra ADV Route ride it performed well in the dirt and i was thinking i found the right tire. On the last couple days of slabbing down the 395 i took a look at it in Big Bear and was surprised to see how much wear it had. After being back from the ride a week or so doing my normal commute i was shocked how much it wore down. A freeway speeds the thing just wears off to the point you can see the difference everyday!! At 3200 miles it was done. So disappointing.

Now compare that to my Full Bore M40 rear. Its just getting started and still looks great. I still have a good 3,000 or more to go on my Full Bore rear. I decided to give the K60 scout a try on the front and see how it does. I know its not going to do as well as a knobby but it no tread is left on the knobby by the weekend end how can that help? has a sale on the K60 scout front for 85 bucks so i went ahead and ordered it.

At 85 bucks its just a little more expensive that the Kenda big block. Riders are reporting getting 10K from it and that sounds like something i can live with. I'll keep you all posted on what i think of the K60 as a general ADV tire as more miles stack up on it.