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Dirt Rider magazine DOT tire buying Guide

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I thought this article (Dirt Rider March, 2013) would be a worth while read for everyone to look at and share opinions.  I know everyone has different perspectives on tires but the writers at these magazines do get to try a lot of different tires.  I'm guessing some of there opinions are formed from the marketing brochures but a lot of it comes from experience.  After reading the article I might try the Metzeler Six Day Extreme tires on my DRZ400.

I tried scanning the article but it was hard to read, so I found a web page where someone else had taken the time to type it.

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http://browsemags.com/dirt-rider-march-1-2013/553-dot-tire-buyer’s-guide.html

 

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WHEN DIRT AND ASPHALT MEET BIG BIKES

Story By Jimmy Lewis

Photo By Adam Booth

Adventure bikes are big machines and riders demand that they perform both on the dirt and on the road, so choosing a tire that can do both is ideal. In addition, some of these big machines see only a little dirt time, so an aggressive tire for off-road isn’t always the best and will wear out quickly on the pavement. Whatever your dirt-to-street preference, read on to find out which tire suits your adventure needs.

DUNLOP

D606

Dunlop’s long-wearing 606 has a dedicated following, especially the front tire on heavier bikes. In fact, a lot of riders prefer to pair it with Dunlop’s 908 rear for long run rides. Both tires have a consistent bite in all conditions of dirt, and the 606 doesn’t degrade as much as most tires since it isn’t that strong to begin with. The high point is durability; the weakness is wandering in sand. The 606 is most comparable to the Pirelli MT 21 and nearly identical in performance. That means this is a very true dirt-focused DOT tire.

KENDA

BIG BLOCK

The Big Block is direct competition with the Continental TKC 80, and it is very close yet very different. The Kenda is a little off in durability and on-road feel, where the tire wanders on wavy pavement and in turns, especially when the tire is new. Off-road the tire’s traction is just as good as the TKC. Where the Big Block shines is on washboard roads with superb bump compliance, actually aiding the suspension on every bike we tested them on. To combat durability, Kenda has since beefed up block sizing on the center knobbies.

CONTINENTAL

TKC 80

The standard for off-road riding adventure tires that have to perform on road as well as off is the TKC 80. Although criticized for its on-road life span by highway types, there is no tire that is as 50/50 capable, especially on the twin-cylinder machines they are built for, most notably the BMW GS. The TKCs have a very solid feel on the pavement that blows away any other open-block design, but also offer a predictable and consistent bite off-road, even if it isn’t super grabby like a true knobby. If you ride a really big bike in the dirt, consider these a necessary safety precaution.

DUNLOP

908 RALLY RAID

The 908 Rally Raid was designed for high-horsepower dirt riding, and it delivers a very good match of durability and performance when used on the right bikes. The unique “Chevy” center block adds life, especially when ridden on-road, while the traction lost off-road is minimal and only felt when in a straight line. The side bite of the rear is very good, but you have to remember it can get loose when you stand it back up while sliding. The front is too aggressive for any real street use and is pretty stiff, so it only works properly on a very heavy dirt bike — then it performs just like an off-road–only knobby. Side knob chunking on the front was common.

KENDA

PARKER DT

The Parker is a multi-directional tire designed for hard and intermediate terrain, and it really shines in hardpack with loose or sandy soil on top. The bite is strong and consistent with a compound that seeks traction when needed. We preferred to run with the intermediate direction on the rear and the hard direction on the front because the braking performance was excellent (best in test) in those directions with the bike tracking very straight. The front tire actually mushrooms more than it wears, which was strange, but considering the traction the durability was excellent.

METZELER

KAROO 2(T) AND MCE KAROO (T)

The Karoo is Metzeler’s entry into long-wearing tires for big bikes for those who seek more on-road stick and durability over dirt performance from a 50/50 open-block tire. The large block lacks outright traction and suffers on bite but for the right rider (easier on the throttle) this isn’t a concern, yet the way we tested and rode off-road the durability suffered due to all the spinning. For us the small gain off-road, compared to the TKC or Big Block, overall performance wasn’t enough to justify the trade-off. The front was excellent on-road but really suffered in soft or muddy conditions.

METZELER

KAROO AND KAROO 2

Designed for rally and Baja racing, the Karoo is a tough tire that packs durability and ruggedness and tries as hard as it can to keep the traction high. As a bigger rear tire it bites good when new, then falls off and lasts forever in the slick and spinning environment that type of desert racing can be, lasting a long time and protecting from flats. It floats well in sand but gets a little loose when sliding. The front’s traction is very mediocre, yet it wears long and doesn’t like wet or sandy conditions. The on-road ride is vibration-intensive compared to the bigger-block tires, and street traction is poor. We would pair the rear with another tire, like the Pirelli MT 21.

PIRELLI

MT 21

If we were to pick a standard for a dual-purpose tire that had to work everywhere (including some on-road), have enough off-road traction to not suffer much and last forever with a consistent and predictable performance through the life of the tire, the MT 21 is that benchmark. It is never great at anything, but wrapped all together as a package, front and rear, this set is hard to beat for your license plate-wearing dirt bike.

SCORPION

PRO FIM AND RALLY MT18

As a dirt-focused pair of tires, this mismatched-in-name set (there isn’t a DOT MT18 front) is good for a dirt lover needing durable and high-performance tires that start off high and remain consistent for the life of the tire. They work better on harder dirt and like more abusive and rocky riding. The rear MT18 takes a licking and keeps on grabbing, and works exceptionally in the sand during the first part of its life. Even though the knobs chunk more than others, the performance doesn’t suffer.

METZELER

SIX DAYS EXTREME

These were the lightest tires in this comparison. The SDEs were the traction kings in loam or good dirt conditions, giving up nothing to any dirt tire and even showing them a thing or two in grass track or EnduroCross situations. The performance stays high as they wear compared to others, but the carcass of the tire (mostly the front) often gives out before the knobs seem to. The Six Days are very tunable with pressure. If you need to race an enduro on a DOT tire, use these. Sure they squirmed on-road, but we didn’t care.

PIRELLI

PRO FIM

Nearly identical looking to the Metzeler Six Days Extreme, the Pro FIM acts like a stiffer and harder tire built from a slightly harder rubber. It didn’t seem to last much longer than the Six Days (the rear the same, the front carcass definitely longer) as the Pirelli chunked on rocks more than the Metzeler did. Traction was excellent in this comparison except on the hard terrain with loose stuff on top where it got loose a little easy. It did perform slightly better on-road for those who are concerned.

SCORPION

RALLY

A specific rally racing tire set, the Rallys are tough and heavy. The rear has decent bite when new but falls off quickly as the edges go away, then it seems like the rear tire never wears, even when being abused and spinning. As the side knobs on the rear wear, the sliding slowly becomes less consistent. The front has better bite when new, but there was a quick drop-off in performance at about 1,200 miles when the second row rounded. These tires laugh at hitting rocks.

 

 

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Very difficult to find them in the states but the Goldentyre GT 216 is also a awesome DS, DOT approved tire. Great grip, excellent wear but the price can be quite expensive. I hear around $150 for one in the USA...

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IMO the Metzeler Six Days Extreme are terrible, I took them off my GasGas after the first ride.

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Some of the best DS, all around tires are Motoz's. The Tractionator IT's are DOT approved. They are harder to find so I buy in multi-sets.

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IMO the Metzeler Six Days Extreme are terrible, I took them off my GasGas after the first ride.

Where do you ride?  I'm assuming with the GasGas you are comparing them to Non-DOT tires.

On what kind of terrain a person rides on and what type of bike are very important considerations.  What Works well on a BMW GS or V-strom is not always going to work well on a Super Sherpa.  So just saying, "Blank" Tire is the best in the world isn't very helpful because maybe you ride your Drz400 on the Hwy all the time or maybe you use it as a woods bike.

 

 

New set of Parker DT's on my Beta 520, very happy so far in the Sierra mountains, Karoos where horrible.

Sounds like your experience is in agreement with Dirt Rider.

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Some of the best DS, all around tires are Motoz's. The Tractionator IT's are DOT approved. They are harder to find so I buy in multi-sets.

Really, you honestly could not pay me to run a MotoZ!

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Really, you honestly could not pay me to run a MotoZ!

Why?  Have you tried them?  A lot of people like them.  What kind of riding do you do?

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Where do you ride?  I'm assuming with the GasGas you are comparing them to Non-DOT tires.

On what kind of terrain a person rides on and what type of bike are very important considerations.  What Works well on a BMW GS or V-strom is not always going to work well on a Super Sherpa.  So just saying, "Blank" Tire is the best in the world isn't very helpful because maybe you ride your Drz400 on the Hwy all the time or maybe you use it as a woods bike.

 

You never said what you did with your DRZ, I know people who ride them mostly offroad and others who spend most of the time on road. My GasGas is plated but I certainly wouldn't ride it far. I do have a plated WR450 that I use as a dualsport and I don't plan on putting the take off six days on it. I run DOT tires on it, Scorpion Pro front and MT43 rear. Our terrain has everything from rocks, routes, sand, and red clay, usually somewhat wet.

For a true dualsport tire the Shinko244, kenda 270 tires are hard to beat if you actually ride on the road much. I know a guy who runs them most of the time and they have surprised me, plus they wear good.

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Really, you honestly could not pay me to run a MotoZ!

 

Did you try them?  If you tried them and don't like it I can understand but I like them for where I ride. I'm not sure about the comparison on the street though. I've only been riding in the trail and they work well here. I haven't tried the goldentyre or mitas. They are very expensive here.

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Why? Have you tried them? A lot of people like them. What kind of riding do you do?

Hard tread compound combined with stiff carcass make for a useless tire in low grip situations. Rock that kinda tire down a fire road is asking for a early grave. Yes, I tired one for about 5hrs. I took it off and tossed it in the "never run that POS again" bin...... The same bin that has a MX51 front and Michelin S12 rear which is horrible on everything except deep gnarly mud...

As for riding.... Its pretty darn mixed. Anything for single track to baggin peaks to motocross to cross-country to pavement to fire roads. And yes, I ride a lot.....

As for my general opinion regarding tires, I have tried a lot but not everything. I'm not very picky when it comes to tires but at this point I always found a extremely good combo for everything.... I actually sent one of the tires I use to another member on TT today to try out....

Edited by originalmonk
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Hard tread compound combined with stiff carcass make for a useless tire in low grip situations. Rock that kinda tire down a fire road is asking for a early grave. Yes, I tired one for about 5hrs. I took it off and tossed it in the "never run that POS again" bin....

As for riding.... Its pretty darn mixed. Anything for single track to baggin peaks to motocross to cross-country to pavement to fire roads. And yes, I ride a lot.....

 

That's a quick assessment for a company that has a variety of stiffness and tread compounds and models of tires . I'm using the terrapactor ST that's light and has a soft sidewall and tread that cleans out and works well in the wet. I'm guessing you had the wrong tire for what you were riding. The tractionator is the one with the stiff heavy duty sidewall that's heavy also.. Then there's the IT or ST, Xcircuit etc.. and tire pressure coming to play.. What Motoz tire did you use?

 

http://www.brapoffroad.com/motoz/

Edited by hawaiidirtrider

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Hard tread compound combined with stiff carcass make for a useless tire in low grip situations. Rock that kinda tire down a fire road is asking for a early grave. Yes, I tired one for about 5hrs. I took it off and tossed it in the "never run that POS again" bin...... The same bin that has a MX51 front and Michelin S12 rear which is horrible on everything except deep gnarly mud...

As for riding.... Its pretty darn mixed. Anything for single track to baggin peaks to motocross to cross-country to pavement to fire roads. And yes, I ride a lot.....

As for my general opinion regarding tires, I have tried a lot but not everything. I'm not very picky when it comes to tires but at this point I always found a extremely good combo for everything.... I actually sent one of the tires I use to another member on TT today to try out....

I have not found this at all. I ride fire roads and pavement without any issue at all. I run hard pack, rocks, roots and loose sand/top soil/moss, still works great. Only condition I find these tires don't like is sticky clay, what tire likes this stuff?? The thing I like about these Motoz tires are for DS riding, they last long and gives predictable traction though out the life. Stiff side walls,,, YES and you need to run the tires at 10 psi otherwise the wheel will deflect and that early grave issues you had. Hard compound?? if you had hard compound model it sure was otherwise they are not any harder then a standard IT tire. I prefer the X-circuit tires over the Tractionators IT because of the stiffer sidewall and they seemed to have better tread for all around riding but they are not DOT approved. My first set of X-circuit tires, I ran my rear at 0psi (leaky valve stem) for 35 miles and didn't notice other than great traction. Stiff side walls reduces pinch flats!

 

Tires are like handlebars, all personal preference and different riding conditions with suspension and set-up plays a roll in like or hate impressions.

Edited by weantright

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Their description of the 606, which has been my favorite seems about right. The review of the MT21 which I'm currently trying also seems about right.

I bought my current bike to ride dirt, which I can do with a few hundred feet of pavement to the USNF, and connect to 2 other USNF only crossing pavement, and ride all day. However, to ride new territory, without camping, I might ride 50-100 miles of pavement. The 606's do well, but the front can be squirrely off-road and cups on road. The MT21 so far feels better off-road and can be flipped to mitigate the wearing problem. Curious to see how it works out.

Mike

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 It was great to see an article like this, but they left out quite a few good ones...The IRC TR8 front is my favorite DOT tire for riding all surfaces so far, and it's considerably cheaper than most of the tires mentioned. It looks like a D606 got it on with a TKC80.

 

 The Kenda K760 rear is another DOT tire that could probably flat-out dirt-spank a few of the expensive tires mentioned. Then there is the Terra, AC10, T63, Michelin Desert, and even the lowly $61 Kenda K270.

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 It was great to see an article like this, but they left out quite a few good ones...The IRC TR8 front is my favorite DOT tire for riding all surfaces so far, and it's considerably cheaper than most of the tires mentioned. It looks like a D606 got it on with a TKC80.

 

 The Kenda K760 rear is another DOT tire that could probably flat-out dirt-spank a few of the expensive tires mentioned. Then there is the Terra, AC10, T63, Michelin Desert, and even the lowly $61 Kenda K270.

I'm sure the expensive tires are the ones they get for free to test out.  Someone has to pay for those free tires.

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Hard tread compound combined with stiff carcass make for a useless tire in low grip situations. Rock that kinda tire down a fire road is asking for a early grave. Yes, I tired one for about 5hrs. I took it off and tossed it in the "never run that POS again" bin...... The same bin that has a MX51 front and Michelin S12 rear which is horrible on everything except deep gnarly mud...

As for riding.... Its pretty darn mixed. Anything for single track to baggin peaks to motocross to cross-country to pavement to fire roads. And yes, I ride a lot.....

As for my general opinion regarding tires, I have tried a lot but not everything. I'm not very picky when it comes to tires but at this point I always found a extremely good combo for everything.... I actually sent one of the tires I use to another member on TT today to try out....

 

Yeh, here's a pic of it mounted up. Will give it the trial by fire tomorrow out in the woods..........lol.

 

Goldentyre005_zps8e6b4207.jpg

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Looking at those nice sharp edges, reminds me, my plan for next year is to use the rounded off knobs from my WR250F on my DRZ off road rims.  I have two sets of rims for the DRZ (street and offroad) and I hate riding new knobbies on the street even for a few miles.  I thought I'd just wear the rounded of knobbies down on the DRZ.  I have a stack of tires in the garage that have to get used someday.

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