What's the best desert tire?

Okay desert rats, what the best bang for the buck tire you've tried? On the old XR600 I was partial to the perelli MT21s. Seem to last about 1200-1500 miles. I saw in the recent dirt rider mag that some racers where using a 140/90 michelin desert tire (oct, pg 128). Any body know the designation for the mich?

I'm looking for something stiff to match up with my new Moose bib-mousse in order to minimize heat build up.

Also needing some good poop on what's the optimum tire pressure for desert riding and where's the best deals on tires.

Personally I run the S-12 140-80 and get 1000 miles on it. They work for me and I get then on sale from time to time $49.95 so I grab a hand full. I just payed $68 for one this week end.

Before that I ran the Michelin Baja 140-80 and that has a stiff side wall not soft like the S-12. It also cost about $90. Real hard core desert tire but not as good in the sand as the S-12. I know some of the tour groups run Dunlop desert tires 120-100 and I have run them also but I like Michelin better for the rear.

Now front tires I like the M-12 or Dunlop 756 which I just put on the XR yesterday.

Tire pressure, that's a good one. Keep in mind I run soft tires so I run higher tire pressures than other people with stiff side walls. Because of speed and rocks I run 20-24 psi in the front and 18 in the rear with heavy tubes. I like a firm front end, and not sliping on rocks in turns. I keep enough pressure to keep for getting pinch flats or bending my rims even more.

I just went through a Dunlop D739AT 120/100 on my XR600. I don't know about mileage, but after 10-12 good rides, it's pretty well gone. I'm trying a D606 next to see if the tradeoff is acceptable of mileage for grip. I think it's DOT legal, even though that really isn't a consideration for me.

I've read reviews of the Kenda Carlsbad that sounded favorable. Has anyone out there tried one on a big XR?

I mostly ride at Ocotillo Wells and have been recently going out by Landers ( a little cooler there). I contacted Dunlop to get the best tire set up. They recommend the 739's in the stock tire size. I've been pretty satisfied with my stock tires, 739 in the front and a 639 (or so) in the back. I'm due for new and going to go with 739's fr & bk. I ride with another Pig Rider and he raves about his Bridgstone "Gritty" on the rear and a Pirelli in the front (Recomended by Baja Designs). I get that Honda mag that you get when you buy a new bike. Can't remember the name (short attention span, something to do with the 70's!) :) Saw a Dunlop ad there stating that Johnny Cambell is using a 739 in the back and the dual sport in the front! Hmmmm....interesting....Peace & Out

I have switched around a bit and settled on the Bridgestone (Gritty) ED 78 rear and Dunlop 739 (four stroke designation - it makes a big difference) for trail riding So Cal mountains and desert .



The Gritty does look promising. I think I'll give it a try and mate it up with my new Moose 1/2 bib mousse. I'll be replacing the Dunlop 606 which has held out okay. It's a 3-ply and I was running 16-18 psi, but had some knobs chunking off on the outer edges.

Anybody got a data on the best source to buy on the West Coast? I see it's selling for about $70.

Here's some info from Bridgestone's tire site on the ED 78:

-Excellent for intermediate to hard terrain

-Features rim protector

-Heavy duty reinforced construction for anti-puncture and cut resistance.

-Outstanding durability for the most punishing terrain

Here's a picture http://www.tiresunlimited.com/images/bridgestone/ED77_78.jpg

[ September 24, 2002, 11:31 PM: Message edited by: FooBarr ]



Pirelli MT18 @ 18 PSI

Dunlop 902F or 606 @ 16 PSI


Pirelli MT18 or MT21 @ 16 PSI

Dunlop K695E Desert AT @ 16 PSI

The killer rear tire (I think) is the Metzler Safari RR tire (Karoo), if you can get them. The tread is a little weak for sand but will last forever. Run it at 14 PSI.

These suggestions are for long hard events with minium risk.

I would not use a foam tube in the rear unless you are a slow old rider like me. LOL.

They build up to much heat and will fail. Again this is ment for long hard riding such as BITD or Score racing.

Foobar, I only ride desert. As far as im concerned the best all around tire for traction and ware is the 739at no question. Then I'de take the IRC-M5B but isnt a durable as the dunlop. The 606 and MT21 are fantastic tires too but in my opinion they're not very aggresive for deep sand. Give the 739AT a try (and have someone put it on for you) it has a really stiff carcus (s?) that makes it a pain to mount. Good luck, DL

My pick for the rear would be the Dunlop 739 Desert AT. Super aggressive but not DOT approved and it doesnt last very long. Just tried the Dunlop D606. I thought it was a decent tire but nothing to write home about. A major plus would be its DOT approved and last for a while. Most DOT tires feel the same to me for some reason. Front would be the Dunlop k490 or 739. Air pressure would be in the 13.5 to 14 range at most. Would run lower pressure but i'm not smooth enough at the higher speeds. Bent rims are a fact of life at any pressure. Total traction equals having more fun. :)


I believe Craparral shows the ED78 on sale for about $56.00 in their ad in the back of Dirt Rider. I usually pay about $70.00 delievered from mxsouth.com to avoid dealing with the idiots and a-holes at Craparral.


Try Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Mail Order. They get the stuff out pronto burger and they have great pricing & customer service.

I used to run the Dunlop 739AT at 12psi on my KTM 520 EXC. Pretty good traction, wear was decent. One day while in Montclair Yamaha a guy says "try the Bridgestone gritty ED 78 rear. Paul Krause used ONE in the Vegas to Reno race and it looked like it had only been trail ridden". I tried it, at the normal 12 psi. It was the slipperiest tire I had ever ridden. It became known as the gritless ED. I took the pressure up to 17 and found a whole different tire. Not bad at 17. Then A friend bought a TM 300 E, It came stock with MT-18s. He figured he'd break in the bike and then swap the tires. The tires were awsome. Great wear, great traction, STIFF sidewalls for the rocky desert. I'm sold forever on the MT-18 now. We used them on the KX-500 we ran in the Nevada 2000, and never had a problem.

[ September 25, 2002, 07:05 PM: Message edited by: YZ400Court ]


Running the Pirelli MT18 in the front at 14 lbs. and an oversized (120x100x18) Bridgestone Gritty ED78 at 13 lbs. in the back. Ride the desert with Rockatt88 and noticed a difference in grabbing power in the back and more bite in the sand in the front. Dunlops are good but where out quick. Of course, if you are pulling a continuous wheelstand you won't need a front tire.

Well, I actually went with the Michelin Bajas. Not that they're the tire most recommended, it was more for the fact I picked some up at the Chaparral sidewalk sale for $60 OTD. The sale was a vast improvement from the last time I went in 98. Since then they expanded it from the parking lot to the actual street behind the store, and now you can actually walk around and not be trampled. Got some good deals, definitely worth the road trip from Vegas.

I plan to install the tire and Moose mousse for a 700-mile Death Valley ride and see how they do. Now I just need to find the tire lube to grease the mousse with.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now