Aftermarket Tires, Dunlop or Pirelli?

Just got finished christening my 98 L with some light trail riding on Sunday and now the issue for me is which tire will make this beast more dirt worthy? Right now I've got the stock Bridgestone TW's and they ain't cuttin' it.

Pirelli Rallycross MT 31's, or the Dunlop 606's, or....? And if you go up to a 5.10 rear, do you recommend dropping the front drive sprocket from 15 to 14? I think I know the answer, but I'm looking for some first hand accounts. I've heard the Dunlops wear more quickly.

Let me know what you guys think for both front and back meats. :)

I can't comment on the front sproket, but I can the rear! The factory gearing wasn't working out for me on the tight trails, it seemed to tall for me. I added one touth to the rear and am happy. I have seen many accounts / posts of guys mod'ing the front sproket though. I've never tried the Dunlop, but I'm running the Pirelli MT 21's. I've got just shy of 1500 dirt and street miles on them and the front is still in great shape with the rear in good shape. The tire is holding up better then I expected. They don't chunk from rocks or pavement like some soft tires do, and they still have an edge on them. (I find that my percentage of riding is about 60 - 40 / dirt - street rider) I love the dirt I just have to ride the street to get to it! Even though I have the urge to try another brand next time, I think I may still go with the Pirelli again as it's worked out great for me. But you are 100% correct on the dual-sport tire, get rid of them if your in the dirt or your going to take a spill! (Been there done that!) :)

Thanks for the great feedback, jstevens. I'm definitely leaning more towards the Pirellis. I wonder what the difference is between upsizing the rear sprocket one tooth vs. downsizing the front one tooth. Any takers out there?

I have a 01 L went with the Dunlop 606s after I wore out the TWs and dropped the front sprocket one tooth. I made that conversion over the winter along with the Clarke 4.7 gas tank and I was amazed at the difference in the bike. Off road with the gearing and tires was like night and day, much more confidence inspiring. My style of riding is not aggressive as I put 5000 miles on the TWs before they were wore out. I have 2000 miles on the 606s, mostly in the dirt, (gravel roads and two tracks) and I expect them to excede the TWs in mileage, but I do spend more time in the woods now that the bike is better. I don't have any experience with the Pirelli's but they were a consideration along with the 606's. I chose the 606's because of my experience with Dunlop tires on my Gold Wings, and reading some articles on both tires on the net and in the moto mags. I just thought that for the price the Dunlops were a better choice for me. I also know a guy that rides a DR650 with the Pirelli's and he is very satisfied with them.

1 tooth on the countershaft sprocket is usually equivalent to 3-4 teeth on the driven sprocket. That is the rule of thumb I use. My 98 xr650l came stock with 15-45 sprockets. I changed to 14-45 and found it still to high for good off road performance. xr600-650r`s come stock 14-48. The closer you get to that ratio the better you will like it off road. Go out and ride your bike in fourth gear on the street right now as that will be about what your fifth gear will after changing to 14-48. Another consideration is the chain. You would have to add links for that gearing. Try 14-46or 47. You could use the existing chain and switch back to the stock gearing on those 100 miles of freeway days. I used the Pirellis on mine but any DOT knobbies are night and day better than the TWs.

Thanks. Nothing like first hand accounts of real experiences to answer my questions. The stock gearing is just too tall even with the stock tires and that makes most dirt riding a problem, except for sweeping fire roads.

I had an 82 XL500R and I increased the countershaft sprocket to gain more top end to keep up with my buddy's new 83 XL600R. That one tooth made a big difference in all gears and my five-oh ran like a champ.

Right now the stock rear TW is smaller than the next size Pirelli MT 31 (or Dunlop) rear I'm going to run. There's plenty of room between the swing arm for a wider tire, except for some type of interference with the stock chain guard. This in itself is reason enough to change one or both sprockets because the gearing will even be taller!

Dunlops are engineered to wear quickly! That is why they got rid of their toughest, and longest lasting front tire, the K139. It was a front tire that could be run for hundreds of miles completely flat!

I have found refuge from chronic tire wear by going with an IRC VE33 Rear (5.10-18), and VE32 Front. Cheapest place to get them is

The wear characteristics of the VE33 will not disappoint you!

I always loved the Pirelli's on my 600. Good wear and good performance.

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