The best tires for adventure motorcycles
Nothing can fire up the keyboards of Motorcycle Adventure fans online like the question “what oil, helmet or boots, etc. should I use”. Nothing except a discussion thread on tires. Let’s just say motorcycle riders, particularly, Adventure riders, can be somewhat opinionated about their favorite products no matter what the category. Tires for Adventure riding are no different and choosing the right tire is a fair question, particularly for the “noobie” who might be confused by all the chatter.
Modern Adventure machines like the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, the Honda Africa Twin, the BMW R 1250 GS and even the Yamaha Ténéré 700 are sporting horsepower and torque numbers that would embarrass any superbike from the not-so-distant past. When horsepower and torque figures of around 150/102 are not unusual today, do you really want the cheapest tire you can buy for one of these machines? It only makes sense to use a high-performance tire capable of putting all that horsepower and technology to use. Would you hire the fastest runner for your NFL team and make him play in a pair of steel-toed work boots? Not likely.
Off-road or asphalt?
That’s where Continental comes in with a wide range of dual sport / adventure tires suitable for the latest in high horsepower Adventure machines or the entry level dual sport machine and everything in between. Choosing the right tire involves an honest assessment of your machine, your abilities and where you will spend most of your riding miles. Another way to look at it might be to think about what road (or lack of road) conditions you might encounter. For example, you are planning a 2000-mile trip on your BMW R 1200 GS Adventure that will cover rough, open desert-like terrain for the first 100 miles. In this case the Continental TKC 80 would be the ideal choice- granted you’ll only need its off-road capabilities for the first 100 miles but without them you might not make it to the other 1900 miles. Conversely, you are planning a coast to coast trip across the US using two lane highways and wide-open highways across the Southwest with only the occasional dirt or forest road thrown in. For this trip the ContiTrailAttack 3 is the ticket for excellent twisty road manners, superior wet weather grip and it’s long wearing for those high-speed extended stretches of open road.
Two worlds are possible
What if you like to explore dirt backroads that can be anything from hard packed to loose gravel and you ride at least 100 miles of paved roads to get there? Continental has a tire for that too- the TKC 70 and TKC 70 Rocks optional rear tire. Intended as a 70% street, 30% dirt and gravel tire, the TKC 70 is based on the highly successful ContiTrailAttack 2 series with the addition of a more aggressive tread design. The TKC 70 retains most of the TrailAttack 2 high-tech features such as ZeroDegree steel-belted construction, RainGrip high silica compound and MultiGrip technology, so the result is an off-road capable tire with amazing street performance and mileage. Think you need something a bit more aggressive on the rear? That’s exactly what the TKC 70 Rocks was made for- it takes all the best features of the original TKC 70 rear tire but replaces the continuous backbone, high mileage tread pattern with a more open lug design for even better off-road performance especially in loose dirt, gravel and rocks. A lot of engineering went into the TKC 70 Rocks for a 60% street, 40% dirt tire that performs off-road yet is very quiet and well-mannered on the street.
All the above-mentioned Continental tires are available in a wide range sizes capable of fitting almost every imaginable of Adventure or dual sport motorcycle. Continental TKC 80 tires are even original equipment on KTM and Husqvarna dual sport motorcycles and their much larger Adventure and Super Adventure machines. KTM’s new 390 Adventure comes factory-equipped with Conti TKC 70 tires.
One tire we haven’t talked about is the very capable ContiEscape. While you might be tempted to fit this 70/30 tire on your big BMW GS, it is really designed and sized for lighter weight machines like the venerable Kawasaki KLR 650 or Suzuki’s DR400E or DR650. The Escape comes in 19” and 21” front tire diameters and both 17” and 18” rear diameters up to 140 mm in width. The ContiEscape is also right at home on a classic BMW R 80 GS or R 100 GS.
No matter where your Adventure takes you, Continental has the tire to get you there and back safely. To learn more about Continental tires for Adventure and Dual Sport use and the complete line-up of Continental motorcycle tires visit www.conti-moto.com.