We know that choosing tires is not an easy task, it requires a lot of information and knowledge of the sector in which we are going to ride. Although all disciplines have their requirements, Dual Sport tires are even more demanding, because we expect them to do a little bit of everything: off-road, road, mud, wet pavement…
You can find Dual Sport tires more focused on asphalt, or more focused on off-road, and depending on what you choose, you should pay more attention to some features or others. We must keep in mind that no tire can do everything, but they are manufactured with a purpose in mind. So, with so many options available, we believe that if we help you understand our tire designs, you will be able to choose a pair of Dual Sport tires more easily.
1. Tire tread pattern
An off-road focused tire will have a large center lug pattern with lots of open space between the lugs. If they are focused on rocky terrain they will have a combination of large lugs with a deeper tread pattern. If the tire is more intended for asphalt, it should have a closed tread pattern with more tread area compared to the grooves, which will provide a larger contact patch. This difference is very easy to see between the TKC 80 (more off-road), the TKC 70 (more asphalt) and ContiTrailAttack 3 (90% asphalt).
The friction of the tread pattern with the road surface causes more noise than that of a racing or sport touring tire. This is due to the depth of the lugs, so the more aggressive they are, the louder they are. However, there are ways to control the noise by adjusting the number of tread pitches, sequences and tread depth. One example is the TKC 70, which are pleasantly quiet thanks to careful spacing of the blocks to suppress noise.
3. Radial or Diagonal
To understand this concept, let’s dive inside the tire. As many of you know, a tire is not just made of rubber, but has an internal structure, as if it were a skeleton, or a chassis, otherwise it would not be able to withstand the internal pressure of the air and would break. They have reinforcement layers to give stability to the tire, casings that give rigidity to the whole structure and retain the internal air between the tire and the rim if it is tubeless (if it has an inner tube, this would be the one that would retain it) and coated metal rings that give rigidity and tightness in the tire/rim anchorage.
The first tires were all of diagonal construction, since in the past reinforced structures with many ply were required, especially to avoid punctures and to give a lot of rigidity to the tires, since the vehicles were heavy and high profiles were used. Neither could they be able to run at high speeds, since having many plies would create friction, with the consequent increase in temperature and danger of tire disintegration. Over the years, lighter diagonal carcasses were developed, until radial carcasses began to be manufactured. This resulted in stiffer structures with less weight and made it possible to manufacture tires with lower profiles. Today, both constructions are used on motorcycles, depending on the characteristics of the tire’s use.
Diagonal and radial tires should not normally be mixed as this can cause handling instability. Only do so if the vehicle manufacturer indicates that the motorcycle can be mounted in this way or if the tires are of the same make and model. The Radial and Diagonal definition originates from the ply orientation, and you can see the differences in the following image.
4. Tubeless or inner tube
Tubeless tires are manufactured with a special inner liner that prevents air from escaping through the carcass. Tube type tires do not have this inner liner and therefore need a tube to hold the air.
Some motorcycles require the use of inner tubes because their wheels are not designed to be used without an inner tube. You can use an inner tube with a tubeless tire on a tube-type rim. For pure off-road applications the tube-type rim is an advantage because you can run lower tire pressure because you are not depending on the air pressure to keep the tire bead on the rim to prevent air lose. However you must watch out for “pinch flats” where the tire is compressed so far that it “pinches” the tube causing a “snake bite” puncture in the tube. For most other applications the tubeless tire has many advantages such as being able to “plug” a puncture on the roadside and get home safely before replacing the damaged tire.
5. Rating system
There is no such thing as a tire that suits all types of terrain equally, so tires are marketed with a percentage of on versus off-road use. However, this percentage is only a guide, there is no standard regulatory metric that tire manufacturers must meet to call a tire 50/50 or any other range, but rather the rating depends on the manufacturer’s consideration.
What varies in these percentages is the tread pattern and compound. A tire intended to be ridden on dirt 70% of the time needs to have a compound with better resistance to cuts, chips and chunks, while a tire intended to be ridden on pavement 70% of the time needs to have better dry and wet performance.
6. Tire size recommended by the motorcycle manufacture
Each manufacturer recommends a tire size depending on the model of the motorcycle. The objective of this is to achieve the best performance as well as safety when riding a motorcycle. Every time you decide to use a non-standard tire size, you change the tire profile, which changes the area of contact with the road. This will affect load and speed ratings, handling and performance, and even the rate of wear. We should also mention that the bike’s electronics are set up to the size of the tire. It is very important to always prioritize the size recommended by the manufacturer.
The cost of the tire varies depending on many factors. For one thing, it depends on the compounds, the materials used and where the manufacturer makes the tire. The tooling of the tire mold can also be a factor. The type of mold material, the complexity of the tire pattern and design, and the number of tires a mold can produce also affect the price.