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When it’s time to pick up a new set of dual sport tires, count on Rocky Mountain ATV/MC to be your source. We carry dozens of fantastic options from major brands like Dunlop, Michelin, Heidenau, Bridgestone, Avon and many others.
In the motorcycle world, dual sport tires are unique because they have to accommodate so many different styles of riding. As such, there is significant variation among the different options, so it’s essential to pick up a set that best matches your riding preferences. Do you mostly ride on pavement? Do you mostly ride off-road? Or is it about 50/50?
There are three primary components of any dual sport motorcycle tire: longevity, street performance and off-road grip. However, because there are inherent tradeoffs between these different components, you can’t have the best of all three. A tire that can hook up really well in loose dirt simply won’t be able to work as well on the highway. Knobby tires wear out quickly on the street, and they can also be loud or uncomfortable. Meanwhile, street-oriented tires with a limited tread pattern might work great on the road, but they’re going to have difficulty getting enough traction in looser terrain. Some tires use a soft rubber compound that approaches the strengths of both street and dirt, but they wear out quite quickly as a result of the soft rubber. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what tradeoffs you need to make to get a tire that best meets what you’re looking for.
Of course, it’s easy to think of dual sport riding in simplified terms of how much pavement you ride compared to off-road, but this doesn’t really give the full story. While pavement is pretty consistent all around (as far as tire requirements go), off-road terrain varies considerably, so it’s also important to assess the types of off-road environments you expect to ride in. Even if your off-road endeavors will be only a small part of your overall riding, if you expect to find yourself in mud or sand at those times, you’re still going to need a tire with an aggressive tread pattern. However, if your off-road excursions are primarily limited to mild dirt roads, you can stick with something a little more street-oriented and a little less knobby.
Keep an eye out for the tread pattern when searching for a dual sport tire. Ask yourself what your tires will be displacing: soil, gravel, sand or something else? Tread depth and spacing will determine what your tires can displace (and how much). The layout of the tread pattern is also very important. Some tires include paddle-type features for loose terrain. Others are more crisscross in order to accommodate rockier environments. Many tires maximize the contact area to improve street handling while still providing large enough gaps to handle different types of off-road situations. No tread pattern is ideal for every rider.
Fortunately, many of these tires have accumulated customer reviews that can provide further details into their performance. The reviews come from real-world feedback and can offer you invaluable insight that can take away some of the guesswork. Make sure to utilize them. (And be sure to come back after you’ve tested your new tires to provide your own wisdom for others to benefit from.)
One word of caution: If you are primarily a dirt rider and don’t spend as much time on the street, you might be tempted to use dirt bike tires instead of dual sport tires. If your motorcycle is going to be on the street in the slightest, it is imperative that you have DOT-approved tires. For one thing, it’s illegal to run tires that aren’t DOT approved on the street. But it can also have important liability repercussions that can affect your insurance payouts (should they ever be necessary). When it comes to dual sport bikes, don’t risk tires that aren’t DOT approved. It isn’t worth it.
Here’s a final word of advice when you’re on your dual sport motorcycle: If you find yourself on terrain that isn’t suited for your tires, simply slow down and take it easy. No tire can perfectly handle every type of terrain. But you’ll be able to get through most unideal situations by just slowing things down. Sure, you might not be able to go quite as fast as your buddy’s more adequately equipped machine, but as least you won’t find yourself laying the bike down.
Take a moment now to assess your riding needs, and then browse our selection. Pick up a new set of tires today, and get back out on your next dual sport adventure!
Thomas in FL
good rubber for the road, slippery in the sand, I am sure I will get a long street life out of these tires, but really have to be careful off road where the sand is soft, hard pack they work well, I guess everything comes at a price, giving up some traction in the sand for a better street tire, so not good for on/off road racing, but really good for moderate dual sport ridingRead All Reviews
Mike in NJ
I've been using TKC's for years on my BMW GSA. They work really well in most all conditions with reassuring traction and directional stability on pretty much anything you throw at them. As far as deep mud or sand, any big bike like the GSA is a handful no matter what knob you choose. Were the TKC's really shine is their ability to allow you to still ride at a generous sporting pace on the street. They offer composure in corners that must be experienced to be believed. If I had to knock them, they are noisy on the road, but that's the nature of a knob pattern. Worth the tradeoff IMO. I considerd cheaper alternatives, but these have proven their they are worth the slight premium to me.Read All Reviews