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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!
Brian in VA
I ride trails and single track, not motocross. The AT81s gave a very compliant ride and absorbed hits without deflection better than any tire I have used. It also offered great traction in mud and ever snow banks I had to ride through. The only downside it they wear quickly. I recommend them!Read All Reviews
Ryan in CA
First ride with these tires was 4 days after a heavy rain in SoCal. Excellent traction - can tell that's what they were designed for. However, after the trails dried out 2 weeks later, I was sliding all over the place and washed out on trails I've been riding for years. Tires are for soft terrain, not meant for hard by any means.Read All Reviews
Rob in Tennessee
I run a tubliss system and was under the mistaken impression that I could run 0 psi in this tire. First the good: At 0 psi this tire is absolutely amazing. I ride nothing but steep, wet, muddy rocks and this tire is perfect for that application. I was unable to find a line that I could not take. I purposely stopped on steep slippery rock gardens just to see if a zero run up line could be taken. Every time I was able to start and immediately transition into a standing position and carry my momentum. Now the bad: At 0 psi in those conditions I only made it 50 miles before the rim had sliced a hole in the side wall about 6" long. I would absolutely recommend this tire, but I would say that 5 psi is probably the minimum.Read All Reviews
Patrick in MI
I bought my motorcycle with these on it. I do mostly pavement on my bike. but its handles well on gravel. Does great in the rain.. seems like it rains every trip I take. I put over 8k miles on the one the bike came with and I am only changing it because I want fresh shoes for my next trip which is over 6k miles. Not sure how many miles the other owner put. Great tire for the price.Read All Reviews
Aad in Netherlands
I use my Bonnie a fair bit off road and these are the best tyres I've had yet. Long lasting and yet good on road as well. Not as noisy as Metzeler Karoo 3 or Michekin Anakee 3, better handling than Metzeler Tourance. Makes the K60 Scout obsolete.Read All Reviews
Don in AZ
Running in rough desert conditions tubeless at 8PSI. Corners as good or better than the Dunlop AT81, holds up as good or better than the Bridgestone ED77. For desert and rocky mountain trail conditions I have found the goldilocks tire. The dunlop AT 81 corners real well, but started shearing side knobs after about 10 rides. At best I got 4 months out of it, but it really should have been replaced in about 3 months. I went to the Bridgestone ED77 which lasted all of 11 months before I wore the side knobs down due to friction. While durable the ED77 never really cornered that well even when new. The Michelin Desert Race is the best of both. It has the same 90/90 profile as the AT81, has the same ability to progressively let go due to staggered side and intermediate lugs, holds on much longer prior to letting go, and all signs point to a 1 year tire. I would go through 3 to 4 AT81s in that time frame, so the $100+ price pays for itself real quick. Have even run it for about 10 rough desert miles with 0 PSI due to a tubeless setup issue. Pay close attention to the setup/install sequence with the tubeless kits and you shouldn't have that issue. Lesson learned. This is my go to tire, that all others will be measured by.Read All Reviews