For the 10th anniversary issue of ABR, our resident expert of all things two-wheeled reveals his most asked question.
It certainly doesn’t seem like a decade has passed since ABR Founder and Publisher Alun and I were chatting about motorcycling when he came up with the idea of starting Adventure Bike Rider magazine. What a good idea I thought, and I’ve been delighted to see ABR inspire countless readers to fulfil their adventure biking dreams over the past 10 years.
So, I was honoured to be asked to write the Ask Dave column aimed at helping people to maintain and set up their bikes at home and on the road. I was also a little cautious because I wasn’t a journalist, but I did have plenty of experience as a biker and a traveller. It seems to have gone OK so far!
For this 10th anniversary issue of Adventure Bike Rider, I thought I would revisit the one question that I’ve been asked most often over the years, and you may not be surprised to hear it involve the use of tyres.
Q. I use my adventure bike to ride on and off-road. What’s the best adventure tyre to fit?
Ask a room full of bikers what the best tyre to use is, and I guarantee you’ll end up with a multitude of answers. This is because tyre choice is a very personal thing and no single tyre is perfect for every riding situation. The rubber best suited to travelling on a continental road tour through France and Spain isn’t going to be much use while blasting across a Moroccan desert, and vice versa.
So, it’s important to think about the type of riding you do before you splash out on a new tyre. If you spend the majority of your time riding on the road, yet occasionally stray onto an easy green lane or gravel road in the dry, then a road-biased tyre like Pirelli’s Scorpion Trail II will do a decent job. They should also give you many thousands of miles of riding pleasure before wearing out and needing to be replaced.
At the other end of the scale, you’ll find more off-road focused adventure bike tyres that are ideal for people who regularly venture onto rugged terrain in changeable weather conditions. Tyres like Bridgestone’s Battlax Adventurecross AX41, or Continental’s TKC 80, feature aggressive block patterns that provide plenty of grip on loose, sandy, or muddy surfaces, as well as decent road handling. However, those big knobblies will lead to increased noise and vibration on the asphalt, as well as less grip, and they’ll wear away more quickly. It’s all about compromise.
In the middle of the adventure bike tyre market, you’ll find 50/50 rubber like the Mitas E-07. These will feature a less aggressive tread pattern than the likes of the knobbly AX41 or TKC 80, providing a smoother, grippier road ride, while also proving harder wearing. However, the shallow tread pattern won’t give you as much grip in wet and muddy conditions on the trails, and you’ll also experience some vibration and tyre noise on the road. Which brings us back to that word again, compromise.
Overall, your best bet is to have two sets of tyres, one for road riding and one for when you hit the trails, but in reality, I can’t imagine too many people wanting the hassle of changing tyres on a regular basis. This is why adventure tyres designed to take you on and off-road have become so popular. Just be sure you think about the type of riding you do before you buy. Thanks for the many questions you have sent me over the years and please do keep them coming.
Got something to ask Dave?
Send in your bike-related questions to [email protected], and if we publish yours, you’ll get a free subscription to ABR.