Choosing a Tire

Continental TKC 80

AVON Gripsters

Choosing the right tire for your motorcycle is similar to buying shoes.  There may be several types that might fit your feet, but they won’t work the same depending on what you will be using them for. Motorcycle tires are no different.

A few weeks ago, a friend and fellow rider, Eric Stoffle, and I were comparing notes on which tire we run on our Dual-Sport motorcycles.  He has been running the Continental TKC 80 on his BMW Dakar 650 and was considering the Dunlop 606 tire and was wondering what I ran on my Kawasaki KLR 650.

Because I spend more time on pavement then dirt, the parts manager at my dealership suggested the AVON Gripsters, which is designed more for on-road use.  The AVON Gripsters also perform well on wet pavement, which I ride on often.  Now Eric spends time on pavement and dirt, which the Continental TKC 80 is designed for.  The tire is designed for 60% of the time on the dirt and 40% on pavement, according to Continental. The Dunlop 606 on the other hand is primarily designed for dirt riding, but will provide durability and grip on dry pavement.

Here we have three tires that fit the same type of motorcycle, but each one is designed for very different riding conditions and road surfaces.

When choosing a tire you need to first figure out which brands and types of tires will fit your motorcycle in the first place.  Then you need to determine what road surfaces you ride the most and what type of performance you need out of a tire.  Once you have this information you can narrow down what tires to consider.  In some cases there will be only one option and in other cases two or three may stand out.  If more then one tire fits what you need, talk to your dealer, friends who ride conditions similar to you and read the reviews.  You may find a clear winner or they all may be so similar that any one will work.

In the end, Eric chose to stay with the TKC 80, which fits his riding environment better then the other two tires.  As for me, I’ve been very happy with the AVON Gripsters.

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