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Old 01-07-2015, 08:38 AM   #1
Taurkon OP
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Best DOT for hard off-road riding

In the last few years, a new breed of street legal dirt bikes have emerged. I'm talking the KTM 500 EXC, Beta 520 RS, Husqvarna TE 511, Husqvarna FE 501 S, Japanese bikes converted to be street legal (WR540, CRF450X) etc... I'm taking the bikes that are light, purpose build, but then the factory adds some blinkers and lights and voila! I'm not refering to bikes like the KLR's, CRF250L (and competitors), KTM 690's/990's, F650/700/800 etc...).

So, I am only looking to include light dirtbikes that could be and are typically raced competitively against other dirtbikes. A 990 racing in an enduro is not typical.

I know there are a million threads on tires! Many are years old, and they are not specifically targeted. I am hoping this thread can become a go-to thread for this category of bikes.

Ok, on to the question(s).

If you have experience riding and pushing a street legal dirtbike in the dirt, what are the best DOT tire combo you have found? Can you please use the following format as a guideline?

Rider Skill (Beginner/Intermediate/Expert):
Bike:
Terrains (Woods, Rocky, Sand, Roots, Hills):
Conditions: (Wet, Muddy, Dry):
Tire Recommendations:
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:51 AM   #2
Night Crawler
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Intermediate rider
KTM 500 EXC
Woods, rocks, mud, hills, roots.
Dry, and muddy

Without a doubt - Pirelli XCMH
Huge knobs that hold up to the power of a KTM 500. Stiff carcass that allows you to run lower pressures. M rated DOT tire that seems like a MX tire when you are on the trails.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:53 AM   #3
alvincullumyork
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Joined: Feb 2012
Location: South Atlanta
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Rider Skill: Intermediate (probably)
Bike: XR650L (I know, I know... It's stripped down, hopped up though, and has some suspension work, see avatar)
Terrains: Clay trails, woods, a little rock
Conditions: (Wet, Muddy, Dry): All
Tire Recommendations: I had a D606 rear but it didn't last for shit and wasn't all that great in the mud. Right now I have a D908 rear and it has been awesome on everything and has been on for 1500ish miles. Up front my MT 21 is doing really well.

My friend has a 500EXC and is is running MT 21s front and back and likes them a lot. I got a little bit of time on some wet trails and gravels roads and it hooked up really well. That bike is cheating its so easy to ride fast.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:08 AM   #4
wsmc831
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There is no 'best', only best for the rider/conditions. I personally prefer mt21 front, mt43 rear, both 500 and 690. A rider, all conditions save serious mud.
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:10 AM   #5
OrangeYZ
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Somewhere between intermediate and expert
525 EXC
Fire roads, desert trail, rocky single track
Usually dry, sometimes wet and muddy
D606 rear, MT21 front. Happy with this combo

On both rear and front, the MT21 performs better but wears out faster. On the back the performance is close enough that I pick the D606 for lasting 1.5-2 times longer.
On the front the D606 is so bad that it's worth it to replace the MT21 more often.
I have also tried the Maxxis Desert ITs on this bike, they were very bad. Wandered around like I was on a layer of snow. They're also very stiff and more work to install.
Have not tried the D908s. Want to, but damn they cost twice as much as anything else!
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:09 AM   #6
Rogue_Ryder
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Joined: Dec 2005
Location: Pinewood Springs, Co
Oddometer: 7,581
Rider Skill (Beginner/Intermediate/Expert):Intermediate+
Bike: XR600, KTM 300XC, CRF230 and many past
Terrains (Woods, Rocky, Sand, Roots, Hills): ALL
Conditions: (Wet, Muddy, Dry): ALL
Tire Recommendations:
(Rears)
For the $$ you can't beat a Kenda Trackmaster for the Rear. This isn't the best tire out there but it works well as a rear tire from a 250 2T to 400cc Thumpers (haven't put on the XR600). The ONLY time I disliked this tire was riding agressively on pavement at higher PSI (16-19). I've used it on many bikes and in many states from Sugar Sands of FL to NE Woods to Rocks & Desert in the West, and I'm a fan for sure. The tire is pretty much a clone of the discontinued Dunlop 952.

Pirelli MT 18HD or XCMH: This is another one I've liked as a rear tire. Works better than the Trackmaster on Pavement (ran the Cherohala Skyway at pretty much WFO throttle and it gripped the tarmac like Velcro ). Ran this on a DRZ400 in TN, NC, MS, LA & MA in the woods. It is a big stiff tire and I'm not sure if I'd want to run it on a real small bike like 250 but it's great on any 400cc+ Machine.

Kenda Parker DT formerly the Carlsbad; this tire is another one that's not expensive and works awesome on the rear of the XR600. I've only run this tire last season here in Colorado. It wears really well in the rocky terrain I ride. I run it for long pavement stretches aired down to 8 or 9 psi at 60mph and even that hasn't worn the tire too badly. It works well off road at the lower pressures, maybe at higher speeds (50mph +) in the desert you might want to bump it up to 12 to prevent pinch flats. This is also a tire I'd probably on run on the 400cc+ Thumpers.

So for rears those are the ones I've been most satisfied with that are D.O.T. approved. I've run others but those are 3 that I would recommend others try.

(FRONTS)
Kenda WashougalBest Front DOT tire I've used to date. Had it on my RM250 for 2 seasons of riding Rocky Trails and a couple desert days and it barely looked worn when I sold it the bike with the tire still on it. I ran the 90/100 21 size FWIW. I always ran 11 PSI.

Pirelli Scorpion Pro F.I.M I probably have a a couple thousand miles using this as a front. This tire works well off road, but it is a low profile tire which makes it more prone to rim damage and pinch flats for fast aggressive riders who might ride where there's rocks and roots (I never had a problem but I'm just a C racer and a B rider). I never had a problem running several on a KX250 and 2 different DRZ400s. I've also only used this tire in the South (all the States TX-FL-NC and all in between) and the North East (CT & MA); I have not run it in the West. It does wear fast on pavement and the side knobs tear off in rocky terrain.

Michelin Desert Racing This tire is EXPENSIVE, I'm on my first one on my XR600 after shredding a Dunlop 756 in the rocks. So far it has held up well but I've only got a couple hundred miles on it. The good news is it performs well in the dirt and rocks and is wearing well, no round knobs yet. I would probably only recommend this to guys on the bigger bikes and fast desert A riders on 450cc+ bikes.

FWIW Tires I've hated: Pirelli MT21 (Front and Rear), Trackmaster Front, Dunlop 606 Front and Rear
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:12 PM   #7
chartersj
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Joined: Dec 2013
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Oddometer: 30
Intermediate
xcw 500
woods,rocks,mud,roots
kenda trakmaster 2 rear. Best rear for 90/10 off/on road IMO.
Best front so far is the metzler 6-days. running a pirelli mxh now and not as happy with it.
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Old 01-07-2015, 01:00 PM   #8
MrPulldown
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Don't think the Kenda Washouga is DOT
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Old 01-07-2015, 01:24 PM   #9
Rogue_Ryder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPulldown View Post
Don't think the Kenda Washouga is DOT
The Front tire is 100% D.O.T. http://www.summitracing.com/parts/knt-047751003b1

If I still had the bike with that tire I'd put a photo up of the DOT marking on it. The bike it is mounted on went through the CO state Inspection and passed with that tire. The new owner is dual sporting it around the mountains.
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Old 01-07-2015, 02:46 PM   #10
clapped_r6
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motoz, pick your hardness, DOT's in several compounds. they hook up well and last
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Old 01-07-2015, 04:24 PM   #11
MrPulldown
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dukeryder View Post
The Front tire is 100% D.O.T. http://www.summitracing.com/parts/knt-047751003b1

If I still had the bike with that tire I'd put a photo up of the DOT marking on it. The bike it is mounted on went through the CO state Inspection and passed with that tire. The new owner is dual sporting it around the mountains.
Good to know. Why is it that no one selling this tire list it as DOT. Even on Kenda's web site it does not list it as DOT nor does it list it under their DS tires. Makes me wonder what other hidden gems are out there. I do not have an issue running non DOT tires on the road. But if I am going to buy a tire that will serve DS duty, it might as well be DOT approved.

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Old 01-07-2015, 06:58 PM   #12
NorthCoastRider
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KTM 350

After trying dozens of different aggressive DOT tires over the years I put a Milliville II on the rear and a MX32 on the front. This combo is far better than any DOT combo will ever be. The traction and lean angles in all conditions is superb.

If you don't absolutely need DOT tires then I would try an off road spec tire. Even the difference on a Trackmaster to the Milliville was night and day.

BTW the tires last about the same but I run almost no pavement.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:51 PM   #13
scubasteve904
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPulldown View Post
Good to know. Why is it that no one selling this tire list it as DOT. Even on Kenda's web site it does not list it as DOT nor does it list it under their DS tires. Makes me wonder what other hidden gems are out there. I do not have an issue running non DOT tires on the road. But if I am going to buy a tire that will serve DS duty, it might as well be DOT approved.
My front and rear K775 washougal both have dot marking great tire on dirt.

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Old 01-07-2015, 08:29 PM   #14
dhally
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If its for hard dirt and little pavement non-dot could work well. Its not like they will melt in 5 miles.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:48 PM   #15
gunnerbuck
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One of the best DOT front knobbies that I have ran is the Mitas C-17, for an aggressive tire it does really well on pavement.. The MotoZ Tractionator also did OK.. On the back I liked the Dunlop 908 RR and the Mitas EO-9, tough tires and long life ...

For deeper tread depth I have ran a couple mx tires on my bike and they don't last long while being horrible on pavement... The Kenda K 777 front comes to mind as one I'll never use again and the Kenda Trackmasters are not that much better... Now I only install one of these tires if my intention is to run Zero pavement, but that rarely happens so the less aggressive larger tread block tires get the nod..
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