Having ridden for six years and 125,000 miles with many different tires on my KTM 1190 Adventure, I have developed some impressions of which adventure motorcycle tires work, and how, and which don’t, and where. Here are are the 11 adventure motorcycle tires I tried over the past six years:
- Continental TKC 70
- Mitas E-07 Dakar
- Heidenau K60
- Michelin Anakee Adventure
- Shinko 705
- Anlas Capra X
- Metzeler Karoo 3
- Avon trailmaster V54
- Pirelli Scorpion MT60
- Motoz Tractionator GPS
- Dunlop Trailmaster Mission
Continental TKC 70
The German tire maker Continental put this tire on the market quite some time ago, and in my opinion it is one of the best-performing tires for adventure bikes. The TKC 70 is really great on most dry surfaces, and has an outstanding performance on tarmac and very good traction off road.
Overall, they have decent longevity, lasting around 10,000 km (6000 miles).
An irregular wear pattern developed in the front tire, but it did not affect the riding experience.
On wet surfaces, it behaves quite well—or as well as a 70-30 tire could behave.
The overall performance starts to decrease substantially once it reaches 30% of the remaining life.
Continental has since come out with a more robust TKC 70 Rocks, which, from the looks of it, might provide a better lifespan while maintaining the same performance level of its predecessor.
- Great road performance
- Very good off-road
- Good longevity
- Irregular wearing front tire
- Very smooth riding
- Good performance on wet until it reaches 30%
- PRO: Offroad capabilities
- CONS: longevity
Mitas E-07+ (Dakar)
The Czech Republic offers its adventure bike-ready tire with the Mitas E-07+. The very aggressive look is quite appealing for bystanders, but it doesn’t quite deliver the 50-50 capabilities that are claimed for it.
The unique tread allows the E-07 to excel in offroad conditions, especially in sand, and it should be praised for its long-lasting capabilities. Although it lasts around 15,000 km (9,300 miles), it doesn’t deliver good performances on tarmac. Maybe because of the very hard compound, it could be dangerous to approach turns aggressively on it.
Still, I think Mitas provided the market with one of the best all around long-travel tires for adventure bikes. The Dakar series is built with a harder compound, claiming 20% more longevity than the regular version.
- Great longevity
- Good grip on tarmac
- Great grip off-road
- Not the best on road performance (hard compound but too soft on the shoulders for performance)
- Decent performances on wet tarmac and dirt
- PRO: longevity
- CONS: not so good 0n-road high performance
This German brand is known mainly for its longevity, but is absolutely horrendous on wet surfaces.
I guess we have to give it to Heidenau for its attempt at making the most long-lasting tire available on the market. It doesn’t matter how much weight you put on your adventure bike, this K60 will last easily for 15-20,000 km (about 9,300 to 12,400 miles) if not more. I believe that the manufacturer also had one particular motorcycle in mind when it designed this tire: the BMW GS1200 Adventure.
The K60 is declared to be a 50-50 tire, but in my opinion it should not be used off-road. Anything except dry tarmac is pretty off-limits for this tire but again, the average big adventure bike rider stays on perfectly sealed road most of the time. The front K60 tire is even worse than the rear, in terms of on road performance.
Another peculiarity of this tire is the super hard shoulder. Breaking the bead and changing this tire alone could be an absolute workout.
- Extreme longevity
- Good grip on dry tarmac (rear tire)
- Not noisy for a declared 50-50 tire
- Not a 50-50 tire. Poor performances off-road and wet surfaces
- This tire requires you to stop or slow down significantly if rain occurs
- Designed for overweight big adventure bikes and long rides on exclusively dry tarmac
- Breaking the bead and changing this tire by hand is not an easy job
- PRO: longevity
- CONS: terrifying wet surfaces performance
Michelin Anakee Adventure
The French targeted big-bore machines with this not-so-good-looking tire. The Anakee Adventure is built with a hard compound, making it one of the most long-lasting 70-30 tires available. Overall it performed quite well in the first 5,000 km (3,000 miles), but its performance slowly decreased until the 12–13,000 km (about 7,500 to 8,000 miles) mark. Then it started to deteriorate quite heavily, especially on the front tire, where the wear became so substantial that I had to change my way of riding. The softer rubber on the shoulders disappeared turn after turn and then became pretty much unreliable, especially on wet surfaces.
Overall the tire behaved quite well, but it is clearly not a product that can be used aggressively, like the Continental, for instance. The Anakee Adventure is definitely more an 80-20 or even 90-10 tire, considering how it behaves on offroad surfaces. It’s usable on dry dirt or light gravel roads, but it has strong limitations.
- Good longevity (15,000 km)
- Good grip on wet and dry tarmac
- Hard compound is not designed to withstand performance riding
- Front tire shoulders are softer and wear more easily than the center
- Decent performance in dry offroad. Sketchy on wet dirt
- PRO: longevity
- CONS: doesn’t excel in any category
Japanese-designed but manufactured in South Korea, the Shinko 705 was created for big adventure bikes. In my opinion, it is the best tire on the market for travelers on a budget. The surprisingly low price (especially in the USA) allowed me to buy a complete set for less than $160. With this kind of price, does it really matter how long they last!? Performance wise, they are excellent on dry and wet tarmac; I really pushed these tires to the limit and they behaved incredibly well. It’s a real M+S tire and it will perform well in extreme conditions.
The only problem with these tires is the availability. Quite hard to find these sometimes in many parts of the world.
- Incredible quality/price ratio (USA cheap; Europe not so cheap)
- Excellent performance on dry tarmac (both front and rear)
- Good lifespan (12–15000 km)
- Good performance off-road
- Declared M+S tyre and delivers in performance riding (rode on snow and mud)
- PRO: price and performances
- CONS: availability
Anlas Capra X
Turkey recently jumped into the motorcycle market with this brand which quickly conquered the southern European market for its competitiveness in terms of price and quality. I had the chance to try only one of their appealing range of tires and I wasn’t disappointed. The Capra X is probably one of the best-looking and performing 50-50 tires available. The tread looks like an offroad tire’s but the performance is surely impressive even on tarmac. My biggest worry was vibration and noise, which instead didn’t occur until reaching 50% of its life.
Stellar performance off-road and quite good grip on tarmac. Slightly disappointing on wet roads but again, I felt like I was asking too much from it. One of the most outstanding features of this Capra X is its longevity—over 12,000 km riding long hours and fully loaded. I rode in winter so temperature change may affect its lifespan, but still it’s quite good. One of the best real 50-50 tires overall.
- Probably the smoothest and quietest 100% 50-50 tire (until it reaches 50% of lifespan. Then small vibrations occur)
- Great performance on dry tarmac and offroad
- Decent performance on wet tarmac (being a knobby tire it has its limits) and excellent in wet off-road/mud (being an off-road build tire)
- Lifespan is surprisingly good! Over 12,000 km depending on riding mode
- Overall one of the best 50-50 tires available
- PRO: road performances
- CONS: noisy after 50%
Metzeler Karoo 3
The German company Metzeler brought to the table its aggressive looking Karoo3, claiming a 50-50 performance oriented use. I completely agree with the manufacturer in this sense. The extremely soft compound and the deep and V-shaped tread deliver excellent traction in offroad conditions and a surprising grip on tarmac. The front will wear out unevenly but will still maintain excellent grip and stability. The rear will become less and less noisy once it flattens in the middle but still performs quite well.
One of the downsides of this tire in particular is its vibration, which will occur up to 80 km/h (50 mph). Not a deal-breaker for me, considering its overall performance and look. To me, probably one of the best looking tires to put on a bike sitting in a showroom. Metzeler, driven by its customers’ complains probably, released the “less aggressive” version of the Karoo3, which is the Karoo Street, a few years later. It is basically a “worn out” and harder version of the predecessor.
- Excellent performance on dry tarmac and off-road
- Very good grip on wet surfaces too, being a very aggressive 50-50
- Longevity isn’t its key strength
- Noisy up to 80 km/h. The massive gaps of the tread on the rear tire are inevitably noisy and cause vibration
- PRO: it digs!
- CONS: longevity
The UK-based and US-owned company Avon came out with their 70-30 tire calling it the Trailrider v54. The tread is quite unique, crossing the totality of the face of the tire till the very shoulder. Performance is great on dry tarmac, even in low temperatures. These tires are clearly designed for performance-oriented bikes, which sometimes go offroad too.
While not really meant for wet surfaces, they somehow performed overall okay on wet dirt and tarmac. The longevity of this tire is one of its downsides. The tread is not too deep and it will reach its end quite soon, especially if the bike is fully loaded. Overall, a great tire for an everyday use but I wouldn’t consider it for long-distance travelling.
- Excellent performance on dry tarmac and decent grip off-road
- Good grip on wet surfaces but it has its limits
- Compound is quite soft delivering super grip on tarmac but lifespan gets affected (7,000 km)
- Tread is quite low, even when new
- Longevity could be an issue for this tire
- PRO: all around dry performance
- CONS: wet not so good
The Italian brand Pirelli comes with its version of 5a 0-50 tire, the MT60, which is capable of decent performance in both onroad and offroad conditions. I would probably consider this tire to be more suitable for offroad. During my time with it I didn’t really get much good feedback, to be honest. Very slippery on dry tarmac and definitely not suitable for performance riding. Having said this, I have to admit that the compound of this tire is quite hard, so it requires a bit of warming up, before performing well.
In offroad conditions the tire performed better, as long as it was dry. I would consider this to be a 70-30 tire in this sense and probably not my favorite overall. I heard great things instead about the Scorpion Rally, which is apparently better for big adventure bikes.
- Looks good but does not excel in any specific field
- Good grip on- and offroad
- Definitely need to slow down if tarmac is wet. Not safe
- It has its limits, in terms of performance, due to the hard compound
- More of a 70-30 performance than a 60-40.
- PRO: hard compound
- CONS: they need to warm up
MotoZ Tractionator GPS
The Australians came up with their version of the Heidenau K60, with some extra flavor. The Tractionator GPS is in fact one of the sturdiest and longest lasting tires on the market. Same as the K60, it requires some effort to be removed or mounted on your rim without the aid of proper machinery. The Tractionator has a distinctive tread, which separates it from all its competitors. It is also the first tire that can be flipped and used the other way around. But again, would there be that much of a difference from one side to the other?
Same as the K60, customers have complained about its performance on wet surfaces and I can confirm that the grip is basically gone once the bike hits the wet dirt. On the other side, it lasts super long and it performs better than the Heidenau in offroad conditions. This is the perfect tire somehow for the long and hot straight roads of Australia.
- Designed, same as the Heidenau, to withstand long rides on hot and dry tarmac
- Slightly noisy but overall good grip
- I wouldn’t consider this a 50-50 tire
- Slightly better performance than the K60 on wet surfaces
- Price is quite steep because it comes from a faraway land, but if you are in Australia . . .
- Hard shoulders, requires help if you need to replace the tire
- PRO: longevity
- CONS: wet traction not the best
Dunlop Trailmax Mission
The new kid on the block is the Dunlop Trailmax Mission. Sold as a 50-50 tire, because of its super deep treads, it performs as a 70-30, in reality. The technology behind this tire is great and it does provide a great deal of grip in dry and wet surfaces. It does have its limits in offroad but again we cannot expect too much from a tire that doesn’t have clear knobs. The tread is progressive and there are some extra grooves on the shoulders to help getting out from deep sand/mud situations. It also has an indicator of how much tread is left, which helps to understand how long one can keep going.
Overall the traction is great on both tarmac and gravel roads but it does not perform as well in more complex situations. Overall the tire has great longevity, grip and even looks.
- Designed for big adventure bikes, this tire delivers good performance on dry tarmac but great in offroad
- Absolutely a 50-50 tire
- Not the best on wet surfaces but also not the worst
- Couldn’t test this tire for longevity, but the tread is deep and it looks like it could easily last more than 15,000 km
- Lots of extra cool features like the shoulders’ extra tread and the grooves on the knobs to check lifespan
- PRO: longevity
- CONS: wet grip could be improved