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Review: TKC80 Dual Sport Tires for Big Bikes

My F800GS sees a lot of miles on and off the pavement. When it comes to tires, I'm always looking for that perfect combination of smooth, reliable handling on the highway and over the top traction and reliability in the dirt, gravel and sand. There will never be a perfect, all-in-one tire to deliver the highway miles I need with all of the off-road handling I could ask for but, my experience with the TKC80 has left me thinking that this is just about as good as it gets.

Continental TKC 80 Twinduro Dual Sport Tires TKC80 Dual Sport Tires

Pros: This is, hands down, my top tire pick for big bike performance on and off-road. Why? I've never ridden another tire that handled better off-road on the GS. That's a big deal- for me at least.  The knobs are nice and fat so you get a great contact patch with the pavement, but there is plenty of room in between to get great traction in sand and loose gravel. The same wide tread pattern allows the tire to self-clean as you ride off-road rather than caking up like a lot of other dual sport tires.

What's amazing about the TKC80 is that it handles incredibly well on the road for a knobby tire. I can be very aggressive on the street and lean the bike all the way over like I would with a more street-biased tire like the Michelin Anakee's. The TKC80's inspire confidence with the traction they retain, even in wet conditions. Yes, that's right. A smart rider can ride these in the rain and be just fine.

I actually worked the TKC80's so hard on a recent trip that the rubber compound was melting under the hot conditions at speed. This just illustrates the kind of traction you'll get with the TKC80's, as sport racing tires will routinely experience some 'melting' at the track as well. Traction was not compromised by any 'greasing' effect that makes some tires slippery under these extreme conditions. I will add that I was riding a fully loaded adventure bike through tight, twisty roads at a pretty good clip on a hot day. This is the only time I noticed the tires actually heating up this much. It's not an every day occurrence, but just something interesting I thought I'd share.

Cons: Oh, so there's a catch?! Well, this is where real life creeps into the equation. The TKC80 will wear out a lot faster than other tires on the market, but don't forget, this is a straight-up knobby tire. I mean, look at it! The top 20% or so appears to wear very quickly but, this could be the power of suggestion since everyone likes to say that about this tire for some reason. My personal experience has shown that they wear quickly in two settings: a lot of highway miles and spinning the tire in rock and hard surfaces off-road. I tend to be aggressive with the throttle which accelerates the wear of any tire with a soft compound like the TKC80.

Another point you're likely to consider is the cost. They're not exactly cheap, so you could say that this is the cost of performance. I can run a front TKC80 for thousands upon thousands of miles but, that rear is being replaced with as little as 3,000 miles on it! Please keep in mind this is after extremely aggressive riding resulting in melting the tire on the road and burning them up on rocks in the dirt. Most people will easily get over 5,000 miles on a rear TKC80 with perhaps 8-10,000 miles on the front. I'm at about 5,000 miles on my current TKC80 front and it looks like I have about that much further to go.

Conclusion: It's been worth it for me to splurge and have a set on the bike for desert rides and off-road excursions, but I wouldn't recommend using them exclusively if you're commuting on a big bike. I hope some of this has been helpful for riders that have seen people using these tires and wondered what the deal was. The truth is, most riders will not use their tires to their full potential to begin with so, it's not going to be critical to get the best performing tire out there. You can expect everyone at Solo Moto to be honest with our opinions on parts and gear and more importantly, be forthcoming with what we do and do not have experience with. There is no agenda here to sell you one brand over another because there are a million different brands out there and we want to try all of them!

I've ridden four or five different models of tires on the F800GS so far and I plan to try a couple more in the coming months. I'm hoping to have a write-up on my #2 pick for big-bike dual sport tires soon in addition to adding a certain popular German tire manufacturer (hint, hint) to our selection.

Pricing and Availability:

Continental TKC 80 Twinduro Dual Sport Front Tire

Continental TKC 80 Twinduro Dual Sport Rear Tire

By Aram

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