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What Are The Best Dual Sport & ADV Tires?

It goes without saying that tires are one of the most important motorcycle component. They affect the performance, safety and ride comfort of your bike. Because of this, it's crucial to choose the right ones, whether you are upgrading to enhance your bike's performance or replacing a worn out set of tires.

Dual sport tires are even more specialized because they need to be able to conquer every type of terrain imaginable. They need to be stable enough to ride on the street and have enough traction for various off-road conditions.

What Makes a Dual Sport Tire

You actually need to consider your purchase seriously. You can't just purchase the first set of tires marketed as "dual sport" tires.

For off-road riding, traction is very important. Your tires need to be able to get a hold on all kinds of natural surfaces. Let's look at some factors to consider on a tire:

- Knobbies: This is what allows off-road bikes tires to function in the dirt. The more knobbies on the tire, the better the traction will be. Tires with short, denser knobs are more ideal for off-road hard terrain (such as rocky surfaces or hard-packed dirt) as they'll provide more traction. Tires with taller, more widely spaced knobs are for softer terrain (such as mud and sand). For street riding, tires should have no knobs.

- Tread depth: Deeper tread depth is necessary for softer terrain, so that the tires can better grip unto the shifting surface. Street tires need very little tread.

- Tire pattern: This is important for traction as well, especially during weather conditions. A pattern with wider voids (spaces in between the treads) will provide better traction for off-road riding, as it allows more surface for materials to grip to.

As you can see, there are many factors that goes into a tire. What kind of tires best for you will depend on what kind of riding you're planning on doing.

First, ask yourself: honestly, how much street riding will I be doing, and how much dirt riding will I be doing? Is it really going to be 50/50? Or is 80/20 more realistic? You want tires that work best for your riding style, not just tires that look the coolest.

Dunlop D606 (80% off-road)

Some call these D606 tires the rockstar of the smaller, 600cc range. When designing the D606 Dunlop wanted to craft a tire that would be DOT certified while keeping a strong focus on off road capabilities. It has deep treads, which will stand up even to the most rigorous off-road riding. At the same time, the tread compound has been engineered for highway use as well. But with its deep knobbie patterning, we definitely recommend that the majority of your riding is done off the road with this tire.

Shop Dunlop D606 front tire from $99 and Dunlop D606 rear tire from $102.

A very popular combination is the D606 for the front and the D908 Rally Raid on the rear, for the best combo of on and off-road handling. The D908RR comes in one size only, and while they can be run on a smaller dual-sport, be aware that they're meant to handle a heavier bike. They're designed for intense off road racing on hardcore surfaces.

Shop Dunlop D908RR front tire from $142 and Dunlop D908RR rear tire from $224.

Pirelli Scorpion Rally (70% off-road)

This is just a great tire all around, for any kind of riding surface. The tire of the racing champions at Pirelli - the Scorpion Rally - have shown to definitively perform at high levels, consistently. Knobbies on the front tire were engineered by the Pirelli team to offer a stable ride, even when you push it to breakneck speeds. Meanwhile the back tire maintains a durable grip to the surface, no matter how rough it is.

Thankfully for your wallet, the DOT legal Scorpion Rally was designed to withstand that rough treatment over time while maintaining a consistently high level of performance without breaking down.

Shop Pirelli Scorpion Rally front tire from $85 and Pirelli Scorpion Rally rear tire from $147.

Continental Twinduro TKC80 (60% off-road)

The TKC80 is one of the most popular tires for larger dual-sport bikes. They're built for machines that are between 600cc and 1200cc, and can handle heavier bikes off road with no issues.

The tire's grip makes most corners a breeze, with minimal wiggling. It has a wide block thread pattern that works great for both the street and off-road.

Also, the TKC80 is nimble when riding aggressively on loosened or rough surfaces but also maintains great traction riding on pavement. Aram loves this tire, but from personal experience, it can melt down after a few thousand miles of hard, street riding. The popularity of this tire, though, is testament to how well it performs.

Shop Continental Twinduro TKC80 tires.

Heidinau K60 Scout (50/50 mix off-road/street)

The German-made K60 Scout delivers a good balance of on-road and off-road performance. Due to such a balanced level of knob and tread, the K60 corners well, grips well, and handles impeccably on most surfaces.

Even more impressive are the treads that change design in relation to tire widths and sizes. The size of the tire, and knobbie patterning, changes the way the tire digs into the riding surface or just the way it covers the riding surface, thus ensuring a smooth ride at each size. Its resilient tire rubber also means a the K60 Scout is well equipped to handle riding in wet conditions, and it also has a much longer lifespan compared to the competition.

Shop Heidinau K60 Scout front tire from $92 and Heidinau K60 Scout rear tire from $194.

Midas MC 30 Invader (80% street)

This is a great tire if you ride mostly on the street with the occasional jot down a dirt path. It has a wide tread which grips well on pavement, but will have enough traction for a short ride on a hard-packed trail as well. It offers excellent stability and will provide a comfortable, quiet ride. The tire wears great and has a pretty healthy lifespan. 

Last Notes

- Mix & matching tires: Try not to mix brands for your front and rear tires. Each brand construct their tires differently, and the wear rates and wear patterns may be different. This is just going to cause you headache down the road (ha-ha, get it?). Most brands sell a matched pair, so this shouldn't be an issue even. But if for some reason, you must have an unmatched pair, then at least get tires from the same brand.

- Tire pressure: Tire pressure is a factor to consider too. While it's true that tires with more pressure will get you better mileage, it may not be the most ideal for all situations. When riding on soft conditions, like sand or mud, less tire pressure will give you better traction as softer tires can better conform to the contours of the surface.

It's a good idea to carry a small tire inflator so you can adjust your tire pressure on-the-go in accordance with the ever changing riding conditions.

When to replace: Be aware of the tire tread levels. Remember, tread is extremely important for off-road riding in order to be able to grip unto shifting surfaces. So you never want them to get too low. We recommend that you replace the tires when tread level is about 50%, unless you plan to do more street riding.

*All photos courtesy of manufacturers

By Daniel Relich

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