Friday, July 16, 2010



Thanks for the recent Yamalube prize pack I won: much appreciated! I just have a question re tyres as being new to adventure/off-road riding from roadies, I find the TKC rear on my Kato 690R Enduro is lasting about 1800km. What do you reckon about those Mefos in an aggressive off-road pattern? Is it worth trowelling tyres to get off-road grip, as the Kato does some big speeds to get to the bush -- sometimes 200km before the dirt roads happen. I mainly like the rough gravel roads due to starting out from roadies for 25 years but also like dirt/mud and water crossings. Currently the 690R Enduro is running a DNA airbox with mods plus a Barrett pipe, so it howls! Cheers for your advice.
-- Mike H via

Thanks for your email, Mike. The two toughest questions we get here at TZ all the time are: 1). Which bike should I buy? 2). What tyres should I run? So much of it comes down to individual preference. With regards to tyres, let me chuck in my 2c worth. You can choose whether you bank it or burn it! Right now I've been racking up the miles on our new Tenere Project Bike, arguably doing similar type riding to you, but maybe not with quite such hard-core conditions at the off-road end of the spectrum -- at least not on this bike. I've tried Kenda Trackmaster K760 knobbies (pictured) on it. They're inexpensive, ADR legal and they work in the dirt, being a full knobby pattern. My personal preference is I prefer to run a knobby tyre, to have as much grip as possible when the ground conditions turn crap. I got almost 3000km out of the Kenda rear, but the Tenere won't be working it as hard as your 690 would! Then I tried a set of Mefo Explorers, which have a much lower, rounded knob pattern and tread profile and were more comfortable and quieter on the street than the Kendas. I only ran them for 1500km on tar and hard-pack dry dirt only and the rear had barely started to wear. They look to definitely offer good mileage, but are a more street-oriented tyre. Maybe a good choice for riders who have commuter miles to do between big outback jaunts. I've just put on a set of Pirelli MT21 knobbies for our latest trip to Kroombit Tops in Queensland, and have so far put 1200km on these tyres across all types of terrain, wet and dry. I was happy enough with them, save for wet clay, but seriously, any tyre is going to struggle in wet clay underneath a 209kg-plus Tenere loaded with all the fruit. Judging by the amount of wear on the rear after 1200km, I'd say the MT21 will be good for no more than 3,000km either. Like I said, my personal preference is for full knobbies -- but that are road legal, check this as many are not, and could lead to problems if you crash and have to make an insurance claim. But running knobbies means they will wear out faster if you have to do road miles, but that's the price for grip in the dirt. I'm due for another set of tyres for my bike real soon, and am going to go with either the Kendas again or a set of Dunlop D606s, which Lance has fitted to our current Suzuki DR650 Project Bike and which have been doing a good job in the dirt and on the tar. I've also had reports from other riders (on DR-Z400s admittedly, so not the most tyre-shredding of beasts!) and they talk of getting 5-6,000km out of a 606 rear. I doubt the Tenere and certainly not your fire-breathing 690 would get that mileage, but they could be worth a try? A lot of it comes down to riding style and either being careful on the throttle and conserving tyre wear -- or riding your bike like the maker intended and paying for rubber along the way! I'd say option two would be the go on a 690 and the more traction you have in the dirt when you want to enjoy your bike at its best, the better a knobby you want. So keep your credit card handy and keep the rubber up to it!

-- Clubby,

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