Product Review – Dual-Sport Tires - Continental TKC80 Front & Shinko 705 Rear
My riding buddy Adam and I took an extra day off over the already extended Labor Day weekend to go out and abuse our bikes (both DR650’s) and bodies on a four-day, 1,400 mile torture test. Let me just say that I love my job! It is my responsibility, my DUTY to go and ride my motorcycle so that I can test and evaluate the plethora of products available to ensure that we carry and sell only the best of what is available. Honestly, we don’t just put things on the website because somebody suggests it, or a salesman told me he had the deal of the century. Nope. Everything we carry has survived the ProCycle torture test.
The main product being put to the test on this trip was tires. Awhile back I finally found what I think are the perfect wheel sizes for the big DR; a 2.75 x 19 inch front mated to a 4.25 x 17 inch rear. Why do I like these particular sizes? First of all, you have to understand that I think of my DR as a ‘Dual-Purpose Sport Bike’. I want to be able to shred the asphalt twisties as well as conquer dirt and gravel roads and the occasional trail. With the great selection of tires available in these wheel sizes, I can have my cake and eat it too.
The stock wheel/tire configuration with the skinny 21 inch front just doesn’t give the motorcycle that nice tight steering you want when swaying to and fro on a nice section of paved roller coaster track. Sure it works a bit better off-road than the 19 inch, but I am happy to sacrifice a bit of obstacle roll-over capability for additional on-road stability. My current tire of choice for that hoop is a 110-80/19 Continental TKC80. This tire gives exceptional grip for a dual-sport tire on the pavement but is still aggressive enough to handle anything short of a mud-fest off-road.
Out back, the stock rear is the right diameter at 17 inches, but is just way too narrow. The 4.25 width rim allows me to run a much wider tire. The rear tire that I thrashed (or tried to!) on this journey was the new radial Shinko 705 in a 150-70/17 size. Overall, this was a really good tire for everything we threw at it, and we tried just about any surface you can think of tackling on a loaded down DR650. It can take the twisties with a full-load and give great traction. Wear was much better than I anticipated as well.
The 19 inch front and 17 inch rear adventure wheel combination (click here to see that wheel combo on the DR650 page) has a really good selection of tires available to fit these hoops. This is the same size combo found on the big BMW adventure bikes as well as the DR’s cousins, the V-Strom family. Again, take a look at our Tires page and see what we have to offer you there. If you don’t see what you want, give us a call and we can get it for you!
Our adventure covered just about any surface you could expect on a dual-sport ride, from pavement to dirt/gravel roads and even some very technical rock crawler type trails in northern Washington, and these tires handled it better than I did! It was quite an afternoon going up and down roads covered in loose rocks from softball to volleyball size. When the rocks thinned out at all, that is where the tree roots grew! Below, in the image on the left, you can see what the trail looked like. As happens, the image does not show the steepness of the terrain as this was not level as it appears. Click here or on any of the images below if you would like to see more photos from this trip (and a few others!).
Overall this was a really good tire combination that I would recommend in a heartbeat. These tires gave me the confidence to flop the bike over in the corners on pavement as well as remaining stable on dirt and gravel roads. I liked these tires so much that I have added them to the website!
Adam was also running the Shinko 705 rear tire on his stock rim in a bias-ply, 140-80/17 size. On the front he had a 21 inch Pirelli MT21 mounted. He was also very happy with his combination. I have run the MT21’s on my stock sized wheels in the past as well and would choose them over a set of Dunlop 606’s if push came to shove and I knew that the trails weren’t going to be too nasty and there was going to be a good percentage of pavement. Lose the pavement and throw in lots of mud or real loose terrain and I would be spooning a set of 606’s on stock sized rims.