Want to make your old bike feel new again? Install new tires. Your current rubber hoops may have mileage left in them, but switching to new tires is an easy and affordable way to elevate the handling composure of a motorcycle. Fresh rubber not only increases both on- and off-road grip, but the manicured profile of new tires also smooths turn-in and transitioning, bettering your sense of control and feedback from the road.

On the flipside, the wrong tires can go a long way in ruining your riding pleasure. Installing a 10mm wider rear tire can so adversely change your motorcycle’s handling you’ll curse having ever made the decision to do so. Tire choice for Adventure bikes is compounded with the demands of not just street but off-road riding. How much grip do you want for street riding vs. how much grip you want in the dirt? Longevity vs grip on the street as well as longevity vs grip in the dirt. There’s also terrain types to accommodate: rocks vs. sand vs. hard-pack, wet vs dry.

Of course, there’s the adventure bike itself. The demands of a 350-pound Honda XR650L will be vastly different from those of a 525-pound BMW R1200GS. Aggression levels in the dirt vs. those on the street also go a long way in determining tire selection, as does tube vs tubeless tires.

We can no more choose the perfect tire for you than we can get our wives to turn off lights in an unused room. What we can do is suggest a few of the tire options available and hope they’ll help smooth your future tire buying decisions.



Avon has two models of adventure tires available: Distanzia (left) and Gripster (right). The Distanzia is the more streetable tire (80% on-road, 20% off-road) and is designed for heavier-weight adventure bikes, while the Gripster is the tire with more off-road intentions (60% on-road, 40% off-road) for mid-size dual-purpose motorcycles. The Distanzia is available in a variety of front and rear sizes, the Gripster comes in only a single front (90/90-21) and rear (130/80-17) sizes. Prices for the Distanzia range from $124 – $189 for fronts and $153 – $280 for rears. Gripster prices are $140 for the front and $175 for the rear. For more go to avonmoto.com.


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Bridgestone’s arsenal of adventure tires includes these two models: the radial Battle Wings BW501/BW502 (left) and bias-ply Trail Wings TW301/302 (right). Bridgestone claims the Battle Wings to be 90% on-road and 10% off-road, while the Trail Wings are designed for 50% operation on either surface. Both models come in a variety of sizes with prices ranging from $115 – $145 for Tail Wing fronts and $121 – $145 for Trail Wing rears. Battle Wing rears cost $202 – $217 while Battle Wing fronts cost $80 – $115. For more information about these two models or the availability of other adventure tires from Bridgestone go to www.motorcycle-karttires.com



Continental has four models of adventure tires, ranging from more street to more dirt, from which to choose: ContiTrailAttack 2 (left), ContiEscape (not pictured), TKC 70 (center) and TKC 80 (right). The 0° steel-belted TKC 70s are the newest adventure tires from Continental and are said to combine the best of the TKC 80 off-road tire and ContiTrailAttack 2 on-road tire. All adventure tire models come in a variety of sizes and pricing. The TKC 70 fronts are available in two 19-inch sizes ranging in price from $181 – $191 while the rear is available in three 17-inch sizes and one 18-inch for $226 – $262. For more information go to www.conti-online.com.



Dunlop’s triumvirate of adventure tires includes the Trailmax TR91, D606 and D908RR Rally Raid. As you can see from the chart above, the Trailmax is the more streetable of the three, while there doesn’t seem to be much separating the D606 or D908RR. But there is. According to Dunlop the D606 is a street-legal tire with an emphasis on aggressive off-road riding and longevity, whereas the DOT-approved, D908RR is designed for racing and cross-country conditions, providing enhanced wear resistance and grip over rocks, hard ground and pavement. All model adventure tires come in a variety of sizes and pricing from $142 for a front D606 to $320 for a D908RR rear. For more information visit www.dunlopmotorcycle.com.



There’s not much information about the Duro HF 903/904 Median Dual-Sport tires, but here’s what we do know: They’re S-rated for speeds up to 110 mph, and made for 60% on-road, 40% off-road use. Possibly the best attribute are the tires’ pricing of $70 – $99 for rears and $67 for a front. Size wise, the front comes in only a 90/90-21, while the rear is available from a 110/90-16 to a 4.60-18. Check out www.durotire.com.



IRC manufacturers seven different dual-purpose tires: three Battle Rallys, two Trail Winners, a Trails and a Foot Loose. The Trail Winner GP-110 is said to be “designed to provide the best possible handling and control for both on and off road. The GP-110 is designated 90% on-road and 10% off-road, and is S-rated up to 112 mph. Like the Duros, the IRC Trail Winner GP-110s have an attractive price tag of $110 – $144 for the selection of different sized rears, and $80 – $85 for the two different sized front tires. To see more models of IRC adventure tires go to www.irc-tire.com.



Kenda has four dual-sport tire models, but the company’s newest offering is the K784F and K784 Big Block tires. According to Kenda, the Big Blocks are “designed specifically to meet the demands of the high powered Adventure motorcycle and serious Adventure rider.” The DOT-approved tires are rated to be 60% on-road and 40% off-road, with a tread pattern designed for traction on the street as well as in the dirt. Three front sizes go for $109 – $135, while the four rear sizes are priced from $124 to $189. Check them out at www.kendatire.com.



Tourance Next is the newest model in Metzeler’s adventure tire lineup: Tourance, Tourance EXP, Tourance Next. Compared to the EXP, the Tourance Next boasts improved mileage, as well as better grip in wet weather and increased stability. Metzeler achieved these performance improvements by utilizing new compounds, profiles, structure and tread pattern. The Tourance Next is fitted to BMW R1200GS models as standard equipment. The Tourance Next comes in three different front and rear sizes, prices ranging from $241 – $299 for rears, and $202 – $221 for fronts. For more check out www.metzeler.com.



Michelin’s Anakee III’s have replaced the Anakee IIs as Michelin’s premier adventure tire. The Anakee IIIs feature an innovative and distinctive tread pattern, better mileage, and a new silica compound. Michelin claims the new Anakees offer riders improved traction in wet weather as well as enhanced ride qualities. For more off-road adventurous riders, check out Michelin’s T63 tires which boast true 50/50 street/dirt performance. Front sizes for the Anakee IIIs are limited to 19- and 21-inch diameter wheels, and 17-inch diameter rears. Pricing for Anakee III fronts range from $181 – $230, and $236 – $285 for rears. For more information go to motorcycle.michelinman.com.



Pirelli has an impressive variety of tires that can be used on adventure bikes, depending on your preference for on- or off-road riding, and the type of bike you own. For now, however, we’ll focus on the company’s Scorpion Trail tires. The Scorpion Trails are constructed for heavier adventure-touring bikes to deliver impressive mileage as well as impressive traction in all weather conditions. Built for more on-road rather than off-road riding, the Scorpion Trails boast of providing excellent handling and stability on both surfaces even with a fully-loaded adventure-touring bike. Front tires come in diameters ranging from 17 inches to 21 inches in a price range from $192 – $221, while rears are available in 17- and 18-inch diameters ranging from $207 – $308. Check out www.pirelli.com.



Not as well known as some other tire brands, Shinko, nonetheless, has an impressive variety of adventure tires. The E-804/E-805 Big Block adventure tires above are rated as 60% off-road and 40% on-road. The tubeless, DOT tires are intended for off-road adventurers at a price that’s much more affordable than comparable tires from better-known companies: $136 – $170 for rears and $100 – $161 for fronts. Sizes for rears are limited to three: two 17-inch diameter and one 18-inch diameter. Fronts are available in two 19-inch and one 21-inch diameter models. Check out these and Shinko’s other tire options at www.shinkotireusa.com.

  • Old MOron

    For 50/50 use, I’ve had excellent results from Conti’s TKC80. Freeway, twisty canyons, dirt roads, sand, rocks, I’ve used them on everything but mud. Very good compromise tire.

  • Beeg

    but what about snow&pavement?

  • firstime911

    What do you think about TKC 70 i’m mostly ride on highway but will do 15% off road.

    • 12er

      What kind of off road? I ride all over fire trails with just street tires. Granted I dont do mud or nasty climbs or single track. But then again I wouldn’t no matter what tires on a heavy adventurish bike. A true dual sport is a different story. Basically how much do you wish to give up for 85% of your riding for a minor increase in your 15% time? As the slightly more grooved street tires really dont make a diff it seems over a true street tire vs something like the TKC 80. The 70’s look like a good compromise but do you need it?

      • firstime911

        Hi 12ER, I’m thinking of buying a new set of tire for R1200 GS adventure LC. It come with stock tkc80. I will need more street oriented tire, long distance touring, rain, and very good at cornering and high speed. Around 10 to 15% gravel, dirt, bumpy road.. not doing enduro soft terrain mud yet. I’m hesitating between Continental Tkc70, Continental Trial Attack 2, Michelin Anakee 3. Thank you very much

        • 12er

          From what you describe I’d buy your favorite set of sport touring tires and possibly another set of tkc80’s and check out MO’s article on changing tires yourself. I used to swop my tires, balancing can be fun but not too bad. Personally I find high speed cornering much more important to my riding / safety than off road traction. So I just gingerly run my touring tires off road. But with minor investement and a little time you can swop buns yourself without any trade offs for what your going to be riding.


  • 12er

    The scorpions were what came on my multi, I hated them and glad I burned them off fast. My Metz z8 touring tires offer about the same off road as the scorpions (which is little to none) yet don’t slide all over the place on road. I was carefully exploring dirt roads in the sierras this past weekend with z8’s. I, like our wise sage Mr. Burns just leave the TC and ABS on and let it supply the grip. As long as Im not trying to blast a turn all is well on mildly rutted jeep trails.

    I had a set of Gripsters on my old KLR, in the rain they change to “Slipsters.” Great in the dry, good off road but man tread lightly on wet pavement. Felt like they had been encased in snot. They are soft and burned off fast but performed well other than in the wet. Just be very careful in the wet, very!

  • Donnie

    I’m glad to see that you don’t have Haidenau’s listed. The most terrifying tires I have ever ridden on.
    My GS had a pair on it when I bought it, way bad. The front would push and the rear would slide. And don’t ask about them in the rain.
    The worst thing is that they wear like iron. It hurts to throw away tires that are barely worn, but it hurts more to throw away an expensive motorcycle.

  • Backroad Bob

    I had good luck with Maxxis DS tires (6006s) on small displacement bikes, but like everything else that was any good, they quit making it. The IRC is the closest available tread pattern. When DS/ADV tire manufacturers began wrapping the trend onto the sidewall is when they finally bridged the gap between street tires and knobbies. it’s an important feature for any tire you lean on the pavement.

  • dustysquito .

    Definitely a few notable entries missing in the dual sport tire category. The Kenda 270 (and the Shinko 244 by association) are really good, inexpensive DS tires. The Shinko 705’s should also get a mention for being in that 70/30 or 80/20 category with long tread life and low price. I’m sure there’s others worth mentioning here too.

  • bob2

    i like the Pirelli scorpion mt 90 a/t on the front of my bmw. haven’t tried the rear in that tread, yet.
    Michelin t63’s , front and back, are my goto for more dirty stuff….dig? they dig!