Pirelli MT-21 MX Tires

story by Len Nelson , Created Aug. 15, 1998
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 Each month, new products come across our desk touting the latest technology, added features, and promises of performance gains. While we do our best to completely evaluate these new gadgets it is a difficult task to evaluate their long-term performance in a timely matter. This is important because first impressions often don't accurately reflect the overall rating a product should receive. The following "first impression" is such an example.

Several months ago we decided it was time for a new set of tires on our Suzuki DR 350 test bike. Actually, it was less a decision and more a necessity: The front tire had become so badly chunked that most of the knobs were missing altogether. Under the rear fender, however, was the saddest excuse for a dirt-bike tire there ever was - so little tread remained on the rim that not even the neighbors pit bull was interested in gnawing on it anymore! Did I mention that this was the second set of tires in less than a year of casual riding?

The problem wasn't the DR's torquey motor, nor was it caused by using cheap tires or non-stop brake burns. No - it was our error for putting dirt-only tires on a bike that was being ridden on both the street as well as in the dirt. While our initial choice of tires proved to be perfect for the soft dirt we frequently ride in, they simply couldn't hold up to the rigors of street abuse. What's a dirt junky to do?

Do what we did - install a set of Pirelli's MT-21 MX tires. Then, forget about them for a season or so. The Pirelli Rally Cross tires, as they're named, offer one of the most aggressive tread patterns available on a DOT-approved (Department Of Transportation, a regulatory body in the United States) tire and is designed to perform under a variety of conditions.

Do they work? You bet your power valve they work! We've logged several hundred on- and off-road miles with these bad boys and they're holding up just fine.

When traveling to the trail for a ride or making a run down to the local grocery store its immediately apparent that the Pirellis exhibit remarkably little road noise. That's because they were made to be used on the street. Off-road they handle exceptionally well and allow for aggressive riding without fear of tearing them apart. While designed for intermediate terrain, the MT-21 can easily be setup to perform well in both muddy or rocky conditions with a simple tire pressure adjustment.

The only noteworthy drawback to the Pirelli's is that they can instill such confidence in the rider that its possible to forget you're running street-approved tires. Because when the nitty gets gritty and you're desperately trying to beat your buddy down a trail or three - roosting him with dirt the whole way - you can forget the Pirellis are street-based tires and find yourself sliding off into the woods. Basically, though they're great all-around tires, the MT-21s just don't compare to full-on dirt racing tires. Luckily, the MT-21s are quite predictable and give ample warning before misbehaving.

If you are in the market for a dual purpose tire primarily intended for dirt use, then consider the MT-21. Their service life and versatility make them a good value, and we give them four (out of a possible five) stars.

Pirelli MT-21 tires, with a suggested retail price of 74 dollars, are available from a dealer near you.

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