09 February 2011

Tires? Tires! Which Tires?

If the tires on my R1200GS continue to wear as they did over the last 5200 miles I will need new tires within about 1000 to 2000 miles. Closer to 1000 when I don't want to ride slicks ...

Yes, it's kind of incredible, I rode the big R within 6 months of ownership more than I rode the F800GS in a full year. And that with all the crazy work going on, the long hours in the office and so on. True, the trips to Lake Tahoe and San Diego added quite a lot, but I probably wouldn't have done them on the F because of my problems with buffeting and headaches.

So, back to tires. I'm uncertain what kind of tires I should get. I really would love to get a set of Heidenau K60 Scout (links to German website of manufacturer), but they are really hard to get in the US. Those are probably the most interesting 50:50 tires for on and off road riding. Not that I'm doing all too much on non-paved roads, but if I do it would be nice to have some more traction than with 3/4 worn Metzeler Tourance EXP (which I don't like anyways).

So, the Heidenaus are not available until late spring, early summer. What other options do I have:
  1. Continental TKC80 - hard core knobby for big dual sport bikes. The rear wears like chocolate in the sun but the traction on non-paved roads seems great.
  2. Metzeler Karoo T (Traveller) - same as TKC80.
  3. Michelin Anakee II - that's the tire I had on the F800GS. I was unimpressed first when I got the bike but overall it's a decent tire and it was in much better shape after 4500 miles on the F than the Tourance EXP after the same distance on the R. Hard to compare on the heavier and more powerful bike, but overall, I just liked the Anakee II better. Not too bad on non-paved roads, but not even close to the TKC or the Karoo and even way less capable than the K60.
  4. Continental Trail Attack - gets raving reviews from German magazines for on-road touring. Even less off-road biased than the Anakee.
  5. Pirelli Scorpion Trail - the tire that comes on the Ducati Multistrada 1200. Seems to be a pretty good tire, good reviews, similar to the Anakee and Trail Attack.
[Please note that the links are just examples for the tread pattern, I haven't necessarily linked to the correct size.]

Also - where to buy them? First I checked with my dealership but that wasn't so successful. A set of Anakee II was offered at $400 + $170 mounting ($120 if I bring in the wheels) - all before tax. As happy as I am normally with this dealer, that's just too much. I can get a set of these tires for $280 online, $300 from local store, another $50 for mounting there. It got me thinking of mounting the tires myself. It can't be that hard. I don't have the tools to do it though and as I have the luggage and the 6000 mile service coming up I might go with an affordable local shop now and re-think self mounting and tools for it for the next set.  

At the moment I tend towards a dual sport tire again (Anakee, Trail Attack, or Scorpion Trail) + ordering a set of K60 to get them in as soon as they become available. Then I have them at least when the issue comes up again. 

Man, too many decisions around this bike and definitely too expensive ... but what the h..., it's a hobby and what do I work for?


  1. The standard Metzeler Tourances have served me well. The EXPs do not seem to have such a large following.

  2. I heard that the standard Tourance are better and longer living than the EXP. What I didn't like about the EXPs is that I did slide with them a couple times on dry, clean tar. Never happened to me with Anakees on the F. It might be the different bike, maybe the vague Telelever not giving feedback early enough, but still, I kind of lost confidence in these tires.

    Always loved the Metzeler Enduro 4 back in the 90s and the Tourance are basically the new versions of those, but I guess I give some others a try to see how I like them.

  3. I have Tourances on my GSA. They returned 12,000 on the rear and 15,000 on the front - although I'm a pretty conservation (for a Democrat) rider.

    FYI: When I had the 1150 RT, I used nothing but Metzlers 6s and was always quite impressed with both wear and handling.

  4. I say go for the Anakee II tires. I ran a set on my R1200GS from last year for 11K including a ride across country. I just ordered another set from Rocky Mountain ATV for $250. They work better than the stock Trailwings and have certainly given me some decent mileage.

    If you do the tire change yourself, look online for some how-to guides. I did it last year with an unmodified Harbor Freight Tire Changer. This year I'm installing Mojoblocks on the tire changer and using a Mojolever. Should be much easier...