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Discussion Starter #1
A long over-due front tire replacement from stock is going to happen. What's the pros/cons of the different sizes used on the front end? The options I'm looking at are the following:

110/80 - 18
120/80 - 18
120/90 - 18
130/90 - 18

Very little street riding, some dirt roads, more single track mountain riding. Mostly mountain, slow travel, tough rides.

Very rough trail riding in loose rock/dirt, large & small granite rocks (some loose, some not), some steep terrain. Puncture is a concern.

How will the sizing effect the feeling up front for good or bad? Or is it going to be so subtle I won't feel a difference?

Thanks for any help, looking at Pirelli MT21
 

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I went with the widest front tire to complement the rear and afford maximum floatation in mud, snow and sand. Others could argue a narrower front tire can cut deeper and thus track better. Opinions will vary wildly but the actual difference may be fairly subtle depending on your riding conditions.
Wider tire will weigh a bit more and thus subtly affect performance. If you need to loft aspen logs, wheelie, or maximize acceleration then get a skinny tire.
 

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Some like the MT-21. I rode a TW for a few hours with a new MT-21 and hated the feel on hard surfaces like pavement and slickrock sandstone. The knobs seemed to want to make bike directionally unstable and thus did not inspire confidence where tire placement in inches really counted when riding atop sandstone fins. Tire was designed to provide forward thrust while churning and sliding the rear of off-road bikes. Great if your bike is a front wheel drive. Too bad it isn't.
Why not use a tire designed for cornering and staying hooked up to terrain rather than one designed to provide benefits while sliding and churning under power? I like a D.O.T. approved trials tire for it's smoothness on road as well as the all important cornering prowess in the loose stuff.
The MT-21 must have conditions in which it excels since it has such a solid fan base, just not sure you will see those conditions in Utah. Sandy loamy soils might really need the MT-21's big lugs.
 

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I have the Dunlop D606, 130/90-18 on the front and absolutely love it off road, on road it is a little buzzy and I'll get a little handlebar oscillation above 55 mph if the pressure is on the low side, but I rarely go that fast. Around here it is mostly soft dirt or mud where I'm going off road. It does make the front feel a little heavier than the wimpy stock tire, but for me, the pros outweigh the cons. If I'm going to cover a lot of miles of pavement with no off roading, I'll take a different bike.
 

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I, like Miaugi have the Shinko 241 4/18....and love it - rarely need to stab a foot down to keep from toppling over in loose rock/sand with the 241 vs. stock tire. You can order a Shinko 241/5/18 if you want a thicker tire.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Some like the MT-21. I rode a TW for a few hours with a new MT-21 and hated the feel on hard surfaces like pavement and slickrock sandstone. The knobs seemed to want to make bike directionally unstable and thus did not inspire confidence where tire placement in inches really counted when riding atop sandstone fins. Tire was designed to provide forward thrust while churning and sliding the rear of off-road bikes. Great if your bike is a front wheel drive. Too bad it isn't.
Why not use a tire designed for cornering and staying hooked up to terrain rather than one designed to provide benefits while sliding and churning under power? I like a D.O.T. approved trials tire for it's smoothness on road as well as the all important cornering prowess in the loose stuff.
The MT-21 must have conditions in which it excels since it has such a solid fan base, just not sure you will see those conditions in Utah. Sandy loamy soils might really need the MT-21's big lugs.
If I go with a trials type front end tire, I assume this design considers toughness on rocks/corners/edges. A concern of mine is pinching and puncturing. Of course me 'assuming' anything starts with me being a a_ss. I'm just north of you in Idaho and probably have similar trails/weather/soil/surfaces.

I have seen the 4.00-18 Pirelli MT43 and the SR241 (3.5-18 & 4.0-18) that Miaugi mentioned. If going this route is there anything I'm going to sacrifice in rocky, loose dirt, steep, dry terrain? Looks like both available are 4.00-18.

BTW - front wheel drive I'm not sure about,,, :) but I've put myself into many circumstances that I wish I had reverse!
 

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I have a 4.00x18 Shinko Trials tire. It's buzzy on the road. Its too fat for a front tire and looks stupid on my bike for me. I have about 900 miles on it and ditching it for a Dunlop K190.Something about the square looking profile for a front tire on the Shinko I don't like.
To answer your question my opinion is not to go larger than stock. A bigger tire makes for heavier steering and a heavier feeling front end overall
 

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The Shinko 241 is pretty popular here for a good reason. 4.00x18 is almost a perfect match to the stock tire size, aside from the Shinko being about 3/8" taller. This cancels most of the speedometer error, a nice bonus.

It's a trials style tread pattern, but it's heavier and stiffer than a "true" trials tire, and they just market it as a general purpose dual sport tire. It's well behaved on the road. Quiet, doesn't "wander" in corners, and stable at higher speeds. Works great off road also. Sticky on rock and hard surfaces, and knobby/flexible enough to grab on roots and trail trash. Unless I'm being really ham fisted I've never had it skid out on steep downhills or faster corners. Tried it based on the popularity here and it's definitely my new go-to. Cheap too, think it was $60 shipped from Revzilla.

Throw some slime or Stan's in the tube to cover you against most punctures. I mean if you're really going off grid obviously bring a spare tube, but for common pinch flats, nails, ect the sealants will work well enough to let you keep going (maybe occasionally stopping to air up, but you can get home).
 
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