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Discussion Starter #1
I am thinking about getting a supermoto (17" wheels) and setting it up with off road tires similar to the tw. I am wondering how these small/wide tires handle? I figure this would be a good place to get some first hand info...



How do they perform compared to a larger narrower dual sport tire on gravel, dirt, fire roads, trails, etc.?
 

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I am thinking about getting a supermoto (17" wheels) and setting it up with off road tires similar to the tw. I am wondering how these small/wide tires handle? I figure this would be a good place to get some first hand info...



How do they perform compared to a larger narrower dual sport tire on gravel, dirt, fire roads, trails, etc.?


I don't think SM tires are as wide as what we have on the TW. I think they would sink in more though, can't say for sure.
 

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Smaller motards tend to run 140 rears and 110 fronts. Others go up to 160 rears and 130 fronts. Smaller than TW tires. Many motard owners want to dabble in dualsporting, so some dualsport tires are becoming available in motard sizes. I'd love to have a WR250X with a set of Karoos or Big Blocks on it. As more and more people actually try fat tires there is less and less talk against them for dualsport road use. Narrower tires will always be faster, but with an aging population that never really was as fast as it claims it was, the extra traction of fat tires is slowly but surely gaining in popularity. Air down to about 12psi and they float across just about anything at a sane speed for an old fart to be riding.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If I wanted the best control on dirt and gravel, would a wide tire suit me better? I want to be able to flick and slide the bike around corners.
 

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Interesting notion



If its soft mud or sand then yes it will be better.



I don't think TW tires are rated over like 90 mph though
 

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Flick and slide? Narrow tires with no tread will provide the lack of traction you seek.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sorry of this is a stupid post. I figured wide tires would give better control on gravel, but found mixed opinions... It's hard to research the topic, I figured there would be people here that have ridden both types of bikes and could shed some light.
 

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Tdub has kept up with a "former desert racer" sliding all over the place on a 510 Husky on a twisty part of River Road in Big Bend National Park, with a road surface ranging from course sand to small boulders. Several riding buddies have expressed surprise at Tdub's ability to keep up with the pack on gravel roads through the Ozark National Forest. The proof is in the pudding.
 

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Tdub has kept up with a "former desert racer" sliding all over the place on a 510 Husky on a twisty part of River Road in Big Bend National Park, with a road surface ranging from course sand to small boulders. Several riding buddies have expressed surprise at Tdub's ability to keep up with the pack on gravel roads through the Ozark National Forest. The proof is in the pudding.


Since we're speaking of TW's, shouldn't it go like "The proof is in the putting"?



Big Bend is on my bucket list...putting, not sliding
 

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Sorry of this is a stupid post. I figured wide tires would give better control on gravel, but found mixed opinions... It's hard to research the topic, I figured there would be people here that have ridden both types of bikes and could shed some light.
I saw a 250 Yamaha Motard at a local dealer set up with K270 Kendas front and rear, I believe the size was 5.10 x 17 for both. Besides looking really cool you couldn't help but think this thing would fly on the trails. I know my front 4.00x18 Kenda does well on gravel roads especially when aired down somewhat. I have also been passed on gravel roads by larger dual sports at higher rates of speed than I was capable of and they didn't seem to have any issues with with the narrower tires. I would have to believe that a good dual sport tire for your motard is going to outperform the standard tire by a wide margin while offroad and still perform decently onroad. If I ever got rid of my TW I would probably do what you're thinking of . Good luck and post pictures if you get it done.
 

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If you were passed on gravel roads, you were passed on the straights or you were riding well below a TW's, and the other bikes', limits of traction.



"Conventional" wisdom on dirt tires is tall and skinny. This actually works quite well for competition bikes.



From a weight perspective, skinny tires are lighter. Lighter tires reduce unsprung weight, which makes controlling suspension movement much easier and allows faster acceleration. Therefore, to enjoy the benefits of skinny tires, treads and riding styles must be optimized. Such optimizations work well in competition, where maximum acceleration, braking, and cornering must be a balanced set of compromises in order to provide the best overall performance. For instance, a rider would be willing to give up a half second per lap of acceleration in order to gain one second per lap in braking, the net being lap times reduced by a half second.



On the other hand, most dualsport riders would give up acceleration and braking for comfort, something about which competition riders care not a wit. The entire balances of performance parameters of most trail riders and competition riders are very, very different. This simple fact is what most people don't understand. A great former *insert type of racing here* racer does not necessarily make a good trail riding buddy. Former racers tend to show up for trail rides with bikes prepped like race bikes with lights, and tend to ride like they are in a race. Consequently, former racers' bikes are not prepped for pleasant trail riding and pretty much suck at it, and the competition riding style often results in competition crashing style. Far from trackside EMTs, ambulances, and trailers to drag the wounded bike home. Not good.



Front tread patterns on competition tires are pretty much evenly spaced knobs laterally and longitudinally to provide a balanced potential for steering and braking.Usually, the cross-section profile of front tires is rounded to allow sufficient traction at all angles of lean. During acceleration, front tires really amount to nothing because in competition, the rear tire is chosen to provide sufficient traction to loft the front tire for maximum weight transfer to the rear for maximum rear traction for maximum acceleration.



Excess rear tire traction bogs the engine. Insufficient traction allows the engine to over-rev. Maximim thrust on most unpaved surfaces, especially the loamy soils generally used for racing, occurs with the tire turning 8-12 times faster than the actual speed. That is why a properly set up motocrosser is so quick out of the hole. Rear tires are designed with rows of knobs stretching the width of the tire, usually in a 4-5-4-5-4-5 pattern, to provide maximum straight-line traction for acceleration and braking with minimum weight. Ususally, the knobs along the edges are built up to provide a nearly flat tread surface for improved straight-line traction, not so they dig in on corners as commonly believed. In fact, the built up edges lift the major portion of the tread from the surface and function to reduce traction, making it easier to slide.



All this nuttiness actually works pretty well on race tracks because within just a few laps of the first practice session the spinning rear tires dig ruts through the corners and pile up slung soil on the outside of the ruts, creating what are called "berms." Berms are then used to steer the bike--approach at speed, intentionally lowside the bike at the prerfect location that it slides sideways into the berm, which compresses the suspension and forces the bike to a new direction. Skilled riders will often use the heavily loaded rear suspension to accelerate sufficiently to "pop a wheelie", which, with bike layed down practically flat, results in the bike aimed at the inside of the corner, a handy manuever when attempting to pass on the inside. There are dozens of such "tricks" that take advantage of the traction characterisitcs of tires with specific traction vectors.



Generally, there are no berms on gravel roads. Road graders wipe them out. Of course, there are often ruts that can be used as berms, if they aren't too deep, too narrow, and/or aim in the wrong direction. Most of the time, no ruts. Still, competition style suspensions and tires can make good time, by powersliding like a dirt track bike. Lots of fun, if you can do it. Consistently. Most riders think they are powersliding when what they are really doing is throttling up a little wheelspin for gits and shiggles by kicking the rear wheel out a little in a corner, but they are not powersliding through a corner crossed up like a dirttracker. Such riders are merely fooling themselves about the limits of their abilities, and there are lots of them. Such riders have a bad habit of ruining your ride by requiring you to assume responsibility for their emergency medical needs when (not usually if) they crash, as well for recovering their motorcycles.



Summary: Skinny tires have a place and serve a purpose--if your goal is speed and nothing else matters. Next question is, "What about trials bikes?" They do have skinny tires. Trials tire sizes are limited by rules. So are tread designs allowed in competitions sanctioned by major organizations. 2.75-21 front, 4.00-18 rear, pretty much across the board in every adult class. Fat-tired bikes can be ridden just as precisely as skinny-tired bikes, though more effort is required of the rider due to increased inertia. How much more effort? Not much, really. Fact is, if one isn't strong enough to manhandle any tire one probably should limit one's offroad excursions to riding a powered wheelchair. Thousands of Rokon and BW riders prove the notion that big tires make riding difficult every day.



So, why does the TW excel at tight, twisty gravel roads? Easy answer is it doesn't. Big tires provide big traction and TWs really are lighter than the bigger bikes, with a lower center of gravity, factors which combine to require less traction to maintain a desired line. TWs aren't really that great, other bikes pretty much suck worse under such conditions when ridden at anything less than racing speeds. No berms and riders lacking the skill to crossup every corner makes for slippery going.
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the informative post. But I definitely lost you on the last paragraph. It sounds like wider tires would work well for me, but i don't understand how you came to the conclusion that the tw "dosent excell... "
 

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Every motorcycle sucks on gravel. The fatter the tires, the less any particular model sucks. It's all relative.
 

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I dont get it either Handyman. Most of my riding is off road, but I dont race nor do most TW riders that I know of so not sure where Qwerty was going with all that. I am still running the stock tires and as they only have 1400 kms there is no sense in changing them at this point. Having a wider tire and the ability to air down for more traction, they have not let me down yet on anything I have traveled over. First trip that I ever made was up a dried out creek bed with the wife hanging on behind me. I was so impressed with the traction and grip the stock tires had, the bike never stalled nor bucked as the climb got steeper and at a few points we both had to lean forward to keep the front wheel from lifting off the ground. Once at the top looking back down where we had just come from I was in awe over the traction and low end power of this bike. Now if we had done that climb on the old XL500, it would have throwin both of us off on the first section and we would have never gotten to the top with out some blood loss. I have never tried this bike in straight sand as we dont have much of that up this way, but on logging roads, grassed over trails, muddy sections, underbrush covered slopes, it has been the best bike I have ever owned.



Now back to your original question...there are different "styles" of wide tires in both the tread and the cross sections they have. The TW stock tire has a rounded cross section so the contact pattern on dry hard ground is small with only a few of the knobs touching. Now if you lay this tire over on the turns the contact patch is the same, just a different section of the knobs contacting the ground. In soft mud / sand the tire will sink down and the contact patch increases, the weight is distributed over a larger area, and more knobs are in contact with the surface. This will "float" the bike over muddy sections if you transfer your body weight to the rear and lessen the pressure on the narrower front tire. It also does less damage to the enviroment than the higher powered/narrow wheeled bikes which cut trenches in the trails and leave rutts at every corner. The other wide tires you see are quad style with flatter contact and sharper edges. This type will give excellent forward traction and have more grip, but you give up that ability to lay the bike over in the turns as it rides up on the outside edge. The other danger of this flat surfaced tire is the skate board effect when it rolls accross a rock in the turn, throwing the bike sideways more so then the stock tire will as it has a wider surface to travel over before clearing. I had a very flat profile tire with knobs extending out the sides on my YZ, it was awsome on the straight sections but murder on the tight turns as the back end always wanted to pass the front. It resisted turning and was very twitchy with any throttle. My XL500 was a smaller cross section of tread and the knobs we smaller on the outsides making it much easier to turn and throttle up at the same time. The small contact pattern made it hard to climb as it kept slipping and letting go, then grabbing and flipping the bike back and forth making it very fun, but exhausting to do long rides.



The first thing you need to ask before buying new tires is where you want to ride, both the type of terrain and the speed you wish to travel over it. For me it is all about the ride, scenery, and safety. If there is too much mud, go around or turn back. If its too steep, find another way over or around that hill. And last if its not safe and its going to hurt, well thats why we pack a first aid kit....just give er and hang on! The list of bikes my girls and I have owned is long and varied, but there was always a common factor, lower powered, lower geared, wide and grippy tires. We have always rode with-in our abilities and have always made it home in one piece (some times sore and bruised but always one piece). The TW will never have the power to throw it into a tight turn and muscle your way around, just not what it was built for, so for myself, the style and profile of the stock tire is great for all purpose riding. I pack a small hand pump and can lower or raise the pressure as needed. So YES, go with a wide tire, ride with in its limits and enjoy it every minute you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I don't understand why more trail/dual sport bikes are set up like this. No wonder the tw has its cult-like following.
 

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Maybe your reading comprehension sucks, but your personal experiences echo exactly the properties of tires with different physical characteristics as I described them. Your observation that the TW's stock tires act like narrower tires on hard surfaces and like wider tires on soft surfaces is spot on. Part of that is due to the crossection and part to the tread pattern. The TW34 has a center strip practically as solid as some street tires and significantly more aggressive tread pattern wrapping around, and its rounded profile keeps a good bit of rubber on the road at all times compared to the flatter competition style treads. I wish the front tire had the same tread pattern--it would be much better on any surface than the TW32.
 

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My reading comprehension sucks? Quote:"Part of that is due to the crossection and part to the tread pattern". UUhmmmm.... thats what I said "there are different "styles" of wide tires in both the tread and the cross sections they have." You simply repeated it only backwards? Guess thats that "dern dyslexia" you mentioned last time?



You did read what Handyman wrote after your tire lesson?; "Thanks for the informative post. But I definitely lost you on the last paragraph".



I was just trying to put it into terms a normal bike enthusiast can relate too and understand. Different style tires for different terrain and riding styles....its that simple. But thanks for your input once again
 
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