We often talk or argue about tires, based on our experience on different roads, with different riding habits, in different conditions and no question, all of us are right. Does not happen often when you have the chance to test different tires in the same conditions. The February KLR Ramblers ride unintentionally turned out to be a very good opportunity to do that.
Three of us set out for that ride on three different set of tires. Myself had a CST rear tire with a couple of thousands of km wear on it. It was not really a choice of mine, but when my Shinko got completely worn out, there was nothing else I could find and get fitted on my KLR 650 in Wanganui.
The very imaginatively named Chinese made C6559 was OK on the gravel roads, I did not dare to stress it on the tarmac, but turned out to be next to useless on dirt roads. Long as it is hard packed dirt road with light dust on it, you can get along with it, but in the moment you touch some mud, it clogs up and loose traction. You also cannot expect traction on grass. After the beginners track I did not risk getting on the more advanced tracks, which turned out to be a wise decision. The CST tire presented the lowest performance in this group. Seems, that the Chinese engineers did browse the Internet to see how adventure motorcycle tires looks like and did something based on what they saw, but I felt the real product development and testing have been completely left out from the process. I could recommend the CST C6559 only for a maximum 250cc motorcycle with 90% road use.
The Second set of tire was Michelin Sirac. According to Anton, this is the best 30/70 tire he had so far. It definitely did well on the tarmac, gravel and mild dirt riding. In shallow mud it still could get some grip and the tread was clearing up quickly. Anton could complete the more technical “B” track with some difficulties but it was done.
The real bad ass tires of the day were the set of Shinko 244 on Herman’s KLR. I had a very good experience with these tires before and when the CST will be a bit more worn out I will get a set of Shinko 244 again. The Shinko 244 took the KLR everywhere where the rider wanted to go. The tread pattern always did clear up very quickly, thanks to the generous spacing of the blocks and the pattern. It provided maximum performance all the time. The only complain I can make about the 244 is the higher tire noise on the motorway, but it is still within the OK range. I felt the Shinko tires being the only true 50/50 tires among the sets I have used so far.