Which tyres do we use?
Enduros usually come with some form of knobblies from the factory. Fine for racing off-road but useless on the road. Road holding is limited, they vibrate, they don't handle all that well and they're worn out before you reach the next off-road section. As we travel, rather than race, we need something else than a knobbly. We need a tyre that can handle road use, has loads of grip both for the fun factor but even more so to help prevent disaster in those 'sorry, didn't see you mate' situations. It also needs to be able to handle gravel, dirt and mud, plus as we travel over long distances, we'd also like a tyre which gets a decent mileage... we ask a lot from them! We've tried various brands and types and found Avon Tyres, made in the UK for well over 100 years, give us the best performance. Being made in a country known for their wet and cold weather, it comes as no surprise that they handle the wet and cold roads well. Yet as you can read below 48°C isn't a problem either. Off the beaten track their V-shaped thread pattern works very well in muddy conditions. Just like a tractor tyre it pushes the mud to the sides increasing stability and creating grip. Avon have at the time of writing two tyres suitable for what we want to do, the TrailRider and the TrekRider.
Photo taken after 8,000km, or from Holland to the west coast of the UK, back to Holland, over the German Autobahn and then through Denmark and into Sweden...
For the Beta 480RR and the KTM450EXC we opted for the more off-road oriented Avon TrekRider. As their thread pattern is similar to the TrailRider but with wider grooves, we assumed they would work better off-road. And they do. Trust Mike's unlimited enthusiasm to test them to the limit, both on and off-road. On asphalt he rode them literally to the edge, like he was riding a SuperMoto. Off-road we had expected less grip as it's not a knobbly obviously. We thus entered the first off-road section with a little caution. In reality grip and stability is impressive, much more than you'd need for travelling. Mike thus went a little crazy to the point where he deliberately started sliding them on all sorts of loose surfaces, just to see what would happen. But even when he did get them sliding it was an easy controllable slide.
A new knobbly might have been better but these tyres already had 7,000 km of asphalt riding on them when we hit the first decent off-road sections in Sweden and he started to see how they would handle deliberate sliding. How much would have been left of a knobbly after 1100 km of German and Danish Autobahn plus a trip to the UK and back? The TrekRider had plenty of thread left when we arrived at the start of the Swedish TET, and yet that same tyre had already been from Holland to the west coast of the UK and back before we even left for Sweden and Norway. As the rubber feels softer than the TrailRider we expected to replace them halfway during the trip, which still would have been great mileage. As it was they made it back with 2-3 mm thread left...! All told we replaced them at 14,000 km.
The V-shaped thread pattern works well, both on-road and off. There's non of the singing noises or vibrations usually found on dual sport tyres and they just soak up the miles in comfort. In a way the TrekRider has made the choice even more difficult... do I take the TrekRider or TrailRider. The short answer is better off-road grip: TrekRider, even better mileage TrailRider.
Avon markets the TrailRider very conservatively as a 90/10 tyre. Having used them in some pretty insane conditions we think it's a 80/20 tyre to be honest. We feel they certainly outperformed the Heidenau K60 Scout, Michelin Sirac, Metzeler Tourance, Conti TKC80 and TKC70.
We took the Avon TrailRiders on the last part of our trip around the world, from Europe via Turkey, Georgia, Russia, through the deserts of Kazakhstan (where we had 48° for days!), off-road Paradise Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, India and Myanmar to Thailand... or 25,000 km... and we did that all on one rear tyre! The front continued on through Thailand, Laos, back into Thailand, Cambodia, again into Thailand, Malaysia and was finally replaced in Perth, Australia as we had a leg of nearly 3,000 km ahead of us without a motorcycle shop. The front was replaced at 30,000 km but could have done a bit more. Much more important than extreme longevity though is the grip they have. Most tyres perform well when it's 25°C and dry, but Avon TrailRiders have grip when it's freezing cold too, or bucketing down, or both. Longevity is nice but staying away from plaster or worse is more important.
You might think I'm biased towards Avon Tyres... and you're totally right! It all started some 35 years ago when I fitted my first set of Avons on advice of a local bike mechanic. The handling of every bike I've had since improved when I replaced the tyres for Avon. The Avon TrailRider is OEM fitment for the KTM 790 Adventure.