Just need to share this with you – some thoughts about tyres. I know we all end up discussing ‘best’ tyres on our journeys and particularly on our adventures. Which give best grip, which ones last the longest, what are they like in the wet, on tarmac on gravel etc. etc. We often talk about the same brands eg. the Continental TKC80, Michelin’s Anakee, Metzeler Tourance to name just a few of the brand leads.
Well me and my crew have been discussing tyres recently, particularly with respect to our big African ride this summer. The truth of the matter is that it’s often a position of personal choice, preference and conditions. I know lots of people really worry about using a ‘knobbly’ type adventure tyre on the road in the wet. The comfort of having a leading ‘road’ tyre gives you that extra confidence. However, I find that you ride the bike to suit the conditions and the tyres and of course your speed. I always feel right either with full on road tyres OR dual sport tyres – I just ride to their own limits, wether it’s wet, on or off road.
One thing that is often overlooked is ‘where’ are you using the tyres? There can be a massive difference between running your ‘adventure’ tyre along the cold wet gravel tracks of South Wales, and the extremely hot and dusty trails of Namibia. The second thing that I think is often left out of the equation is YOU! How do you ride? are you sideways on every corner? are you spinning it up along the trail whenever your can? Do you like to really play on the bike or are you more concerned about protecting the tyre and adding to its life span.
Finally, another piece of the gigsaw is ‘weight’ – not just of you (but that is pretty significant) but of your luggage. The pressure on an adventure tyre for a fully laden GS Adventure – panniers, topbox, tank bag, pillion etc. etc. – well just think of the potential wear with all that weight compared to the 12 stone guy riding his GS with all the luggage in a support vehicle. Yes, it’s common sense isn’t it. But all I’m trying to do here is show how difficult it is to compare like with like - because there are so many different likes depending on who, where, what etc.
For the last 3 years now, we’ve been doing thousands of kilometers across Africa, every August and Sept and we’ve been using Mitas E10′s. We first learnt about these in South Wales at the Simon Pavey Off Road School. We were looking for a ‘fleet’ of tyres – yes 25 Beemers riding from Cape Town, all the way up through Namibia (the Skeleton Coast) and up to the border with Angola, east across the Caprivi strip into Zambia finishing the first leg at Victoria Falls. This route is primarily off road all the way – so tyres are key to the trip. Off road meaning ‘normal’ African gravel tracks and then some ‘sandy’ sections, together with a few more interesting bits – such as the ride through the glorious Wupperthal (it is just bike heaven for the adventure rider!). After that the fleet head south and east into Malawi and Mozambique, this time we’re mainly on tarmac although riding through some incredible sites – from the shores of lake Malawi to the travel brouchure imagery of the Indian Ocean and then the Jungle before arriving back into South Africa, in Johannesburg. The whole fleet is booted and suited with Mitas and we’ve never looked back.
Mitas have their main ‘history’ or name connected with Agriculture – but over the year’s they’ve been more and more connected with Enduro and now of course Adventure tyres. We’re chuffed with the Mitas range that we’ve used and we can see first hand, the results. It really does depend on who’s riding, wether its on gravel or road and how hot or wet the environment - which gives you different results regarding ‘wear’. After saying that, putting wear to one side we always agree that the handling of the E10 on the GS is just superb.
I hope I’ve given a good albeit brief account of the adventure ‘tyre’ debate and I’m sure you’ll all have your favourites and your own anecdotal evidence, so here’s another tyre you can add to your list and to your ‘experiments’. We’d love to hear about your exploits – so remember you can feedback to us on the twitter account or the Facebook account. What’s your favourite tyre?
Hope you found the few points above interesting – I just thought you may….
PS: Our tyre supplier in Southern Africa is a really cool all round biker called Darren Bishop – he’s based out of Port Elizabeth but we manage to get tyres from him all over Africa! Check him out at www.wfobikes.co.za he’s a great guy to work with and knows his stuff.
We get our UK Mitas from Gwynn – he’s a bit of a legend and senior off road instructor to boot – get him here http://www.trelleborgtyres.co.uk/page1.htm