Hi Clubby: I was hoping you could help me out with my tyre selection for the upcoming Tenere Tragics Mountain to Mountain Ride. I'm riding my 2010 Super Tenere and my friend is riding his 2010 XT660Z from Lake Macquarie, NSW, and we're looking for a tyre that will allow good highwway speed as well as being capable of perfoming well on the ride you have set out for us. Your help would be much appreciated
-- Mark, Tenere Tragic #45
Okay, Mark, my tip is to go with knobbies for the ride. Sure, you won't get the same mileage out of knobby tyres as you will with a more 50/50 oriented dual-purpose tyre, but as I have said many times, that's a trade-off you have to pay to have better traction and a more confidence-inspiring ride in the dirt and on the gravel.
For the 660, I have run Dunlop 606s, Pirelli MT21s and Kenda Trackmasters on our TRAIL ZONE XT660Z Tenere Project Bike and honestly, I have found them much of the muchness. It's your call on what you can get re price and availability. Any of these tyres, I never get more than 5,000km out of a rear on the 660. And just make sure you run heavy-duty tubes to reduce the chance of punctures.
For the 1200, I have been running Mitas E10s on our XT1200Z Supere Tenere Project Bike and get just over 4,000km out of a rear -- and that's being 'respectful' on the throttle. Woop it up and you can chew through the rear heaps quicker! Other options are Metzeler Karoos or Kenda Big Blocks. If you really want a rear that will give you more road mileage, then maybe look at running a knobby up front (for better steering and grip in the dirt and on the gravel) and a Heidenau on the rear.
When you're shopping for tyres, I have to give our Tenere Tragics ride sponsor Steve Smith from AdventureMoto.com.au a plug, as he has heaps of experience with all these different tyres and can offer you heaps more feedback and help you make the choice. He is also offering FREE SHIPPING on any tyres purchased by Tenere Tragics, so give him a call on 1300 46 66 86 and tell him you are a Tenere Tragic and that I said for you to call.
After all that, be sure to carry a pump and don't be afraid to adjust your tyre pressures up and down on the ride: go higher on the tarmac (say 36 psi on the 1200) and go lower on the off-road sections (say 26psi on the 1200), especially if/when it gets wet! Tyre pressure can make a massive difference to your ride, especially in the fire-trail sections we will get on days 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Tenere Tragics ride.
Hope that all helps -- yell out if you have any more questions.
-- Clubby, Tenere Tragic #1