Wrench Tip Wednesday: Tire Selection
Choosing a tire may be one of the toughest things to do in the dirt bike world. There are so many factors that go into it. What terrain are you riding? What is your bikes’ main purpose? Soft, gummy, hard? Knobby or trials? Previous personal preference? What about size? Tire choice can make or break your day as it’s a big factor on whether you will be enjoying the ride.
Dual sport bikes are used for both off road and street riding. The tire must be DOT approved. Lots of different brands and styles out there but take into consideration, are you riding more on the streets or off road. If its more off road then a knobby type dual sport tire is a good option. If you are spending more time on the street or at high speeds, a sportier tire is a good choice.
Motocross is a track with jumps and other man-made obstacles. Tire choices seem to be somewhat similar to some off road terrains. Soft, loamy dirt, sand, and mud most riders prefer a harder compound rubber tire with taller and wider spaced knobs. When the terrain is firmer a softer compound with knobs closer together and shorter is preferred. Intermediate tires work well in most conditions, so that is a good all-around tire.
Off road is a tough one, from tight single track to high-speed wide-open desert riding. Muddy and loamy conditions most riders go with a soft tire with wider and taller knobs. Overall, intermediate is the most popular. Gummy tires are a good choice for rock hell, hard enduro terrain, or extreme single track. But keep in mind, shredding the tire in a two hour harescramble is possible. That leaves the trials tire, when should you use a trials tire on a dirt bike, not a trials bike, that one is without a doubt personal preference but they do work well in rocks but hard to ride a grass track with one. Desert terrain can vary a lot from deep silt to a hard base and loads of rocks. My advice is to know where you are riding and the difference in terrain before selecting a tire.
On a tire, there is three different numbers that give measurement of dimensions that all tires have. Example: 110/100-18. The first number is the width of the tire from sidewall to sidewall in millimeters. The second number is the sidewall height, also known as the aspect ratio that’s represented as a percentage of the tire width. The last number indicates rim size. A 19″ tire will only fit a 19″ rim. An 18” tire height will be very similar to the overall height of a 19” tire. Remember, the last number is the inner diameter, not outer diameter, and that inch of difference is made up in the sidewall height. You should be able to go with a different width and/or aspect ratio on the tire you choose but you can’t go with a different rim diameter. If you have a 19” rim, you have to go with a 19” tire. It comes down to personal preference and a matter of opinion. A 120 rear tire can make a poor handling bike feel even poorer. 120s are harder to roll over in turns and make the bike stand up more in ruts. They also have a tendency to push the front tire in flat corners, especially when the engine chugs into a turn at low rpm. However, for straight line acceleration, a 120 will put more rubber on the ground.
Here is some information on our most popular tires and our favorites.
The 505 Shinko Cheater Hybrid tire is excellent for hard enduro terrain and extreme single track. The soft sticky trials style rubber with a moto style carcass. This tire is good for where a trials tire falls short. It shines in dry, harder conditions. I put this tire on when I know there will be more rock than dirt. If it is half and half and wet conditions, I choose to run something different. The 525 Cheater is pretty much the same but with a different tread pattern. It shines in soft, loose loamy terrain.
The Dunlop MX33 is soft to intermediate. This is a great all-around tire with enhanced handling and knob durability with more flex for superior grip. The front tire is directional. My dad and I both have been using the rear MX33 at almost all NEPG events we attend. It works well in mud, sand, rock, everything... it just works great!
The Bridgestone M59 has wide tread blocks with a rounded profile offering a self-cleaning bite. This is a soft to intermediate tire. For the last 3 years, this is the only front tire the Bonecutter’s will run. It works that good!
The Sedona MX907 is a hard-pack terrain tire. The cross-patch tread design provides a larger contact patch that will maximize both in-line and cornering traction. This tire has a rigid 4 ply carcass that enhances stability and helps absorb impacts.
That is just a few of our favorites and most popular selling which means we keep them on the shelf. Lots of different ones out there and I am happy to discuss them! Remember, lots of things to consider before making a purchase.