Dirt Riding Gear Choices

Here’s a little tour of what’s in my dirt riding gear closet. Maybe this can help you decide what gear is right for you. Please, please, please protect yourself when riding off road.


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a few bucks into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

ONE-TIME Donation

Donate $4.00

Donate $6.00

Donate $8.00

Donate $10.00

Donate $15.00

Donate $20.00

Donate $30.00

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

Review: Racer Gloves MultiTop Gloves

Racer’s MultiTop mitts are a comfy and sporty option for all weather street rides.

Motorcycle gloves need to be protective, comfortable, and affordable. Designing motorcycle gloves that measure up is challenging, but it is even trickier when manufacturers also aim to make them waterproof.

The Racer MultiTop easily succeeds in the comfort department with supple cowhide and kangaroo-leather palms. The fingers are naturally curved and include stretch panels that make gripping the bars easy. A textured leather “grip panel” on the palm along the base of the fingers adds durability and provides a secure hold.

The breathable inner “waterproof” liner feels very nice against the skin and provides a level of insulation from cool temperatures, but these gloves aren’t bulky so they still offer good dexterity and feel for the controls. To keep wind from blowing up your jacket sleeves, the gauntlet cinches securely.

Carbon-fiber knuckle and finger protectors and palm and wrist padding mitigate impact injuries while the kangaroo palm and sturdy cowhide shell with Kevlar underlining provide multiple layers of abrasion protection. Two Velcro closure straps keep the gloves in place, and double stitching should keep the gloves intact against tearing forces. Thankfully, I haven’t crash-tested the MultiTop, but they seem to be robust enough for street duty.

Okay, so the MultiTop performs well in the comfort and protection departments, but what about the waterproof claim? The gloves rely on an unnamed waterproof inner liner to keep water out, and during the first two days of a cold, wet multi-day trip the MultiTop fended off rain and kept my hands comfortably dry. That began to change during the third consecutive day of rain as the leather became saturated. However, the inner liner continued to do its job and I never got raisin fingers. Unfortunately, once the shell is soaked the cold wind takes hold, and if I didn’t have heated grips, I’m sure I would have suffered terribly in the 45-degree temperatures.

Overall I really like these gloves. Just keep in mind that any waterproof glove with a leather shell will become soaked at some point, so the waterproof claim needs to be measured with realistic expectations. For shorter spats of wet-weather riding, the MultiTops would certainly hold up fine, and I’m convinced they would have continued to perform well if they had time to dry before being asked to endure another rainy day.

Price:$150
Contact:racerglovesusa.com
RITZ Grade:B+
Summary:Comfortable, protective, and mostly waterproof.

Originally published in Motorcyclist Magazine.


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the other articles on this site, please toss a buck or four into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out these related posts:

 

Review: Pirelli Supercorsa TD Track day tire

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

At the beginning of 2019, Pirelli introduced a new track tire designated the “TD”, presumably an acronym for “Track Day”. The TD was developed with assistance of former AMA Superbike and AMA Formula Xtreme racer Jake Zemke.

The TD is exclusive to North America as a DOT legal, high performance track day tire. Think of the TD as a hybrid that sits between the Diablo Supercorsa race DOT and the Pirelli Rosso Corsa hypersport street tires.

From Pirelli:

  • This tire does not require tire warmers
  • D.O.T. street legal tread pattern
  • Pirelli performance in a D.O.T. street legal tire.
  • The ultimate evolution of our most successful Racing Super sport tire.
  • New generation profile designed to maximize the width and length of the contact area.
  • Optimized carcass to improve stability on braking and increase precision and speed negotiating bends.
  • Wider slick area on the shoulders to improve traction and stability.
  • Available in all common sizes

Street Use?

The TD looks exactly like a DOT Supercorsa race tire, but with a different compound (and softer carcass, I suspect).

The TD is DOT approved, making it appropriate for street use. However, keep in mind that the sparse numbers of water-channeling sipes (grooves) will likely make it a sketchy tire in wet conditions. On dry roads, I’m sure the tire will perform well.

Warm up time

One reason the TD can be used on the street is that it warms to its usable (if not optimal) operating temperature relatively quickly. Street riding puts little stress into a tire to bring a full race tire anywhere near its prime operating temperature, which is why using race tires on the street isn’t a great idea.

A street-oriented tire is designed to work at a cooler and wider range of temperatures, allowing you to jump on your bike in 30F degree temps, all the way to 120+F. A race tire wants to be within a narrow heat range that can only be achieved under heavy loads found at racetrack cornering and braking levels.

This is an area where I was able to confirm the quick warm up. The first day I rode on the TD was at Thompson Motor Speedway in Connecticut where the temps were in the mid 40sF. Freakin’ chilly, but perfect for testing.

I always take a couple laps to get some heat in the tires. I could actually feel the tires coming into their operating temperatures during the beginning of the second lap. Wow.

After the requisite two laps of progressively faster cornering and harder braking, I got to business. I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get my knee down on the third lap. Pushing on, I never had a slip, slide or pucker moment at the fast, but not blistering pace.

No Tire Warmers

The great thing about these tires is they don’t need tire warmers for the track. Frankly, I never use warmers at track days. A couple of careful laps does the trick just fine, although I understand why folks want the piece of mind that warmers give.

After 3 full track days

Wear

The TD promises to be more durable, providing improved longevity compared with the full race tire. I’ve had the TD on my 2011 GSXR750 for three full track days and the rear is just now showing enough wear to allow a guess at its lifespan.

Since the GSXR is a new bike to me and has about 25 more horsepower than my old Street Triple track bike, wear is a bit harder to judge. But, my rough calculations are that the TD will provide the same 5-6 track days for a rear and 7 or so for the front…but on a much more powerful bike! That’s damn good.

Keep in mind that this includes not only 4 expert level sessions, but also another 6 or so sessions per day at an intermediate pace while coaching. The intermediate pace is actually a bit rougher on rear tires since you tend to slow more so you accelerate more, which tears the tire.

Grip

Traction levels cannot be better. I rode as hard as I do on SC race tires and never once had a moment. The only thing that kept me from feeling as comfortable as on the race rubber is the lack of feel (see below).

Feel

One drawback I found is that compared with a true race tire, the TD doesn’t give the level of feel in the front. It’s not bad at all. And as a matter of reality, you’d only notice the slight numbness at expert lap times.

Also, I get a sort of “shudder” in the chassis over some surfaces that the race tire seems to ignore. Peter Kates from Computrack Boston thinks it may be becasue the carcass is a bit softer than the SC race tires. That makes sense as the softer carcass could transfer a frequency into the suspension. It makes sense that the TD has a softer carcass to help the tire warm up faster as it flexes more.

Sizes

Most of the common sport bike sizes are available:

110/70 x 17
120/70 x 17
140/70 x 17
160/60 x 17
180/55 x 17
180/60 x 17
200/55 x 17

Pricing

Great news here. The TD is significantly cheaper than the full-on SC0, 1 or 2 DOT race tire. You’ll save a cool $41.00 off a 120/70-17 front and $48.00 off a 180/60-17 rear. That’s $90 greenbacks that can go toward more track days. Sweet!

Buy your Pirelli Supercorsa TD tires from Motorcycle Gear and Tires (MTAG), one of this website’s strongest supporters.

The TD is a perfect choice for the track day rider who wants max performance on the track but still rides their motorcycle on the road from time to time and doesn’t want to spend the extra dough on race rubber that they won’t utilize at a typical track day pace. Sign me up.


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the other articles on this site, please toss a buck or four into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out other track day and riding technique related posts

Check out these related posts:

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

Review: Helite Turtle Airbag Vest

photo: Helite

I am a believer in managing risk. And one way to do that is to protect yourself in case you go down. Modern armor does a decent job of mitigating impact injury. But, as good as modern armor is, it can only do some much to minimize injury from a big impact. That’s where air bag protection can help.

I was given a black Helite Turtle Airbag Vest to use and test. The Turtle Vest I am reviewing here is the street rider’s version with a lighter nylon construction compared with the GP Track Air Vest. Read my review of the more robust GP Track Air Vest Here. FYI, I know many riders who use the Turtle version for both street and racetrack duty, and vice-versa.

After several street rides with the Turtle, I have a good idea of the pros and cons of the Turtle air vest. Here you go.

Receive a 10% discount using the CODE: INTHEZONE

Helite is an affiliate partner and supporter.

Helite Turtle Air Vest – Pros

  • Low Tech – Unlike high-tech, electronic GPS/IMU units, the Helite has a mechanical system with a simple elastic-nylon tether that connects the bike to a CO2 cartridge mounted in the front of the vest. When the rider falls off the bike, a steel ball is pulled away from the housing that holds the CO2 cartridge. And Bang!
  • Deflates Quickly – It takes a couple of minutes for the vest to lose its air once the vest deploys. This allows you to safely ride back home without restricted movement.
  • Easy and Cheap Recharges -Recharging the vest means simply replacing the $25.00 cartridge. Replacement takes 5 minutes. I keep a spare on hand.
  • Fits Over any Suit or Jacket -The correct size allows you to put it over a street jacket and the Velcro backed nylon straps allow a snug fit.
  • Sturdy Armor – The Turtle Air Vest has a quality, semi-rigid SAS-TEC back protector.
  • Heavy Nylon Construction – The Turtle vest is made from 600 Denier Textile with a mesh liner.
  • Free Movement – The large arm opening provide no restrictions in movement. The only restriction comes when getting off the bike.
  • Neck, Back and Chest Protection – The vest inflates to cushion your torso from impact and the inflated neck roll supports the head from hyper movement.

Helite Turtle Air Vest – Cons

photo: Helite
  • Have to Remember to Connect – The vest won’t work unless you clip the tether to your bike. I’ve had to pull over a few times because I forgot to clip the tether. To remind me to buckle up I have a piece of bright colored tape on the end of the tether, near the buckle. I also drape the tether across my seat.
  • Have to Remember to Disconnect – You have to disconnect the tether before walking away from the bike. A lot of people think they will deploy the vest by forgetting to disconnect before getting off the bike. But don’t worry. It takes a lot of force to deploy the vest. You’ll realize that you’re still connected well before you walk away. Watch the video below to see how hard the person has to pull to fire the vest.
  • Back Protector Interference – The top of the back protector sometimes bumps under the back part of my helmet, even on my upright Tiger 800 riding position. I may trim the protector a bit.
  • It’s Hot – Adding a thick vest over my vented jacket defeats the benefit of a perforated suit. But, it hasn’t been as big a problem once I get up to speed.
  • Another piece of gear – This isn’t unique to the Helite vest. But, it’s a pain having to put on another piece of protection. You’ll get used to it.
  • It’s Expensive – At $659.00, the Turtle Air Vest is not cheap. But, the argument about how much is your spine, neck, ribs, and guts worth comes into play. If you ride a lot (and especially if you race), it’s a good investment in your health.

     

    Receive a 10% discount using the CODE: INTHEZONE

Too many street riders fail to realize that even though the odds of your skin meeting pavement is not all that likely in normal situations, we can’t control everything, which is why you need to wear protection. Consider investing in an air vest…before you need it!

Receive a 10% discount using the CODE: INTHEZONE


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the other articles on this site, please toss a buck or four into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out other track day and riding technique related posts

Check out these related posts:

Review: Helite GP Track Airbag Vest

Riding a motorcycle on a racetrack at speeds exceeding 100mph is exciting and immensely satisfying. But, it can also threaten your well-being if things go wrong. Even the best racers and track day riders make mistakes or get caught up in unfortunate situations beyond their control.

That’s where personal protection comes in and riding at expert-level speeds, you need the best protection you can get. Enter the Helite GP Air Track Vest.

The GP Track Vest can be worn on the street, but the GP version is more robust and is designed to withstand the higher speed crash scenarios. For street riders, Helite makes the Helite Turtle Vest. You can read a review of the Turtle here.

photo: otmpix.com

Receive a 10% discount using the CODE: INTHEZONE

Helite is an affiliate partner and supporter. However, I bought this vest with my own money.

Air Vest Technology

photo: Helite

Race leathers and armor have come a long way since I was racing in the mid-eighties when back protectors, knee and shoulder armor and chest protection didn’t exist. Instead, double layers of leather with some foam padding was the norm. Eventually, plastic back protectors and more substantial armor became available.

Nowadays, armor is required for track riding. But, even the best quality leather suits and armor have their limitations; it’s tough to cover the entire body with armor and still be free to move and have the comfort to sustain a race pace.

To help solve that problem, Dainese and AlpineStars (and now others) developed airbag suits that use GPS and IMU sensor deployment systems. But these suits are expensive and need to be recharged after one or two deployments that require shipping to the manufacturer, rendering the suit out of commission for up to a few weeks.

These manufacturers are now offering vest versions of their airbag suits and I’m hoping they will come up with a less cumbersome and pricey way to recharge the suits and vests.

While the all-in-one race suits are an attractive option, I like the versatility of the vest option. But, it’s not perfect.

photo: Helite

 Helite GP Track Air Pros

Here are the reasons why I prefer the Helite:

  • Low Tech – Unlike the A-Stars and Dainese units, the Helite has a mechanical system with an elastic-nylon tether that connects the bike to a CO2 cartridge mounted in the front of the vest. The vest deploys when the rider falls off the bike, which then pulls a steel ball from the housing that holds the CO2 cartridge. And Bang!
  • Deflates Quickly – It takes a couple of minutes for the vest to lose its air once the vest deploys. This allows you to safely ride back to the paddock without restricted movement.
  • Easy and Cheap Recharge-Recharging the vest means simply replacing the $25.00 cartridge. Replacement takes 5 minutes. I keep a few spares on hand.
  • photo: Helite

     

    Fits Over any Suit or Jacket -The correct size allows you to put the vest over an existing street jacket or race suit. The cutout in the upper back fits around a race suit speed hump. The GP vest’s accordion side panels allow a snug fit.

  • Sturdy Armor – The GP Track Air Vest has rigid armor that surrounds the torso, eliminating the need for an additional back or chest protector.
  • Heavy Leather – The GP vest is made from 1.2mm cowhide with accordion expansion panels under the arms.
  • No Movement Restriction – I cannot tell that I have the vest on with no restrictions in movement. The only restriction comes when getting off the bike.
  • Neck, Back and Chest Protection – The vest inflates to cushion your torso from impact. And because it will also support my head from hyper movement, it negates the need for the Leatt STX-rr neck brace I used to wear.

Helite GP Track Air Cons

  • Hard to Put On (until you learn how) – When I first owned the GP vest, I had a devil of a time putting it on over my leathers without help. But, someone then showed me how. (See below)
  • Another piece of gear – It’s a pain having to put on all the gear necessary for protection, and the vest is one more piece. That’s the price for good protection.
  • No side air protection – The accordion panels are great for movement and comfort, but the airbags do not cover this area. This sucks, because I seem to always crack ribs and I’m afraid the vest won’t help prevent this injury.
  • Have to Remember to Connect – The vest won’t work unless you clip the tether to your bike. I’ve had to pull off the track after a lap because I forgot to clip the tether. That’s fine for a track day, but if you forget during a race, you’ll either have to ride unprotected, or  pull in and forfeit the race. To remind me to buckle up I have a piece of bright colored tape on my triple clamp. I also drape the tether across my seat.
  • Have to Remember to Disconnect – You have to disconnect the tether before walking away from the bike. A lot of people think they will deploy the vest by forgetting to disconnect before getting off the bike. But don’t worry. It takes a lot of force to deploy the vest. You’ll realize that you’re still connected well before you walk away. Watch the video below to see how hard the person has to pull to fire the vest.
  • It’s Hot – Adding a thick vest over my vented leather race suit defeats the benefit of a perforated suit. But, it hasn’t been as big a problem once I get up to speed.
  • It’s Expensive – At $919.00, the GP Air Vest is not cheap. But, the argument about how much is your spine, neck, ribs, and guts worth comes into play. If you ride on the track a lot (and especially if you race), it’s a good investment in your health.
photo: Helite

How to Put the Helite GP Air Vest on Alone

Putting on the vest like you would a jacket, one arm at a time is not easy. The vest is stiff and tight enough to not allow the second elbow to squeeze inside. You can get it on this way with help, but I don’t often have that luxury.

The way to put the vest on alone is to:

  • Hold the vest in front of you with the inside facing up and both wrists inside the arm holes.
  • Flip the vest up and over your head, letting vest hand on your shoulders.
  • Once on, pull the Velcro panel across your chest so the red Velcro is completely covered. Then secure the two leather “tabs”.
  • Connect the plastic clip on the vest tether to the lead on the bike and you’re done.

Now, just becasue you’re better protected from injury, doesn’t mean you can ride like an idiot. Be smart and get training. 

Receive a 10% discount using the CODE: INTHEZONE

 


 


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the other articles on this site, please toss a buck or four into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out other track day and riding technique related posts

Check out these related posts:

Product Review: Mitas TerraForce 90/10 Dual Sport/ADV Tires

The Tiger on track with Mitas TerraForce tires. otmpix.com

My 2016 Triumph Tiger 800 XRx has been a reliable machine both on the street and off-road. The Tiger came with Metzeler Tourance Next (90% road/10% off-road) tires which I promptly swapped for a set of Mitas E-07 Dakar Dual Sport/Adventure bike 50/50 tires to explore more adventurous terrain. But then I had a summer of mostly pavement riding ahead of me, so I decided to try the TerraForce tires.

Mitas (pronounced Me-tass, think “Meet us”) has been around for a while as a maker of agricultural tires and is now becoming popular for Adventure (ADV) bikes.

Note: Since I have not tried the most well-known players on the ADV/DS tire spectrum, I cannot make a direct comparison. So, the review is of my impressions of this tire and how it compares to the Metzeler.

OEM Tires

The Metzeler Tourance Next tires allowed peg feeler grinding.

The OEM Metzeler Tourance Next (90% road/10% off-road) tires were fine on the street, but felt numb. This became even more apparent during a track day where the Tourance tires could not communicate well enough to instill much confidence. Grip was good though; I managed to corner hard enough to mangle both of the Tiger’s footpeg feelers.

One thing that was a big negative was the crazy handling these tires gave after about 3,000 miles. The flat spot on the rear wasn’t terrible to look at, but this caused the bike to fall in terribly when initiating lean. And I had to put pressure on the upper handlebar to keep the bike from continuing to fall into the turn (oversteer) more than I wanted. I don’t recall the Tourances dong this when new.

I rarely toss a set of tires that still have life in them, but away they went. I’ve read that lots of people like the Tourance Next, but this sucked.

From www.mitas-moto.com

Enter TerraForce

The first impression I had of the TerraForce was the increase in vibration. It seems that the very open sipes create as much or more vibration as the 50/50 E-07s.

The tires handled fine. Considering how poor the worn Metzelers handled, it was no surprise the bike felt worlds better. The bike felt neutral, unlike the oversteering the worn Metzelers produced.

Tire “feel” is a big contributor to rider confidence and the TerraForce delivers reasonably well at street speeds. However, push hard and the tires go numb. I don’t get a good sense that the tires are hooking up the way a 100% street tire does, and nothing like a supersport tire.

But, that’s no surprise since the intended job of the TerraForce is to endure sharp gravel and the occasional impact with a log or rock. This requires a measure of carcass stiffness as well as a harder compound for both pavement and gravel endurance.

See the complete list of Riding in the Zone articles here.

Warm and Dry

I took the Tiger to the racetrack for three days. The first two days were dry and sunny. I was instructing in the novice group so I was more or less rolling around, not getting much heat into the tires. And little heat kept the tires numb and made me apprehensive about pushing harder. Bummer.

The second day was also warm and dry. One of my other instructors needed to borrow a bike to work with his assigned group at the Non-Sportbike Track training Day, so I lent him the Tiger. At lunch I asked Pete what he thought of the bike. He said it did well as a street bike and was better tn he expected for a tall ADV machine. Cool.

Pete, poised to put the TerraForce to the test.

But, he added that he had gotten his knee down in several corners! Whaaaa? Here I was thinking the TerraForce tires were a significant limiting factor for going quick and Pete goes and drags his knees …on my bike! For perspective, Pete is one fast expert racer who regularly challenges for the win on his SV650 at Loudon. But, I couldn’t let that stand, so I reclaimed the Tiger and headed out to see how the heck he did this.

Sure enough, the tires had decent feel. This obviously came from the heat Pete put into the carcass. Knowing that Pete pushed to knee-dragging lean angles gave me confidence to push harder and harder until I too got a knee down in a few corners. I had to hang off like a carnival monkey on the tall Tiger, but I did it.

Even more important was the fun factor. The tires gripped tenaciously, making this the most fun session I had all weekend.

What I learned is that if you get the tires nice and hot, they transform into a decent sporty tire. Caveat…you will not likely get the tires (or any tires) this hot at sane street speeds. But, as a street tire, the TerraForce gives plenty of grip, even if they don’t give great feel when cornering.

Zipping around in the rain on a wet racetrack.

Wet and Cool

The third track day was wet and cooler. The forecast was for rain on this day, so I brought the Tiger as my rain bike, leaving my Street Triple track bike for the dry sessions. I know that street tires are a better choice than supersport race tires because they warm up faster and the rubber compound has more silica for better wet grip.

And yes, I felt confident riding in the rain to a point where I was able to ride at a very entertaining pace. It took a few laps to get some confidence, but once some heat was generated, I was good to go. See the video below.

Off-Road

The TerraForce isn’t great in the mud.

After replacing the 50/50 E-07s with the 90/10 Terraforce, I wasn’t  sure whether off-road performance would hold me back. It turns out that the 90/10s handle the rocky terrain just fine. As a matter of fact, they gave me zero problems when climbing a somewhat steep hill with some large ledge rocks.

Mud is another matter. I was with a student in the unmaintained forest roads where I conduct the Adventure/Dual-Sport bike courses when I ended up in a decent mud hole. With some momentum, I was able to get through the muck, but the tires couldn’t gain any traction and spun mud all over.

If your riding includes the occasional off-road adventure, then I wouldn’t hesitate with the Terraforce. Just know the limits.

Wear

Mitas TerraForce Rear at about 5,000 miles. Notice the “cooling ribs” and zero chicken strips.

My first set of TerraForce tires had about 5,000 miles on them before I had a puncture in the rear tire. I could have plugged the hole, but decided instead to get a new set because I was heading on a long trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and didn’t want any trouble. In my estimation, the tires had about 4,000 miles left in them. Do the math and I bet you can get a solid 10k out of the rear and perhaps 10k from the front. Your results may vary.

The front tire at about 5,000 miles. The tread blocks wear a bit unevenly.

However, the large blocks seem to wear unevenly in the front. Not bad, but still this could be the determining factor in replacing the tires and not tread depth. See photos.

Wide, Open Sipes

As I mentioned earlier, these grooves tend to cause vibration and some noise and that the big blocks tend to wear unevenly.

One unique feature of the TerraForce (and the Mitas SportForce) is the little cooling ribs at the base of the open grooves.

The plugged puncture in the thin part of the carcass. Wide grooves make the tire vulnerable.

The one thing to consider is having such open grooves makes the tire vulnerable to punctures. I had a rear flat while with street students, becasue a sharp stone penetrated the thinner part of the carcass inside the groove where the rubber is thinner. The rock was the size of a pea…small enough to get inside the groove, but big enough to puncture. Keep this in mind if you ride a lot on gravel roads with small stones.

www.mitas-moto.com

Sizes

See the chart for available sizes.

Go For It

The TerraForce are a great  90/10 tire that will likely suit your needs just fine for pavement and some off-road. Click this if you want to visit the Mitas website.

If you plan to buy the TerraForce or any other product, check with Twisted Throttle. Please click the link or the image then type “mitas” in the search field. This will send you to the twisted Website and any purchases you make help support this blog. BIG Thanks.
TT_Homepage_logo
Twisted Throttle helps support this blog. They also have quality luggage & racks, riding gear, electronics, auxiliary lighting, bike protection, and much more. Happy shopping!

See the complete list of Riding in the Zone articles here.

Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a buck or five into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out these posts:


Stay Informed: Subscribe NOW!
Trianing-Tours_LandingBe a Better Rider: Sign Up for Personal Training with Ken
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy a book
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy products from Twisted Throttle

Mitas Sport Force + Tire Review

Photo- OTMPix.com

Originally published in Motorcyclist Magazine.

North American sport and sport touring riders have a relative newcomer joining the sport tire fray with the Mitas Sport Force+. It turns out that Mitas (pronounced me-tass) has been around for a while as a maker of agricultural tires, but also manufactures vintage, moped, scooter, flat track, speedway, street and off-road motorcycle tires. The Sport Force+ expands the Czech company’s presence into the modern sport tire category that includes the Michelin Pilot Power and Pirelli Rosso Corsa, among others.

Riding Impressions: Track
My first introduction to the Sport Force+ was on a damp, but drying racetrack at Palmer Motorsports Park in Central Massachusetts. The Mitas tires warmed up quickly and then stuck like glue. The tires helped the Z750S test mule carve the technical track with good precision and composure. The front tire profile provides predictable

Photo- OTMPix.com

response that allowed confident and precise corner entry. Turn-in was not terribly quick compared to a race tire, but just right for a street tire. The bike held its line while trailbraking into corners and stood up as expected when exiting hard on the gas. The moderately stiff carcass provides good feedback and great stability under hard braking.

The only negative I found was that feedback from the front tire became vague as I picked up the pace. Reaching knee dragging lean angles was not a problem, but it takes trust to get there. Once off the racetrack, these sticky the tires easily passed the universal “thumbnail test” for perceived grip potential. Curiously, the front tread area wraps far enough around the tire to leave a rather large chicken strip even after reaching knee-dragging lean angles.

Riding Impressions: Street
Maximum grip and stability are important features when riding hard on the racetrack, but a sport street tire must also provide predictable manners and a reasonably comfortable ride. In this area, Mitas manages to find a good balance. Grip is more than adequate for street riding and the tire rolls into corners consistently and predictably. The somewhat stiff carcass transfers a bit more harshness to the chassis than similar sport tires, but that rigidness also contributes to feel and stability when cornering and braking more aggressively.

Cornering characteristics are very good with moderate countersteering effort needed to initiate lean. A slight amount of oversteer happens at about 30 degrees of lean angle with the bike falling into the turn a tiny bit more than expected, but nothing of concern.

Cornering characteristics are very good with moderate countersteering effort needed to initiate lean. A slight amount of oversteer happens at about 30 degrees of lean angle with the bike falling into the turn a tiny bit more than expected, but nothing of concern.

Pricing is competitive, but not exceptionally cheap, so the reason to consider the Sport Force+ is for its ability to perform at a very high level in all conditions while also providing decent longevity. Our test set spent a half-day on the racetrack at a fast intermediate pace along with 1,200 street miles that included Deal’s Gap and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Considering the grip these tires provide, the lifespan is appearing to be surprisingly good. Of course, time will tell just how long they last.

Overall, the Mitas Sport Force + is a really good tire that compares well with the more recognizable sport tire brands. Sizing is strictly for 17 inch wheels and ranges from 110-120 fronts and 150-190 rears (You can find a 190 rear for sale HERE). Retail pricing is around $100.00 for fronts and $140.00 for a 180-size rear.


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a buck or five into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out these posts:


Stay Informed: Subscribe NOW!
Trianing-Tours_LandingBe a Better Rider: Sign Up for Personal Training with Ken
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy a book
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy products from Twisted Throttle
 

 

Best Motorcycles for Newer Riders

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks
This 400 pound 2000 MZ Scorpion 660 single makes 48hp and served as my daughter’s first street bike…and my road race bike. It cost $2,200

Surf any motorcycle forum or Facebook group and you’ll invariably find a thread asking for advice about the best motorcycles for new riders. Read the comments and you’ll see a very wide range of arguments for and against certain sizes, styles and models. You will also read discussions about whether the newbie will outgrow a 250cc “starter” bike too soon, followed by well-meaning people reassuring the new rider that they will be fine buying a 600cc super-sport machine or 1200cc cruiser.

You’ll even come across suggestions that a 1000+cc superbike or 1800+cc cruiser is just the ticket. These dodo birds can be identified by their native call: “I learned on a 195hp Hayabusa and did just fine, so don’t be a wussy.” Ummmm. okay.

One thing to consider when filtering advice is that people who have been riding a while seem to forget what it is like to be a newbie and view this issue through their own experience. And their advice is further skewed if learning to ride came to them easier than the average person. This leads to inappropriate advice that does not apply to most average beginners.

Here are my thoughts on the topic:

Size and Power Matters

I don’t care what the internet “experts” say, with few exceptions a new rider is better off starting on a physically smaller bike with modest power.

Newer riders use most of their bandwidth just staying upright without whiskey-throttling themselves into a fence. Toss them into the real world and their heads explode trying to juggle the controls while negotiating blind curves, distracted drivers and surface hazards they never had to worry about as car drivers.

You could argue that these challenges are present no matter what bike the beginner is riding. This is true, but a smaller, less powerful bike is easier to control and is much less likely to intimidate. The odds of a newer rider sticking with riding are greater if the bike they ride is fun…and fun to a newbie means easy to ride…and that means less weight and power.

Fit Matters

This older Honda Rebel is a popular bike for new riders with short inseams.

Alright, there are times when a larger , more powerful bike makes sense like when it has to haul around a large human. In this case, I suggest a mid-sized bike with just enough power to comfortably maintain 70mph with adequate legroom and reach the handlebars.

The type of bike chosen needs to match physical limits. A person with a bad back should choose a bike with more upright ergonomics. Despite common belief, cruisers aren’t good for most people who have back issues, as the riding position rounds the spine, causing discs to bulge. People with neck or shoulder problems may need to stay away from race-replica sport bikes. I choose to ride a Triumph Street Triple as my track day bike, because it has most of the capability of a pure super sport bike, but with higher handlebars.

Reader Bruce A. pointed me to this cool site that can help you visualize how a person your size might fit on certain bikes. Click on the Options tab to see if your inseam will allow you to stand flat footed.

Seat Height

Suzuki 650 Gladius (a version of the SV650)

A big concern of most new riders (and a lot of experience riders, as well) is seat height, or more precisely, “can I touch flat-footed?”. This is understandable if the person is anxious about balancing a heavy motorcycle. The lighter the bike, the less concerning it is to have only the balls of your feet on the ground.

Most smaller riders choose cruisers because they typically have low seat heights. If you’re “inseam challenged” but want a bike that is more versatile than a cruiser, like a sporty standard or perhaps a small sportbike to carve curves to do track days you’ll have a few good options.  Harley, Triumph and BMW offer low versions of certain models and many manufacturers have low seats and other components to help smaller riders feel more secure.

It may be possible to lower the chassis of some bikes using aftermarket suspension links and by slipping the forks higher in the triple clamps. You can also have seats cut down or find a lower aftermarket seat.

Learning Balance

Here’s one thing to consider…after some time learning how to balance the bike while stopping and starting, then not being able to touch flat-footed becomes much less of an issue. Once you become familiar with the balance of your bike and learn the slow speed techniques, you will be surprised how easy it is to keep a bike upright.

This means that eventually, you will be able to consider almost any bike on the market. Just don’t go crazy…you may drool over a big cruiser, tourer or adventure bike, but be realistic that the bike is a good fit.

Case in point, any capable dirtbike has around a 34-inch seat height. Few people I know have an inseam that long, meaning that all dirt riders must manage while only touching tippy-toe. Dirt riders quickly learn how to balance, and their dirtbikes are very light. Sure, a dirtbike can still weight over 300 pounds, but that is manageable by most reasonably fit individuals. Another example of light makes right!

New?

Ninja 250- sporty, comfortable and capable. This generation bike can be found cheap.

It’s tempting to throw down your money on a shiny new motorcycle. This option eliminates the stress of buying a used machine from some potential Craigslist scammer and you get the benefit of modern amenities and safety features, like ABS and traction control. Not to mention the pride of owning the newest model on the road.

However, dropping $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000 on a bike that will likely get dropped puts a lot more stress on the new rider. Too much attention will be put on avoiding that first scratch on those shiny chrome or plastic parts. And stress does not create the best condition for fun or open learning. That’s why it’s almost always better to buy a cared-for used motorcycle that isn’t as precious.

Used!

Buying used means you need to do your research about whether an older model bike is appropriate, which includes being patient in your search for the right motorcycle. Unlike cars and trucks, most motorcycles do not rack up very high miles.

You will also likely need to do some maintenance tasks before the bike is fully up to snuff. Depending on whether or not you live in an area with long riding season, it’s not unusual to find a five year old bike with only 5,000 miles. That means that not too much will need to be done to make it roadworthy. However, a frequently ridden motorcycle five or more years old will have more 10,000 or more miles. Here are a list of components that often need replacement:

  • New tires (worn to the tread wear indicator, or older than five years)
  • Chain and sprockets (most OEM units last about 12-15,000 miles)
  • Brake pads (anywhere from 6-12,000 miles).

Of course, a oil and filter change and brake fluid replacement, as well as general lubrication needs to be done. Read more about motorcycle maintenance HERE.

Keep in mind that whatever bike you buy (new or used), you want easy access to service and parts. Exotic bikes are cool, but it sucks if you have to drive hours to get it serviced and even worse if you have to wait too long for parts.

Mo Money

Another reason to buy used is so you have enough money left over in your budget to buy good protective gear. It is said that if you can’t afford a good helmet, jacket, pants, gloves and boots, then you can’t afford to be a motorcyclist. While that may sound draconian, it is a smart rule to follow.

You will also have money left to pay for advanced rider training. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that once you know how to operate the bike that you know how to “ride”, which involves much more than simply being able to control the machine.

Ken racing an old 50hp Kawasaki EX500 Ninja worth less than $2,000. Photo: Jonas Powell Photography

Ride a Slow Bike Fast (safely)

I want to emphasize that the bikes I am listing below are not only “beginner bikes”! These bikes are appropriate for new riders, but are also entertaining enough to captivate experienced riders who know how much fun it is to ride lightweight machines. Unfortunately, most people think that moving up to the large displacement as soon as possible is the way to go. It’s not.

Take me for example. I have ridden almost every large and small motorcycle on the market and still choose to stick with my middleweight Triumph Tiger 800 (streetbike) and Street Triple (track bike).

Speaking of track day bikes, I constantly caution track day riders from buying larger and more powerful bikes, and instead, stick with the smaller bike they started on and learn to ride it really well before considering a move.

Even riders at the top of their game don’t often find benefit in owning a bike with more power. Believe me, it is quite possible to ride faster on board a 600cc sportbike, or even a well-setup SV650 than someone struggling to manage the power of a liter-sized superbike. Lower-powered bikes push the rider to ride more efficiently and corner with greater precision. Big power tends to be a crutch that slows down skill development. As the saying goes, “it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast, rather than ride a fast bike slow”.

The video shows the Intermediate (Yellow group) session with Tony’s Track Days. Before anyone asks; the suspension and every other component on the 250R is stock. Thanks Younia, for the ride!

One last thing to consider are the benefits to riding off-road for new and experienced riders to learn traction management, body positioning and throttle control where there are no texting teens to punt you off the road.

Best Bikes for Newer Riders and Open-Minded Veterans

So, here is my list of street bikes appropriate for new or newer riders, by size and category:

250-400cc

Kawasaki KLX250s

Dual-Sport

Dual-sports are used on pavement and dirt. They have tall seat heights, but are very light compared to other street-legal bikes.

Street/Sport

Nighthawk 250Street Sport/Standard

Cruiser/Classic


500-800cc

Dual-Sport

  • Kawasaki KLR650- The Swiss Army knife of motorcycles. Big and heavy but a workhorse with good balance and power for all riders.$$
  • Suzuki DRz400s/sm – A larger dual sport for long-legged riders. The SM is a supermoto street version.$$
  • BMW F700/800GS- The slightly lower, street-leaning version of the more off-road 800GS. $$$

Street Sport/Standard

A mid-sized cruiser

Cruiser/Classic

Other bikes to consider:

This is a list I came up with, but I know I’m missing some options, like older bikes. Please include your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll consider adding it to the list.

What You Won’t See On My List

A lot of beginners eye bikes in the 600cc class of sport bikes, thinking the engine size makes it manageable for a newb. But, 600s are shar edged tools that can cut a rider whose skills aren’t developed enough. Yes, beginners survive starting on a 600, but why put the beginner through the stress of having to manage a machine designed for experienced riders?

You may wonder why there are several 650cc and 800cc bikes on my list. Well, those bikes are designed to be easy to ride by average riders wanting a bike that is comfortable and practical for all types of riding. The engine displacement may be greater, but the power delivery is more mellow and user-friendly.

Cruisers are sized with big displacement engines, but they are tuned to lug around town and produce less power per cc than standard or sporty models. That’s why it’s not unheard of to find a newb riding a 1000 or 1200cc cruiser as their first bike. But, these bikes are still not great starter bikes becasue they are heavy with forward controls and a long wheelbase, making them unwieldy at slow speeds.

Suzuki SV650

Bottom Line

Get a used Ninja 250/300 if you’re small and like performance machines. Get a Honda Rebel 300 or 500 if you like cruisers and have a really short inseam. Score a Honda CRF250L or a Kawi KLX250s if you lean more toward off-roading and have long legs or get a XT225/250 if you have shorter legs. Get a Kawi 300 Versys if you like adventure-bike styling and capability. For a sportier bike, consider a Honda CBR250, Kawasaki 300 or 400 Ninja or a BMW 310R.

A step up in size may be just fine for a lot of beginners. In this case, the Honda CB500 series makes a lot of sense. I like the Vulcan S for a mid-sized cruiser and a cheap, used DRz400s for a bigger dual-sport. KLR650 is another (heavier) off road worthy option.

For someone who is pretty comfortable on two wheels, a Ninja 650 or SV650 are my most recommended bikes becasue they are capable of touring, commuting and doing track days. You can even ride dirt roads pretty well on these bikes.  The Versys 650 is another great option, as is the Yamaha FZ-07.

For bigger dudes with the skill, a BMW 700/800GS or F800R may work (750/850 for 2019). For cruisers, you may get away with a Harley 883 or even a 1000 Sportster, but I’d seriously look at the Indian Scout. For sport bikes, consider a Honda CBR650 Ninja 650, or drum roll…a used SV650.

 

 

Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a few bucks into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

ONE-TIME Donation

Donate $4.00

Donate $6.00

Donate $8.00

Donate $10.00

Donate $15.00

Donate $20.00

Donate $30.00

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

Review: Racer High Speed Gloves

otmpix.com

I ride over 2,000 track miles every season. That means I spend a lot of time wearing road race gloves. I need high-performance gloves that are comfortable as well as protective.

Racer’s High Speed Glove is a premium CE certified, professional-level glove for road racers and serious track day riders. Racer says this is their best selling glove.

The glove is made of cowhide with TPU hard protectors on the knuckles and there is an egg-sized protector on the outside of the wrist. The knuckles are covered with rugged SuperFabric®.  There is a wide gauntlet closure and narrow wrist closure using Velcro.

From the Knox website.

The High Speed’s palms are made from kangaroo skin with a leather grip patch and two Knox® SPS palm sliders (SPS stands for “Scaphoid Protection System”). As you can guess by the name, these sliders are designed to prevent scaphoid injuries by allowing your hand to slide rather than grab the pavement and stretch or compress the wrist.

The pinkie and ring fingers are joined with a piece of leather to prevent what Racer calls “finger roll”. I’m not sure what that is, but I imagine connecting your two smallest fingers together makes a single sturdier digit.  My Heroic gloves have the same feature.

The gloves are comfortable to wear, taking exactly zero minutes to break in. The fingers are a bit stiff, but nothing concerning. The leather is perforated and vented at the gauntlet and a little bit along the fingers. Airflow seems adequate, since I never felt that my hands got particularly hot during the hottest days on track.

Gripes? I wish the gauntlet were 1/2″ longer so it better covers the sleeves of my leathers. Also, I would like some more protection on the back of my hand, just above the wrist. My Heroic SP-R Pro gloves have a simple rigid panel that seems to be a good idea. Maybe the High Speed glove could be a bit more protective in a few places, but I bet these would do a fine job keeping my paws in one piece in a crash.

Likes? I like a lot. I like the hard Knox scaphoid sliders and the slider on the outside of the wrist. I also like the fit and comfort. The Kangaroo hide is very soft, but protective. These gloves are comfortable enough to be used on the street.

You can get the High Speed in either Black or White/Black for $280.00. That sound expensive? Well, it’s the going rate for really good gloves. Besides, your hands are damn well worth it.


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a buck or five into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out these posts:


How Can I help You? Online Coaching NOW AVAILABLE
Stay Informed: Subscribe NOW!
Trianing-Tours_LandingBe a Better Rider: Sign Up for Personal Training with Ken
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy a book
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy products from Twisted Throttle & Amazon
Twisted_Affiliate-Interphone-widget
Twisted_Affiliate-Interphone-widget

 

Review: 2017 BMW R1200RS

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

After spending the better part of two weeks in the saddle of a 2017 BMW R1200RS riding the Alps and Dolomites of Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Austria, I have developed a pretty good idea of what this bike is about.

The R1200RS is Beemer’s sport touring bike that uses the ubiquitous 1170cc boxer opposed twin motor. The RS is essentially the faired version of the R1200R naked roadster. Similar bikes include the Ninja 1000, FJ-09 and Suzuki GSX-S 1000F. Or even the Motus or Energica E-bike.

You can familiarize yourself more with the specs and details of the RS at the BMW Motorrad website.

Pricing

The base price of the RS is around $15,000, but you’ll quickly find yourself nearing or exceeding the $20k mark after adding the Premium package and luggage.

The bike I rented from Moto Mader in Oberentfeld, Switzerland was equipped with the Premium package that includes among other things, Dynamic Suspension Adjustment (DSA) and Gear Shift Assist. The BMW site says the bike retails for $21,125 as it was equipped on my tour. See the screen shots for the price breakdown and a list of goodies you get for the extra $3k.

Weight

At 520 pounds wet, the RS is on the heavy side. That’s the same as the Ninja 1000 but is almost 50 pounds heavier than the Suzuki GSX-S1000F. Add another 30-40 pounds for luggage (and mounting hardware) and you’ve got a pretty hefty bike. Heck, the touring RT version is 600 pounds with luggage, so it’s not that much lighter than the full-on RT tourer, which is arguably a better package, especially with a passenger.

Engine Performance

The R1200 motor is a tractor. It produces 125 hp at the crank and 92 ft pounds of torque, so it’s no slouch. And it pulls from under 2 grand (rpm). The motor vibrates a fair amount at highway speeds, but it’s character is quite appealing. It was happy motoring down the Autobahn at 100mph, as well as pulling us up the first gear uphill hairpins.

The fueling from the ride-by-wire throttle was spot on, except for a little bit of “hunting” on deceleration on long downhills. It’s not as bad as on my Tiger 800, but I did notice it.

Shifting is reasonably smooth and the Gear Shift Assist allows upshifts without using the clutch or rolling off the throttle. The system worked great from 3rd-to-4th, 4th-to-5th, and 5th-to-6th, but was too rough when shifting in the lower gears. Clutchless downshifts are also rough, because it does not include the auto-blip feature found on the S1000RR. Still, it was nice to rip through the upper gears like a roadracer.

Handling

One word describes the RS’s handling: stable. But that stability comes at the cost of agility. The RS handles sweeping turns, both smooth and bumpy quite well, but when the it comes to tight, slow hairpin turns the RS felt cumbersome.

And slow speed maneuvers had the bike feeling unbalanced. It took me a few days to get used to the slow speed manners of the RS, which is about 2 and a half days longer than it usually takes for me to adjust to a new bike. To be fair, most of the time I had my lovely wife, Caroline in the passenger seat, which added to the unbalanced slow speed feel.

One highlight is the ESA- (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) feature. The dynamic ESA really works and makes the premium package worth considering.

I selected the “dynamic” suspension setting using the handlebar toggle switch and managed to stumble through the complex menu to select the appropriate mode for having a passenger. The bike comes with the typical rider modes (Rain, Road, Dynamic and User) which are easily accessed by a button on the right control pod.

Two-Up Performance

As I mentioned, I spent most of my time with a passenger on board. The bike has plenty of power to handle two people and full luggage. But, the RS is not the best bike for passengering. In contrast, the RT felt perfectly balanced with Caroline on the back. Go with the RT if passengers are your thing.

Riding solo, the bike is much more predictable and nimble enough for me to rip down the Stella pass with confidence. See the video below. But, the F800GT I rode would be my bike of choice from the Beemer lineup for the tight stuff.

Comfort and Protection

I chose the RS over the naked R for the extra wind and weather protection. This proved to be a good move, since we experienced some rather epic rain over five consecutive days.

The wide and relatively flat windscreen provides a decent amount of wind protection. It has a high and low setting that created little buffeting at slower speeds but was very loud at highway speeds at the high setting. Keep in mind that I’m 5’9″, so your results may vary.

The seat is quite comfortable, allowing me to be squirm-free for most of the day. I did need relief after long days in the saddle, but overall, it’s quite good. Caroline was happy with the passenger seat.

The heated grips were terrific when we encountered torrential rain and 49 F temperatures for hours on end. I envied the RT riders who also had heated seats and greater protection from the Alpine rain.

Luggage

The $1,100 optional side cases are standard BMW units that open sideways. They hold plenty of stuff and are waterproof. The latches are a bit cheap-feeling and a couple of the other riders had trouble with their topcase locks failing. We had no such problems.

Speaking of topcases, the small Beemer item was fine. But, at over $900.00 (I assume that includes the mounting hardware) I’d look for a bit larger Givi or Shad box for a lot less money.

The small BMW tankbag is secured with straps and costs a lot of bucks for what it is. It’s not waterproof, but has an inner drawstring bag to help keep things semi-dry. My recommendation: Get a SW-Motech /Bags Connection bag that is much sturdier and uses a slick locking ring system.

Compared with the RT

I switched bikes with another rider on the tour to see what the RT is like in comparison to the RS. I had been dismayed with the RS’s cumbersome two-up handling and was a bit apprehensive about riding the even heavier RT.

But, to my surprise, the RT was much more balanced. Slow speed maneuvers and negotiating the tight hairpins is a breeze. And seeing the way the solo RT riders were hustling their bikes around shows just how capable the RT is with or without a passenger. At least one rider plans to buy an RT after they got home. I can see why.

Niggle

One little thing I found perplexing is that the self-cancelling turn signals stay on too long. Long enough that I didn’t think the bike had the feature. Come on BMW.

The Takeaway

The RS is a beautiful bike, especially in the blue and white color scheme. I like the way the exhaust looks and the asymmetric headlights are cool. The bike sounds great and the motor is powerful and grunty.

I could definitely grow to love the RS, but would likely opt for a lighter weight FJ-09 with it’s raucous motor and cheaper price.

I enjoyed my time on the RS, especially after I got a better feel for it’s awkward slow speed handling. The bike rails through fast and medium-fast sweepers and hustles down the highway comfortably. And even though it’s not great in the hairpins I managed fine. Here is a video of me on the RS descending the Gardena Pass in Italy.

Tell us your thoughts below.


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a buck or five into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!





Check out these posts:


Stay Informed: Subscribe NOW!
Trianing-Tours_LandingBe a Better Rider: Sign Up for Personal Training with Ken
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy a book
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy products from Twisted Throttle

 

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

How to Not Suck at Motorcycle Maintenance

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks
chain-copy
My daughter cleaning and lubing a chain.

Motorcycling is much more than simply owning a two-wheeler. It also means learning to ride well enough to be safe and having the ability to maintain your motorcycle so that the machine you straddle is in top-notch condition.

This is not a trivial requirement. Stories abound of hapless riders falling victim to incidents caused by ill-maintained motorcycles. Failure to lubricate, air-up, tighten or replace certain parts can lead to painful and expensive mishaps that could have been avoided with a bit of preventive maintenance.

New riders can easily become discouraged once they realize that it is time and cost-prohibitive to bring their motorcycle to their local repair shop or dealer to perform frequent chores. It just makes sense to learn how to lube and adjust your chain, change your oil and perform small adjustments that need attention from time to time. It also makes sense to have the ability to bolt on accessories.

The good news is that it’s not difficult to learn how to be self-sufficient. And once you start getting your hands dirty you’ll find a deeper connection with your motorcycle (and with riding).

Once you adopt these basic principals, the next step is to find your owner’s manual and buy a bike-specific repair manual so you can know what is involved with a particular project. Some jobs are better left to the pros, but a surprising number of tasks are very doable by an adventurous owner.

Below is a basic list of tips I put together that will help get you started.

Note: This article contains links from Bike Bandit. I usually turn down these sponsored post offers, but I said yes because I have been using them for years as my go-to source for OEM (original equipment) parts and other goodies. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own. Really.

1. Lefty Loosey

When my daughter was old enough to hold a wrench, I made sure to include her in some basic maintenance chores. She resisted at the time, but she now thanks me. She is not afraid to tackle maintenance chores partly because I exposed her to what it feels like to simply turn wrenches and screwdrivers on various fasteners and components. The first thing she needed to learn is the law of “lefty loosey, righty tighty”. If a nut or bolt won’t seem to budge, first confirm that you’re turning it the right way. Believe me, this happens all the time with newbies.

2. Use the Right Tools

There is a difference between a #2 and #3 Phillips screw driver. Asking a #2 to loosen a tight #3 screw may work out, but don’t be surprised if you then have to deal with a bunged screw head. Having a set of extractors, vice-grips and taps might save the day. Maybe. Get a comprehensive set of metric (or SAE for you American bike owners) sockets and wrenches so you avoid using adjustable wrenches and pliers, which often make your job downright miserable.

3. Stubborn Nuts

Speaking of tough nuts…Many people struggle because they don’t know how much force is needed to loosen a stubborn nut, screw or bolt. The right amount of oomph needed to get a fastener undone becomes a “sense”. I can usually feel when a bolt is about to strip (damage threads) or break (sh*t). This comes from experience. But, don’t be deterred. As long as you have the right sized tool (no adjustable wrenches, please) and follow the law of “lefty loosey, righty tighty”  then go for it. Just be sure to maintain pressure where the tool meets the fastener so it doesn’t slip on the screw, nut or bolt head.

If it still won’t budge, give it a squirt of Liquid Wrench and let it sit a bit, or apply heat for really stubborn fasteners. If it still won’t give, then clamp on a pair of vice-grips and give it a go. If you are still having trouble, you’re going to need help from someone who can extract the boogered fastener. Or keep at it yourself. Expect to use swear words not heard since your college days. @#%&@* It will eventually come out. Have faith.

4. Understand How Things Work

You will be a more daring and successful mechanic if you learn how a motorcycle’s brake, drive, electrical, and control systems work. It will make more sense why the manual says to remove the whatchamajigger if you know its relationship within the system. You will also be better able to diagnose problems if you know that the thingamajig drives the whatsahoozit.

There are lots of online articles to help with this, and to walk you through specific jobs. You can also take a look at the series of videos from the MC Garage that cover many of the basic maintenance tasks faced by us motorcycle riders. If you plan on doing more complex tasks like valve adjustments, you’d be smart to learn how the engine works, but it’s not necessary for most maintenance chores.

5. Have a Reliable Source for Motorcycle Parts

Let’s say you learned that you need to replace your chain and sprockets, air filter or clutch cable. You can go to your local dealer to buy parts, or you can choose to shop online without leaving your living room. I am a big supporter of my local dealers, but I sometimes feel like they are little more than middlemen between me and the parts distributor. However, if you’re new to this whole motorcycle fixing thing, a knowledgable dealer can offer advice and guidance not easily accessed from online retailers.

Also, delivery can be shorter if I ordered parts online myself and had them delivered directly to my door.

bikebandit-logo Bike Bandit has delivered prompt service time and again. Even if I end up buying from my dealer, I regularly use their online parts microfiche to learn about the project and make sure all the right parts are ordered. Their search function gets me to the correct page quickly. They also have a “My Garage” list to quickly find parts that fit the bikes I own.

Accessories

While I am ordering maintenance parts I usually end up shopping for other goodies like motorcycle accessories or motorcycle gear. Much of my accessory shopping is done at Twisted Throttle, but I always seem to have some “Bandit Bucks” to spend, so I end up adding something to my order. Besides, Bike Bandit has gear and accessories that Twisted doesn’t carry. I find Bike Bandit easy to work with and their selection is very good. Check them out at www.bikebandit.com.


Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a buck or five into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

    • Click the PayPal “Pay Now” button.
    • Then indicate quantity in $2.00 increments. Example: put “2” in “QUANTITY” field to donate $4.00, “3” for a $6.00 donation, etc.

Why $2.00? Due to the PayPal fee structure, a $2.00 donation is significantly more beneficial compared to a $1.00 donation.

Thank You!




Check out these posts:


Stay Informed: Subscribe NOW!
Be a Better Rider: Sign Up for Personal Training with Ken
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy a book
Support Riding in the Zone: Buy products from Twisted Throttle

 

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

Adventure Accessories for the Triumph Tiger 800

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

Mitas-bike-2The arrival of the newest addition to the RITZ garage is a Phantom Black 2016 Tiger 800 XRx. The Tiger has proven to be a true all-arounder. I have toured on it, done a track day, conquered Deal’s Gap and navigated some pretty gnarly roads and single track on the Tiger.

See my LONG-TERM review of the Tiger 800 XRx

I bolted on some accessories (“farkles” to you ADV guys) to help increase the Tiger’s versatility. My friends at Twisted Throttle took care of getting me all the best accessories I needed. They have some of the best Adventure bike accessories. Here is what I installed.

Bike Protection

SW-MOTECH Crash Bars
SW-MOTECH Crash Bars

SW-MOTECH Crash Bars

SW Motech is a German company specializing in top-shelf bike protection. Their crash bars are seriously beefy compared with others I’ve seen, including the Triumph branded bars. The trade off is weight. The SW bars add some pounds to the bike, with much of it held high where the upper loop is located at tank level.

The advantage of the high loop is the protection offered to the fuel tank. But, realistically, a low bar that protects just the engine is a fine option, partly because if the tank makes contact with the ground, it is the plastic side panels that get nailed, and those are only about $60.00 to replace. An good engine guard alternative are the R&G Engine Guards.

Another problem I found with the high SW bars is vibration. It seems as though the setup acts a bit like a tuning fork. Although I noticed the vibes on my first ride with them installed, I no longer notice it at all so this should not be a deal breaker. If you want maximum protection, the SW-M bars are the way to go.

Skid Plate/Sump Guard
SW-MOTECH Skid Plate/Sump Guard

SW-Motech Skid Plate (Sump Guard)

The Tiger comes with a decent plastic skid plate, but it is not beefy enough for the type of abuse the bottom of the engine and frame will be exposed to so I ordered the SW-Motech skid plate. It mounts easily and covers much more of the vulnerable underparts not protected by the OEM plate, including the oil filter, lower exhaust canister and frame rails. It’s quite satisfying to hear the sound of rocks pinging off it’s surface. Money well spent.

R&G Radiator Guard

Putting a hole in a radiator from an errant stone  will end your day real fast and is an expensive repair so I installed the R&G rad guard. R&G makes a heavier duty stainless steel guard, but I went with the lightweight aluminum unit. It installs easily and looks great.

I need a Hugger
R&G Hugger

R&G Rear Hugger

A Hugger is a rear fender that mounts close to the rear tire to help keep your rear shock clean. The R&G hugger bolted on perfectly and gives a custom look to the Tiger’s rear end.

Pyramid Fenda Extenda

The Fenda Extenda mounts to the bottom of the front fender to help keep crap from flying onto the front of your engine and radiator. It requires some drilling, but is easy enough to install.

Luggage

Side carriers and crash bars
Side carriers and crash bars

SW-Motech Hard Bag Sidecarriers

I already owned a set of DrySpec D20 drybag saddlebags and wasn’t planning to buy hard cases until I realized that the soft saddlebags needed to be supported by a side carrier to avoid drooping under the rear fender and seat. I went ahead and bought the SW-Motech side carriers for use with the D20s but then decided to go for some side cases after all (see below). These carriers are awesome. They quickly release from the bike with just a twist of 4 Zeus fasteners. And the quality is top-notch. They carry all brands of side cases with the proper adapter kit.

The Givi E-22 side cases look good and are narrow and light.

Givi E-22 Side Cases

There are a lot of side cases to choose from, including the Trax Boxes and cases from Givi and other manufacturers. But, I chose the most lightweight and inexpensive hard case option; the Givi E-22. The 22 is an updated version of the basic E-20 that has been around for years. The new shape looks great and it is just big enough for my needs. Their small size means that the width of the bike when they are installed is fairly narrow.

The cases open at the top so my contents don’t go spilling onto the pavement when I open them. At the low price of less than $250.00 for the SET, you don’t get premium construction, but they have held together just fine and I expect them to perform well for many seasons. FYI, I mount mine backwards from what is intended because I like the way the rearward slop looks on the Tiger.

Bags Connection City tank bag with Quick release ring.
Bags Connection City tank bag with Quick release ring.

Bags-Connection City Tank Bag

The BC tank bags are pricey, but are also well made and highly functional. The quick-connect tank ring is really easy to use and is totally secure. I ride the roughest roads with the small City bag and it has never flown the coop. For Tiger 800 riders, you want to mount the top ring as far back as possible on the bag so it doesn’t interfere with your man (or woman) junk when standing, especially on uphill climbs.

You can opt for the electrified tank ring version that gets power inside the bag just by mounting it to the special tank ring. I chose the non-e setup and feed a Euro plug-to-SAE cord a SAE-to-Cigarette socket through the front cord port to get power from the Triumph power socket to the tank bag. I charge my phone, Interphone Bluetooth Comms and whatever else needs juicing up during a ride.

tiger-steelrack
The SW-MOTECH Steel rack mounts over the stock luggage plate.

SW-Motech Topcase Steel Rack

I already had a Coocase topcase from my last bike, but I needed a way to mount it to the Tiger. I could have drilled the OEM luggage plate and rigged up the Coocase to it, but I decided to do it right by buying a SW-M Steel rack. The rack is super-strong and mounts over the plastic Triumph plate for a rugged mounting solution. You can opt for the slightly lighter Alu-Rack, but I like the look of the Steel rack and the lower price.

BDry Spec Drybag saddle bags with SW-MOTECH side carriers and City tank Bag.
Dry Spec drybag saddle bags with SW-MOTECH side carriers and City tank Bag. The Coocase top box is mounted to a SW-MOTECH Steel Rack.

DrySpec Saddlebags & DrySpec Duffle

A lot of ADV riders opt for Hard Cases, like the SW-MOTECH Trax Boxes or the GIVI Trekker Cases. I went with more street-oriented Givi E-22 Side Cases for road and touring. But for real off-road trips, I opt for soft side luggage for two reasons. One, the DrySpec Saddlebags will not get damaged in a fall, and two there is no risk of getting a leg crushed underneath the boxes in a fall or having my calf come in contact with the front of a box when I have to dab my foot while in motion.

The DrySpec Saddlebags & DrySpec Duffle are both totally immersible and sturdy enough to over-pack. They are small, but that just forces me to pack light. The integrated mounting straps are really secure and easy to install.

Tool Tube
Tool Tube

Tool Tube

The space between the side carrier and the right side of the Tiger is occupied by the exhaust, but there is lots of space on the left side for something. That something I chose was a Tool Tube. I put extra tools, a small can of chain lube and a few other items in their for safe keeping.

Comfort

MRA Spoiler Blade and GPS Mount.
MRA Spoiler Blade and GPS Mount.

MRA X-creen Sport Clamp-on Air Spoiler

I get a ton of questions about the spoiler blade I have mounted on the Tiger’s stock windscreen. A lot of people have replaced the stocker screen with MRA or Givi screens, but I like the look of the stock screen, and with the addition of the adjustable MRA X-creen spolier blade, I am perfectly happy with the way it manages wind. I wrote a complete review of the MRA X-Creen earlier when I first mounted one on my Sprint RS. A great option.

roxROX Bar Risers

Standing is a big part of off-road riding. The stock bar mounts were okay, but the reach when standing was a bit far and I was also hoping to find a better bar position that alleviated the cramp I get in my upper back. The ROX risers are nicely made and offer a wide range of adjustability with two points of rotational movement. Now, I can stand naturally when riding off road, but the back cramp is still there. I just can’t seem to find a position that helps this problem. I will continue to work with the ROX risers to find that solution.

Electronics

RAM Mounts and X-Grip Phone Holder

RAM Mounts and arms reliably hold my GoPro, iPhone and GPS. There are so many options that it forces you to get creative about where to mount the RAM ball and then which RAM arms to use for your particular needs.

The X-Grip has proven to be a secure and easy mount for my iPhone 5 and 6, even when riding single-track trails on my KLX. Just be sure to use the RAM Tether on rough terrain.

GPS Holder with RAM ball.
GPS Holder with RAM ball.

SW-Motech GPS Mount

This Mount positions your GPS (or other device) right smack dab in the middle of the windscreen, just above the instruments using custom bracket and a RAM ball and arm. It’s a perfect solution to prevent having a GPS cluttering your handlebars. It is high quality and mounts easily.

Tank Bag Power

Click the title link to see various electrified tank bag options. I mentioned the tank bag system I have that uses a Euro plug-to-SAE cord a SAE-to-Cigarette socket to power the tank bag. Either option is a good one. Having power in your tank bag is a necessity in today’s e-world.

Tires

tiger-mitas-oem
Mitas 50/50 tire on top. Metzeler 90/10 tire on bottom.

Mitas E-07

I wrote a complete review of the Mitas E-07 50/50 tires. In a nutshell, these tires are great and will allow you to go places you never thought you would. For the Tiger Roadie, order the 110 front tire to avoid the ridiculous oversteer. Order the standard (not Dakar) version for the 800.

Mitas Terra Force

I have not mounted these 90/10 dual sport tires yet, so keep an eye out next year for a full review.

 

Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a few bucks into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

ONE-TIME Donation

Donate $4.00

Donate $6.00

Donate $8.00

Donate $10.00

Donate $15.00

Donate $20.00

Donate $30.00

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

Review: Motus MST-R – American Made

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

The  Motus MST-R is an American hot rod. Its push-rod “baby block” motor hearkens back to the days of monster V-8 Cobras, GTOs, Trans Ams, Z-28s and Dodge Chargers. Badass. The Motus also hints at the exotica of a Ferrari with its high-end components and sophisticated styling.

Engine

The centerpiece of the Motus is the 1655cc longitudinal V-4. Firing up the Motus is like awakening an angry beast. The mechanical raucousness from the push-rod motor is a bit unsettling until you realize that it’s supposed to sound that way. Jokes about needing to add more oil should be expected. The racket smooths out significantly once underway and transitions to a song of badassness coming from the carbon-fiber exhaust.

The motor is well controlled but is also kind of a brute at the same time. The combination of mechanical sensations and gobs of torque make this a bike that gets attention.

With a claimed 180hp and 120 ft lbs, power is plentiful (the regular MST makes 165hp). Acceleration is less urgent than a pure sports bike, like an R1, but the Motus sure can get up and go. And the always-available torque means it pulls like a freight train.

180-ish horsepower can be intimidating, but the Motus delivers the power in a controlled manner and right from the bottom of the rev range. Rev it to the 8,000rpm redline (push-rods limit RPM) and the landscape rushes by with immediacy.

Thankfully, the bike can also lope along at legal speeds. It just doesn’t really like to. The fueling is fine, but I suspect it is the motor that causes the bike to surge at steady low-range RPM where it hunts for a calm and steady pace. Get on the gas and the motor is happier, just keep an eye out for the authorities.

Fueling

The Ride-by-Wire throttle meets modern standards and is easy enough to control, but there is a slight amount of surging that is reminiscent of a system that is not 100% sorted. Like many OEM FI systems, a bit of re-mapping may smooth things out. That said, the bike is controllable enough to make tight parking lot maneuvers, but it takes some extra skill to do it smoothly.

These days, we expect electronic nannys on our premium bikes, but the Motus does not have Traction Control or ABS. Next year, I’m told.

Transmission

The 6-speed (with overdrive) tranny is kinda industrial. It reminds me of transmissions found on big cruisers. Clutchless upshifts are possible, but not recommended. The clutch is easy to control when leaving from a stop and I never missed a gear, so it’s all good. Finding neutral is a chore, though. The full color LCD instrument cluster includes a helpful gear indicator.

Handling

It puzzles me when a bike ships with the best available shock and fork components, but is not set up very well. This is the case of the Motus. The fully adjustable Ohlins TTX36 and NIX30 forks will allow the right settings after some fiddling.

Jim Hamlin of Hamlin Cycles noted that the shock spring rate is also too soft for most riders. The resulting low rear ride height causes some awkward handling characteristics and hinders feedback, making me apprehensive to push it too much.

The bike turns in fine, feels reasonably neutral mid corner, and is stable. Like the motor, the suspension works best when is being worked hard. But, that’s when the too-light rebound damping showed its head. Four clicks of added rebound damping put it in the ballpark, but more tweaks will be necessary to get this sorted.

The forks seemed fine, so I’d concentrate on getting the shock set up first.

Comfort

The MST-R comes with a Sargent seat. It’s supportive enough around the sit bone area, but becomes too narrow at the front. I give it a 5 out of 10.

The windscreen is adjustable, but the stock touring screen that is fitted on this bike created a lot of wind noise at the taller setting. Apparently, the sport screen is the same height, so I don’t see that as a solution. I hear some riders have cut down the stock screen to try and get the wind to hit closer to shoulder height. Your results may vary.

This particular bike was fitted with adjustable Heli-bars. They reach back toward the rider and feel like ape-hangers to me. I would opt for a more direct connection to the bike and a position that is lower and more forward.

You’ll may want to buy some asbestos-lined riding pants, because the engine heat is pretty intense.

Brakes

Brembo makes top shelf braking components that offer good feel and controlled power delivery. They are not overly powerful, which suits the task of this bike. The rear brake is controllable and well placed. But, no ABS. Really?

motus-poseOverall Thoughts

I was grateful to my student John for letting me take his ultra-cool sport tourer out for a spin. The bike reminds me of an angry Moto Guzzi. The transverse motor rocks side-to-side when you blip the throttle at a standstill and the chassis has that lazy, yet sporty feel to it, like a Norge.

So, who would love this bike? I’d say it is someone who wants a unique experience over refinement. Those who love visceral feedback and a bully-like sound from their machines will be happy. Honda ST riders will likely not be able to get past the relative coarseness.

The Motus is a tough guy, but is not an unshaven bully who hangs out in dark bars. Instead, it’s more like a well-dressed mobster who is polite and charming. It’s just the thing for those who like living large and don’t mind some rough edges.

Value

At over $30k the Motus is expensive. It performs well, but is a bike that takes getting used to…like so many things worth owning. Is it worth the money? For a lot of folks, it is. It would be a tough sell for a frugal Yankee like me.

Motus Motorcycles


 
 

 

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks

Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a few bucks into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

ONE-TIME Donation

Donate $4.00

Donate $6.00

Donate $8.00

Donate $10.00

Donate $15.00

Donate $20.00

Donate $30.00

Product Review: Mitas E-07 Dakar Dual Sport Tires

Mitas-bikeMy 2016 Triumph Tiger 800 XRx has proven its awesomeness, both on the street and off-road. To gain even more confidence in rough terrain, I swapped the stock Metzeler Tourance Next (90% road/10% off-road) tires for a set of Mitas E-07 Dakar Dual Sport/Adventure bike 50/50 buns.

Mitas (pronounced Me-tass, think “Meet us”) has been around for a while as a maker of agricultural tires, but also manufactures vintage, moped, scooter, flat track, speedway, street and off-road motorcycle tires and is now becoming one of the go-to tires for Adventure (ADV) bikes.

Since I have not tried the most well-known players on the ADV/DS tire spectrum, I cannot make a direct comparison. So, the review is of my impressions of this tire only.

Disclosure: Even though I bought the first “Dakar” set from Twisted Throttle, MotoRace/Mitas generously supplied me with the second “Standard” set so I was using the correct tire for my weight and bike. See more about the different versions below.

The OEM Tire

The Metzeler Tourance Next tires did okay on the track.
The Metzeler Tourance Next tires did okay on the track. www.owenstrackdayphotos.com

On the street, the Metzeler Tourances were fine, but felt numb. This became even more apparent during a track day where the Tourance tires could not communicate well enough to instill much confidence. Grip was good though; I managed to corner hard enough to mangle both of the Tiger’s footpeg feelers.

Why the Tire Swap?

The Metzelers were also fine for the easy packed and semi-packed graded roads, but the lack of feedback made me wonder whether I was about to push the front tire right out from under the bike on gravely surfaces like I did on the Multistrada last year.

Another reason for the swap to more off-road worthy tires was for an intermediate-level ADV course I was taking with Jimmy Lewis at the Dirt Daze rally in Lake George.

After talking with knowledgeable ADV friends, I decided on the Mitas E-07 50/50s. Reviews suggest that they would provide good mileage, fine road handling and wet weather traction, as well as really good off-road capabilities.

standThe aggressive tread suggests that they will climb anything I plan to tackle, but I wondered just how good they’ll be on the street. I had them mounted just before I was to take a 1500 mile trip to North Carolina, so I was about to find out.

Pavement Performance

The wandering feel of a knobbie-type tire on pavement takes some getting used to. I ride my KLX 250 on the street at a sporting pace with full knobbies, so I am comfortable with how an off-road tire feels when cornering on the road. Despite the usual weird sense that the tires are about to slip out from under you (they won’t), the E-07s provide plenty of grip on both dry and wet pavement.

I did 1400 miles through VA and NC, including a run of Deal’s Gap and the Cherolhala and had a blast. That was with the bike being loaded with camping gear. No, the E-07s aren’t as sure-footed as a road tire and I wouldn’t do a track day on them, but they were absolutely fine as a street tire.

Whine and Vibes

One thing you will notice when riding with these tires on pavement is the high-pitched whine and the added vibration caused by the aggressive tread. I like a quiet tire, so this was a compromise I was going to have to tolerate in order to enjoy the more capable off-road qualities. It turns out I got used to it pretty quickly.

Oversteer

However, it took me longer to acclimate to the abrupt turn-in and oversteer. To keep the bike from dropping too quickly and too far into a lean, I had to countersteer on the outside handlebar. Mike, a student of mine, also commented on the quick steering characteristics after he mounted E-07s on his Super Tenere.

This quick-turning behavior is to be expected from an off-road tire where nimble maneuvering is a priority over stability. There is always a compromise.

The remedy is to mount a wider front tire: I inadvertently ordered a 110 front tire from Motorace instead of the stock 100 size tire. This proved to be a very good thing as the wider front tire took care of the annoying oversteering problem. So, Tiger XR owners, order the 110 front!

Stiff Ride

If you mount dual sport tires, whether they are 90/10 or 50/50, you will have to endure a stiffer  ride compared to a street-only tire like the Dunlop Road Smart. The carcass has to be stiff to handle rocky and rough terrain you’re likely to encounter. Again, compromises must be made.

Riding Off-Road

Mitas-bike-2My first off-road excursion with the E-07s was, um, interesting. Here I had a set of very aggressive tractor-like tires, yet the Tiger’s traction control kicked in almost as soon as I tried accelerating up the first gravel hill. Okay, I had forgotten to switch to “Off-Road” mode, so the TC was on full “nanny”. But, still. The 90/10 Metzelers would have at least allowed me to make it up the hill. Switching to the correct mode helped, but the TC was still going nuts.

I now realize that the Tiger’s TC electronics must have needed to re-calibrate itself for the new tires. I never had that problem again.

I can tell you with great confidence that these tires rock off-road! The Mitas tires give me so much more confidence that I now tackle some pretty gnarly terrain that I never thought I’d experience on the Tiger. This is good…and bad. Bad because it would be easy to go places that the tires can handle, but that the bike may not. Easy there, Tiger.

In New England, most of our ADV-type riding consists of packed dirt, lose gravel, rocky outcroppings and mud. We don’t have a lot of sand, so your results may vary in those conditions.

Pressures

I experimented with tire pressures to try and help soften the rough pavement ride from the stiff Dakar carcass. I also wanted to find a pressure that will balance road wear and off-road grip without needing to air-down for dirt and then air-up later for pavement. The stiffer Dakar tire did well when set at mid-to-high twenty pounds of pressure. I expected the tire to wear faster, but the ride was better and off-road traction was great.

Wear

wearWith all this awesome off-road grip, you’d expect the Mitas E-07s to wear quickly on the street. Well, you’d be wrong. I hear that the Conti TKC-80s only last about 3,000 miles. In contrast, I put 4,500 miles on the Dakar set and there was at least another 2,000 miles left when I decided to change the rear. See photos.

I changed the rear before it was completely worn because the flattened profile became annoying enough that I made the swap to a new rear. I would have been happy enough riding these things down to the wear bars, but I had a new rear in the garage, so made the swap early.

When new, the E-07 has a stabilizing bridge that wears down flush to the center strip in about 1500-2000 miles. The 150 section Heidenau also has a center strip, but it is much wider than the Mitas, making the Heidenau not as good for climbing once the center lugs wear flat to the bridge bars. In contrast, the Mitas has great centerline grip throughout its whole life.

Note that the wear bars are NOT at the center of the tire. The wear bars are the deeper bars that are off center (see photo).

Update: The rear tire now has 6,500 miles and still has meat left on it for another 1500 miles, I bet. The front tire is at the wear bars at about 7,000 miles and the blocks have worn unevenly and cupped. That’s at 28 pounds front and rear.

Dakar versus Standard Versions

When I bought the first set of tires I did not know the difference between the Dakar and the Standard model. The Dakar version has an additional belt to add more durability and stiffness, which makes sense for heavier riders on big(ger) ADV bikes, like the R1200GS who mount hard luggage and load their bikes to the hilt. That’s not me.

The “Standard” version makes more sense for a lightweight rider on a Tiger 800. That said, there is an argument for mounting the stiffer tire on bikes with cast (as opposed to spoked) wheels to protect them from getting damaged over sharp rocks.

NOTE: Twisted Throttle has only the “Dakar” version of the E-07 in stock as of this writing, but I’m sure they will get you the “Standard” version if you ask.

Buy These Tires…If You Can Really Use Them.

Mitas-ZThe Mitas E-07 looks tough as nails, rides well on both wet and dry pavement and does really, really well off-road. I didn’t think I’d like them as much as I do. I say, go for it!

But, before you decide to buy these or any 50/50 tire, be realistic about whether you really need this level of off-road capability. Sure, they look cool, but if your riding is 95% road, then the 90/10 tires will likely suit your needs just fine and be more pavement-riding friendly.
TT_Homepage_logo
Buy your Dakar versions tires from Twisted Throttle and help support this blog. They also have quality luggage & racks, riding gear, electronics, auxiliary lighting, bike protection, and much more. Happy shopping!

 

 

Please Donate to Keep the Articles Coming

If you liked this article and the many other articles on this site, please toss a few bucks into the hat. It’s greatly appreciated!

ONE-TIME Donation

Donate $4.00

Donate $6.00

Donate $8.00

Donate $10.00

Donate $15.00

Donate $20.00

Donate $30.00

Become a patron to support the website. Thanks