Off-road motorcycle tyres for your next adventure

Like any aspect of kit, having the right off-road motorcycle tyres will make every ride more enjoyable

Off-road motorcycle tyres

by Jim Blackstock |

If you fancy the idea of a foray off-road on your adventure bike on anything more extreme than cutting across the grass by the kerb to get to your garage, you will benefit enormously from a pair of tyres with some genuine off-road ability.

We looked at adventure-sport tyres recently - road tyres that offer a marginal degree of off-road ability, normally in the 90/10, road/off-road ratio. The tyres we’re looking at here are designed to offer a spread of abilities that are more skewed towards off-road performance, but with decent on-road capability as well. Think roughly 50/50, road/off-road, though with a little variation either way — the kind of tyre you would be able to rely on en route to an off-road adventure.

Off-road tyres will generally have larger-blocked tread designs than corresponding road tyres, so clear more loose material, water or mud away and get the rubber blocks to contact the hardest ground possible. Tyres designed for very muddy conditions, as we find primarily in the UK even in spring and summer, have even more extreme tread blocks and are often referred to as ‘knobblies’ due to their appearance.

While a set of enduro-derived knobblies would give the ultimate grip in muddy or slippery conditions, you probably wouldn’t want to ride 75 miles each way to your chosen green lane outing on them, not least because of the noise they'd make. We’ll be looking at pure off-road tyres at another time, but the tyres we’ve assembled here would give a good account of themselves on both the tarmac and the mud.

It’s worth mentioning that bikes that are serious about heading off-road will usually have a 21in front-wheel and probably an 18in rear. This opens up a huge variety of options when it comes to off-road tyres. They will also probably be mounted to spoked wheel rims, which tend to be more forgiving of off-road knocks than say a cast-alloy wheel. This does mean, however, that unless specifically designed otherwise, spoked wheels with off-road tyres will also require inner tubes to keep the tyres inflated to the proper profile.

The best off-road motorcycle tyres shortlist:

Avon TrekRider

Maxxis Dual Sport M6006

Continental TKC 80

Dunlop Trailmax Mission

Metzeler Karoo 3

Bridgestone Battlax

Michelin Anakee Wild

Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

The best off-road motorcycle tyres:

Avon TrekRider

Avon TrekRider
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Avonu2019s Trekrider is a slightly more aggressive design than its Trailrider stablemate, allowing greater off-road ability u2013 the manufacturer suggests around 50/50 on/off-road bias (rear tyre here). This means it will suit road journeys on the way to off-road adventures and offer grip and traction across a range of conditions, including gravel and mud.

Maxxis Dual Sport M6006

Maxxis Dual Sport M6006

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The Dual Sport from Maxxis is a road tyre from the off-road specialists and will deliver good grip in wet weather while its semi-knobbly tread pattern will also provide excellent grip and traction off-road (rear tyre here). Intended for large dual-purpose bikes to allow them greater off-road ability than adventure-sport tyres, they are intended for use on all types of surface.

Continental TKC 80

Continental TKC 80
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Continentalu2019s TKC 80 Twinduro is described by the manufacturer as the u2018King of the dual-sport marketu2019 (rear tyre here) and intended as 60/40 off-road/road (rear tyre here). Its large tread blocks give excellent traction in wet and muddy conditions and generate great traction while the large spacing means they will clear mud and gravel away from the tread-block edges, allowing them to continue to allow the bike the steer and drive forward.

Dunlop Trailmax Mission

Dunlop Trailmax Mission

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Designed for going the distance on both on-road and off-road for big adventures, the Trailmax Mission is a large-block tyre with defined edges to provide grip and stability on-road but generate traction and clear loose gravel and mud away from sealed surfaces. Wrap around edges help to prevent the wall from damage while off-road and they are said to be good at climbing out of ruts, many a UK greenlaneru2019s nemesis.

Metzeler Karoo 3

Metzeler Karoo 3

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Estimated to be 60/40 road/off-road and intended for hard-packed surfaces, the Karoo 3s feature a blocky design but not as much as a knobbly, meaning better on-road performance with good off-road grip and traction. The V-shaped tread blocks give traction in varying conditions and the grooves help clear loose material away from the tread. A good option for primarily road riders who want some proper off-road ability as opposed to a token opportunity.

Bridgestone Battlax

Bridgestone Battlax

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Similar-looking to the Metzeler Karoo 3s but with larger blocks and spaced more like a familiar off-road tyre, the AX41 is, by Bridgestoneu2019s definition, a tyre with an off-road bias though it has been designed to offer excellent grip on and off-road with traction generated by the large blocks and edges. It is a rigid construction to offer a combination of stability and performance.

Michelin Anakee Wild

Michelin Anakee Wild

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Designed to offer a combination of on and off-road ability, the Michelin Anakee Wild features large tread blocks with wide grooves to clear loose gravel and mud and allow the blocks to generate grip and traction. They are intended to have a long life and be resistant to high operating temperatures, as you would expect to find on-road while resisting damage off-road.

Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR

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Designed to be used on-road on the way to off-road adventures, the Scorpion Rally STR is a blocky design with reasonably wide grooves to dissipate gravel and mud and allow the blocks to generate grip on-road while also providing traction on the loose. On-road heat is dissipated to prevent damage to the blocks and a high silica content helps with mechanical grip on all surfaces.

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