Trials tires for dirtbike?

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#1
Did anyone see the article in Blue Ribbon magazine (Oct. 2003 p.6) where they talked about using a "True Observed Trials" tire for dirt riding? They claim that they wear much better, grip better (except for braking on loose soil where they are OK but not great) but only come in 4.00 x 18. What do you folks think about this?
 
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#2
In Great Britain they even have (or had?) a rule in enduro competition, that said that everybody has to use trials tires on the rear wheel. Surely Marcus Gunby knows more about this.
I think that these tires might be superior when you ride in an area where you have mostly low-speed, very technical terrain with lots of roots and rocks or any place where you hardly get above third gear and therefore can run very low pressure in your tires.
Everything that neeeds higher pressures and higher speeds falls out of the picture. Same goes for sand or deep mud.
In addition they are relatively expensive (incomparison to motocross tires - at least over here)
 

Dave Wood

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#3
I rode two days with Bill Dart in September, in Idaho and I ran a Michelin trails for the first three days and a Michelin S-12 for the final two days. I rode four different regions of Idaho over the five days. I was extremely impressed with the performance of the trails tire. I was running 13lbs of air and the only problem I had was a couple of pinch flats and it wanders to one side on pavement. Under very hard braking conditions the tire does not slow as well as a knobby, this is where your braking hard with front brake and the rear tire is very light on the ground. This problem is eliminated by just braking a little sooner and transitioning to throttle as you enter the turn. If you brake into the apex of the turn, you will feel more comfortable with a knobby. I spoke to former ISDT rider Mike McGowen and he said that the flats and wandering are eliminated if I run 22 lbs. Bill Dart runs about 8Lbs. The tire performed as good as a new S-12, with a Bib Mouse, in most situations and better often. Especially on loose rocky climbs with some roots and steps. In the Italian Peaks area of Idaho, the Meyers creek trail was quite rocky and very loose. Bill and I waited quite a while for the others to make this climb. I started over a minute behind the last rider. The tire was quite impressive as it found traction where the other riders with good knobbies where working really hard and had to make several runs at the long mountain trail. East Fork Beaver in the Sawtooths was dry and very slippery with several steep switchbacks. I rode up in 2nd and 3rd gear and never had to work the bike to find traction. On the upper part I followed another rider and you could see him working a lot to find traction. This was our first day and he was on a brand new knobby. I ran the Michelin S-12 on days 4 and 5 and I did have to use more body movement to get hooked up than I did with the trials tire. Day five we rode North of Stanley in the Yankee Fork trail system. Rode Cinnabar up top trail 162 which takes you to Custer Lookout. Then down Razorback. Bill said 162 was a really tough hill. I had to work pretty hard to get up that hill where if I had the trials tire on I think it would have been much easier. I ended up backtracking as the other rider was unable to get up 162 with his knobby,so we took trail 163 up to Custer L/O. This is a really "fun" loop for "A" riders. I would love to try it in deep sand, I suspect it will work pretty good as the tire will tend to ride on top, where a knobby spins and digs, I think the trials tire would plain out and stay on top. I did not notice any loss of performance in the few mud bogs I rode. Did not ride enough in sloppy conditions to form an opinion.

The impact to trail is considerably less. I think the price works out as you will get at least three times the mileage. The trails tire will hold up and still perform for over 1000 miles. The bottom line is that I came away very impressed.
 

Rcannon

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#4
All the oem bikes in the 70's used them. They were worthless in anything except hardpacked stuff. Maybe the new , expensive models are better.

Personally, I would ride on the bare rim before I had to go back to these tires.
 

Patman

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#5
The old style tire has nothing in common with the old "enduro" models except they are black and round. Modern trials tires are VERY good in most conditions I've encountered and offer grip beyond what most people think they look like they would. I've ridden in some seriously slimey conditions expecting to go down and never did, crazy climbs in these same conditions saw me over compensating and actually getting too much traction for what my brain thought possible. Yes this was on a trials bike but keep in mind that only the bottom 3 or 4 gears (5 or 6 speed) are for technical riding the top gears provide PLENTY of speed. I've seen Ray Peters' (national #4) KLX650 that has grind marks on the footpegs from cornering with trials tires on it. He actually prefers them to street treads because of the stupid amount of grip. Once I burn up my Pirelli on my XR284 I will be trying out a Michelin trials tire on it as well.
 

Rcannon

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#6
That sounds like fun. Thinking about it, the 70's tires were hard as a rock. They lasted forever.

Any specific brand that you like best? It sounds like a fun hard terrain tire. I ride in one area that eats tires. A new 756 will be worthless in one day. Sounds like nothing to loose!
 

Patman

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#7
Michelin's seem to be the most popular and my favorite but I've seen Dunlop's too.
 

EK

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#8
I have long been a fan of trials tires. The modern competition trials tires are not even remotely close the old junkers of the 70's.

Here is a past post:

http://dirtrider.net/forums3/showthread.php?threadid=32600&highlight=Michelin+trials+tire

I have run the Michelin X-11 and the IRC TR11 Competition trials tire. Overall, I like the IRC TR11 tire better than the Michelin X-11 on my GasGas for the following reasons:

Stiffer 4 ply rating +
Less cracking at base of knobs +
works better in the mud +++
works better for heavier bikes/riders +
significantly cheaper +
However, Non-DOT approved

In favor of the Michelin X11:
More flexible
works better on rocks
works better with lighter machines/riders.
DOT approved
However, the rubber compound appears to oxidize and harden more quickly

A good example of the trials tire was when my riding friends and I stopped at the top of a slimy clay hill [the knobby tired machines struggled to climb it while the trials tired machines climbed with ease] we compared rear tires. The rear knobby tires were packed with mud while the rear trials tires (Michelin X-11 and IRC TR11) were almost completely clear of mud. It looked unbelievable. The trials tires clear mud so well it is amazing. Why? The tire flexes and releases the mud easily whereas a knobby has a very stiff carcass.

Eric K
'01 GasGas 300XC
'00 Sherco 290