On-Board Spare Tires - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-20-2015, 07:05 AM Thread Starter
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On-Board Spare Tires

While everyone enjoys a right to pack at his own pleasure, I'm intrigued by: Ride-along spare tires!

Some travelers lash a couple of spare tires onto their bikes, even for less-than-trans-continental rides.

I wonder at the strategy: Are catastrophic failures of the on-the-ground tires expected, likely?

If the service life of the mounted tires is questionable, why not mount the new tires BEFORE departure? Given the total cost of the expedition, forgoing a few miles of wear on the existing tires seems negligible, to me. Loading the bike each day will be easier, without a pair of tire casings in the way, and--a pair of tires fastened high above the rear fender hardly improve handling, or wind-worthiness.

Is fear of tire unavailability along the route a reason for on-board spares? If one is traveling in the continental US, motorcycle shops abound, in most areas. Otherwise, next-day-delivery is generally available at the motel of one's choice. A thoroughly-planned ride might even involve stashing replacement tires at a planned re-supply point along the way. Again, some remaining service life can be sacrificed from old tires for the convenience and security of new ones.

Of, am I missing a FASHION point? Is some cosmetic cachet available from projecting the image of the intrepid traveler with Beverly Hillbillies/Grapes of Wrath spare tires affixed to the vehicle? If so, spare tires could be permanently emplaced on the bike, even for a ride from the house to the coffee shop.

As mentioned, everyone packs to suit himself. I will not project my own requirements and preferences upon others. No, "right," or "correct" procedure exists in packing for a ride. But, unless I'm riding to an area where a replacement tire isn't stocked for a thousand-mile radius, and resupply unavailable for a week or more . . . I plan to avoid redundant tire casings aboard my motorcycle, YMMV!
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-20-2015, 08:40 AM
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Somewhat like the mostly empty panniers I used to carry on my commute to work?
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-20-2015, 10:13 AM
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I have never understood it. Even a trek into the extreme wilderness of Canada, say to Jeff's house, should not require lashing a spare tire or two to one's load.

Unless, of course, they are being delivered to Jeff because Canada Post won't bother to go that deep into the back woods.

I tend to pack light and am of the general opinion that people bring too much stuff with them. Tires seem to be, as you say, a fashion statement.

There are few places where you can't manage to cache a set of tires if the trip is so long that a tire change will be necessary.


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post #4 of 15 Old 08-20-2015, 10:15 AM
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What even baffles me more is seeing someone riding with almost bald extra tires lashed on the back... Are they emergency backups? What would be the point of dragging almost pooched tires around? On the panniers, I actually sold mine this spring. Wasn't really using them and I don't see any long adventurous trips in my future.

Last edited by 650Stew; 08-20-2015 at 12:46 PM.
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-20-2015, 12:02 PM
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I don't get it either. I've ridden with 'spares' when I was picking up new tires and it sucked. I can't imagine wanting to take them on a long trip.

I suspect for some it's a 'rugged' fashion kind of thing and then there are some people who are hoarders? I don't know. I don't pack much when I ride. Hell, I barely take food (I can live off Cliff bars for a while).

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post #6 of 15 Old 08-20-2015, 05:26 PM
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The only thing I can think of is that perhaps they don't inhabit the same realm most of us do.....

Maybe they think if they've got the room it's cheaper to buy and carry a set of tires they'll eventually use anyway rather than trying to get their motorcycle to a place where they can procure a new tire if they experience an unrepairable flat: i.e. no roadside assistance and not wanting to pay somebody to get the bike to where they can get a tire. Could literally be hundreds of miles depending on where you are. Really not feasible to leave a motorcycle roadside and hitch a ride to the nearest town and back with a new tire.

Perhaps there are those who don't have or don't care to deal with credit cards, cell phones, computers and online ordering.

Tire sidewall failure highly unlikely, but perhaps insurance against some drunken punk who decides to slash them in the motel room parking lot, rendering safe repairs impossible?

I dunno. Just being the Devil's Advocate here and coming up with any reason I can think of that you would do such a thing. I wouldn't. But, then again, I also wouldn't venture cross-country in my vehicle with no spare and just a tire repair plug kit and compressor, even if I do have Roadside Assistance.

The above scenarios are unlikely. I would categorize it is a "my ride is so bad-ass I need to carry spare tires" thing......

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post #7 of 15 Old 08-20-2015, 09:09 PM
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First I will say I DON'T like hauling tires, but I did once. Remember the pain of strapping them on and riding with them and unstrapping, but I don't remember where I was going.

My reasonably extensive experience in long distance trips has taught me that getting the tires of the type and size you want when you want is not as easy as you might think even when passing through large cities.

I started from Houston with a brand new Shinko 244 on the rear headed to the eastern end of the TAT. By the time I got to Memphis 9 or 10 of the center lugs had chunked off. I thought "no sweat, I'll just pickup a new 50/50 tire to fit the rear of my KLR in Memphis. Called every shop in Memphis with no luck. Finally found one in Mississippi. The only tire they had for me was a Shinko 244, so in desperation I took it and headed back to Houston to regroup and reload on rubber and restart for the TAT. That second Shinko lost four knobs in the first 400 miles.

Then on the way home from the end of the TAT after passing through Las Vegas in the middle of the night, I stated stopping in every little town looking for a 21" front tire. That should be easy to find some where on Interstate 40, but I finally got to Albuquerque just before the 5:00 PM closing of a shop that had one GOLDENBOY that as I recall was marked for 60 mph max. It wasn't what I wanted, but I was happy to take it and install it in their lot after closing time myself.

In Salida, Co on the way up to Alaska I had to settle for a used rear tire because it was the only tire of any type/brand in the whole town that would fit the KLR. When I got to Fairbanks, AK I couldn't find the type of tires I wanted, so I settled for what they had that would fit. While there I met a guy on an Africa Twin and we rode from Whitehorse, Yukon up to Inuvik, NWT and finally down to Prince George, BC watching his rear tire get thinner and thinner. We both got new tires in Prince George and his rear had a 2-1/2 inch diameter spot with the threads showing.

My point is that knowing how difficult it can be to get the type of tire you want in the size you want when you want it makes it easier to understand why some riders haul tires at least for some distance.

I was happy to find that I can call motorcyclesuperstore.com and give them my route and they will give me the locations of various small shops along my route that associate with them. I pick a shop and they quick ship the exact tires I want to be held for me. As a test I asked about two towns near the TAT and they had five shops to offer me. I picked one and had the tire I wanted install there.
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-21-2015, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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An alternative to the, "Jed Clampett/Pa Joad" (Beverly Hillbillies/Grapes of Wrath) spare tire fashion statement, at least in most of the continental US, may be: Roadside assistance.

This insurance offers roadside repair, or evacuation to the nearest capable maintenance facility (within specified limits).

During a somewhat embarrassing experience (bike wouldn't start, before 150 Horizons Unlimited spectators), my American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) membership provided a 35-mile tilt-bed wrecker ride to the nearest Kawasaki dealer last spring. Seamless, efficient and fast. NOT a failed tire, but . . . the evacuation scenario would have been similar, if it were, I imagine.

Beats fooling with on-board spare tires, IMHO; YMMV. That said, extremely remote travels may require extreme measures; I can understand the foresight influencing a decision to carry spare tires in Lower Slobbovia, etc.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-21-2015, 09:12 AM
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I said I'd never do it

I said I'd never haul extra tires around. Then one day it seemed better to go ahead.

I'd worn out a pair of new road-oriented Kenda 761 tires going to British Columbia. They were bald enough that I skipped a road with slick parts, re-routing to pavement until Whitehorse YT where I got TKC-80s. (I had passed through Prince George on a weekend, with all 3 motorcycle shops closed until Tuesday.)

By the time I got to Inuvik and back to Anchorage the rear had significant wear. I still had lots of gravel travel planned so I didn't want to change tires too early. Having been caught with worn tires, I didn't want to repeat that mistake.

I carried a rear TKC-80 from Anchorage to Dawson City. The new rear was great on the Richardson Hwy and all the wet, calcium-chloride slicked gravel up to Ft Simpson & Ft. Providence. I continued through northern Canada and started looking for parts and I'll tell you they are NOT so easy to find. Your estimate of next-day delivery is unrealistic for many areas of the continent, even relatively civilized Maine where I live. By the time I got tires, brake pads, and many other replacement parts, the second rear TKC-80 was very worn. Those 500 miles made a difference and I had great tread when I needed great tread.

Still when I see tires on the back of a motorcycle, I wonder if it's really necessary. It IS a Royal PITA. It can't help handling although it didn't cause me any trouble. I have to remember that I don't know the route or plans of the other riders and the tires may make sense to them. They may be going to a pocket wilderness where they'll spin the knobs off in just a few days. Or they may be a fashion statement.

There's a pair of KLR riders now on the Trans-America Trail (TAT). One plans to buy tires in Utah. The other is carrying 2 tires from the east coast. I vote with the one planning to buy. I have to respect the decision of the one who carries his spares.
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post #10 of 15 Old 08-21-2015, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Grinnin View Post
There's a pair of KLR riders now on the Trans-America Trail (TAT). One plans to buy tires in Utah. The other is carrying 2 tires from the east coast. I vote with the one planning to buy. I have to respect the decision of the one who carries his spares.
Yet, I wonder . . . how is it one rider can make it to Utah with the tires on his bike and no spares on board, and the other must carry spares with him all the way to Utah (where new tires are available for purchase)?

What I'm getting at, why doesn't Rider # 2 IMMEDIATELY install his new tires for the ride, instead of wagging them about?

Why start on an ambitious journey with known worn tires mounted?

Questions aside, I fully acknowledge: Their ride, their choice!
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