What tires to use? - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 01-01-2011, 10:04 PM Thread Starter
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What tires to use?

Happy New Year all!

So I currently have about 2k miles I've put on my '09 650 since April of last year. I ride this bike 60 miles one way on a US route (attempting to stay at least at 50 mph so I don't get run over) and then use it on our mountain property. The trails on the mountain are dirt and contain plenty of rifts and erosion, and some of the riding is done in the grass and a little in mud (not deep) when it rains.

The current tires are the knobby stock tires that came with the bike and they do great on the Mountain. Unfortunately, they scare the hell outta me on the road at high speeds (the like to pull) and in any slight wind. I'm fine (even in the wind) if I stay below 45 mph, but above that - it get's frightening.

So I'm wondering what a good tire (or combination) would be that would be more ideal for on-road handling yet still be able to carry me up the occasional wet grass and shallow mud?
Any input and tire recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

Thank You!

Last edited by Wulfram; 01-02-2011 at 11:50 AM. Reason: correction.
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post #2 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 06:25 AM
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I know what you mean. It's tough to find a do it all tire that you will be happy with on different surfaces. I thought the stock tires were adequate for the type riding you describe though. What pressures are you running them at? I carry a small 12v air pump and when off road bleed them down to 20 psi (I'd go lower if they had rim locks) and then air back up to 32+ psi for the pavement. I'm currently running the Avon Gripsters and they are good on the road and less than just so so in the dirt, useless in mud.

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post #3 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 07:41 AM
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I have an '10 and agree that riding in the wind is down right scary. Wind gusts feel like someone is trying to tackle you by the ankles. After searching this site, I brought a KTM front fender. The KLR fender is often referred to as a "sail".
As soon as I brought it, the cold and snow it, so I can't say if this is a fix or not.
Do the search, you may find that the stock tires are not your problem.
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post #4 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wulfram View Post
The current tires are the knobby stock tires that came with the bike and they do great on the Mountain. Unfortunately, they scare the hell outta me on the road at high speeds (the like to pull) and in any slight wind. I'm fine (even in the wind) if I stay below 45 mph, but above that - it get's frightening.
As mentioned, check your tire pressure..

I, and ALL the KLR riders I know have no problems riding a KLR at highway to "going to jail, boy" speeds. I often ride all weekend at 65-70 with zero issues due to speed, wind, surface, etc..

While the KLR is taller and a bit more affected by wind, unless it's 20mph or more crosswind, I don't even notice it.. And the FASTER you go, the less wind affects you since the headwind of speed is greater than the crosswind as you go faster.

So, check your current tire pressures (as mentioned) and kick around running road pressures when on the road (32psi F and R is a good place to start) I actually run 34f and 37r on my KLR. I air down to 20 for extended off road playing and then carefully ride to the next gas station and air back up when done playing.

As far as what tire for everything, there's no such beast. All tires will be a compromise. A great street tire will last a long time and be so/so on the dirt or loose stuff, and a agressive dirt tire will be squirmy on the street, and will go away within a couple thousand miles.

The trick is to find a tire that does everything fairly well, and still has a decent life span. That said, there's several choices in that catagory, and it'll depend on if you want to pay $100 for a set, or $300 for a set..

Before jumping into this, let's discuss it a bit more with your input.

First, how much riding have you done, and let us in on your tire pressures.
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post #5 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thank You all for the informative answers.

Flash: Will check the pressure and try that route first; but since I also have a little 150 cc that I keep on the mountain, I may go with a more street oriented tread for the 650. A little research online last night and have read both good and bad about the Gripster (with some calling it the "Slipster"). How do they do on wet pavement for you? Are they manageable on gravel? Would you wipe-out on a grassy hill?

As for the fairing, bienhoabob: Back in the summer I removed the hand-guards and that did help much on the front-end wobble that was going on; but corning and wind still freak me out. Little leery about messing with the fairing itself.

Paper: Will get back about the pressure. I've been dirt-biking for years and this is my first on-road bike. I have ridden my brother-in-law's Kawasaki ninja and don't at all feel uncomfortable at high speeds or cornering on it. Is it possible to mix up the tires and have a little more dirt tread on the back and road oriented on the front? Or is that just stupid?
I'd be willing to invest a little $ on a good set since I plan on using the bike much more often this Spring and Summer to go to work and to the mountain on weekends.


EDIT:
Anyone here have experience with the Bridgestone Trailwing 41 & 42's, or the Kenda K761's?

Last edited by Wulfram; 01-02-2011 at 11:50 AM. Reason: added question.
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post #6 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 11:55 AM
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I run Shinko 705's on my '08. They are the best combination tire (75/25) I have come across. I've used Pirelli Scorpion S/T and A/T on my '05 and '08. They were good but pricey. The Shinko's are very good on the road. I can scrape the pegs on canyon roads without worry. They also grip well on wet roads. I commute with mine daily and changed to 16/42 gearing for the highway. I can cruise at 80-85 mph and its very steady. As for the wind stability you have experienced, I think the front fender has a big impact on that. I switched it out for a "UFO Superbike Low" fender. It solved that "sail" effect many have mentioned. I have been on packed dirt and gravel fire roads with the Shinko's and were satisfied with the grip and handling
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post #7 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 12:29 PM
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My 04 KLR 650 came with an IRC 4.60-17 Trials GP-1 on the rear, it handled very well at high speed and not to bad for moderate dirt riding. I just bought a new one from Dennis Kirk and can't wait to get out and put it to the test.
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post #8 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 01:02 PM
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Hi Tugboat. Welcome aboard. Wulfram, I think you are up against an issue you can't solve with your wallet. I suspect your handling issues may be related to the low odometer reading on that bike. Comparing a Ninja to the handling of a KLR is.......................sorry, I'm lost. For one, you cannot use the term "aerodynamic" and "KLR" in the same conversation. A ninja is sleek, low, you're tucked in to limit buffeting. Riding a KLR is like carrying a sheet of plywood into the wind. I get tossed around a bit, but I have learned to live with it. Like riding on gravel. Its gonna move around a little, but it wants to stay upright just as much as you do. After several hundred blasts and pushes and bobs and weaves, you get used to it. A big cruiser takes wind like a large ocean vessel takes waves. A KLR is more like a dingy, and will get tossed around a bit on the same water, while the ocean vessel goes for a smooth sail.

Whatever you decide, let us know how it is working. My experience with tires is just that....my experience. I have no Medals of Merit for maintaining anything like main stream thinking. For me, I like a front tire that is aggressive. The rear can be a straight street tire for all I care. It may slip and slide a bit out in the grit, to no real disadvantage. If the front end breaks loose, I usually can predict what will happen. I'm going down, faster than I can compensate for. I don't ride this big pig in the single track. That's like delivering pizza with a Peterbuilt. Yer kinda missin' it's real potential.

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post #9 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjar54 View Post
As for the wind stability you have experienced, I think the front fender has a big impact on that. I switched it out for a "UFO Superbike Low" fender. It solved that "sail" effect many have mentioned. I have been on packed dirt and gravel fire roads with the Shinko's and were satisfied with the grip and handling
Will look into Shinko's. Thanks.
Now tell me more about this Superbike Low Fender of which you speak?
Have a pics or links of what it looks like on the 08-09 KLR? The "sail effect" is the most disheartening problem I have on the road .. that pretty much sums it up. If I can get rid of the sail effect, I can live with the rest easily. Currently, I'll be on a flat, treeless straight stretch in the valley for 20 miles and with the wind either pulling me to one side or the other. I only weigh 148 lbs, so it's a fight to keep the bike centered. I'll usually pull over when I get more than 4 cars behind me and let them pass.

If I could just get the right modifications (tires, fender ...w/e necessary) to better stabilize my ride, then I'd feel much more secure on the road.


---------

vatrader: Thanks for the input. Ninja and KLR are a no-comparison, I was just stating for my handling cred. When I first purchased and rode the KLR, I thought it was my lack of on-road biking experience that was my main obstacle.
What's the ratio of your on-road / off-road ?
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post #10 of 30 Old 01-02-2011, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vatrader View Post
Hi Tugboat. Welcome aboard. Wulfram, I think you are up against an issue you can't solve with your wallet. I suspect your handling issues may be related to the low odometer reading on that bike. Comparing a Ninja to the handling of a KLR is.......................sorry, I'm lost. For one, you cannot use the term "aerodynamic" and "KLR" in the same conversation. A ninja is sleek, low, you're tucked in to limit buffeting. Riding a KLR is like carrying a sheet of plywood into the wind. I get tossed around a bit, but I have learned to live with it. Like riding on gravel. Its gonna move around a little, but it wants to stay upright just as much as you do. After several hundred blasts and pushes and bobs and weaves, you get used to it. A big cruiser takes wind like a large ocean vessel takes waves. A KLR is more like a dingy, and will get tossed around a bit on the same water, while the ocean vessel goes for a smooth sail...
Wind...

Dual sports have wider handle bars and that makes them more sensitive to hand pressure (compared to sport bikes). That makes them easier to tip over to turn but it also makes them nervous in the wind unless your hands are really quiet. Hand inputs on the bars no matter how slight have a steering effect. When it's windy we have a tendency to hold on to the bars tighter but because of that hand inputs are magnified and the bike will get blown around more. The solution is to have a very light grip.

Try this next time you're fighting the wind take you left hand of the bike. The bike will calm down and go straighter. The bike wants to go straight because of the wheels acting sort of like gyros. With a light grip on the bar the bike will go straight in the wind, it will lean into the wind which is disconcerting at first but you get use to it. Gusts will make the bike lean over but it will stand back up as soon as the gust stops.

Hope this helps! I use to fight the wind but now I relax an enjoy the ride.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor 2:9

Last edited by Spec; 01-02-2011 at 03:51 PM.
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