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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have an '18 KLR with 1800 miles on it. I've done about 600 miles on gravel and I just cant get over the fact that it feels awful. Front tire is constantly sliding and feels loose. I have to take corners really slow. The front tire is at 21psi and its stock. I've ridden dirt bikes for the past 15 years in all sorts of terrain and never ridden a bike that feels so loose and squirly. It gives my an uneasy feeling and I have no confidence.

Any ideas? Is it the tires?
 

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Great question. My 16 felt like this from day 1 on stock tires, and I’ll confess that I haven’t been in dirt or gravel much since then, even though I have changed to different tires, I just hadn’t gone off road much since then because of the dissapointing squirlleyness and the unnerving feeling of it all.

Curious what others have to say.
 

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Try a Dunlop 606 on the back and a Pirelli MT21 on the front. Seems to be the favourite combo for gravel travel.
 
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Hagan, did any of those dirt bikes weigh 400+lbs.? I am new to the KLR and in my mind it was going to behave like a dirt bike, which was the last motorcycle I was on. I pictured riding trails, blazing across open desert, roosting, all that shit. In reality, it is a heavy beast that just threw me down on a straight road. Ride it for what it is, KLR650 and enjoy. I was freaked out how squirreley it is(was, I replaced that horrible oem tire) on highway at around 75. Again its the nature of this awesome beast and have become accustom to it.
 

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Sit back a little on the seat and ride it like you had a few drinks and just don't care. Let it skate around a little.

PS: Don't fill the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Great question. My 16 felt like this from day 1 on stock tires, and I’ll confess that I haven’t been in dirt or gravel much since then, even though I have changed to different tires, I just hadn’t gone off road much since then because of the dissapointing squirlleyness and the unnerving feeling of it all.

Curious what others have to say.
Both my brother and I bought new KLR's and dont feel confident around corners. We were both thinking it's the front tire.

Try a Dunlop 606 on the back and a Pirelli MT21 on the front. Seems to be the favourite combo for gravel travel.
Thanks! I was looking at the D606 and I'm very interested in swapping the stock tires out. They dont look like they are going to last very long anyway.

Hagan, did any of those dirt bikes weigh 400+lbs.? I am new to the KLR and in my mind it was going to behave like a dirt bike, which was the last motorcycle I was on. I pictured riding trails, blazing across open desert, roosting, all that shit. In reality, it is a heavy beast that just threw me down on a straight road. Ride it for what it is, KLR650 and enjoy. I was freaked out how squirreley it is(was, I replaced that horrible oem tire) on highway at around 75. Again its the nature of this awesome beast and have become accustom to it.
Most of my bikes were XR600's (~330lbs) and were very well planted. Very confident in gravel and turns. My last bike was a '14 Wr450f that I bought new. Felt loose at times but learned that was the nature of the beast and was confident. After 1800 miles I don't feel confident on my KLR.

I realize it's not a dedicated dirt bike but I'm being passed by a bike that weighs 150lbs more than my KLR on a less aggressive street tire. I never saw him once slide around any turns and struggle as much as I did.
 

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What was he doing? I hope you find your comfort zone. You are trying to stick it out . Are you go back to 450? I thought the KLR would have been more dirt friendly but I use it on highway enough that I dont think a 450 or 400 would have given me what I needed. Ride safe
 

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My next set will be the most aggressive street legal tire I can find for my trail exploring if the damn weather ever cools down here.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What was he doing? I hope you find your comfort zone. You are trying to stick it out . Are you go back to 450? I thought the KLR would have been more dirt friendly but I use it on highway enough that I dont think a 450 or 400 would have given me what I needed. Ride safe
Never mind his bike 460lbs dry. So ~5 gallons of fuel would make it 100lbs heavier. We were doing the same trail riding next to each other. He had no problem keeping up with me. This has been my favorite bike I've owned. The most enjoyable to me so I'm keeping it.

My next set will be the most aggressive street legal tire I can find for my trail exploring if the damn weather ever cools down here.
What tires are you looking at? I've seen TKC 80s and 606's. Both look appealing to me.
 

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The 606 I think is considered a 90/10 which looks favorable. I’m still looking before hitting Buy Now. I want as wide as will fit in back also.
 

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Depending on type of gravel mine does too with the stock Dunlops. It is a tire issue. The tire Kawasaki puts on is OK on hard pack and OK on pavement, but real good at neither. I have found it to bite better, especially in the corners by running 18 lbs in the front and 20 rear. Since most of my riding is gravel back roads up here in Mi, I'm going to keep these the rest of this yr and then put the 606 rear and Perelli 21 up front next spring.
 

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I have the Mitas 07's on front and back and man is this a superior tire. I've only done dirt roads that had gravel but not solid gravel and grass and they are great. On the highway I am blown away by the performance. I'm rock solid at 80mph.
 

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Given your dirt experience, I'd say it's mainly a tire issue combined with a less than ideal stock riding position, high center of gravity and crap stock suspension. .......but there is nothing wrong with sliding! ;-)

A D606 rear/MT21 front combo at about 20-24 PSI, good bar bend, drop pegs, attack position and let 'er rip! ....of course a suspension upgrade will keep the bike planted on the rough stuff.

2 cents,
Dave
 

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I have an '18 KLR with 1800 miles on it. I've done about 600 miles on gravel and I just cant get over the fact that it feels awful. Front tire is constantly sliding and feels loose. I have to take corners really slow. The front tire is at 21psi and its stock. I've ridden dirt bikes for the past 15 years in all sorts of terrain and never ridden a bike that feels so loose and squirly. It gives my an uneasy feeling and I have no confidence.

Any ideas? Is it the tires?
I have noticed the same with my new ‘17. I have yet to experiment with tire pressures and they are still in the upper 20s where the dealer had set them. I suspect lower pressure would help. Also, stock tires tend to be less than the best.

My KLR is currently as squirelly on dirt roads as my K1200LT, which is pretty sad. I think though that with better tires and lower pressures it will be much better.
 

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Hagan, I personally find the original OEM Dunlop tires totally acceptable, even up to 90 mph on dirt & gravel roads in the desolate expanses of WY. And yes, most bikes will 'hunt' for traction/grip on gravel roads.
I normally run 32 psi front / 30 psi rear. I weigh 160 & ride a light Gen1.

I hesitate to ask, how much do you weigh? How tall is your actual inseam? How much reach do your arms have? What is your total height? About where on the seat do you set when on gravel roads?

Maybe your arm reach and weight have the rear suspension sagged and the front tire is 'light' & raked out like a 'chopper'? Very poor dirt handling.

Any Front Tire that you put on, the tread knobs or tread grooves need to appear as an up-side down vee, when viewed from the front, like this ,/\, !
Not this '\/'. The normal vee pattern will scoop the marbels, sand & water INTO the center of the tire tread. FRONT Dunlop D606, Kenda K761 & Kenda Big Block come to mind. Some tire companies still don't understand this!!

The upside-down vee scoots the stuff to the sides. The discontinued Avon Gripster was a great dual-sport front tire, imho.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hagan, I personally find the original OEM Dunlop tires totally acceptable, even up to 90 mph on dirt & gravel roads in the desolate expanses of WY. And yes, most bikes will 'hunt' for traction/grip on gravel roads.
I normally run 32 psi front / 30 psi rear. I weigh 160 & ride a light Gen1.

I hesitate to ask, how much do you weigh? How tall is your actual inseam? How much reach do your arms have? What is your total height? About where on the seat do you set when on gravel roads?

Maybe your arm reach and weight have the rear suspension sagged and the front tire is 'light' & raked out like a 'chopper'? Very poor dirt handling.

Any Front Tire that you put on, the tread knobs or tread grooves need to appear as an up-side down vee, when viewed from the front, like this ,/\, !
Not this '\/'. The normal vee pattern will scoop the marbels, sand & water INTO the center of the tire tread. FRONT Dunlop D606, Kenda K761 & Kenda Big Block come to mind. Some tire companies still don't understand this!!

The upside-down vee scoots the stuff to the sides. The discontinued Avon Gripster was a great dual-sport front tire, imho.
I weigh right around 210. I'm 6'3" with a 34" inseam. My reach is right around ~32" (chest to tip of fingers). I had my saddle bags on full of camping gear this last weekend. Definitely should make the front feel light. I've tried sitting as far forward as possible on the seat and didnt notice any difference. I generally sit as as far forward on the seat as possible without being to squished on the front side. Riding in a straight line on gravel is fine as long as I stay in the tire tracks of vehicles. I've been riding without the saddle bags and doing mostly day trips.
 

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Kenda TrakMaster IIs. True knobby; DOT street legal. More versatile on pavement than they look! Last longer on the slab than one might think.

VEE Rubber has a semi-comparable DOT knobby, a "Big Block" tread, VRM 401. Sticks like glue, on or off road, but . . . hardly lasts forever!

Heidenau K60 Scouts combine off-road performance with pavement durability; BRING MONEY!
 

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Hagan, I personally find the original OEM Dunlop tires totally acceptable, even up to 90 mph on dirt & gravel roads in the desolate expanses of WY. And yes, most bikes will 'hunt' for traction/grip on gravel roads.
I normally run 32 psi front / 30 psi rear. I weigh 160 & ride a light Gen1.

I hesitate to ask, how much do you weigh? How tall is your actual inseam? How much reach do your arms have? What is your total height? About where on the seat do you set when on gravel roads?

Maybe your arm reach and weight have the rear suspension sagged and the front tire is 'light' & raked out like a 'chopper'? Very poor dirt handling.

Any Front Tire that you put on, the tread knobs or tread grooves need to appear as an up-side down vee, when viewed from the front, like this ,/\, !
Not this '\/'. The normal vee pattern will scoop the marbels, sand & water INTO the center of the tire tread. FRONT Dunlop D606, Kenda K761 & Kenda Big Block come to mind. Some tire companies still don't understand this!!

The upside-down vee scoots the stuff to the sides. The discontinued Avon Gripster was a great dual-sport front tire, imho.
I think you have that backwards. When viewed from the front (standing in front of the bike looking at it) you want to see the “V” in the tread looking like a normal V with the point facing down and the opening facing up. That way as the tire rolls forward, the point of the “V” being on the bottom of the front of the tire will contact the road first. Water on the road will enter the point of the V and then as the tire rolls forward, the wider part of the V gradually comes down forcing the water to the side and out away from the contact patch.

If you look at the tire marks on the road after the tire has rolled past, the point of the V should be facing backwards against the direction of travel and the open part of the V should be facing forwards.
 

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Whichever way the "V" is supposed to point . . . the FRONT tire Vees point one way, and the REAR tire Vees point in the opposite direction.

The Vee orientation favors traction in STOPPING with the front tire, and in ACCELERATING with the rear tire.

Some tires have helpful little direction-of-rotation arrows on the sidewalls, assisting the rider in correct Vee orientation when mounting tires.

I HAVE SPOKEN!

:)
 

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Voyage, You need to hold the front tires above your head and look at the pattern from the worms eye view. Which way does the tread V scoop the water, sand, gravel into the center line when on the brakes, verses scoot the water, sand & gravel out towards the sides? The Metzeler Laser street tires were the 1st to take advantage of this /\ pattern for wet weather perfomance.

The Dunlop D606 front knobby is one of the worst offenders I have ever had the displeasure of sampling on a gravel road with the front tire mounted your way. (Ok at 50 mph, totally unridable by 60 mph, on a Gen 2 KLR650.)
The factory arrow points your way and many people have been told forever to not argue with the factories. But that arrow is part of the reason why many riders match the Pirelli MT-21 front tire with the D606 rear, instead of simply reversing the front D606.
 
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