Tires, Grip, and the Great Pacific Northwet!

Recently Marina and I made a huge lifestyle change by moving to Newport Oregon.  Newport is located on the beautiful central Oregon Coast.  Here, huge waves crash against timeless sea stacks, foggy mists cling to huge trees, and crystal clear rivers rush into the Pacific Ocean.  It is truly, God’s Country in many ways.

One of those heavenly ways shows itself in the quality of  motorcycling. Just leaving our driveway puts us in fabulous, uncrowded riding conditions.  In fact, navigating our driveway could be considered an “adventure ride.”  We, of course, ride Bikeopotamus, our 2011 BMW R1200 GSA, which allows to nimbly pick our way up the moss/pine needle/rain-covered gravel of our driveway.  Those guests who come visit and ride bigger ‘street’ bikes might elect to park down below the house and walk up the final steps to the house!

Which, brings us to the current subject of stiction…and tread life.  There are several great tires on the market for big ‘adventure’ bikes such as the Continental TKCs, the new SAVA tires, Kenda Big Block, Shinko, Metzler, and Heidenau.  These are all worthy tires and seem to be getting better as more and more folks gravitate to these bikes; mileage is better as is on- pavement handling!  Most of them offer a pretty good trade off in mileage v traction, with the Shinko’s  and Heidenaus leading the charge in the mileage department!

I think it is an engineering feat to build a tire that inspires confidence off pavement AND holds up to the pounding that a heavy bike, passengers and driving forces cause.  Here is where, IMHO the Heidenau K60 outperforms others!   I  had the opportunity to attend the Rawhyde Adventure Riding School.  http://www.rawhyde-offroad.com, so I had my new K60s mounted up and off we went. (At the time I lived about 45 minutes from the ‘campus’ site in the mountains above Castaic.)  By the end of the weekend Bikeopotamus and I were riding up and down trails I probably wouldn’t have walked a day or two earlier!  When the class was over, I simply twisted the throttle and went home.  Loved the handling both on and off road!

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Road handling of the K60 seems very good.  Marina and I often ride two up; me at 190 lbs and her at 86 lbs do not make us particularly heavy payload. Still, when we pack up for an extended ride and load the bike with a full complement of oil, fuel, luggage, etc, Bikeopotamus is, well, bikeopotamus.  :)

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Some have mentioned they feel the Heidi K60 doesn’t provide adequate traction, especially in the rainy twisties.  I think riding in the rain is exactly like riding in the sunshine; you do exactly the same things and make the same decisions, but you do them slower with more thought to available traction.  Marina and I have a tendency to hustle along pretty well through the twisties, and we’ve never felt the front end getting wonkey from lack of traction.  Probably because we slow down a bit in the rain!

Granted, it is a very stiff, heavy tire.  When in Mexico I’d pray that I wouldn’t need to try to change one on the side of the road!  Fortunately, that beefy, heavy tread stands up to anything the road can throw at it!

After putting nearly 10,000 miles on a set of Heidenau K 60s, I switched them out for a set of the K76 model.  This model, while still retaining good ability off the pavement, has a more asphalt friendly ride, with much less vibration up through the grips!  I’m pretty happy with the K76 tires.  In fact, they are my tire of choice for a long tour of North America coming up this May!

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So, much for  my thoughts about mileage and off pavement riding.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to spend 80-90% of your time off asphalt, go with the Kendas  or TKC 80s.  If you need a budget adventure tire, the Shinko 705 Radial is your cup of tea.  In fact, all of the these tires, from the Anakees to the Heidenaus, are great tires and most offer a pretty good compromise between dirt and asphalt.  For me, the great behavior on and off pavement and outstanding mileage make the Heidi’s an unbeatable combination!

Happy riding!  We hope to see you up here on the Central Coast sooner rather than later! Our home is always open to friends new and old!

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US 93 and Miles of Miles

I recently had an opportunity to go visit my son and his family in Boise ID.  I decided to explore US 93 which, for me,  started north of Las Vegas and conveniently dumped me off on I-84  a couple of hours south of  Boise.  (US 93 technically starts in AZ, but since I was coming from the Los Angeles area it was easier to head north and start from here.)

US 93 is a long, lonely highway.  Because the weather was so inclement, the weapon of choice was my 2013 Subaru Outback.  With temps in the low forties, and howling wind, riding Bikeopotamus seemed an unwise decision.Add to the mix that the already volatile weather was getting worse and lack of support if I encountered a breakdown, put me solidly behind the driver’s wheel for this trip.  BTW, the Outback is an awesome vehicle for exploring!  But, I digress….

Since US 93 is so isolated, a few tips for the rider, in no particular order are offered.  Bring water, a fully charged cell phone, and some food.  Make sure your tires are in good shape before you depart.  There are no motorcycle services, to my knowledge, Let someone know where you are going.  There are several sections where fuel is in short supply, yet gas if available especially if you have the range of Bikeopotamus:

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Most motorcycles don’t rock 350 miles to a tank,  so get gas accordingly-there are several towns along the way, as well as major stops in Ely, and Elko NV.  Another tip is, stay on US 93 and head east when it splits off for the “Alien Highway.”  This section of US 93 is very scenic and a great diversion is to continue northeast into the Great Basin National Park.  Extremely rugged and remote, it is the least visited of all our National Parks, and it is a beautiful as it is remote!  Oh, and one final tip…you can pretty much go as fast as you want, but within ten miles of any town, slow down.  Wells, NV is a great place to get a Performance Riding Award, though I haven’t personally had the pleasure!

So, your bike and tires are in good shape, you have lots of water, a patch kit, a cell phone and some food….here is where you’ll be going:

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When you are ready for a break from all the awesome exploring there is to do, Ely NV makes an accessible spot for a night’s rest.  Get off US 93 and take Aultman Street  “downtown.”  As you enter the downtown area look for the Best Western at 930 Aultman Street.  A few blocks up is good Chinese as well.  Check in, and go check out some pretty good Chinese food at “The Happy Garden” on Aultman.  The hotel directly across the street from the Chinese restaurant serves a great steak, but way too much cigaret smoke inside for me!

Fed, rested, and restored you can continue north on US 93 or turn west on US 6 for more incredible riding.

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Have fun!

Steve

 

Baby’s Got New Shoes!

I’d heard lots of good things about the new Heidenau K60 tires, so when my last pair of Shinko 705 Radials wore out, I thought I’d give them a try.

I’m not an expert on tires, but with about 300K of riding underneath my saddle, I’ve got my opinions.  In a few words,  I really like them.  They are plenty sticky on dry asphalt for my 8/10s riding style, and on the unpaved stuff they inspire confidence.  Last weekend I took my riding partner for a nice spin through the local mountains, which involved some graded gravel roads.  The KC60s inspired confidence, with less tracking and “wandering” around in the sandier sections.  I’ve yet to try them in the rain…hey, this is So Cal, what is “rain?”  I’ve heard they are a bit squirrely in the wet-this wouldn’t surprise me as they seem pretty stiff.  I guess I’ll find out when I take them to the Pacific Northwet this summer!

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Mileage is great so far.  Here is a picture of the rear with 3K miles on it.  The front tire looks brand new.  I’m confident these tires will take me about 10,000 miles this summer.  And no, I’m not as ghostly white as the pic indicates!  LOL

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The only “con” so far?  This is nit-picking, but they are fairly noisy on the asphalt and they have a tendency to “walk” around on the rain grooves.  Really no issues other than these!

So far, I’ll recommend the Heidenau K60 to anyone who rides an “adventure style bike.”  Good handling, great mileage, and confidence building off the pavement.  I’ll post up a few more comments when I’ve put a few more miles on them.

Keep it between the ditches,

Steve