BEST TYRES FOR A GS?
James heads north in search of answers
Tyre choice has been the defining factor of my time with the GS – especially with the limited options available thanks to the 21in front.
The Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres (typically £198 before fitting) that came as standard were fine on the road but didn’t offer sufficient grip for any serious off-road applications.
With some dirt action planned, as well as a riding adventure around Scotland, I was curious to see how a set of off-road focused tyres would perform on tarmac and in the mud.
I’d found the Continental TKC70 tyres £214) that were fitted earlier in the year very unstable when riding at speed and they never gave me the feel I was looking for both on the road and off.
So I decided to try a set of Metzeler Karoo 3s (£182) and thought I might have found the Holy Grail of do-everything, go-anywhere rubber. They performed so well, in fact, that I was able to really explore the limits and true potential of the GS off-road. More than I could have ever done on the TKC 70s.
On the road they were a little slow and reluctant to turn-in to corners, but manageable, and remained stable at speed. I also got better feel than other off-road focused tyres thanks to the chunky tread pattern that spans the width of the tyre.
And then it rained… It couldn’t have been more different. I’d found the Achilles heel in the Metzelers’ ability. It felt like I was riding on ice as the bike would spin up under its modest 85hp on the road. It was also unnerving as I felt the bike slide on more than one occasion when negotiating roundabouts. My fairly ham-fisted approach to the throttle on the GS doesn’t help with this but I don’t enjoy riding timidly, and what’s the point of riding if not to enjoy it?
It’s a real shame that the Karoos didn’t work better in the wet, if they had I would genuinely back them as possibly the most versatile rubber out there to fit the GS.
Next up was a set of Michelin Anakee IIIS and a tour of Scotland. The Highlands aren’t exactly known for dry conditions, but the Michelins (£211) acquitted themselves well in all weathers. The Anakee IIIS are a decent road tyre for the GS. They give good grip and inspire confidence when it’s dry and perform better than the Pirellis in the wet.
Although they might not have allowed me to explore trails as widely as the Karoos, what they did do was encourage me to make the most of some of our finest asphalt.
So to answer, I’ve still yet to find the perfect do everything tyre. The Karoo 3s are a very good off-road tyre for the GS but for the majority of the road riding that I’ve done the Anakee IIIS have been the tyre I would go to for everyday use.
15,965 MILES Karoo 3s did the job in the dirt but were nasty on damp tarmac
Anakee IIIS are the best option so far
The Contis weren’t great at speed