Knobby tires, you’re fired

Motorcyclist - - Garage - —Ari Henning

LIFE WITH THE Rninet is pretty good. The snort emit­ted from those Akrapovic high pipes makes me smile every time I start the bike, and it feels good to get a thumbs-up from mo­torists at stop­lights. I’m def­i­nitely not the only per­son who thinks the Scram­bler’s clas­sic lines look killer.

I’m also not the only per­son who dis­likes the Scram­bler’s knobby Miche­lin Ka­roo 3 tires. Ev­ery­one on staff who’s rid­den my long-ter­mer has com­plained about the same fall­ing-over turn-in be­hav­ior, squirmy edge grip, and vibey, loud ride. The Ka­roos may work well in the dirt—and I in­tend to put them to the test with an off-road ad­ven­ture once I get the time—but for now my rid­ing is re­stricted to the street, where the Ka­roo’s poor grip and odd han­dling just won’t do.

See­ing as the knob­bies and “cross spoke” wheels are an op­tion (the tire swap is free from the fac­tory, while the wheels carry a $500 premium), I fig­ured I should try the base equip­ment. In this case, that’s the same five-spoke cast hoops and Met­zeler Tourance Next en­duro-style tires that come on the new Rninet Ur­ban G/S.

With the wheels swapped, the Scram­bler feels like a dif­fer­ent ma­chine. The street rub­ber makes steer­ing lighter and lin­ear, the ride is smoother, and there’s so much more grip that it feels like the brakes and en­gine got up­graded. The Ka­roos were clearly in­hibit­ing what is other­wise a fun and fairly sporty bike. With the Tourance rub­ber, I en­joy rid­ing the Rninet a lot more.

I still like the look of the wire wheels though, so I think the hot ticket is to put the smooth Met­zel­ers on the spoked hoops. Once I put the Ka­roos through their paces off road, maybe I’ll get a set of Con­ti­nen­tal TKC 80s. I’ve rid­den thou­sands of miles on those on a va­ri­ety of ad­ven­ture bikes, and they work well on road and off. Frus­trat­ingly, the new Ur­ban G/S, which is es­sen­tially just a restyled Scram­bler, can be had with TKC 80s from the fac­tory, but the Con­ti­nen­tals aren’t an op­tion for the Scram­bler. Your dealer will surely in­stall a set for you, but you’ll be on the hook for the price of the tires and the la­bor to mount them.

WRIST Ari Henning MSRP (2017) $13,000 / / MILES 1,247 MPG 36 MODS Non-knobby tires UP­DATE 2

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