Two months ago I replaced the stock Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact tyres on my KTM Duke 390 with Pirelli MT60 Corsa dual sport tyres (see “Project KTM 390 Adventure – Tyres“). Since then I’ve ridden the motorcycle on different types of roads which include smooth highways, pot holed village roads, dirt and gravel trails, foot deep muck and small streams. I think I’m now in a position to offer my two cents on these tyres.
Street tyres have a smooth surface for greater contact with the tarmac for better grip. Off-road tyres have large knobs spaced far apart to get better traction in dirt. Dual sport tyres are a cross between both and are supposed to do a good job on tarmac as well as dirt. Which is why their tread patterns are a mixture of that of street and off road tyres.
The Pirelli MT 60 Corsa is a dual sport tyre and its tread pattern comprises of large diamond shaped knobs spaced not too far apart from each other.
The large top surfaces of the knobs are designed to provide sufficient contact with the tarmac and the closely spaced short knobs are designed to grab at anything that can be grabbed while riding in dirt.
Let’s talk about riding on tarmac first. The stock Metzeler tyres that come with the Duke 390 are just awesome when it comes to cornering at high speeds on smooth roads. It’s almost as if they have some magnetic force that keeps them stuck to the road. I’ve had an amazing time riding the twisties of NH 17 and the Chorla ghat with the Metzelers and I was apprehensive of losing the ability to do some of that after I switched to dual sport tyres. But I was pleasantly surprised. At first I felt a hesitation in the motorcycle as I negotiated hairpin bends. But later I realized that the hesitation was in me, not the motorcycle. My riding style hasn’t changed and I enjoy the twisties like I used to with the Metzelers.
Having said that, I’m sure a professional racer will notice a difference in the stability and ride quality between the Metzeler and the Pirelli tyres. But for a normal rider like me, who doesn’t lean into corners too much, I felt no difference whatsoever.
Off-road is where things start to get really interesting. I’ve been riding a few trails around Goa every since I switched to the Pirelli tyres and have been really enjoying myself. Here are some pictures that will serve as proof of my exploits.
One of my favorite trails is the Pargadh trail near the Goa-Maharashtra border. I have ridden the Duke up and down the trail a couple of times before the onset of the monsoons. But now that the rains are here, yesterday a few friends and I decided to ride the Pargadh trail again to see how our bikes would deal with the trail when it was wet and slippery.
The Pargadh trail is interesting in the sense that its not a flat path weaving through a forest. Instead it is a collection of steep hair pin bends between a series of straight climbs making its way up mountains. It truly puts man and machine to test, both physically and mentally. Physically because you need to do whatever it takes to not fall off the motorcycle and mentally because if you do fall off the bike there is a high chance that you will come to rest deep down in the valley below.
One of my friends came along with his Duke 390 with stock Metzeler tyres and we ended up pushing it for most of the steep sections of the trail. As expected the smooth Metzeler street tyres were absolutely useless on the trail and in the end he swore to get rid of them before the next trail ride.
I posted a video captured by my helmet mounted GoPro to YouTube. Although its a good 17 minutes long, I recommend watching it completely if you plan on taking your motorcycle off road without paying attention to the tyres its wearing.
The video should give you a pretty good idea of how important it is to have the right tyres when riding off road. The ease at which my Duke climbed up the steep and slippery slopes of the Pargadh trail, while my friend battled on with his Metzelers, needs to be appreciated. All I needed to do was sit heavy on my motorcycle, pushing my weight onto the rear wheel as much as I could and twist the throttle gradually. The knobs of the Pirelli tyres were forced into the wet mud, held on to whatever they could find beneath and the torque provided by the powerful 373 cc engine did the rest.
While the Pirelli MT 60 Corsa dual sport tyres are excellent on dirt and muck, they are not very useful riding through a river bed covered with large and round pebbles, for obvious reasons. However the torque of the powerful Duke 390 engine and some help from a fellow rider got me out of a sticky situation during our trail ride.
I give the Pirelli MT 60 Corsa two thumbs up. After these tyres wear out, I’m going to buy two more and continue having fun on my Duke 390.