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Tire decisions…

I need to decide by tomorrow morning what tires I am going to put on the GS (need to order asap so that I can install them this weekend, in time for the Adventure Camp next weekend). I’ve realized that I will likely put about a thousand miles on it (max 2000) before I head to Alaska, so the tires I pick now will pretty much be the Alaska tires. Pre-Alaska, I will ride the bike mostly for commuting, and weekend riding with practicing on gravel, and the occassional 600+ mile trip. Let’s say it will be 80% street and 20% dirt, if that.

The route that I pick for Alaska will be mostly paved, some unpaved on the Cassiar highway, and completely unpaved, gravel, miserable road on the Dempster Highway to the Arctic Circle. I will also quite likely have to change the rear tire at some point in Alaska (at the only BMW dealership in all of AK and the Yukon, unless I decide to do it myself).

I have to pick between the Continental TKC80s and the Metzler Tourances.

TKC 80s
– They are rated to be 50/50 street/dirt even though they look like they are 90% oriented to dirt
– Knobbies will be splendid for all unpaved, gravelly roads
– I’ve been told that they handle pretty well in the rain and are less likely to hydroplane because “the water has some place to go”
– I’ve been told that I should have those to go on the nasty muddy roads in AK seeing as I am a dirt rider novice on a big bike off-road and I need everything I can have on my side
– People who have used these swear by them almost religiously – “I will never use any other tire ever.”

– Extensive street riding will wear down the knobbies significantly (although they say that they wear less on the 650 than the 1150GS because of the weight factor)
– I might be forced to factor in a tire change in Alaska if I go with these because of the wear factor (and I’d really rather avoid going to Fairbanks if I can at all help it)
– I only have people’s word for it that they are50/50. I haven’t seen any real proof of it
– Rear tire will only last 6000 miles

“Under spirited riding conditions on pavement I experience no traction issues. As for mileage you should get about 6k on the rear and 10-11k on the front. Personally I’d rather swap out tires just a little more often and avoid picking up my bike in the mud but hey that’s just me.

Given that you have very little dirt experience I would error on the side of caution and get the more dirt worthy tire for your trip to AK.”

– 80% street, 20% dirt – a lot of people use these for Alaska rides, and they would be perfect for commuting/weekend riding
– They will last at least 12000 miles, so no need to change a tire in Alaska

– Not knobbies, so obviously not as good as the TKCs on dirt

“If it were me I would worry less about the edge case stuff (the Dempster represents less than 20% of the mileage for your entire trip) and get a tire that was pleasant to have for a majority of the trip and will easily last you until you get home.”

Price is not a factor, in a manner of speaking. There’s only about a $50 difference between the two. Of course, if I end up buying a new rear tire for the TKCs, that would be a bit more expensive. But I’m not taking the cost of the tires into consideration to make this decision because safety is obviously the most important thing.

Maybe things will seem clearer after I sleep on it. Any input is welcome.

In other news, my friend Sarah from Portland is definitely onboard for the trip, so Alaska is a go! Now for the planning.