New Zealand Adventure Riders
 
Banner

New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres

Riding with a worn tyre or a tyre that doesn't match the type of riding you do is a sure-fire recipe for tyre washouts. This normally ends badly with either damage to the bike, damage to you, or both. The more remote your riding location is, the more challenging a damaged bike or damaged rider can be to deal with.

Many seasoned adventure riders will refuse to ride with other riders that have worn tyres or tyres that are not matched to the planned terrain. This may seem a little rough but if you have ever experienced the challenges of dealing with an injured rider, you will well and truly understand it is good practice to avoid a potential disaster.

While keeping your bike shoed with fresh tyres can be fairly costly, instead of looking at just the cost of a tyre, look at the cost (and pain) of a broken collarbone or some other injury caused by worn or poorly suited tyres. Aside from the safety factor, riding with a fresh set of tyres suited to the terrain you are riding will give you exceptional grip, make your bike handle better and make riding so much more fun.

Choosing what tyre to fit can be daunting due to the number of options on the market. However what makes the process far easier is the percentage system by which tyres are rated. The four main categories that apply to adventure riding in New Zealand are:

90% Street - 10% Dirt

The 90/10 tyres are ideal for riders that spend the majority of their time on tarmac with only a very small portion of their time on gravel roads. They are generally road oriented tyres with an ever so slightly beefed up tread pattern and casing to handle occasional gravel road and mild off-road use. These tyres are perfect for exploring New Zealand’s network of amazing tarmac roads and occasionally poking your nose down an interesting gravel road or dirt track.

The limitations of these tyres will reveal themselves if you try to push the limits. Almost no grip is offered in sand or deep gravel, or on terrain that is muddy, greasy or steep and loose. These tyres are great, but only for what they were intended for.

Generally these types of tyres are fitted to larger bikes such as BMW, Triumph, Ducati etc with the intent for road adventure touring. The longevity of these tyres is great due to the characteristics and compounds being so similar to 100% street tyres.

90/10 - Michelin Anakee 3
Photo 1 of New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres
View this tyre

50% Street - 50% Dirt

This is a very popular category of adventure tyre for adventure riding in New Zealand. There are a huge number of tyres in this category offering great versatility for riders that spend an almost equal amount of time on and off-road. These tyres offer great on road manners for exploring New Zealand’s network of amazing tarmac roads plus they offer the ability to successfully tackle gravel roads and off-road terrain.

You'll see 50/50 tyres fitted to anything from lightweight adventure bikes right through to large touring bikes. The longevity of these tyres vary between manufacturers but is generally very good. They will never last as long as the more road oriented 90-10 tyres however they will last significantly longer than the more dirt oriented 30/70 or 10/90 tyres. 

Among the many great 50/50 tyres available these two are excellent options for general adventure riding in New Zealand: 

50/50 - Mitas E07
Photo 2 of New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres
View this tyre
50/50 - GoldenTyre 201
Photo 3 of New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres
View this tyre

30% Street - 70% Dirt

This is a popular category for the more adventurous adventure rider. Generally the road manners are friendly enough to enjoy the tarmac stretches plus the traction they offer off-road gives you the ability to tackle the more remote and technical New Zealand routes.

There are a high number of different tread patterns produced by different manufacturers. Many of these 30/70 tyres have what is known as a large block pattern. These large block pattern tyres are similar to many off-road tyres but the knobs (blocks) are larger therefore provide more contact area which results in better road manners and increased longevity.

Among the many great 30/70 tyres available these two are excellent options for more remote and challenging riding: 

30/70 - GoldenTyre 723
Photo 4 of New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres
View this tyre
30/70 - Mitas E09
Photo 5 of New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres
View this tyre

10% Street - 90% Dirt

The 10/90 tyres cater for riders that primarily ride off-road terrain and that want the best off-road performance. Many of these tyres are simply road compliant off-road tyres and in recent years enduro tyres have become a very popular option. With enduro events forcing riders to ride short sections of public roadways this has meant enduro regulations have forced enduro tyres to become road compliant. This is a fantastic outcome for adventure riders as this means we have a wide selection of road compliant competition tyres that have advanced tread patterns, strong casings and excellent performance.

Most 10-90 tyres aren't that pleasant to ride on tarmac roads however riders that fit these tyres don't really have tarmac in mind. Normally the goal is to only ride tarmac where it is unavoidable in order to reach the off-road sections.

Generally these types of tyres are fitted to lightweight adventure/enduro bikes. The longevity of these tyres is normally very low with many only lasting a handful of days before they need to be replaced. Tarmac riding will dramatically wear out 10/90 tyres. The goal here isn’t longevity, it's performance.

Among the many great 10/90 tyres available these two are excellent options for technical New Zealand adventure riding:

10/90 - GoldenTyre 232
Photo 6 of New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres
View this tyre
10/90 - MotoZ S/T
Photo 7 of New Zealand Adventure Bike Tyres
View this tyre

Matching the Ratings to Your Riding Style

Aside from the four ratings above, there are endless other ratings. Many tyre manufacturers will have ratings such as 80/20, 75/25, 60/40 and so on. When matching a tyre to your riding style the goal is to match it to the most technical terrain you will be riding. If the majority of your riding is gravel roads but there is a decent amount of technical off-road riding, the goal is to match the tyre to the technical off-road riding section. While this will result in quicker tyre wear, it will mean that when you reach the technical off-road sections you will have a tyre that offers the best grip, will make your bike handle better and make riding so much more fun.