I had a friend who worked in local radio, he said, on those slow days, he would ask the question ‘has anyone ever had an unfair parking ticket?’ the phone lines would come alive. Likewise any forum thread that mentions tyres will be bombarded with opinion. The following review is just my experience on my bike.
I hadn’t really done my research, that’s my leading sentence to most of my experiences. So I was pleasantly surprised to see they weren’t as knobbly as I has expected. That’s a relief as they appear to err on the side of paved which means they will be complimentary travel companions for me and my KTM 950 S, a bike I bought 3 years without doing all my research, at 5’11’’ I don’t often find myself in situations when I feel like a short arse. There was a situation recently where I had to approach a gaggle of marquee erectors, as I got closer to them I realised what massive blokes they were, but generally I consider myself of a height where I can see the band from a mosh pit. I did go out with a particularly leggy redhead once, and found myself saying to her something I had never said to any other woman, ‘can you reach that for me?’ so to get to the point the ‘S model’ is ridiculously tall bike, probably built for a Scandinavian market. I was tip toes on the bike and had to do things like get off and push it backwards into a parking space, as paddling my feet was as ineffective at giving me reverse momentum as farting is at giving me forward thrust.
So once the TCK70’s were fitted the second impression I got was, they must be lower profile than the factory fitted tyres that were on it, I can now sit flat foot on the bike, what a bonus and I haven’t even turned on the ignition yet. When I did the third impression was ‘god theses feel weird’. Then remembering that I was obligated to review them I thought I better try and be a little more specific. ‘Weird’ isn’t going to be articulate enough, I suppose it was the bikes reaction at a roundabout, living in Essex twisties are not outside my front door. Instead if dropping into the lean, it kind of rolled, weird right? The front tyre has a very circular profile and so rather than drop off the edge I just kind of rolled with it. Luckily having a memory only a goldfish envies it wasn’t long before this seemed as normal as a Harley rider who doesn’t return a wave. I headed for one of my favourite twisty and scenic roads, the A5 through Snowdonia it also leads to the house of a leggy ex, where I could stay the night before heading to Ireland for the HU meet. I decided on that journey that what I needed was more extreme than I was getting, (from the road, not the ex) if I don’t push them to their limits how can I comment on their capabilities. England Ireland and Wales were not enough, what I need is some extreme temperature, speeds, distance, terrains and variants in luggage and weight.
So I headed from Ireland to Bulgaria, unfortunately on my return from Ireland I broke down in Wolverhampton and my breakdown company wouldn’t pick me up as they said my bike was too old, despite me holding a policy that said I was covered. (thanks euro breakdown) so 10 days later repaired and compensated for their inept non service I set off to Eastern Europe in search of heat, rain, pot holes and all those theses things that test a tyres capabilities, I might even do some off roading, search for some green grass laning.
And that’s what I did, 40 degree asphalt in midsummer central Europe, high mileage high temperature and finally in Romania I slowed the pace to the road conditions and finally found those long illusive twisties. I even found some rain too, so all in all the test was quite through. They gripped and handled and I hadn’t left the tread behind on the hot roads.
Once in Bulgaria the panniers came off, and the excursions begun, riding harder, leaning further, getting positive feedback. I even took them off road, a 30 mile trip of various surfaces including gravel, grass, dirt and rutted tractor trails.
I figured that was pretty comprehensive test and my obligations were fulfilled.
Then on a hot and dry sunny afternoon I went off to town. The main road ends in a roundabout, as a reasonable 40mph I took the inside path and like a diesel spill the tyres slipped from under me the bike low sided and slid down the road like a liberated skateboard.
Sparking and sliding to a stop by a Citron garage, the staff come running out to help. Both the bike and myself were a little grazed but OK, I walked back to the roundabout, it was dry, clean, and there were 3 skid marks only 2 of them could be mine.
I later discovered it is a notorious roundabout, off camber and shiny with a ridiculously slick surface. That would explain the fast response of the Citron staff. I gave the tyres the benefit of the doubt, but lost a little confidence in them. Then whilst redoing the garage floor I tried to relocate the bikes into the garden, up a grassy incline to the shed. The KTM just wasn’t having it, sliding and board siding it couldn’t get traction and eventually had to reverse slide back to base.
Now that could be blamed on the surface but the KLR went up effortlessly on a near bald Hidenual. So how do you explain that, bike characteristics, weight , power? There are two things that have come out of this and be it coincident or characteristic the KTM is going, it’s too big, too heavy and after the break down and the low side we have trust issues, I have lost handling confidence and a complete inability to get any kind of traction on damp grass I find it has impractical qualities, I know this is supposed to be a review on the tyres and maybe it is. All I know is on the KTM I had higher expectations, in the 3 years of riding prior to putting on the TKC’s we had got on just fine. Perhaps a fairer review would be to try a pair on my KLR but I very much doubt after this review I’ll be given another set.