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What Dual Sport Tires for the Honda XR650R Motorcycle?


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#1 DavidEasum

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 06:29 PM

Hi,

 

Looking for some feedback about dual sport tires - I'm putting together an XR and plan to ride somewhere around 60%/40% street/trails. I am not in a place where I can easily get hold of things so longevity on the street is a factor.

 

I saw an inexpensive tire advertised with positive reviews on the web - Shinko 700 - but I have never heard of the brand. Anyone tried?

 

D..



#2 Moses Ludel

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 05:28 AM

Hi, David...I waited to respond.  I've mounted and tested Michelin T63 tires on the Honda XR650R.  This is a bona fide 50/50 dirt and pavement use, DOT rated tire.  See my mounting article and video at the magazine:  http://www.4wdmechanix.com/4WD-Mechanix-Magazine-Tests-Michelin-Dual-Sport-Motorcycle-Tires.html.  The sequel is the road test video now in post-production edit phase.

 

Dual sport tires are often known to wear quickly, and the DOT-approved dirt tires wear even faster.  I did my homework and went with the T63 tires in the sizes noted at the video.  This week, I did extensive dirt and pavement testing, and the HD video results should be uploaded to the magazine within a week.  In a nutshell, the T63 works very well on pavement and requires, like all other dual-sport tires, some riding adjustments off-pavement.

 

Any tire in this niche will wear faster than a full asphalt design; however, the Michelin T63 gets a lot of positive reviews from users.  My preliminary riding, mostly asphalt until this week, has shown negligible wear.   I shared with "Forman" (KLR650 owner and fellow forum member) the weight recently added to the XR650R.  I installed TCI Products' rack and skid plate systems (see the HD video coverage shortly) with Nelson-Rigg bags.  I'm about 340 estimated pounds "wet" weight without cargo in the bags or me on the bike.  I'll hold to 40-50 pounds of luggage/video equipment, which will bump the weight to 380-390 pounds—plus me.

 

Frankly, in tests without cargo in the bags, the added/estimated 340 pounds wet weight is not that noticeable.  This fresh XR650R engine is a beast, really wants to run through the torque band, which is incredibly strong.  I'm not sure where the Hot Cams Stage 1 camshaft comes into play, it will be interesting to compare our two bikes when you get yours running...The camshaft is supposed to improve lower end to midrange rpm torque, and this engine has plenty of both.

 

So, for the weight and load demands, and the overall compromise inherent to any dual-sport tire for the dirt, I'm okay with my choice.  I do adjust the throttle a lot off-pavement, but that's the monstrous torque wanting to spin the rear tire in any gear.  You can literally steer the XR650R with the throttle—instantly.  This is more about the XR650R's power than the tires.

 

For primarily dirt use, Michelin has the Cross AC10 tires, a true enduro tire with 90/10 rating for dirt versus asphalt riding.  I have a set of these with heavy duty tubes for backup.  They would be used if I have a lengthy, strictly dirt trip planned.

 

The Nelson-Rigg bags and TCI equipment transformed my bike into a bona fide dual sport for adventure riding.  Really like the looks and performance of this machine!  Remarkably versatile and adaptable...It's now the video filming platform that I set out to build.

 

Moses



#3 DavidEasum

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 07:19 AM

Hi Moses,

 

I've watched the two videos - good stuff! I was wondering however about your choice for the rear 130/80 tire size (T63). Do you not think that the 120/90 would be more economical and lighter steering without compromising

performance or traction? 

 

Also, does the 130 fit between the swing arms with no problem? 

 

Let me know what you think. I'm going to order a set (1 front and 2 rears) and see, but since shipping is a big issue for me (as a result of where I live :) ), I want to get the most out of it!

 

David



#4 Moses Ludel

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 04:15 PM

Fit is good, David, and I did have an ulterior motive.  I knew the bike would carry a significant load over the rear tire, as noted in the coverage on the TCI Products racks, skid protection and Nelson-Rigg luggage.  This will be a workhorse, my XR650R, its intended use is an HD video filming platform and access to backcountry and off-road motorsports.  I wanted load carrying capacity and a safety margin, slightly at the expense of unsprung weight and such.

 

The former owner had an even larger tire (a 140!), and that was overkill.  In the Michelin tire mounting video, you can see the big tire that came off.  I'm very pleased with this new tire size choice for my intended use.  And I must say, you're in for a surprise on how easily the XR650R torque can break any tire loose when throttling in dirt.  That said, a smaller tire would make me uneasy, a bigger tire a waste.

 

Swing arm clearance and such is a non-issue.  I'm pleased that Michelin offers this tire size and matching tubes.

 

Moses



#5 DavidEasum

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 06:51 PM

Hi Moses,

 

In the end, I went with your recommendation for the T63s, but I hesitated on the 130 rear and 90 front combo - I ordered an 80/90 front and a couple of 120/80s for the rear. I had heard of clearance problems from some other forums (and my own splash guard has to be replaced because of that), so I reverted to my streetbike experience where I learned about a big (rear especially) tire not giving the intended results of having more rubber on the road and leading to slower steering. Anyway, the difference is not huge - I'll let you know how it works out!

 

The tires are pretty cheap in contrast to the race rubber I used to have to buy! I just hope that the airline doesn't charge me an arm and a leg for the excess baggage!

 

Maybe fullchoke has some of his experience to impart now that his bike is running!

 

David



#6 Moses Ludel

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 05:32 AM

Hi, David!  After looking at the parts schematic for the European rear fender and brace, I understand how clearance might be an issue, more likely with the fender and related parts than the swing arm...If you're comfortable with the load capacity and speed rating (should be way more than enough, right?), I believe you'll be very satisfied with the Michelin T63 dual-sport tire choice.  And yes, the price of these tires is amazingly reasonable! 

 

Mileage, according to anecdotal comments across the internet, is quite impressive for a DOT asphalt/dirt tire.  Most other make dirt/highway DOT tires last 2,500 miles, apparently.  Michelin T63 riders are often getting twice that mileage.  We shall see.  I will be embellishing my tire changing equipment for friendlier tire changes regardless.  The XR650R, even if these tires only last 3,500-4,000 miles, will be getting regular change outs.  The tires will last a lot longer if I back out of the throttle a bit on dirt!

 

Riders need to be conscious that a DOT approved highway and off-road tire will not be ideal for either environment.  The purpose-built tires for either highway or dirt riding will always prevail.  You have a pavement racing background and know that for Moto GP or Superbike road courses, tires get picked trackside on the basis of asphalt composition, dry pavement versus rain and even the corner layout! 

 

You won't have that degree of refinement in a tire that's expected to survive on dirt and rough textured, sometimes rocky terrain, then be expected to suffice on the highway without beating the rider up—like the Michelin Cross AC10 and other knobby tires promise to do despite their superior traction and handling off-pavement.  I'm sure this is clear from your riding experience.  My punchline is to treat the traction and handling with respect until you become familiar with what the T63, or any other tire design, will do specifically at your operating venue and for your riding style.  We'll compare notes on the T63s as we gain experience at challenges like wet asphalt and tighter cornering on dirt.

 

Fullchoke is off and riding as we write!  We're a gathering group of dual-sport motorcyclists and dirt XR650R riders with a variety of climates, altitudes and adventures to share and compare.  I'm pleased with your excitement about the Honda XR650R restoration.  This cycle will pay back on the first ride, promising to put a smile on your face!

 

Moses



#7 DavidEasum

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Posted 07 September 2014 - 12:06 PM

Ouf! Just got done putting the new tires on. What a bear of a job that is! Moses, your video makes it look way too easy. I sure hope these babies last a long time as I'm not anxious to change them on a frequent basis!

 

Along the way, I see that the rear wheel spoke screws are all rusted beyond recognition and some of the spoke holes look a little gnarly. I just left them alone, hoping that the new rim strips will protect the tubes for a little while. Don't want to go spending even more money at this stage... (Yeah, I know... This doesn't meet the "100 miles from nowhere" benchmark). I hope the wheel is not wobbly - something I didn't check yet.

 

As for the front, someone must have repeatedly botched the front wheel removal, because the speedo drive fell to pieces when I disassembled. :angry:  It's pretty mangled and the previous "mechanic" glued (!) it back together. Since it was working before I took it off, I simply followed his lead and glued again. At least this time it's with some good epoxy and a clamp to hold things together while drying. It may just last until the next tire change (or parts order).

 

Another thing that may have to go on the parts order list is steering head bearings. Depending on whether they are needle, roller or ball, I may be able to resurrect, but I'm not hopeful - the handlebar doesn't turn very freely.... Someone must have thought that the adjuster nut was supposed to be tightened with a sledge hammer. Moses, any idea on what type of bearing I'll find in there?

 

David



#8 DavidEasum

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 05:52 AM

Well, looked at the steering head bearings... Indeed, the lower one is shot from rust. I WD-40'd to clean it out it and then tried to pack as much grease as possible into it while still on the stem. Cleaned and repacked the top and then put everything all back together. The bars turn freely now, but the lower bearing and new seals are definitely going on the shopping list.

 

Unfortunately, my glue-job on the speedo drive didn't survive the re-install. I've got it rigged now with some creative safety wiring. It works (just spinning the wheel) - and probably will well beyond "100 miles from nowhere." :)



#9 Moses Ludel

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 10:08 PM

David, I discovered a tool after mounting the tires:  Baja No Pinch.  It's for mounting only, you still need to do a classic dismount with tire levers, but that's not usually an issue.  The tool is at:  www.bajanopinch.com.   I will try to do a video on the use of this tool, it's portable for field use!  Perfect for a shop or DIY user at Burundi.  I'd like to have one in my on-board motorcycle tools.

 

The speedo drive must be the target of abuse, I discovered a similar, though far less severe issue with my speedo drive.  I used Permatex Plastic Epoxy, a two-part product that is specifically for plastic.  I've had little success with "general" epoxy on plastic.  This plastic-targeted product actually works.  We'll see for how long.  Maybe we'll be ordering our new speedo drives around the same time.  I'm good for now.

 

If you can get the number(s) off the steering head bearings, most bearings simply fit the international bearing standards and sizes.  I cross bearings over to Timken, SFK, Nachi, NTN and other popular brands.  Same with seals if you can find their OEM number.  I looked up the OEM bearings and seals for the XR650R steering head, they use Honda part numbers, which may or may not be easy to cross over.  Regardless, new bearings are not hugely expensive, check this out: 

 

http://www.hondapart...1/steering-stem

 

If you want to cross these bearings over to perhaps less expensive or locally sourced types, the bearings are cone and cup (tapered roller type) design.  These likely can be crossed over from the manufacturer's numbers on the actual bearing cones and cups.  If you have a bearing source at Burundi or elsewhere, these listed bearings do not look exotic or unusual.

 

Moses



#10 DavidEasum

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 12:12 AM

Hi Moses,

 

Good info there for the tire mounting tool. The best thing I can see about it is that you drastically reduce the chance of pinching. It seems however that if you're going on the road, you would still need to take along your regular complement of irons to get the job done... (just playing devil's advocate  ;) ). Wish I had one of these the other night! Better yet, a Coates machine...

 

For the speedo drive, I used the same epoxy as you, I even wire brushed the thing to give a better contact surface, and then I clamped it 24 hours. It should have been the perfect example of what a good glue can do when used properly... but nope. The plastic of the speedo drive may just be a different formulation. Or maybe it's just because I'm south of the equator and glue repels rather than adheres?

 

For the bearing, I doubt I'll have much luck in finding it here. But I may have call to go to London in a month or so. I imagine I could find one there with no problem. In the meantime, I'll make do with what's in there.

 

D.



#11 Moses Ludel

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 01:56 PM

The No Pinch tire tool must be accompanied by some tire levers for dismounting the tire; fortunately, they take up little space.  We can envision wrestling the tire off a rim with levers, on the ground (with a tarp underneath) or perched between two rocks.  The installation is usually the bigger challenge, and this is where the No Pinch tool takes over.

 

I can see why plastic epoxy would not work on your speedo housing.  On my drive housing, there was a stress crack, which did respond (for the moment!) to the epoxy repair.  I'll likely get a new speedometer drive at some point, the mail-order price was around $55 (U.S.) when I hunted for one.  One thing that does help with the epoxy is to wire brush or course sand the mating surfaces to get a rough contact edge.  Epoxy does not adhere or bond well to smooth surfaces.

 

If you have the time/ambition to access the steering head bearings, there will be numbers on the cups and cones.  They will not be the exotic (internal use) Honda O.E. numbers but rather the standard bearing code numbers that you can either use directly or cross over to other bearing manufacturers.  This will make it easier to find bearings, even at Burundi.  When you study a bearing catalog, it becomes clear that bearings are typically "standard" and replaceable without difficulty.  There are occasions when a bearing is truly proprietary or used in very few applications.  From the steering head parts illustrations, I would expect these bearings to be standard fare and available through bearing supply channels.

 

As a footnote on your WD-40 cleanout before greasing the head bearings, if you did not remove all of the WD-40 before packing grease into the bearing(s), WD-40 will likely dissolve or dilute the bearing grease.  From what you described, you likely were trying to see if loosening the bearings would solve the stiff steering issue.  The plan was to install new, properly packed bearings soon.

 

Moses



#12 DavidEasum

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 03:46 PM

Hi Moses,

 

In the end, after having the 120/80 rear and 80/90 front on the bike for a short while, I think that I would have gone with your choice of sizes rather than mine. This is not for any particular performance reason at the moment - it's primarily because the ones I have on look pretty skimpy in contrast to the rest of the bike, Riding with what I've got is ok, but I do notice that the leading edge of the blocks on the rear have already taken a little bit of wear - in only 100 kms.

 

YMMV

David



#13 Moses Ludel

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Posted 25 September 2014 - 10:16 PM

Sounds like tire compound rather than size necessarily.  I do like the larger rear tire, though, there's a safety margin for the video gear.  I'm pleased with my tire size and type choices.  To date (a couple hundred miles) the Michelin tires have shown no wear despite my tire spinning shenanigans on dirt and all.  Impressive.  Across the internet are horror stories of 2,500 mile tires and worse.  You and I know asphalt bikes, and for a sport or sport touring road motorcycle, wear prone tires would be scorned.   

 

I have read accounts of the T63 delivering 4,000 miles with plenty of tread left, and that would be terrific.  The only price for this is handling on dirt.  If you want maximum cornering capability and instant tire hook-up on gravel or dirt roads, a more aggressive knobby tire like the Michelin Cross AC10 would be better.  At least for now, I'm willing to adjust my riding to the T63 tire tread.  My cycle now has a true dual-sport profile with all of the add-ons.  I'm due to weigh the beast, I'm guessing 355-360 pounds with the Sequoia racks, skid plate, three bags (empty) and 7 gallons of fuel in the Acerbis Safari tank.

 

Moses




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