Off-roading, first spill, ideas for improvement - Advice on Tires? - Kawasaki Versys Forum
Versys-X 300 General Discussion Please post any 2017+ Kawasaki Versys-X 300 related topics that DO NOT fit into any of the other topics here.

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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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Off-roading, first spill, ideas for improvement - Advice on Tires?

Hey everyone,

Let me preface this by stating I've heavily modified my 300 but neglected tires and mirrors, and a short summary of events leads to a question of advice on tires with specific usage in mind.

Got my 2017 Versys-X 300 in August 2018 and did some light off roading thrice. Performance was fine for what I was doing, though I did get nervous by some fishtailing in the wet. As a completely new rider, both on and off-road, I wanted to begin to build my experience in the various areas of riding.

Rode the bike through winter though not when there was snow on the ground, and stock tires handled it fine.

Fast forward to last weekend (April 28, 2019) and I went off road for the first time of 2019 with a big local group, and joined their easiest route though it started real rough. I made a mistake trying to get around a muddy puddle and clipped the edge. Tires went left, bike went right and I went down with it. I didn't realize the edge of the puddle was the edge of a steep hill, and my leg getting caught between the bike and the ground saved me from tumbling down the 70 degree hill.

That was at 18 km in to an 80km ride, and I was pretty shaken and thought to limp back to base camp. I got some good encouragement from the other riders in the group who helped pick me and the bike up, and nothing was damaged aside from a loosened mirror and a dislodged muffler guard. I actually finished the day as the trail got easier (hardest part was the beginning) though I took it easy for the first half after the spill, as my back tire kept sliding left and right, finally the trail got easier and at some dryer stuff I got my confidence back.


Aftermath

My day aside, I saw another thread on here about tires, but didn't really come to a conclusion. For myself, my riding is 90% on road, with 10% weekend warrior, but because of where I live, Vancouver, the surrounding wilderness is wet and muddy most of the time. Sand is not a concern but gravel and wet pavement is.
Of note I've only just past 3000km on the bike, since my commute is so short and I've yet to really attempt any touring (though, it is something I am thinking of). I'm not a canyon carver, heck, still trying not to get nervous on sharp corners at highway speeds, but obviously I know I need a tire that can still be safe on road.

You may even be able to tell me that fishtailing is actually totally normal even on better tires and that I just need to practice more to be able to handle it when the bike starts to slide, so even some solid riding advice would be appreciated. I am standing and using my legs and knees, though I think I could do with some handlebar risers and properly adjust all the instruments for a standing position.

I was about to purchase a set of Shinko e805 but saw that the tread pattern is in rows and reviews state it has poor performance in the mud.

So of my criteria:
Good performance in: mud, wet pavement
Not worried about: longevity

Even if you don't have any specific advice, hopefully we can have an interesting discussion of your adventures taking your bike off-roading for the first few times!

Pet Rides
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 04:01 PM
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I have not done much dirt riding myself, but am working on doing more all the time and improve my abilities. I am still learning and look forward to the advice given here by the many more experienced riders. So take the advice for where it comes from, someone who doesn't know much if anything!

A general principle I try to follow anytime I am learning a new skill is work with the very basic setup and get comfortable enough with it until I know that the limiting factor is not me, but the tool itself. Then I'll start looking at upgrading the things I know are holding me back. I've seen it a ton of times in different disciplines where people try to offset their lack of experience with gismos and gadgets instead of just putting in the work to understand how to run whatever the system is. Heard a quote "Beware the man who only has one gun. He probably knows how to use it!" and am trying to apply it myself.

Not saying getting better tires is a bad idea, just make sure you are pushing yourself to improve and be a better rider!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2019, 04:25 PM
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I have been riding, racing, riding off-road, etc. for 48 years.......you will not find a tire that is good on wet pavement AND in the mud. There is only so much friction at any given time depending on the weather/road/trail conditions. Throttle control, clutch control, and SMOOTHNESS are necessary to ride and be in control on slick or wet surfaces. I am a fan of Shinko 244 tires as they are a 50/50 tire that is decent on road and on light trail. Another common saying among off road riders is......momentum is your friend. You did OK....you finished a slick ride and I am sure your skill improved on the ride. If you keep pushing your limit a little....your skills will continue to improve.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 07:03 AM
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I am really pleased with Shinko 804/805 tires. I bought them to get off pavement more but was surprised at how well they handle pavement. One of the better compromises to ride in both worlds.
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 05-01-2019 at 02:24 PM.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 09:36 AM
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I ride the V650, not the 300. The stock tires are quite bad really at everything!

On my V650 I have Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires. Just put on a new set because I liked the previous set so much. They are a 90/10 tire. However, they are not knobbies and they aren't intended for deep sand or slippery mud. For general off road use they are fine, as well as being great on pavement.

But I think your mission is different because of mud. Normally I'd recommend the Pirelli or something in the same 90/10 category. But I think you need to figure out the compromise you need to make.

1) Go with a great 90/10 tire like the Pirelli, understanding that when you get in mud it is going to be not so good.

2) Go with a good mud tire, understanding that on the pavement it isn't going to be so good.

3) Get a second set of wheels. On one set mount knobby trail tires, on the other set mount street tires. Swap out the wheels depending on where you'll be going. This is actually not a bad option at all if the wheels are not horribly expensive. Swapping wheels doesn't take very long at all.

4) Get another motorcycle. One for the road and one for the trail. And then you'll need another bike for track day, and another for long distance touring....

See if you can find a good adventure riding class to attend. I did a weekend class which really helped me learn a lot. A professional instructor has thought a lot about how to present the concepts and techniques, and knows what to look for when analyzing your riding. They'll have specific skill building exercises during the class which you can then practice on your own.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah Petrides View Post
...I am standing and using my legs and knees, though I think I could do with some handlebar risers and properly adjust all the instruments for a standing position....
When I'm asked HOW to prepare for "dirt-riding" by a newbie, I ALWAYS emphasize the importance of standing on the pegs, USUALLY w/ your weight back (UNLESS you're going UP something steep!), and to PRACTICE being able to get up on the pegs QUICKLY, as that can save your butt! Setting everything up to be right where you need it, STANDING, is a pretty good beginning.

[A major milestone when I started racing enduros, was the FIRST time I completed one (four to five hours per race) and was still able to stand on the pegs to the end!]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah Petrides View Post
...Fast forward to last weekend (April 28, 2019) and I went off road for the first time of 2019 with a big local group, and joined their easiest route though it started real rough. I made a mistake trying to get around a muddy puddle and clipped the edge. Tires went left, bike went right and I went down with it. I didn't realize the edge of the puddle was the edge of a steep hill, and my leg getting caught between the bike and the ground saved me from tumbling down the 70 degree hill....
Noah - you NEED to work on your SITUATIONAL AWARENESS so you NEVER get surprised! Keep your head on a 'swivel', to see and be ready for things like a 70 degree hill, which CAN kill you!


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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-01-2019, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Fuzzy74 View Post
I am really pleased with Shinko 804/805 tires. I bought them to get off pavement more but was surprised at how well they handle pavement. One of the better compromises to ride in both worlds.
I cannot agree more, the price is great and they are comparable to the TKC-80 on dirt, but don't wear as fast on Tarmac and are not noisy at all. I am on my second set, had them on my Dakar F650GS and now on my VX 300.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-21-2019, 09:08 PM
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I am really pleased with Shinko 804/805 tires. I bought them to get off pavement more but was surprised at how well they handle pavement. One of the better compromises to ride in both worlds.
Hi. Were you able to install the 804/805 tires without raising the front fender or other mod?

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-22-2019, 06:21 PM
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Hi. Were you able to install the 804/805 tires without raising the front fender or other mod?

Seth
No problem with front fender.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-23-2019, 10:30 PM
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No problem with front fender.
Right. Confirmed it with this video too:
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