There are a dizzying array of options when it comes to dirtbike tires. From tread patterns, to compounds, to the brands themselves, it’s difficult to decipher what is the best tire. That’s mostly because deciding on the best tire requires a lot of input from the rider themselves. What kind of dirtbike are you riding? What kind of terrain are you riding on? Are you looking for longevity or for the most traction possible just to get through a hard enduro race? These are just a handful of the questions you need to answer for yourself before embarking into the deluge of different off-road tire choices.
In an attempt to add some sort of clarity to the situation, here we’ve listed some of the top performers from a number of major tire manufacturers that skew toward the “hard” end of the spectrum.
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Shinko 505 and 505 Cheater
The 504/505/523 series tires are meant to work well in hard terrain – think of the rocky and/or hardpack terrain found in the western U.S. Shinko offers a vast variety of tires that range from dual-sport DOT-rated knobbies, to flat-track, and full-blown hard enduro compounds. The 505 series is a great choice for hard terrain, and the 505 Hybrid Cheater rear tire, which is available for 18 and 19-inch wheels, is built with a normal moto-style carcass and tread pattern but is made from a softer gummier rubber more akin to a trials tire. This compound gives excellent grip on hard rocky surfaces, but it will be prone to wearing out quicker than the standard 505 compound.
The MX907HP from Sedona is a beefy tire with a stout carcass made for hardpack terrain. Sedona says, “Its cross-patch tread design provides a larger contact patch that maximizes both in-line and cornering traction.” The siped and dimpled knobs should provide greater traction on hard surfaces and the 4-ply construction should aid with impact absorption and puncture-resistance, the downside to that is an increase in overall weight. This tire is available in 80/100-21 front sizes and a number of 18 and 19-inch rears.
Kenda Parker DT
The Parker DT is a popular choice from Kenda thanks to its long-lasting wear characteristics and robust 6-ply construction. The Parker DT shares the tread pattern of its predecessor, the Carlsbad, but went up in plies for better tear resistance. Kenda says they came to this decision after rigorous testing in Baja. These tires can be run one way for “intermediate” terrain and the other for “hard” terrain making this a versatile option depending where you ride. Users report excellent performance and wear making this a favorite among off-road riders.
Possibly one of the best known brands in dirtbike rubber, Dunlop has been outfitting entire race series with knobbies for years. The Geomax MX53 is the company’s latest iteration of its competition tire. This tire is available in a wide variety of sizes to fit everything from 10-inch kids bikes, to proper 21 and 18 or 19 inch big bike wheels. The MX line has been known to use a stiff sidewall which provides excellent cornering stability in motocross race situations. Being involved in racing so heavily, Dunlop has also put a time in research and development while gaining tons of data to continue advancing their product. The Dunlop MX line offers great tires for racing, trail riding, and nearly everything in between. The only issue we’ve had in the past with Dunlop tires is longevity hasn’t been on par with other brands.
Pirelli Scorpion XC Mid-Hard
The Pirelli Scorpion XC is a great mid-hard option with a tread pattern said to be derived from motocross and adapted for cross country riding and racing. Only available in 21/18-inch wheel combos, the Scorpion XC is built to handle tough off-road terrain with a robust carcass and thick rear tire blocks, as well as a special compound said to aid in longevity and wear. While the tires do wear quite well without slicing or chunking, they don’t last as long as some might like.
Bridgestone Battlecross X40
The Bridgestone Battlecross X40 has become a favorite here at MO and with others in our riding circles. The tires offer an exceptionally long life with excellent grip throughout. Designed for rocky hard terrain, the X40 excels with great sidewall compliance and puncture resistance. A fair amount of research has gone into the tread pattern and layout as well. If you find yourself riding a multitude of terrain off-road or even mixing it up with dual-sport use, the X40 will be up to just about any task.
Maxxis Maxxcross SI
Maxxis has built a reputation for itself in the world of off-road racing by offering exceptional performance and specialized tire offerings for specific uses and terrain. The Maxxcross SI is the company’s soft/intermediate tire for GNCC and WORCS type riding and is said to be perfect for intermediate, loamy, or muddy terrain. This tire has received praise from many users with the only caveat mentioned typically being the lack of longevity compared to some other brands, but often enough, and particularly when racing, the Maxxcross SI is lauded with praise.
GoldenTyre specializes in enduro and hard enduro tires and has outfitted and developed their line with the best in the world providing feedback. Many professional enduro teams from major manufacturers like KTM have used these tires exclusively for enduro championships, which should be a testament to the performance one can expect from the Italian brand. The GT333 rear tire uses a stiff sidewall with a softer crown to help the tire wrap around rocks and other obstacles to gain maximum traction. This intermediate tire has knobs spaced appropriately for maximum contact and self-cleaning capabilities.
Mitas TERRA FORCE-EF Super
Unveiled at the Erzberg Rodeo event in Austria in 2019, the Mitas Terra Force EF Super, marked with a yellow stripe, features a fibrous, durable, long-lasting rubber compound that ensures outstanding grip and very low abrasion even on hard terrain. It resists tearing and cutting and is suited to a wide range of terrains, from soft and intermediate to rocky. Tread pattern knobs are designed to meet specific Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) regulations. With its release at one of the world’s most challenging enduro competitions, it’s clear that Mitas felt its new offering was more than willing and capable to tackle the Iron Giant.
MOTOZ Tractionator Enduro S/T
MOTOZ has garnered a reputation for its adventure tires in the U.S. and the long life they provide under such heavy loads that modern ADV bikes can produce. With this success, the Australian brand has continued to expand its offering in North America to include enduro focused tires such as the Tractionator Enduro S/T. S/T meaning soft-terrain, this tire is designed to maximize traction in mud, loam, and sand with its aggressive tread pattern while also providing excellent wear life. The tire can be run either way with icons on the tire suggesting one way for mud, and the other for sand and loam. The Tractionator Enduro S/T is available in 21/18 and 19-inch combinations.
With Michelin sponsoring one of the greatest enduro champions of all time, Graham Jarvis, it should be safe to assume the company can make a pretty great off-road tire, right? The Michelin Enduro Medium was created at the compound level to excel across a variety of terrain. In both wet and dry conditions, the Enduro provides excellent traction. The Enduro Medium is available in 21 and 18-inch wheel sizes.
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