Words & pics: Richard Ebbett

Riding from Taupo to the South Island to then tackle the three-day Dusty Butt adventure ride requires a decent tyre that’s going to last the distance. Richard Ebbett from MotoSR Suspension Research in Taupo thinks he may have found the right tyre for the job.

The bike I am riding is a 2006 KTM 950 Super Enduro and I’m a keen adventure rider. I’d seen a few customers try these tyres in the past but I’d also noticed some had chunking and peeling of the tread when they’d been used hard. It didn’t look nice for a tyre you had just purchased for $259 plus freight.
Still, I bought one to test for the KTM Coast to Coast Rallye, which meant six days of serious abuse. Yes, it chunked and spat bits off it. But man, it stood up to some punishment over the 2,600km I rode during the Rallye, especially as a fair amount of it was two-up and I’m reasonably heavy on the throttle…
Anyway, I bought another one for the Dusty Butt, which is a 1,400km ride down south, organised by the team at Epic Events. Knowing I had to ride down and back, which is generally a 4,500km ‘round trip, I got in touch with Nigel from 454 – the importers of Motoz tyres to NZ – and he assured me that the mould process had changed and this new tyre would be much better.
Now, considering I was going to again be riding two-up, that meant the KTM was slightly over 390kg fully loaded, which includes two people, gas and luggage. For the wheels, that equates to 150kg on the front tyre and 250kg on the rear, so this was going to be a serious test of how they would cope with the torture! I took photos of the tyre as I went to catalogue how it stood up to the punishment.

The first leg consisted of tarseal, gravel, rocks, mud and river crossings as we traversed the country from Palmerston North to Reefton via Westport and Denniston, then Nelson through Maungatapu to Blenheim. From there it was through the Rainbow, McDonald Downs and Lees Valley to Oxford, then Glenfalloch Station around the back of Lake Heron and onto Fairlie. That was 2,580km before we’d even made it to the start of the Dusty Butt, and still, the tyre was looking pretty mint.

Heading into the Dusty Butt and the next 500km consisted of gnarly, big rocks that produced a bit of smoke from spinning up, and a lot of fourth gear hazing it up in the gravel as we neared Alexandra. The tyres were starting to show a bit of wear now, and okay, my throttle setting was becoming a bit more aggressive, but 500km off-road is a lot for anyone, let alone doing it two-up.
The next leg brought us by Alexandra again through short grass farmland to Piano Flat and the Nevis. Another 400 kilometres. Finally, we were at the end of the Dusty Butt, after tackling the Lammerlaw range, Serpentine Trail, Dunstan Road, Omarama Saddle, then Black Forest Station to Fairlie. At this stage I’d done 4,040km – plus a lot of roosting – and I reckon I score points for tyre life considering I had Lisa on the back. But I couldn’t quite decide what effect that would have – does having a pillion mean you’re getting better traction, or does the tyre need to work harder because there is more load?

Unfortunately, Lisa couldn’t make it for the ride home with work duties calling, so I decided to go in search for more gravel and friends, feeling the need to check out the Catlins while I was this far down south. So in total, the Motoz did 6,840km of what I would consider to be hard adventure riding. It was pretty-much toasted at this point though, with just about 3mm of tread depth, which is what you require for a warrant.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

For pressures, I ran 28psi in the front and 30psi in the back – and never altered them. Everyone else was fluffing ‘round with tyre pressures on grassland during the KTM Rallye, but not me.
They are quite a heavy tyre, so the gyroscopic forces of the wheel spinning at pace can make the bike weave a bit, but I’m talking 140km/h plus. Originally, I had too much pressure in the tyres and found they didn’t like it. Then I read the tyre for the max pressure and discovered I had been having a moment of brain fade…
Overall, I was very impressed with the durability of these tyres. Only once did I get cross rutted and thought I could go down which isn’t ideal two-up. But I held it, and the traction on rocks was impressive, too. The rear tyre speaks for itself – it’s massive, with great tread depth and a monster of a pattern. The front could understeer or wash into a turn a bit, which makes you want to throw your leg onto the ground to hold yourself up, but that is typical of all loose gravel.
I think testing them two-up is a great feat, especially with puncture resistance being superb. Yes, we did hit some stuff, but my suspension is awesome. So, there you go… If you’re into adventure riding, I can highly recommend them.

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