Looking for new rubbers for your pig? Not ready to dump your hard-earned money on a $300 pair of adventure tires? What about $140 a pair?
Here is a review for the SHINKO 244 Dual-Sport on the Suzuki DR650.
All DR riders know that the stock tires, nicknamed "death wings" (Bridgestone Trail Wings) are pretty much useless off pavement and even difficult on the wet road.
That being said, do you need to spend a lot to get better performance?
Getting away from stock without breaking the bank!
$140 CAN for a pair, how does that sound? Yes, that's right, the front and back!
As you can see below, this is a screenshot of my order from Fort Nine (link to the tires) which I highly recommend with free shipping in Canada to get these.
A few words on size
As you can see above, we are lucky that this tire comes in 17" as well!
Why you ask,? Well, an annoying fact with the DR, is the 17" rear wheel rather than the more standard 18".
This reduces our choices for tires, as 17" is more a street-oriented size so you'll find some brands are only making their dual-sport/off-road tires in 18".
So 21" and 17" are available, check! Now, what about the width?
Suzuki specs for the DR gives us 90/90-21 in the front and 120/90-17 in the rear.
This is the size of the Trail Wings but the Shinko SR244 comes in Imperial size (in inches).
The 90/90 will be a 2.75/3" for the front tire and the 120/90 will be a 4.25/4.5" for the rear. Here is a little conversion table with the most common sizes: Tires Size Conversion
You can see from my order that I went with a slightly bigger size for the rear choosing a 5.10" which is like a 130/90-17. It does fit and works really well on the DR but I wouldn't go wider to prevent rubbing issue in the wheel well.
The DR not being a really powerful bike, going for an even larger tire won't yield in any increased performance but rather the opposite. More unsprung weight with heavier wheels is not good.
How do they feel?
To start with, I should mention that they were pretty easy to install as they are not extremely rigid. These tires use a 4 ply construction, are DOT approved and the design is non-directional so they can be flipped.
They are advertised as a 30% off-road / 70% on-road but I would say they are more a 50/50 to me as you'll understand reading below.
On dry and wet pavement these are a great improvement overstock, no questions on that. The bike feels planted and you can easily lean to find the grip limit without having a surprise doing so.
With the blocks being quite close to each other, there is no feeling of the tire "walking away" like a real knobby can do when you take a corner. You can pick up a trajectory and follow it.
On the highway they are a bit noisy though, you can hear a discerning humming noise but it is not too loud either. This noise increased a bit once almost worn out. Probably because of the relatively soft rubber compound that gives this comfortable sticky feeling in return.
I found them to offer a surprisingly stable traction off-pavement on most surfaces besides sticky mud or powdery sand.
They can propel you through surprising places and definitely improves rideability and safety on any forest road and hard-packed trail.
The side knobs are fairly aggressive and help a lot to give a predictable feeling when leaning on hard surfaces with loose gravel on top.
Riding on a hard-packed road is a breeze and probably where most of us spend our time while "adventuring" out on our pigs.
Gravel roads, rocky slabs, loose boulders, roots, overgrown trail and grass, they work decently everywhere as long as it is fairly dry.
The caveat with a close blocks pattern like that is the tendency to pack with dirt rather quickly. So if mud is present, they will turn into slicks and really lose any kind of grip.
In the wet, they will still offer a decent grip on hard, rocky surfaces though.
It seems like some people are having issues losing knobs sometimes.
Even though I ride pretty aggressively and I'm not trying to conserve the tires as long as possible (think brake slides, drift and so on), I never had a problem like that.
They wear evenly, even the front. Of course, they do not last like a touring tire but you can expect about 5000-6000Km for the rear on a DR650 before the knobs are down with still about 15% left in the middle of the thread. (see below picture)
Without offering the locked-in grip a real knobby would, these tires are, in my opinion, a true 50/50.
You can ride your pig on the highway to get to the dirt without reaping them down too quickly, once arrived they will do great on gravel roads where most of us spend the majority of the time.
And then, pushing the limits on rougher trails is not out of the questions as long as you avoid sticky mud or deep sand.
Coming at a really affordable price in comparison to anything else on the market, they offer great all-around performance and decent longevity.
It's truly a good deal to use on the DR, since it is not a heavy and powerful bike, we do not need the extra premium performance AND cost from most tires advertised for the ADV market.
Unless you are prepping for a RTW trip, I would highly recommend giving them a try, you won't be disappointed!