Friday, September 11, 2015

Avon TrailRiders - 10,000 km

We're in Kyrgyzstan as I'm writing this, having covered 10,000 km on our set of TrailRiders. The last 5,000 km of those have been through Georgia, Russia and the incredible conditions of Kazakhstan. The roads we take are bad, seriously bad, because that's where you see the most beautiful things and meet beautiful people. The ride through Russia was hot and long while Kalmykia had some seriously rough roads. Kazakhstan topped it all though with what I can only describe as the road from hell.

We had 48°C (118°F) temperatures for days in a row. The tyres got so hot they became shiny as they were almost melting on roads which were at the same time real tyre shredders, ruts, sand, rocks, holes... you name it. When we had bitumen, it was so hot it stuck to our boots like glue. These are places which are known to be hard on tyres, where plenty of travellers take extra tyres with them as they wear the first set out before they even get to Kyrgyzstan. We started it on tyres with already 5,000 km on them and will now continue on the same set through Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, India etc. 

We haven't had much rain during this part of the trip, but we had plenty during the first 5,000 km to asses the wet weather performance. This part we had sand, gravel and broken roads... and lots of it. Plus mud, water crossings etc. We camped in the desert, behind farm land and rode to wherever we found a good spot, over rocky harsh terrain. Having worked in Australia on a cattle station I've seen what that sort of stuff does to tyres: it simply eats them up.

So, how's the tyre wear I hear you think. Well, strange! After 5,000 km I measured 6 mm of tread depth left (or 2 mm used, whichever way you want to look at it). Now that we've covered another 5,000 km we only used 1 mm more... The tread depth after 10,000 km is thus a very healthy 5 mm! I've checked it twice and at different spots too as I couldn't believe it myself. Remember these are not rock hard, poor grip and poor wet weather tyres, but tyres we can ride to the edge of the tread with full confidence. Tyres which grip at least as good as the Distanzia and handle very good in the wet too. The grip they offer is for me more important than how quick they wear. After all tyres can be replaced, our backs and necks can't. 

Having said that, when doing a long trip and ride through places where motorcycle tyres are hard to find, it's sure handy that they last a long time too. Carrying extra tyres means a lot of extra weight. which is what you don't want. Another thing we have noticed is the cupping we've had with all the front tyres we have fitted to the XT, and seen with most other dual sports too, seems to be gone. Avon had said these are the best tyres they had ever made and they weren't kidding...

Mike found them better in loose sand than the previously fitted Avon Distanzia, which were better than the Metzeler Tourances they replaced. The bike is surprisingly stable on sand now. I agree with him and found them also better than the Michelin Anakee I tried before. The way they are going now, these tyres might actually make it from Europe to Australia, while having to work under extremely harsh conditions... The Avon TrailRider looks to be a true 'overlander' tyre.
The next interim report, after 15,000 km can be found here