Review by: John Titman Racing (Australia)
Prior to our TransTerra ride on the South Coast of NSW in November last year I was asked by Rob Turton from Tyres For Bikes to test out a pair of the yet to be released Motoz Tractionator Adventure tyres. Rob had been given a set of the tyres from Motoz Australia for testing and seeing as though I would be spending the next 7 days skating around the roads of South East NSW Rob asked if I would give them a run on my KTM 1190 Adventure R. These tyres were fresh out of the moulds and I was told I would be the first person to test them.
I have now travelled over 4,700km on these tyres and can speak with confidence about them.
Motoz is an Australian company that has been in the tyre business for many years but I think it’s not unfair to say that not many adventure riders would have had experience with their product yet. Motoz are better known in the off-road enduro scene but the truth is a good portion of their tyres get sold overseas, particularly into South America.
I think it’s clear the team at Motoz have put a lot of thought into the design of this tyre and it reflects in its performance out on the trails. These tyres are designed in Australia but manufactured in Thailand.
Although they are probably unknown to many adventure riders, that may all be about to change because they have produced an adventure tyre which is an extremely capable tyre and, in my opinion, now the best on the market. A bold statement? Maybe. Read on…
When Rob first told me about the tyres I’ll admit I had no prior experience with the Motoz brand and was a little sceptical about them being any good. I have long been a big fan of the Continental TKC80 for their ability to perform well on any surface that an adventure rider might ask of them. In particular, for a knobby tyre, they work exceptionally well on bitumen. When you push them on bitumen they give heaps of feel and slide predictably. They grip very well on dirt too but their biggest shortcoming is they lack in durability.
To me, having good tyres fitted are like an insurance policy to help keep the bike upright and off the deck. Tyres are also the best performance mod you can do to your bike – aside from training yourself how to ride properly of course!
When I first laid eyes on the Motoz Tractionator Adventure I was impressed with how chunky they looked. The knobs are tall (15mm deep) with larger than normal sized staggered blocks and narrower spacing between knobs. I liked the large sized knobs especially around the sides of the tyres which should make sure there is plenty of rubber on the road when you are cranked over on the bitumen.
The tyre sizes used were the standard 90/90-21 and 150/70-18 combo to suit the KTM 1190 Adventure R.
Motoz have really done their homework with design of the tyre. Some of the key standouts when taking a close look at the tyres are:
- The rubber compound feels soft enough to grip well on bitumen and other hard packed surfaces. I’ve ridden on other tyres (Mitas and Hidenau) that use such a hard compound rubber they just don’t grip on bitumen when you push them – especially on wet bitumen. This can lead to a lack of confidence at best and a crash at worst.
- The tread pattern is really interesting and certainly I think it has proven itself to work. Big tall blocks with relatively narrow spacing in between offers lots of rubber on the road for grip and lots of staggered edges for traction. There is also plenty of rubber on the edges of the tyre for good grip at maximum lean angle on the bitumen.
- The front tyre in particular has a unique design with large blocks along the centreline that should reduce “cupping” wear that can come from hard braking.
- Each of the knobs also have small sipes cut in the surface which I think really adds to the grip levels when the tyre is fresh. Even with 2,000km on the rear tyre most of the sipes were still just visible. These sipes give another edge to grip with.
- The knob height is very tall at around 15mm. Compare that to most other tyres at around 10mm and it makes the Motoz look very aggressive and promises to be long wearing.
- First impression when picking one up is that they are a very heavy tyre. Rob explained to me that the carcass is made up from 4 layers of 1200 denier fabric compared to 2 layers that some tyres use. Most other tyres only use 1000 denier fabric too. When we compared the weight by hand to a TKC80 of the same size the difference in weight didn’t feel that great. This is totally unscientific as we are yet to weigh them on scales.
- I was concerned that due to the heavy carcass they would be very hard to fit but Rob claims they went on quite easily. Of course he was using his tyre machine to fit them but he can still get a feel for how easy tyres are to fit. I think the soft rubber compound really helps here. I know Mitas tyres for one have such a stiff carcass and hard rubber compound they are an absolute bastard to fit.
We stood the rear tyre side by side with other leading brands of adventure tyres including; Pirelli Scorpion Rally, Metzler Karoo3 & Continental TKC80. When you see them side by side the difference in tread patterns and knob height becomes obvious. I have worn out many sets of each of these tyres and other brands over the years so have a good yardstick to judge to Motoz against.
I mostly ran the tyres with 28psi of pressure front and rear and they seemed pretty happy at that. I wasn’t carrying much of a load and didn’t spend much time on bitumen at high speed so I would run higher pressures than 26psi if this was the case. I did run them as low as 10psi front and 18psi rear in sand and even on some rocky terrain and they felt good. The solid carcass will probably permit lower pressures. I always prefer to run my pressures a little higher though to reduce the chance of punctures or even worse a tubeless tyre peeling off a rim.
The Motoz Tractionator Adventure has now been released to the Australian market in February 2016 but only in very limited size range to begin with. The sizes that are available right now include:
Motoz have informed me that other sizes will be coming in the next few months.
Obviously this size range limits the bikes that will be able to fit this tyre and that is a great pity because Motoz are onto a winner here. They are working on a greater variety in their size range so stay tuned.
The rubber compound is soft enough for fantastic grip on bitumen, even when it’s wet. This is an important point for me. I have ridden on adventure tyres that are so hard they just don’t grip well on bitumen and I think that is just asking for trouble. I still haven’t had a chance to get them hot and really push them on dry bitumen twisties but on wet bitumen they offered fantastic grip and that is a good thing.
They are relatively smooth and quiet on bitumen but I seemed to have noticed a little more noise as they wore in. I wouldn’t say they were any noisier than other knobby adventure tyres though. I did notice on bitumen the tyres felt very “agile” or “tippy”. It’s hard to put this into words but they felt very responsive and not as “planted” as some other tyres on the road. I think this can be attributed mostly to the 21/18 inch wheel combination being more off-road orientated and also the solid tyre carcass not having as much give so you feel like the tyres want to tip in very quickly.
Traction was very predictable on dirt. When powering on and getting a drift going they gave helps of feel and if things started to get a little too far sideways rolling off the throttle would result in a predictable recovery of traction. Exactly what I like. Same situation under brakes.
When riding on technical off-camber ruts they offered fantastic edge traction and allowed me to follow tricky lines with confidence.
Straight line traction is excellent too both under power and braking with great feel.
I have ridden on other tyres that are popular for their long wearing ability but to me they were borderline dangerous. Long lasting sure, but no feel on edge grip and poor grip on wet bitumen or mud due to the “plastic” compound they use instead of high quality content rubber. The Motoz tyres have proven to me durability doesn’t have to come at the expense of predictable grip and feel.
The Motoz slide predictably.
How did they fare after a weeks riding?
During our TransTerra ride I ran them for 7 days over 2,000km through every terrain the South Coast of NSW has to offer; bitumen (wet & dry), hard packed granitic sand roads, sand, mud, rocks. The lot.
I gave them hell with big slides both on the brakes and under power and they were showing minimal wear after 2,000km of abuse. I’ve got no doubt KTM’s sophisticated electronic traction control on the 1190 Adventure R had a lot to do with reducing some wear on the tyres for the times that I had the electronics activiated but I know how much drifting and power sliding I did on those tyres and they have worn really well.
As a comparison my good mate Paul was riding an F 800 GS on our TransTerra ride with a Mitas E10 Dakar rear tyre and Continental TKC80 front fitted. Paul rides at a very similar pace to me and likes to slide the bike around too. We fitted a new rear tyre to his bike on the Monday morning and swapped it out for another rear after 4 days riding. The Mitas still had another day or maybe two days riding in it but it was close to done at around 1,800km. Tread depth was down to 6mm on the rear; compare that to the Motoz rear which still had 11mm tread depth after a full 7 days riding. Pretty impressive!
We did notice after my first days ride on the Motoz that small sections of rubber were starting to lift on the centre knobs of both front and rear tyres. Rob and I both had a close look at it and concluded it was probably just a case of how the tyres cooled in the moulds during manufacture. The depth of this was no more than 2mm and it proved not to be an issue after 2,000km of riding so no great cause for concern here. I would think as production gets up to full speed I’m sure this won’t be an issue. Rick from Motoz has confirmed this to be the case.
The Motoz are still looking fresh after a weeks riding on the KTM 1190R.
4,500km On And Still Going Strong!
As I post this it is now February 2016 and I’ve travelled over 4,500km on the one set of Motoz tyres now and they have performed brilliantly in all conditions. The rear tyre still has 5mm of tread depth remaining and they are still hooking up and driving well. I’ve run them in sand, mud, rock, wet & dry bitumen, skatey gravel roads and they work very well in all of the above. The only time I’ve found myself wishing for more grip is on wet grass, but then I think I seem to recall looking for more grip in these situations in the past on all other adventure tyres too.
To give you a comparison, I would normally only get about 2,000km out of a rear tyre on a big bore adventure bike. In the past I have ridden mostly an F 800 GS over tens of thousand of kilometres and rarely got much more than 2,000km out of a rear tyre from any of the leading brands: Continental, Pirelli, Mitas or Metzeler. The KTM 1190 Adventure R has 150HP compared to the 800GS having something like 80HP. To get over 4,500km from a rear tyre and still have grip really impressed me!
I know a lot of adventure riders tend go for durability at the expense of traction and choose tyres that will go the distance but in my experience those longer wearing tyres use a very hard rubber compund and they just don’t grip. Especially on wet bitumen, some of the other tyres are just downright dangerous. To me this is false economy though because they are downright dangerous to ride on and if you lay the bike down due to the poor traction they offer fair chance you will do more $$ damage to your bike than you saved in tyre wear. You also won’t enjoy your riding as much if you have low confidence in your tyres.
I love these tyres!
These hoops do everything so well I honestly believe they are the best adventure motorcycle tyre on the market now. I know that is a big statement to make and sounds like an impossibility but for adventure riding with the huge variety of terrain we tend to cover in Australia, the Motoz Tractionator Adventure is the bomb! I have total confidence in them gripping when I need them to and they last the distance.
With our big TransTerra 2016 expedition length ride going from Alice Springs NT to Broome WA via the Gibb River Road I now have total confidence in a tyre that capable of doing the 4,000 plus kilometres of outback distance and providing great traction all the way.
Whenever I have the choice, I will happily fit the Motoz Tractionator Adventure tyre for every adventure ride I do and will be loving life!
Big thanks to Terry Cunningham for capturing some great photos of the Motoz tyres in action!