Motorcycle riders dating back to the 1970s will recall that Japanese dual-sport bikes were routinely shod with block-pattern tires designed for observed trials motorcycles. Although they did have excellent wear characteristics, the trial-style tires’ off-road performance often left something to be desired. Eventually, new dual-sport tire patterns emerged. Subsequently, block-style tires disappeared from the rims of dual-sport bikes on showroom floors.
In recent years, hard-core off-road riders have discovered that trials-pattern rear tires can perform well in certain circumstances off-road. Genuine competitive trails rear tires are a tubeless radial design that employs extremely soft compounds and has highly pliable sidewalls. Dunlop makes one of the leading competitive observed trials tires—the D803GP.
The D803 works superbly on a 160-pound trails bike at a few mph, but not as well on a motorcycle 100 pounds heavier traveling at much higher speeds. Although additional air pressure helps, that compromises the traction-finding feature that the users crave. In response, several tire manufacturers developed trials-pattern tires with stiffer sidewalls to accommodate dual-sport enthusiasts’ needs. The Dunlop K950 is one of the options. However, it has not been available in the United States until now.
The new-to-America Dunlop K950 is a street-legal dual-sport tire designed for the most challenging off-road conditions—exactly where trials bikes shine. Dunlop claims that “the K950 excels when the course or trail turns hard-packed, rocky, or littered with tree roots.”
For street riding, the bias-ply Dunlop K950 puts more rubber to the pavement than a knobby tire, and it rolls more smoothly on the hard surface. Also, the block-pattern wears much more slowly than a knobby on pavement. Compared to the D803GP, the K950 is designed for longer wear and can handle the higher horsepower put out by dual-sport motorcycles.
We also expect to see the K950 on scrambler-style custom builds.
As is traditional with rear tires for trials bikes, the Dunlop K950 is available in one size—4.00 x 18. We don’t have a price yet for the K950.