I am on my third set of tires for the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike
. The first set was the stock big-block Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, and the second set was aggressively off-road Pirelli MT 21 Rallycross
knobbies. This third set is 40 percent on-road and 60 percent off-road Shinko E-804 front (90/90 x 21; $120 MSRP) and E-805 rear (150/70 x 18; $200 MSRP).When I had a dirt-only motorcycle in Southern California, the tire choice was easy—big, tall knobs. With the varied terrain and distances I cover on the Oregon-based Ténéré 700 Project Bike, tire selection requires more thought.
With summer approaching, I have mapped out about 3000 miles of mostly Pacific Northwest freeways and highways to interesting off-road destinations, including ghost towns. I wanted to change to less aggressive tires that won’t be so noisy on the long highway stretches. The Shinko E-804/805 tires should be the right tire for this summer.I like to do my own maintenance and hoped to change the rubber myself. Having a centerstand makes getting the wheels off the bike easy enough, but I struggled with removing and replacing the tires.Knowing the front tire would be the easier of the two, I started there. I enlisted the help of a friend with a home-use tire stand, and we spent about an hour taking off the old front tire and mounting the new one. I purchased a home-use wheel-balancer, and luckily the old spoke-attached weight was the same as what the new Shinko E-804 front tire needed.
Unmounting the rear Pirelli MT 21 was beyond my capability. After two hours of unsuccessfully struggling to get the old tire off the rim, I brought the wheel and Shinko E-805 to Smitty’s Motorsports
in Milwaukie to complete the job.From this experience, I learned that I can replace tubes on the side of the road on the Ténéré 700 if I have a puncture, but changing tires will be left for the experts.My first ride with the new Shinko E-804/805 tires was 280 miles of freeway and highway and 77 miles of varied gravel, dirt, mud, and packed, wet pine needles. It rained eight of the nine hours I was in the saddle. I am very happy with their performance on various wet paved surfaces. Freeway speeds are stable and quiet.
After our 77-mile off-road section, I rode wet asphalt twisties at up to 60 mph and never felt a slip or inkling of lost traction. The front tire held better on wet off-road than the rear did. I had to be very easy on the throttle exiting turns, or the rear would slip out.A muddy, steep downhill was an uncomfortable sliding experience. The only time the front slipped to the side was on wet pine needles, and all the other riders in my group had similar pucker moments on those wet pine needles.We only ran into mud less than an inch deep, but that was enough to break loose the rear. If there is gravel—packed or loose up to an inch deep—the front tire tracks where I want it to go.
Fortunately, the front and rear are very predictable. By looking at the surface, I knew what to expect. I had a few pucker moments until I gained experience riding over the various surfaces.Although Shinko rates the E804/805 tires for mud and snow, that is a function of the layout of the knob blocks and not a reflection of real-life testing. In my real-life testing, they don’t do as well in mud as more dirt-oriented tires, yet they are much better than street-aimed ADV tires without blocks or knobs.I set out the next week to test the tires with factory-recommended air-down for off-road of 29 psi in both tires. I rode 10 miles on mixed dirt, mud, and gravel forest roads at road pressure. I then aired down to 29/29 and rode the same route in reverse. I could see my tracks, so I literally rode over the same terrain and potholes.
There were so many potholes that I was worried I would dent the Ténéré 700’s front rim, but I didn’t. There is no specific measurement for control feel, but I would estimate I had a good 20 percent more control and less slippage, especially in the muddy sections. I could accelerate longer out of the muddy sections before my rear tire broke loose. On loose gravel in turns, I maintained speeds about 5 mph faster than with the 32/36 psi arrangement.Airing down makes enough difference on the Ultimate Motorcycling
Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike for it to be worth the time to air down and back up if I am going to be off-road for several hours. If I am going to be doing the kind of ride where I transition from on-road to dirt and back to pavement throughout the day, I will just leave the pressure at the higher setting. Of course, if I get into traction trouble like deep sand, I will certainly air down to get out of the situation.
The Ténéré 700 doesn’t come with rim locks, so I will be careful to not air down too much and for too long. Ripping out the rear tire valve stem takes all the fun out of the ride.I certainly had more confidence and higher off-road speeds with aggressive knobbies, but this ride was indictive of my upcoming summer—long on-road to hundred-mile off-road sections in dry country. Unfortunately, riding aggressive knobbies on the freeway and highway is noisy, and the tires wear out quickly.
This 40/60 Shinko E804/805 combination is an excellent tradeoff for comfort on pavement and dirt rideability. The summers really do dry out in the Pacific Northwest, and these tires will get me to my destinations. The Shinko E-804 and E-805 adventure tires are very predictable and gave me great confidence knowing how they will react on different surfaces.
Shinko E804 Front Tire Fast FactsSizes/MSRP
- 100/90 x 19: $135 (tube type)
- 110/80 x 19: $135
- 110/80 x 19: $143 (radial)
- 120/70 x 19: $195 (radial)
- 90/90 x 21: $120
Shinko E805 Rear Tire Fast Facts Sizes/MSRP
Bias-ply, unless noted
- 130/80 x 17: $165
- 140/80 x 17: $160 (tube type)
- 150/70 x 17: $177
- 150/70 x 17: $163 (radial)
- 150/80 x 16: $175
- 170/60 x 17: $233 (radial)
- 120/90 x 18: $131 (tube type)
- 150/70 x 18: $200
Tubeless, unless noted