So as promised, the tires went on Friday, taken for a quick 30 mile ride to scrub them in on Saturday, and a full 300 mile dirt/twisty tarmac ride on Sunday. Please keep in mind that my only experience prior to the Wee has been sport bikes and the only tires I have for comparison on the Wee are the old and fairly worn TrailWings that were on when I bought the bike. My findings do not speak to how much better than other tires they are, just my specific findings with this one tire.
WOW! I was happy with the Wee's handling from day one...but I could easily push the bike over the limits of grip. With the old TWs, I found myself sliding the front on a regular basis and even spun the rear on a few aggressive, low speed corner exits. Not No More! The TKC70s have a pretty tall profile that causes the bike to "fall" into turns. I've heard this be described as a negative trait, but I love it. The bike turns in and lays down 100% faster now and holds a line incredibly well. They feel stable and confidence inspiring and warm up fast. Feedback is as good as I can expect from this bike. I can't tell you exactly how good the grip is, because I have not found it's limits. I scrapped pegs all day and pushed the bike to the point where the chassis was beginning to show it's limits. Grip isn't and issue on dry, paved, roads. With these, a 1st-gen Wee will run out of suspension long before running out of tire.
So this was my biggest surprise. Again, only having old TWs to compare to, I wonder how much of this is "New Tire Syndrome." But again, all that matters is that they are good...really good. Packed dirt farm roads that I struggled to be confident at 30mph on the TWs, I found myself blasting through at 50mph, limited only by my lack of confidence in my own skills, not the tires. Braking with the front (something that was terrifying on the TWs) was impressive. Accelerating was solid, would really have to TRY to break the rear loose.
Here is where the tires have a Jekyll and Hyde personality. They are terrific on gravel roads...they wander a little and the rear steps out if you lean on the throttle a little more than necessary, but they maintain great control and give great confidence. I would describe them as "playful!" as they give you enough movement to put a smile on your face but don't scare you. HOWEVER....the confidence they provide gives you (I fell for it) a sense that they grip is limitless....it's not. In large chip gravel or deep(er)gravel, they just don't have the tread to sink through and bite enough to brake or turn quickly. The problem is they track incredibly straight...you only find out their limit when a turn catches you off guard. Again, this may have been my own lack of experience, and may very well be what every other tire in this class behaves the same way in these conditions...it may even be much better than it's competitors. I just know that I came up on an unexpected, downhill, severely off camber turn with deeper gravel cover, and when I touched the rear brake, they went sideways immediately. Holding the slide was easy enough, only I was quickly running out of road toward an approaching ditch, so I decided to throttle out...that lead to the rear quickly coming around and the bike performing a neat little 360 in the middle of the turn, leveraging on it's engine guard. No harm, no foul to myself or the bike. Again, even with this little indecent, TKC70s were 1000% better than TWs in the gravel.
Wet Rocks and Water Crossings:
Having never crossed a stream before, all I can say is it was totally uneventful. Front bounced from rock to rock looking for grip-always finding it, didn't seem to be affected at all by the current. Rear gripped and kept me moving forward under steady throttle and when a little "brap" was needed to get over a rock.
From what I read, every tire sucks in mud...no surprise here. I didn't ride through much mud, but there was a thick, sticky and slick section of mud that a jeep had gone through a made very deep ruts (about an inch of water at the bottom of the wheel tracks) I approached it with the same level of confidence and speed as the water crossing and found that the grip quickly deteriorated. In the 15-20ft crossing (that I went through twice) the front was squirming all over looking for grip. Importantly, the rear kept enough traction to push me through and out with no issue. This was a straight through-pass though, I have no doubts that if maneuvering or braking was needed, the tires would not be up to it. You can see in the photos below, take about 100 ft down the road, that the front packs pretty fast, the rear does a better job of flinging the mud off.
I am ecstatic about these tires. They provide enough grip in any condition that I can reasonably see myself taking my Wee into. Sure a TKC80 may provide MORE grip, but the 70 can get the Wee to the same places, just with a little more care. That's a fair trade, given the great levels of road grip. The real test however will be in 5000 miles. I love them now, but my final decision to buy them again will be based on how they perform when they are half worn.
Last edited by GonFern; 04-20-2015 at 02:50 PM.