DOT Tires?

mkitchen

Explorer
Okay, I have a KLX 400 that I am setting up for dual sport riding with an emphasis on dirt. I have a KLR set up with a good 50/50 tire and will use that when doing a lot of pavement but I am wondering what the stipulation is on the DOT rating. I am looking at Maxxis and Pirelli and I don't think either tire is DOT rated. What issues would I be looking at if I went with a non DOT tire? Are they a hazard on the pavement?
I currently have Kenda Track Masters on it but the front tire slides out quite a bit and the rear is wearing very fast from what little pavement that I have ridden.
Suggestions?
Mikey
 

Cabrito

I come in Peace
Hey Mikey,

I don't have any suggestions, but I'm sure you already know that everything is a compromise. I'll share my own experience.

I'm running the Maxxis Desert IT on my XR4 right now, and several of my friends do to on their XR4's and XR650's. Once you get used to them on the pavement you just naturally adjust your riding style to them. The Maxxis are not DOT and you could get a ticket. I think that depends on where you are and the cop that's going to notice.

Depending on how you ride and the terrain I wouldn't expect to get more than 1500 miles out of the Maxxis. We did a 1000 mile ride in Baja in January with more than half off road and the rest on pavement and the guys running the Maxxis said theirs were almost toast after that. Although some of them used the same tires a bit longer and did a few more dual sport rides adding 300-400 more miles on them.

I'm on my first set of Maxxis and really like them once I got used to them. I did have to adjust my pavement ride, but off pavement they rock!

I've run through several sets of Pirelli MT21's and Michelin T63's on my KLR and don't even need to adjust my pavement riding style. I think they both do great off pavement. I ran the Pirelli MT21's in Baja in January on the KLR and thought they were great in the Sand, hardpack, and loose stuff. Some guys hate the MT21 on the front. I get about the same mileage on both of these, usually between 2000-2500 miles on a set.
 

mkitchen

Explorer
Good Info, Thanks

You make a good point. It seems that you either get poor mileage and good traction or vice versa. When you say "adjusting your riding style on pavement," I am guessing that you mean going a bit slower and keeping the bike more upright? I tend to do that now with the Kenda Track Masters. They just feel a bit scary when cornering.
Mikey
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Dreaming of Jupiter
by Ted Simon
From $16.04
Into Africa
by Sam Manicom
From $24.12

Cabrito

I come in Peace
You make a good point. It seems that you either get poor mileage and good traction or vice versa. When you say "adjusting your riding style on pavement," I am guessing that you mean going a bit slower and keeping the bike more upright? I tend to do that now with the Kenda Track Masters. They just feel a bit scary when cornering.
Mikey
I think a lot of it depends on each person's riding style. I'm not a super aggressive rider in the tight twisty pavement stuff so after I get used to the knobbies I usually don't need to adjust that type of riding at all. I actually forget I even have knobbies on the bike after a while, and just ride my normal ride. The first little while with the knobbies I take it a little slower until my confidence builds up.

Mostly I adjust my riding style for aggressive front braking. The front with knobs on it does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling so that's where I slow it down a bit. I live inside the city of San Francisco. It's an extremely congested space with a lot of traffic. I tend to do a lot of hard front braking when I'm riding here, and I commute across the whole city on my way out of town for work.

Wet conditions on pavement also make me a little skittish on the knobbies.

Depending on the terrain I usually only get 1500-2500 out of my DOT knobbies like the T63 and MT21's.

Edit - The Maxxis front is super dicey when braking aggressively on the pavement. It's just not made for the street. I rode across the city last weekend to get some stuff from the moto shop and didn't like the front Maxxis at all for this type of riding.
 

mkitchen

Explorer
I think a lot of it depends on each person's riding style. I'm not a super aggressive rider in the tight twisty pavement stuff so after I get used to the knobbies I usually don't need to adjust that type of riding at all. I actually forget I even have knobbies on the bike after a while, and just ride my normal ride. The first little while with the knobbies I take it a little slower until my confidence builds up.

Mostly I adjust my riding style for aggressive front braking. The front with knobs on it does not give me a warm fuzzy feeling so that's where I slow it down a bit. I live inside the city of San Francisco. It's an extremely congested space with a lot of traffic. I tend to do a lot of hard front braking when I'm riding here, and I commute across the whole city on my way out of town for work.

Wet conditions on pavement also make me a little skittish on the knobbies.

Depending on the terrain I usually only get 1500-2500 out of my DOT knobbies like the T63 and MT21's.

Edit - The Maxxis front is super dicey when braking aggressively on the pavement. It's just not made for the street. I rode across the city last weekend to get some stuff from the moto shop and didn't like the front Maxxis at all for this type of riding.
Good Point. I forgot your location. San Francisco, though a wonderful city (if I ever do decided to move back to a city it would be San Francisco, Portland or Toronto) would require a lot more focus than what I need here in little Kingman. Last time I went through the city, I was riding double on my Victory with a full load of gear. That little bit of a trip wore me out. So I can empathize with you on braking scenarios and the need to have quick responses.

If we ever meet up, ask me about out trip through your fine city with our 1960 Suburban 4X4. We very graciously got an escort out of town by the SFPD. Mo was driving and they were very nice, just couldn't see her doing any more damage to their city. Coming from a cow town in eastern OR with less than 50 residents and 25 miles to the nearest pavement, needless to say San Francisco was just a bit intimidating. That is all I am going to say for now.
Mikey
 

Cabrito

I come in Peace
Good Point. I forgot your location. San Francisco, though a wonderful city (if I ever do decided to move back to a city it would be San Francisco, Portland or Toronto) would require a lot more focus than what I need here in little Kingman. Last time I went through the city, I was riding double on my Victory with a full load of gear. That little bit of a trip wore me out. So I can empathize with you on braking scenarios and the need to have quick responses.

If we ever meet up, ask me about out trip through your fine city with our 1960 Suburban 4X4. We very graciously got an escort out of town by the SFPD. Mo was driving and they were very nice, just couldn't see her doing any more damage to their city. Coming from a cow town in eastern OR with less than 50 residents and 25 miles to the nearest pavement, needless to say San Francisco was just a bit intimidating. That is all I am going to say for now.
Mikey
Sounds awesome on both accounts. Sometimes the best part of the adventure is getting lost in big cities..
 

Clutch

<---Pass
I like Michelin AC10's...very dirt oriented, hard to believe they are DOT legal. Do very well in dirt for a DOT tire. Wear a little quick, they don't do "too bad" on slab. I am a aggressive rider, and don't mind sliding a round a bit...when they do break loose I find them predictable.

 
Last edited:
I've run Pirelli MT21 Rallycross F/R with a lot of success on my DRZ400S. Decent wear, good grip, and the front doesn't tend to wash out like other DOT knobbies I've used. Remember to adjust your air pressures for pavement/off pavement riding. I carry an Adventure Designs air pump (which I mdified with a Battery Tender plug) in my Wolfman Daytripper's, which I transfer between bikes. On my 350 EXC-F, I'm running a Pirelli MT21 in the front, and an MT43 Pro Trials tire for the rear- very long wear life for mixed use.

As far as issues with non-DOT...

As an industry insider, I can tell you that there have been cases of motorcycles that were involved in at-fault accidents, where the riders insurance company denied paying the claim on basis of illegal equipment. I'm not suggesting that this happens every time, or that the companies are in the right for denying these types of claims - I'm only stating that it has happened before.

Something else to think about is your local LEO's tolerance for (even factory) plated dirt bikes. In San Francisco I got away with a LOT- mostly because local LEO's had other things to worry about, and rarely batted an eye at motorcyclists, even when riding like tools. Here in Hood River, OR, the local boys in blue seem to have a penchant for pulling over plated dirt bikes and confirming all DOT equipment is up to snuff. Riding buddies here have received citations for non-DOT tires.

Food for thought...
 
Last edited:

mkitchen

Explorer
Thank you James

You make a good point on the DOT issue. After my terrible showing on my KLR last Saturday, I think that I am trying to compensate my poor riding skills with better tires. So with that in mind, I am going to stick with DOT tires on the KLX and learn to ride better.

Saturday was the first time I saw a set of the Pirelli MT 21 tires and they seem to be a right choice for me in the environment that I ride in.
Mikey
 

AggroCrag

Meat Popsicle
Check out the MotoZ Tractionator Line of tires. DOT legal, and they have a few to choose from based on your riding area/style. I currently am running a Dunlop 606 rear, and an MT21 front on my Husky TE310. I can tell you that I will not be re-running this setup. The D606 is extremely heavy feeling, and I can easily break lateral traction on it. The MT21 is a great on/off road mix tire, but I have found that the side lugs are nowhere near agressive enough for riding the single track that I like to spend my time on. I will say though, that I have around 1000 miles on this setup, and the tires still have plenty of life left in them.

Everything I've read about the MotoZ's has been pretty positive. Check em out.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Motorcycle Messengers: Tales from the Road by Writers who...
by Lois Pryce, Mark Richardson, Carla King, Sam Manic...
From $9.99
Top