If you own a large adventure bike, you're familiar with the tricky business of choosing tires. Unlike bikes with more clearly stated intentions, ADV machines threaten, in the same breath, to whisk you to the edge of the world or to your favorite breakfast joint down the street. The unfortunate reality for most of us is this: An around-the-world trip is far less likely than a spirited spin on pavement with an occasional jaunt down a gravel road. Accordingly, UK-based Avon, who has been making tires for over a century, has built a new tire to meet those needs: the Trailrider.
The Trailrider, which replaces Avon’s Distanzia line, takes square aim at the big ADV bike category. The name hints toward a level of competency in dirt, but the Trailrider is really a road tire similar in purpose to the Metzeler Tourance and Michelin Anakee. Avon says a few tech tricks set the tire apart, such as a super rich silica compound, a high-tech carcass and 3D sipes. To me, the compounds and carcass features seem pretty standard nowadays, but the 3D sipes did stand out as uniquely forward thinking. According to Avon, the interlocking three-dimensional points hidden inside the sipes improve stability and grip, limit flex, and allow the tire to warm up quickly.
I experienced the Trailrider on a handful of modern adventure machines over a few hundred miles of twisty Bavarian tarmac. Despite the tire’s misleading name, the Trailrider does its job as a street-focused 90/10 (90 percent street/10 percent dirt) tire very well. The profile made for smooth transitions from edge to edge, and grip was plentiful even on the brief stretch of damp pavement we experienced. A few kilometers at triple-digit Autobahn speeds also confirmed it’s high-speed aptitude.
Even though dirt work was not on Avon's media agenda, I was able to sneak in a few trips up a rocky hill to get a brief sense of how the tires behave beyond the perfect German asphalt. And better yet, I was able to make a comparison my experience on a BMW R1200GS with another big bike shod with Metzeler Tourances. My quick take: I'd give a slight nod to the Avon in terms of edge grip and general feel over loose rock and dirt. That being said, trying to turn the hulking GS around on a damp, grassy hillside made it clear that off-road traction is not the Trailrider's strong suit.
According to Avon testers, the predicted life for the new Trailrider tire is 6,000 to 9,000 miles, which to me is completely acceptable given the weight of the big ADV machines and the variable conditions they’re asked to tackle.
If sand, mud, or grassy hillsides are part of your regular riding routine, you'd be wise to consider a more dirt-focused tire. But if, like many of today's riders, you're looking for street-focused rubber to hoist your big ADV—and perhaps it's one of the new sport-touring adventurers like the new BMW S1000XR or a Kawasaki Versys 1000LT the new Avon Trailrider is a sensible choice.