Continental Tires – TKC80
OK, It’s hard to call this a review. I’m not going to have you read to the bottom only to the give you some kind of pseudo-neutral overview. I hope you read to the bottom but in bear in mind that for 15-years (13-years on this journey and 2-years before) Lisa and I have actively chosen to purchase and use Continental Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport tires.
For the sake of disclosure, Continental became a 2RTW sponsor about 4 months ago. Since then we’ve ridden Baja Mexico and are now back in the USA and riding to Alaska. We’ve just swapped out our rear TKC80’s with 8,211 miles on them.
The image above is of my rear Conti TKC80 after 8,211 miles of wear.
The Conti TKC80 ready to take on Mongolia
I was asked 4 days ago if we’re biased about our tire choice? The simple answer is yes, but that’s based purely on the TKC80’s history of performance and our own real-world experience.
Tires are such an integral part of every bike riders experience that it’s all too easy to take them for granted. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that.
The Conti TKC80 at home riding the flanks of a live super volcano on Java
Across six continents and through 78 countries we’ve chosen to use Continental TKC80’s. For 15-years they have carried us safely and predictably through every conceivable climate and terrain known to man.
Sure, tire choice is a personal thing, but for Lisa and I the TKC80 has been our rubber of choice. Great feedback on any surface and utterly predictable. These tires are the real deal!
“What should a great tire do?” I was asked this recently and mused for an answer before finally coming to a single conclusion. “A great tire should inspire confidence on any terrain”.
As novice sand riders we relied on the Conti TKC80’s to get us through the deep sand of the Sahara and yet incredibly they also provide us enough traction to touch our panniers rails to the asphalt on tight twisty corners.
It’s hard to express just how important fitting the right tires to your bike really is. Over the years Lisa and I have upgraded almost every element of our F650GS, R1150GSA and now our new F800GS and R1200GSA LC. Suspension, frame, electrics, ergonomics, the list goes on and on and at the end of it all, everything rest or rides on two small contact patches of rubber.
We’ve now ridden over 400,000 miles and 99% of those miles have been on our tire of choice, Conti TKC80’s. They’ve carried across 27 of the world’s deserts and to the most northerly and southerly ends of the earth. Those Conti Twinduro’s have seen us across Asia’s Silk-Route as we touched the sky atop the tallest peaks of the Pamir Mountain range. At an ear-popping 17,200-feet we relied on the TKC80’s to get us to more manageable heights as we explored the world’s second highest plateau in Bolivia. In deep snow, those same tires got us to the most southerly tip of South America.
It doesn’t matter if we’re axle deep in desert sand or scraping the asphalt on a mountain pass, the TKC80’s have never let us down. The ride they provide is smooth, dependable and their performance is stunningly predictable.
On a 700lb laden adventure bike, surprises are the last thing any rider wants; confidence inspiring rubber is what every rider needs.
I did contemplate, spending time over-analysing the technical aspect of the tire, breaking down the mechanics of performance etc, etc. I thought better of it. I hope that when you’ve read this, that you take it at face value and I hope you take my word for how good these tires are. I’m not a chemical engineer and if you want to really want to understand the flexible dynamics of rubber composites under stress, you can always use google. I guess I’m really writing this as a testament to an old friend.
From time to time over the years we’ve had no choice but to use ‘other’ tires when we couldn’t find the TKC80’s. The Karoo II’s didn’t work for us and the Heidenau K60 for me (Simon) didn’t inspire confidence, with an unpredictable profile and a hard-rolling shoulder. I was ‘more’ than impressed, by the off-road performance of the Pirelli Scorpion Rally. That said, levering a set of TKC’s back onto our rims felt like coming home. As I write this, I keep coming back to my phrase of earlier ‘predictability’. It’s the one constant that underpins a great tire. It’s an aspect of the tires performance that contributes heavily to why we feel the tire produces such confidence both on and off-road. And why for over a decade we’ve handed over our heard earned cash.
Time and time again, we’ve utterly relied on the TKC80 to do the toughest job, that of getting us around the world, irrespective of whatever the terrain. Snow, pot-holed asphalt, deep sand, ball bearing like gravel and everything else you can imagine. At one point or another, we’ve ridden all of them and the TKC80’s have quietly gone about their job of inspiring confidence and getting us from A to B without out fuss.
Are we biased about the unrelenting performance of these tires? Unashamedly YES!
We get asked a lot about our tire choice. The follow-up question is usually
“what kind of miles/km do you get out of them?”
Lisa and I pay more attention than most to our tire pressure. We don’t have the funds to be blase about tire pressure which ultimately leads to faster wear and the need to replace each set faster.
When we’re fully loaded we’ll run 38 to 42Ppsi. On fire roads with a mix of dirt and rock 25-28 psi works well and, in deep long stretches of sand we’ll deflate to mid teens. Based on these figures we regularly see 6-9,000 miles from a rear tire and double that from the front. Now before you sit there and start to shake your head, bear in mind that we’re on the bikes day in and day out, which means are riding style is relaxed. We’re not pulling wheelies or slipping in sneaky power slides. Hard breaking on a heavy bike will kill any tire, especially knobblies.
Lisa’s all time greatest run on a TKC80 was Nordkapp, northern Norway (Europe) all the way down to Windhoek Namibia (Southern Africa) on one rear tire. It wasn’t by choice and yes when we finally pulled the tire off it did look like a slick, but still, that’s phenomenal performance! See the photo.
At the end of the day, we all expect differing levels of performance from our machines, gear and the associated accessories. But do yourself a favor, when it come time to replace your rubber, slip on a set of TKC80 and make up your own mind, if this really is ‘the’ go-anywhere tire. I think you’ll be impressed.
Ride far, ride safe.