Armed with a fresh Yamaha Tenere, a set of inappropriate tyres and a lot of trail riding to be done on the Trans Euro Trail, we splashed the cash on a new set of hoops to take on the terrain. Would the Mitas E09 offer the right combination of on-road confidence and off-road prowess?
FITTED WITH METZELLER TOURANCES FRONT AND BACK, WE NEEDED NEW HOOPS
Let’s face it – choosing tyres for road bikes is complicated enough – choosing the correct tyres for Adventure bikes is even worse. There are hundreds of variations from dozens of manufacturers, all claiming to be exactly what you need. Asking the forums what are the best won’t help either – you’l just get reams of conflicting advice, from recommendations and endorsements to evangelical advice as to what you should avoid and why.
So after chatting to a few owners and seeking the advice of the chaps at the Yamaha Off-Road Experience. we plumped for giving the Mitas E09s a go to see how they would stand up to the test. At just under £100 for a set, they were refreshingly cheap compared to road tyres, and didn’t make us too worried if they turned out to be not as good as we’d hopedQ!
With the new tyres ordered from our local dealers Classic Enduro, we headed over to their shop in Bristol to ditch the old rubber and fit the new. We also had some Bike Seal to fit to prevent punctures on our trip, and as owner Ian is far better at swapping hoops than us, we made the tea while he got busy with the tyre levers
Now even before we fitted the tyres, you can’t help but notice the mismatch in how these tyres actually look. Tyre websites images are not the best way to get the overall feel of what the delivered product will look like, and in the flesh the front and the rear Mitas are considerably different – almost like they are not in the same range.
BIG AGGRESSIVE STYLING – WE LIKE
The rear is aggressively styled, with thick and deep knobbies and a thoroughly purposeful looking demeanour – if it could talk it would be saying – “Let’s ‘ave it!”. And then there’s the front, which rather than screaming off-road purpose seemed to whisper – “I quite like it in the countryside”. Where the rear had a deep aggressive tread pattern, the front was relatively shallow and round profiled. Maybe it would surprise us out on the trail ?
THE FRONT TYRE IS FAR LESS PURPOSEFUL
Had we seen the tyre beforehand and had we not been heading out onto the trails the day after, we might have gone for a different option with a deeper tread and more side grip.
But with no time to look into a plan B and a monster trail ride to do, we fitted the newly shod wheels to the Tenere, thanked Ian for his sterling efforts and headed back home to pack.
ON THE ROAD
The first part of our journey took us through the centre of Dover and round the back streets, The Mitas set offered good grip on tight turns and off camber bends, although the knobbies did mean that the road noise was much more than the 80/20 biased Metzeller Tourances that we’d taken off. On the faster sections of the route later in the day and over the subsequent days, the road manners of both the back and the rear Mitas couldn’t really be faulted for relatively off-road profiled tyres. Speeds of 70mph and above didn’t give any particular cause for concerns, although we backed things off for the tighter bends bearing in mind just how little rubber is actually in contact with the tarmac.
The soft front suspension on the Tenere means that under braking the bike dives quite considerably but this didn’t cause the front tyre to push out or lose grip, even in wet conditions.
So for a dual purpose tyre, the Midas E09s performed pretty well on the black top.
CONSIDERING HOW LITTLE RUBBER IS IN THE TARMAC, THE TYRES GRIPPED WELL
ON THE TRAIL
ON THE DRY STONY STUFF< THE MITAS TYRES FARED WELL
So if the Mitas tyres did OK on the road, it wasn’t quite such a rosy story on the trails. When on dry, rocky or gravel-strewn tracks and trails, both tyres coped well and gave a good feel whether stood up or sat down,
However, many of the trails we encountered were extremely wet and muddy, often with a harder frozen layer underneath thanks to the particularly cold conditions in the UK this January. And in this setting, the E09s didn’t fair quite so well.
The rear would continue to provide good grip even in the sloppiest mud, but once there was that hard layer to cope with, the Mitas was struggling and giving less confidence. But the back was vastly better than the front as here the knobbies didn’t seem to cut in to the mud at all – in a straight line this was disconcerting, on downhills, ruts or corners it was downright irritating.
As we ride predominantly lighter trail bikes like the KTM EXC250 or Honda CRF250L with lots of grip on proper off-road tyres, taking on a much heavier bike with much less grippy rubber meant a whole adjustment of riding style to keep sunny side up. We managed but it was a bit of a stretch at times and inevitably we had to ride much more slowly and carefully than we might have wished!
DEEP RUTS AND A SLIPPERY FRONT END DON”T WORK TOO WELL TOGETHER
As with any tyre, the conditions you use them in makes an enormous difference to how they perform. The score them with a coverall mark out of ten makes little sense unless you are going to be using the same tyres on the same bike in the same terrain. If you do happen to be riding a Yamaha Tenere on the southern British Section of the TET on a cold January weekend, then we’d have to say that certainly the Mitas E09 front would not be our choice – it didn’t offer enough grip and it has worn quickly with road use.
Yet the rear tyre performed well enough on both road and dirt to make it worth considering, although it would probably a better choice in summer or warmer conditions.
To get the best our of the rear, we’d match it up with a front that had a much more aggressive tread pattern with deeper knobbies. Now for road bikes, mixing tyres is rarely a good plan. but for off-road this is pretty common. In between writing this blog we’ve taken the rear wheel of the KTM EXC250 back over to Classic Enduro to be fitted with a Maxxis Trial Max hybrid tyre, but at the front of the bike there is a full-on enduro front. And the combination works exceptionally well on rocks, mud and just about everything else
THE DRIER THE GOING, THE BETTER THE MITAS E09s PERFORM
Going forward, we’ll probably keep with the Mitas E09 and team it up with something like a Pirelli M21 and see how that works out. We’re relatively newbies to riding bigger adventure bikes on the trails – trial and error will get the results eventually …
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