It seems that I am never satisfied with the way a product comes to me from the factory. Everything I own needs to be modified. However with my new to me dual sport motorcycle I decided to take a new approach. Modify things only that need it. In other words if the stock part does the job and I do not break it then do not change it. For example, the factory skid plate provides very limited protection. It protects the engine from a direct frontal hit, however the bottom side of the motor is completely unshielded. My initial though was that I needed an after market skid plate. But based on my new philosophy, I refrained. Instead, I try to take notice how often I hit objects on the factory skid. The answer is none. Sure it is a sign that I am riding fairly easy non aggressive terrain. If I was to make contact with a rock at speeds it would be very bad. However this is a risk I am willing to take. If I start noticing stick marks on the factory skid and/or frame, then I would consider getting an after market bash plate.
S0 this motorcycle came to me with road tires. The previous owner used it to commute to work on the road. I tired riding the local trials with these tires and it was unacceptable. The first thing that I needed to modify were the tires. A dual sport bike can run the entire range of tires, from road slicks to motor cross knobbies and everything in between. Tire manufactures rate dual sport tires based on percentage of time ridden on dirt vs pavement. Typical ratios are 80/20, 50/50, 20/80. This ratio riding surface ratio, can almost be directly translated to the ratio of rubber vs voids. The more voids a tire has between the rubber blocks/tread, the more it is considered a off road tire. Though some tire manufactures might list very specific percentages 95/5, I would still categorize them as one of the major three combinations. 100% dirt or street is not listed in my three categories. 100% road tires are obvious, however the label of 100% dirt is not so. A 100% dirt and 20/80 street/dirt tire might look the same as far as how aggressive the tread is, however a 20/80 tire is DOT approved for road use. The three tires I have pictured fit the three categories I mentioned earlier.
Since my time on the bike is split 50/50 road and dirt I choose a tire with similar characteristics. Enter the Shinko tire company. Shinko is a Korean tire company that has recently entered the market. Most of their tires are copies of other companies thread pattern. However since many of these patterns are copy righted, they buy the molds of discontinued models from other companies. The second tire pictured is a Shinko Model 244. Though it looks like a fairly aggressive knobby tire the blocks are closely spaced and provides a good amount of contact for pavement pounding. Both Kenda and IRC have tires with very similar tread patterns. Several reviews of this tire were mostly positive, and above all they are CHEAP! One common complaint of the tire was that they "chunked" easily. Chunking refers to losing chunks of the rubber tread. This is usually caused by long high speed run on pavement, on heavy bikes. 2 hours +, 70 mph +, 650cc+. It is also a good idea to heat cycle the tire a few times prior to a long pavement ride. This is true for all knobby or semi knobby tires. Heat cycling a tire simply means to run them a few times prior to a long ride.
The tires performed as well as I hoped. I really do not have much to compare it to. Road manners were not much different than the slicks I have on previously, and dirt performance increased significantly. The front tire however is not the grippiest on the dirt and I might switch it out for a full knobby in the future. For the price, though I can not complain. I paid under $30 for the front and under $40 for the rear. That is cheaper than the tires I run on my mountain bike.
I changed the tires at home. The front tire was much easier to change than the rear. I did not use a rim lock on the back for the the PO did not have on in there already. I did nothing to balance the tires and do not find them to vibrate noticeably. In the future I might use balancing beads. This is one mod that I found to be worthwhile!