Tire Comparo: K60 Scout vs. TKC80
The Continental TKC80 Twinduro has become the gold standard of dualsport-capable tires for the GS crowd. The iconic big block pattern with its low growl and good handling has made its mark on the adventure rider world, and for good reason. It works. Unfortunately, the Twinduro’s Nerf-like casings often rub thin a long way from home; consequently, carrying a spare has become routine. I have burned through piles of TKC80s, a few Karoos, and a couple of sets of Michelin Anakee and Metzler Tourance street tires in my search for the best combination of wear and performance. Most of my long distance travels include large portions of dirt, so even though I appreciate the street tires’ extended wear and handling on tarmac twisties, off-road traction is essential. Of late, a new kid has shown up to challenge the mighty Continental as King of the Hill. Could all the rage about the Heidenau K60 Scout really be true?
Adventure riders are well acquainted with roadside tire changes… or they should be. I am grateful for the shade beneath the awning of a closed Harley Davidson dealership this warm Sunday afternoon in Grand Junction, Colorado when the last shadow of tread disappears from my rear tire. This swap was planned, as are many, when I knew the trip length would exceed the remaining tread on my tires. This set is pushing 4,000 miles. With TKC80s, anything over 3,500 on the rear is a bonus. I peel off the old carcass and mount a fresh one as my pals arrive right on time to hit the trail to Moab. This scenario leaves me wondering if there might not be a better tire for the GS.
My travel itinerary this spring keeps taking me back to central Missouri. A Basic Rider Course, Rider Coach training, Bob Honz Gateway’s BMW GS Cup, the Lee Parks Supermoto for GS Riders course and the International BMW Rally bounce me back and forth like the little red paddle ball on a long rubber band. Missouri is a fair commute from central Oklahoma, even on a GSA… plenty of back-to-back road miles with a nasty bit of dirt and mud tossed in at the GS Cup. Good ground for a tire test.
I’ve heard the rumors, so I decide to spoon on a pair of Heidenaus for the next tire change. “Spooning on” understates the effort, since they are a much tougher and stiffer tire than the Conti. Using my long tire irons and grease-barrel “tire machine,” I finally wrangle them into place.
When I leave the driveway I realize that the Heidenaus will require some breaking in. They are distinctly slippery when new, but about 100 cautious miles have them scrubbed in. The front produces a noticeable whir… noisy enough to justify ear plugs but not objectionable otherwise. On pavement I am not as confident with the Heidenaus as with the TKC80s. The K60s’ harder rubber compound holds well until pushed, but they give little warning before letting go. Due caution is in order with the Scouts and if you are a canyon carver, watch out. This is not a maximum cornering performance tire. All that extra mileage comes at a price.
Off road the K60s perform surprisingly well. Not as well as a knobby, but worlds better than an Anakee or Tourance with similar mileage capability. The open pattern makes the front a bit more dirt-worthy than the rear due to its continuous rubber center strip (17" version only), a feature that accounts for some of the Heidenau’s extended life on the big GS. In mud the K60s clean acceptably well in all but the stickiest goo. They offer good grip in soft to medium terrain, but give up a small percentage of traction to the TKC80s’ more aggressive tread.
What about wear? Do they last as well as reported? You bet. This is where the Scouts really shine. Heidenaus start life with 10.86 mm rear tread to the Continental’s 10.5. Fronts have 7.75 to the Conti’s 8.3. After more than 5,000 miles my new Heidenaus are less than half worn-out. Front tread depth still exceeds 6mm and rear is almost 7. Essentially, the front is hardly worn and the rear still has at least 50% usable life remaining.
My general impression is that for extended rides, when replacing a worn-out tire is inconvenient, the Heidenau is the clear winner. Mounting is 30% harder but needs to be done half as often. Purchase price is similar but value is double, due to their longer life. Traction, although very good, especially for an honest 50/50 tire, falls short of the Continental. But to be fair, there are no miracles in tire design. Soft rubber sticks, but wears much faster. Harder compounds last longer but you will sacrifice some lean angle. Until someone makes a dual compound dual-sport tire, these are choices we must make. The K60 may not top the Twinduro for outright performance, but it goes more than twice as far. I consider the Scout a practical and economical option for long distance adventure riding. HeidenauTires.com
So, how does the Heidenau K60 Scout hold up?
|▲ Smoothest feeling off-road-capable tire I've experienced||▼ Front tire sings a bit|
|▲ Wears roughly twice as long as the Continental TKC80||▼ Traction is traded for longer wear|
|▲ Fewer roadside changes|
|▲ Costs less in the long haul|
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