Nick has been putting the Avon Trailriders through their paces on and off-road, check out what he thought of them after a few months on the CFMOTO 650MT...
If you own an adventure bike, you’re going to be familiar with the tricky situation when it comes to choosing the right tyre for your bike. If you’re like me, you need a tyre that is good for daily grind road riding while coping off-road on weekends, enter the Avon Trailriders.
When you come to terms with the fact that you barely get a chance to get out on the dirt and the majority of your miles are tarmac, heading to work, in the cold and rain (or heat), you realise you need a road based tyre… Avon have the perfect solution to this, with their popular Avon Trailriders. The British born and bred company market these as a 90 per cent on road and 10 per cent off-road tyre.
The Trailrider AV53 and AV54 replaced the Distanzia’s back in 2015 and are essentially a serious performing road tyre that manage to hold it together when it comes to some loose gravel and rougher terrain. We’ve fitted a set to my long term 2021 CFMoto 650MT and here’s what I’ve got to say. In short: These are wicked, particularly on the road!
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Avon offer the Trailriders in 21 different sizes, so you shouldn’t have any issues in finding a set for your bike. We fitted a 120/70 – 17 which has an RRP of $255 on the front and a 160/60 – 17 which has an RRP of $289 on the rear, replacing the factory tyres that came with the 650MT. Avon use a triple compound tread, with the classic firm strip down the middle to increase straight line stability and longevity and a softer lateral compound to improve cornering grip. Underneath is another compound that bonds the upper two together.
Overall, the tyres have quite a high silica content, which increases wet weather grip and improves warm up times. The Trailriders showcase the Avon engineered reverse chevron tread pattern on the front and some serious tread depth on the front and rear to displace the gravel, mud and water when needed. You’ll also see their 3D flexing sipes that are visible as small slits across the tread. These supposedly increase grip and shorten warm up times.
Now, I’ve ridden a few adventure branded tyres from some of the bigger European manufacturers, and I’ve got to say the British company really holds their own with these Trailriders, and judging by the reviews, I’m not the only one that feels this way. I’ve had these out on what I can consider to be fairly demanding dirt rides and tarmac runs. Given these are primarily a road tyre, I’ll start with what I’ve got to say about this first.
On the road
I was honestly surprised with the amount of grip and feel these had on the tarmac. The scrub in period was short lived and after my first road ride I couldn’t wait to get these out on the gravel. The first proper run on the Trailriders was impressive, straight-line stability and speed felt similar to the previous factory tyres and there was not nearly as much road noise as I’d have expected, they are seriously smooth and quiet. The ride was a mix of highway, country roads and a few runs on my favourite twisties.
I always tend to worry myself more than I should when pushing a trail tyre on the tarmac, but these as expected, proved me wrong. There’s a load of cornering grip once there is some heat in the tyre, which doesn’t take long, and the softer edge compound seriously plants itself in the tarmac. In the twisties, I had the 650 leaned over to the peg, just as much as I had with the road tyres fitted previously, and I was just as confident. Under braking, the front felt responsive and planted just as I hoped for, and the rear had no problem soaking up bumps and putting down as much power as the 650cc has to offer.
The tyres have had plenty of wet weather time and perform far beyond what I expected. Compared to the factory tyres, I feel much more comfortable, the higher silica content and deep treads keep me planted and safe when needed. In terms of longevity, Avon argue that I should get close to 15,000km out of these and they still look brand new despite the 1000km I’ve got on them, these are an excellent street tyre and look like lasting a lot longer and many more enjoyable rides.
Now, after reading that these were on 10 per cent off-road, I didn’t have particularly high expectations. To be fair, I didn’t particularity care either as anything was better than the amount of grip I had with the factory tyres. I’ve had the Avon Trailriders in the sand, gravel, mud, grass and clay so far…
Starting with the gravel, which is what the majority of trails are around here, the tyres performed pretty well! The front felt planted in the harder-packed terrain, however, as it loosened up you could feel it begin to skip and lighten up. The rear offers a lot more tractions compared to the factory tyre, obviously, but still not as much as I’d have hoped for. The softer sidewall compound does a pretty good job when it comes to lateral grip around loosely packed corners, but nothing can compare to knobbies. Avon also offer a TrekRider which is aimed at those spending a little more time on the dirt.
We fitted a 120/70 – 17 which has an RRP of $255 on the front and a 160/60 – 17 which has an RRP of $289 on the rear…
We were running the recommended pressure across all the terrain, and I’d recommend dropping this for some of the rougher stuff. The Trailriders do a solid job at moulding themselves over the bigger rocks and ruts rather than skipping over them, I’d say this would only improve with a slightly lower tyre pressure. Overall though, they are more than 10 per cent off road capable on the gravel.
For climbing, I definitely suggest keeping the momentum going as I’m not sure how well these would hook up again on the looser terrain after stopping on a steep incline. With a bit of speed, the majority of the steeper trails were tackled with ease. Coming down, the ABS was doing its best to keep things rolling, but the rear essentially had zero traction and slid, albeit it predictively. The front, however, stayed planted and solid. I was over riding the tyres for the test, so keep that in mind.
In the sand the Trailriders struggle, which is fair as they aren’t at all built or marketed for this. However, you will from time to time encounter sand and mud and they will get you through much better than a road tyre. If you manage to gain enough traction to pick up some momentum things improve a touch in the rear.
These tyres exceeded my expectations off-road and did exactly what I asked of them…
For the wet grass and mud things aren’t much better, but what else would you expect from a primarily road-based tyre. Still better than a road tyre. I’d recommend steering clear of any wet grass or mud, or if you must, take it slow and keep your legs down! The tread – while fairly aggressive – fills up with mud and clay and you’re left sliding on what essentially become a set of slicks!
To be fair, I took the Trailriders to places they were not designed to go. Avon is honest when they say these are primarily a road tyre, that can head off the track when needed. These tyres exceeded my expectations off-road and did exactly what I asked of them, albeit a little slower and steadier than some of my mates on the bigger bikes and more aggressive tyres.
Longevity off road certainly didn’t cross my mind in any of our trail rides. After a wash, the tyres still looked new. I was expecting that my constant need to power slide out of any and all corners would have chewed out at least some of the rear tread, but I was mistaken. Aside from some small stones that I picked out of the sipes they were as good as new.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend these for anyone out there with a knack for adventure but find themselves riding tarmac far more than they’d like. For the CFMOTO 650MT in particular, as I’ve said before, get a set of these put on before you even leave the shop, they feel great and look awesome, you won’t regret it!