Thursday, July 7, 2011

DMX Tested: GoldenTyre GT216

Golden Tyre is relatively new to Canada, with Mike Nicholls starting Golden Tyre Canada just over a year ago.� The tires are made in Italy and feature a full line of motocross and enduro tires as well as bib mousses.� Located in nearby West Kelowna, BC, I recently had the opportunity to go down to Mike?s shop and grabbed a few tires to test.

The GoldenTyre GT216 is FIM Enduro approved and features a soft rubber compound moulded into a wide tread pattern to provide excellent traction in a variety of conditions.

The GT216 is GoldenTyre?s FIM enduro approved tire and also has DOT approval.� In fact, GoldenTyre?s entire line of enduro tires is DOT approved.� As the owner of a dual-sport motorcycle, I?m always excited to see a DOT stamp on the side of a tire, especially on a real off-road tire.� The GT216 is designed for a mix of mud, wet rocks and roots.� Upon inspection of the tire, the short knobs come under immediate scrutiny.� In order to meet the FIM enduro competition standards, the knob height is limited to just 13mm.� While many people immediately write off a tire with knobs so short, I?ve learned from my experience at the ISDE that FIM enduro tires can actually work quite well.� Mike informed me that the GT216 is the only tire that former world trials competitor and extreme enduro star Graham Jarvis uses.� After inspecting it more closely, the reason becomes readily apparent.� While the knobs are small compared to most off-road tires, the rubber compound used is much softer than most and the knobs are easily twisted and bent by hand.� The GT216 is essentially a trials tire compound moulded into a knobby pattern.� As a firm believer in trials tires, my excitement was building for the GT216.

Those three little DOT letters are making GoldenTyre one of the hottest tire manufacturers around.� All of GoldenTyre’s enduro line-up is DOT approved.

Mounting the GT216 was very easy thanks to the soft carcass and sidewall.� I opted to use the Nuetech Tubliss system to handle inflation duties as it lets a tire perform at its absolute best with zero friction between a tube or mousse and the added ability to run lower tire pressures without risking a pinch flat.� With the GT216 mounted and pressure set to 11 PSI, it was off to the Monkeywrench Cross-Country outside Lytton, BC to test it out.� The Monkeywrench course featured some of the best singletrack in the world (yes, it is that good) full of huge hills (both up and down), every soil imaginable from rocks and roots to grassy hillsides, powder dry silt and even some mud.� In other words, the perfect all-around test for an enduro tire. �

The GT216 almost feels like a trials tire.� The knobs are very soft which helps traction but hurts durability.

Currently the GT216 is only being imported in a 120/80-18 size but plans are already being made to bring in the wider 140/80-18 size in 2012.� On my Husaberg FE390 the 120 width tire looked a little on the skinny side but who cares how it looks?� Performance and durability are how we judge a tire, so let?s get started!

The 120/80-18 size GT216 was probably a little small for the Husaberg FE390.� Next year GoldenTyre will have a 140/80-18 version available.

The Monkeywrench features a big, sandy hill right at the start.� A big knobby and huge horsepower are the keys to getting the holeshot, and I had neither.� This year the organizers had a live engine start, so with my bike in second gear and visor on the bars, I waited for the cannon to fire.� As my heart skipped a beat from the cannon blast, I dumped the clutch and rocketed up the hill with ease.� Unfortunately, in the wrong direction.� The GT216 performed admirably up the steep, loose hill and if it wasn?t for my miscalculation in the course direction, I would?ve been right near the front of the pack. �

The first part of the course featured silty loose soil on a hardpack base that was difficult for any tire to find traction on.� The wide spaced knobs and soft rubber compound of the GT216 worked very well in these conditions and hooked up equally well going up as well as coming down the numerous hills.� Moving on to some terrain full of rocks and roots, the GoldenTyre really started shining as it found traction nearly as well as a trials tire.� The soft, flexible knobs really do work, especially on rocks and roots.� As we hit some old logging roads, I clicked it up a few gears and started hanging it out.� FIM Enduro tires are known to excel on flat corners and the GT216 was no different.� It broke traction predictably and allowed me to drift around the corner way faster than normal.� The GT216 was looking really good!

After the first lap, the race moved into more serious terrain with an ?A? course taking racers far off into the backcountry on remote singletrack that would challenge even seasoned pros.� Just after the A/B split was a short but nasty hill that featured very soft sand interspersed with round rocks and a few tree roots just to keep things interesting.� While others struggled to make the hill, once I had a clear run the GT216 hooked up reasonably well and carried me up and over the crest with just a couple foot paddles near the top.� The loose conditions were definitely stretching the limits of the small knobs, but the wide spacing kept the tire clean from packing and a healthy dose of throttle was all that was needed to continue on my way.� As the course moved into more and more technical terrain, the GT216 really started finding its element.� Slippery off-cambers and rocky hillclimbs were conquered with ease and root covered singletrack deep in the forest had me grinning as the tire just kept hooking up. �

Then, disaster struck.� While battling with another racer I made a bad line choice and tried plowing right through the middle of a big mud hole.� The bike immediately started sinking and no amount of throttle was going to save me.� I ended up stuck in gooey mud clear up to my radiators and despite repeated attempts, was not making any forward progress.� With some help from another racer we eventually turned the bike around and found a way around the mud hole, but this really emphasized the short comings of the GT216, especially the 120 width.� Despite the wide knob spacing, the knobs are just too short to effectively deal with the extreme conditions found in a mud hole or sugar sand.� In cases like that a tire with taller knobs (like the GT230 or the Michelin S12) would work much better, or even the wider 140 width tire would be an improvement.� Once I was extracted from the mud hole, I made a point to give any others a wide berth for the remainder of the race and was rewarded with a fifth place finish in the expert class. �

Mike had warned me that the soft compound of the GT216 put an emphasis on performance at the cost of durability and this is definitely true.� After just 100 kilometers of racing the tire is pretty much trashed with knobs either chunked or completely missing.� At $ 95 retail, I would probably limit this tire to racing use only at events where traction is at a premium and avoid using it for general riding.� The GT216 will really excel at events where trials tires are outlawed, like Xtinction and Endurocross races.� At a low pressure, the GT216 will deform and grip instead of bounce and spin like other knobbies and the wide spaced knobs means it won?t get clogged with mud when conditions are their worst.

The GT216 offers superb traction but pays the price with limited durability.� This is after 100 kilometers of off-road racing.

Overall, the GoldenTyre GT216 is a great all around enduro tire.� It worked well in a variety of conditions and really excelled in technical riding.� The 140/80-18 (available next year) should be even better with a wider footprint offering even better traction.� It?s a shame the tire doesn?t last longer, but I guess performance like this comes at a price.� For more information on GoldenTyre visit

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