The Ultimate Trail Tire Updated 10/25/2019

Here is what riders are saying about TRIALS TIRES:
For my trail bike, I'll be running a trials tire for sure -Jimmy Lewis
These things are Da Bomb!!!! -Bill Dart
It worked so well, I felt like I was cheating -Enduro Racer
Would I buy another one?........Absolutely! -Stewards Member
All I can say is wow !!!! What a difference -Stewards Member
Trails that were hard were now easy -Stewards Member
Review of the Pirelli MT43 durable great all around DOT rated Trials Tire and the Ultimate in Traction IRC TR11 each costing only $95, but either work far better than any motocross knobby tire - Click Here
Air down to 8 to 10psi and use and Slime in your tubes Read Review for more
Pirrellli MT 43 with 2000 miles 
Many people have heard how incredible TRIALS tires are for trail riding, but still have not tried them. If you ride trails you owe it to yourself to try these incredible tires. They make make hard trails easy while being easy on the trails. We think you will be out of excuses after you read the below rave testimonials from hard core riders like Jimmy Lewis and Bill Dart, as well as Stewards members.
Not only do Trials tires out perform knobbies on the trail, they are also kinder to the trail and don't make whoops or braking bumps. So using Trials Tires can help to keep your trails in better ondition, while lasting 2-4 times longer than knobbies which Saves You Money
There are currently a bunch of Trails Tires to choose from:
  • If you do a mix of pavement and trails then the Pirelli MT43 Trails Tire is perfect with a stiffer sidewall to prevent overheating on pavment and DOT approved.
  • If you want the ulitmate in traction then the softer IRC TR11, Dunlop D803 or Shenko 255 Trials Tires would be the best choice
Trials Tires start working at 10 psi and less. This allows the tire to flex and grab like velcro. Trials tires have tall sidewalls to allow the tire to be aired down and provide a much larger contact patch.
The Thumb Test
Most tire pressure guages are not accurate at 10 psi. The thumb test is often better than a tire guage. Just press your thumb in the center of the tire and it should flex in. That puts you in the traction range.

Greater traction is available with pressures below 10psi. Tubeliss or Tube Saddle kits are a good idea to help prevent pinch flats. Run Slime to help prevent pinch flats too.
Jimmy Lewis-
"For my trail bike, I'll be running a trials tire for sure"
I don't know who started it, but I'm copying. I have friends from Hawaii to Idaho to Michigan running trials tires on their dirt bikes and most of them stick with them once they switch, so I had to give it a try. I chose the least expensive trials tire, the $85 Pirelli MT43 to give it a work out. The tire, which is made for tubeless applications, has a soft sidewall and gooey rubber, which seems like it wouldn't last very long in the slide and shred trail riding world. In actuality the sidewall is a harder rubber in IRC's dual compound, radial construction design. The age-old square block design looks like nothing special.
I was shocked once I started riding with the tire on the rear of a Yamaha WR250F. First, since it didn't do anything funny, especially in the turns where I thought it would be much more prone to sliding out. Second, in deep sand the tire grips and pulls as good as any normal knobby. It doesn't have "moments" like a true sand tire does, yet pulls consistently at any power level or wheel speed, spinning or gripping. In fact the biggest thing about this tire is that grip stays consistent all the time on any surface, and the slower the wheel is spinning, the better the grip is regardless of surface.
The other thing the tire does, run at pressures between 8 and 15 psi, is have great bump absorption, making the rear suspension feel even plusher. We ran it on our gnarliest trails and it did as well as any tire we've run, especially in, yes you've guessed it, trials-like stuff.
It did great on a two-day, higher speed Baja ride even. The tire seemed less prone to spinning from a stop or when getting going on a steep incline, which means it is good for the trails too. Durability is really good, especially considering the soft rubber. It has outlasted regular knobbies by about 50%. If there were any disadvantages to this tire it is in braking. Because if you skid the rear wheel, it tends to slide more and bite less, hence in racing conditions it may not be a good choice. But for my trail bike, I'll be running a trials tire for sure.
-Jimmy Lewis
Bill Dart-"These things are Da Bomb!!!!"
I know that this tire will sound like a crazy idea to most people on this forum, but almost everyone I know that has tried them won't use anything else now. The tire is the Pirelli MT43. This is semi Observed Trials competition tire, with a tread pattern like an old DT-1 universal tire, but with very different construction. It is a radial tire with a tall, soft sidewall and the rubber compound is so soft if feels like you could twist the knobs off with your fingers.
When you look at the tire and feel it, the first thought EVERYONE has is there is no way in hell this tire can work better than any knobby, and if it did, it would be wasted in one ride. The truth is totally opposite. These tires work FAAAAAR better than ANY knobby in just about ANY conditions, including mud, sand, hard pack, loam, rocks, you name it. But where they shine the most is in nasty, rocky, rooty technical conditions. On loose rocky trails, rather than spitting the loose rocks out, it just wraps around them, mashes them into the ground, and uses them for traction. Not only do they hook up far better than anything else, the tall soft sidewall gives you a cushier ride, as the tire effectively gives you a couple inches of very compliant suspension that soaks up rocks and roots and sharp ledges.
The reason these things work so well is the carcass construction. Rather than relying on sharp knob edges to bite, the radial design lays down a larger footprint and wraps around anything on the ground and grips it. They don't want to spin or break traction, even with bikes like 525's or the 300 2T that I ride. My 300 used to be tough to wheelie because it would just spin the tire when you whacked the throttle, now, it is a wheelie king.
As for durability, these things work even after the knob edges round out, and will last well over 1,000 miles with little degradation in traction. I put 1,940 miles on one last summer, and while it was getting pretty loose on steep downhill's, it still was getting incredible traction under power. The knobs were down to about a quarter inch high, but they were still hooking up.
I know this sounds crazy to anybody who hasn't tried one or seen someone use them, but you just have to try one and you will be convinced. I have been riding a long time and I used to race for over 20 years with a modest level of success, plus I ride technical trails more than most people, and I have tried just about every tire made. These things are Da Bomb!!!!
Pirllei only makes the MT43 Trials tire in a 4.00x18 size tubeless. Run a heavy duty tube at about 8-10 pounds. The tall sidewall doesn't pinch very easy, so flats aren't any more of an issue than any other tire, but if you do flat one, you MUST fix it on the spot, as the sidewall is too soft to ride it flat unless you use a Tubeliss Kit.
IRC makes the TR-11 Trials Winner and it works almost as well as the Michelin but with a shorter life.
The only handling quirk is that they feel slightly "squirmy" on hard surfaced roads at speed, as the tall sidewall has some "slack" that lets it move slightly from side to side. Once the slack is taken up, they hook up on pavement or gravel better than a knobby, but it takes some getting used to at first.
Bill Dart
Read more about Trails tire options from Bill Dart
Stewards members on Trials Tires
Just a note about the rear Pirelli MT43 on my 06'WR 450.I have run the pressure between 10 and 11psi for over 600 miles with no problem, using an MSR 4.00 Ultra Heavy Duty Tube, and 2 rim locks. (Another new option is the Tubeliss Kit which eliminates the tube and hence no pinch flats-Editor) I also went to a smaller sprocket on the engine (by 1 tooth) to compensate for the tire's higher profile.
Myself, I have found that this tire performs superbly, and better than a knobby in most of the environments we ride in, including steep, soft soil uphills, low speed rocks, roots and boulders, deep soft sand, hard packed level and off-camber and various combinations of all of these trail conditions. While it feels good to break it loose and spin it up, you can easily get out of most tough spots by using the drive impulses of the engine (low rpm). However, it does require some creative traction techniques in snow and really wet slippery mud if you have to start from a dead stop. While my body weight (all of a 150lbs)probably aggravates this situation, I find that what works for me, is literally sitting on the rear fender until the bike gets moving and then all is well.
While I usually get around 500 miles out of a knobby, this tire is still going strong at 600+ miles. I hear of some riders getting over 2500 miles on them. If that's the case, it will certainly more than pay for itself.
The question: Would I buy another one?........Absolutely!......Hope this
helps all.
Morrow Fleet
Hi Chris,
I don't think I ever got back to you regarding the Michelin rear trials tire I put on my KTM 200, all I can say is wow !!!! what a difference, hugs the trails and rocky area like I was glued to them, so much better then the knobby, doesn't look as good as the knobby but performs better.
I might make it for the trail appreciation days at the end of this month and would love to meet you, you are quite the amazing guy with all the work you do for this cause.
I'll keep you posted.
John Lininger
The last club enduro had shredded my S-12 which had 2 D-37 enduro's and 4 club enduro's. I have heard about trials tires working well in a wide range of conditions and threads on this board lean the same way, so I thought it was worth a try.
I got the IRC TR-11, at ~90 buy shipped isn't much more than I would have paid for another S-12.
Yesterday I raced our club enduro with the new tire at 10.5 psi. I didn't do so much as a practice ride but spent Saturday riding around my 6 year old boy, so I was going in blind. The course offered some of everything but no real extremes, but still typical SoCal Dez, sand washes, some whoops, rocks, gravel.
The first loop of the ride had slow speeds but I took every opportunity of the 3 for free to push to see how the tire handled. First off I noticed I was overdriving the front end with the added traction. The added traction was everywhere, all the conditions listed above. There was a spot immediately after a check that turned up a steep loose decomposed granite sand from a stand still, other bikes were digging away while I just rolled on the throttle and it walked right up, I was literally laughing by the time I got to the top. By the 3rd loop speeds were up and I was used to where to put down the power to rail around the loose corners. What a blast. It still did brake sliding easily but predictable, I found myself going in to corners much faster than I would normally, jam in in a full sideways brake slide and just roll on throttle and it would grip smoothly and drive out perfectly.
The only place it *may* felt a little off was in whoops. But I will add it was a slightly down hill section, I was behind and trying to make it up. It didn't do anything worth raising an eyebrow but felt a little squirrelly trying to slow down on the down hill whoops.
It worked so well, I felt like I was cheating.
Chris W
Trials tire was the single greatest change I have ever made to a bike. It was magic. The rear end never hunts, climbs everything with out wheel spin and it stops much better. Also, you don't chew up the trail. It was far, far better than I thought. Rode at Ragdump and trails that were hard were now easy.
New law - outlaw knobbies!
Thanks for the tip.
Jim Pinsky
Cisco Systems IT Infrastructure