Tyre choice for Africa...?
Im off on a Cape to Cairo trip in April. Can anyone give me advice on what sort of tyres to go for?
Ideally i would like to be able to do the trip on one set. I guess i will be doing a fair bit of tar road riding until i hit Malawi, but from there I want to hit the dirt and sand as much as possible. Is it a good idea to use my existing rear tyre with a nice new front until Malawi and then change the rear for something more off-road orientated? Im riding a Yamaha Tenere.
Also, ive heard of heavy duty spokes being a good idea, are they worth getting hold of, this will be difficult as theyre not available in SA.
On my Capetown-Europe stretch I had a new set of Silverstone Trailwings put on my BMW F650 in Joburg. I was very satisfied with them on and off road. Most of your riding will be on pavement, which rules out knobbies. There is some sand in Sudan, and rough stuff in Kenya and Ethiopia, but O.K. for any enduro tyres like Trailwings, or Pirelli Scorpions, or Continental Escapes. I'm not sure if you have much of a selection in Malawi. Perhaps Nairobi would be a better bet. But don't count on it. The set you put on in Joburg will easily last until you reach Istanbul, where everything is available.
We just got back from a similar trip on an Africa Twin and a Yamaha XT. We bought a set of tires in Windhoek, which is one of the last places you can buy high quality 17" rear tyres. 21" front tyres are available almost everywhere, but don't expect quality! We bought road-tyres and saved our nobblies for Sudan, but looking back: north Kenia can cost you your tires if you don't have strong tyres (4 or more pliers!): it cost me a fronttyre because one the stones just cut out a piece of side of my tyre!
If I were you I'd take a offroad rear tyre with me untill you want to hit the dirt. Especially the rear one is relevant. A front tyre will last you probably more than 15.000 kms, so you can start of with the same one you start with.
You could also leave SA on a set of almost worn roadtyres and then throw them away if you want to hit the dirt.
We used MEFO-sport tyres (explorer and stonemaster). But I don't think they sell them in SA.
If you want some sand in Tanzania, try the road from Mbeya (just across the Malawi border) to Tabora, going via Itiqi. It was one of the hardest we had on the whole 38.500 kms.
Hi, last stop for tyres going north is Ian Duncan the KTM dealer in nairobi, his tyres arn't cheap but he has a good selection of Michelin and Dunlop knobblies.The roads of North Kenya and Ethiopia can eat tyres, my TKC80 rear got slashed by a rock in Sudan and then split open in Ethiopia, 3 inch diameter hole, my front had seven knobbles ripped off on the Marsabit to Isiolo road but these where the tube type tyres, on the same roads a friends BM with Tubless TKC80s didn't suffer the same fate. There is also a KTM dealer in Lusaka who has tyres but these come from SA anyway so you would be better off carrying them that far as they would be cheaper. Regards Chris
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