How I learned to stop worrying and love the TKC80s

Getting a Grip

Actual off-road rubber solved one problem on my long-term F800GS and dumped another one squarely in my lap. Retiring the stock Bridgestone Battle Wings in favor of Continental’s more trustworthy TKC80 nearly knobbies. No more loosing the front end in every other corner. No more getting stuck in the loose stuff. No more indelibly stained shorts funking up the laundry basket. As soon as the trail starts, they’re fantastic. When it ends, they take some getting used to.Bumping pressure from a dirtworthy 25 psi. or so to 36 for the street helps, but the 800’s planted pavement feel left with the Battle Wings. The front end has developed a sort of attention deficit disorder, following whatever groove, seam or divot that presents itself. Plus, it tips into corners quicker than I’d like. Coaxed onto the desired trajectory, any decent gouge distracts it. I can live without the momentary swerves on roads known only to Caltrans and two retired alfalfa farmers. The rear shows noticeable wear after a 500-mile mix of commuting and trail work. I’m adapting, thanks to an evolving mix of smoother riding and realistic expectations.

Setting up earlier for the next corner, going easy on the brakes—thank God for ABS in L.A. commute traffic—and giving up trail-braking altogether helps a whole lot. The TKC80s doth not suffer ham-fisted inputs on the pavement. They allow more lean in any given bend than I first thought, but Ruben Xaus imitations are right out. My normal flat-fix kit won’t work either. There’s a tube in there. In a perfect world? I’d have spare set of wheels in the garage shod with something more pavement friendly. The Conti TrailAttack, for instance. But in this imperfect one, line items like food and the car payment supersede BMW hoops in our budget.

So? Focusing all my powers of creative rationalization on the problem, I’ve come to the conclusion that getting a grip on these high-desert trails is worth giving up some grip on the street. I’ll have to spend $158 on a fresh 150/70-17 rear in another 2500 miles or so, but that’s a whole lot cheaper than another set of wheels.