I had hardly heard of Heidenau before I started searching advrider.com for dual-sport tire recommendations for my BMW R1200GS test bike. Virtually unknown outside of the ADV underground, Germany’s other tire manufacturer has developed a cult following for excellent all-surface performance and legendary longevity—values especially important to long-hauling, hard-riding adventure-bike enthusiasts. The company has been making tires in the former East German city of Heidenau since 1946, but its wares weren’t widely available until after the Berlin Wall fell in the late ’80s. Heidenau tires have been available in the US only since 2007, when John Bettencourt at Moto Amore, a small importer in Santa Clara, California, discovered the brand while searching for replacement tires for vintage scooters.
The K60 Scout is a 50/50 design meant for equal parts on- and off-road riding. (Heidenau also offers the K76, a street-biased, 90/10 option.) I mounted a 110/80B-19 front ($172.60) and 150/70B-17 rear ($224.90) because OEM sizes for the standard 2013 GS (120/70R-19 front and 170/60R-17 rear) won’t be available until early 2014. The 110/150 combination is actually better for off-road riding, delivering quicker turn-in and improved maneuverability without any appreciable loss in high-speed stability.
The front tread is a classic chevron pattern composed of large, segmented blocks; the rear is similar with one key difference: Center blocks are connected to create an uninterrupted contact patch for a smoother ride and better durability on asphalt.
The first thing you notice about the K60s are the unusually stiff sidewall, which accomplishes two things: One, it makes them a bear to install, according to my mechanic, and two, it makes them extremely stable, even at lower pressures. I ran mine as soft as 20 psi off-road without any stability issues, which is important on a 525-pound, 120-hp dirt bike. The second thing you notice, on pavement at least, is how the front tire sings above 55 mph. It’s never so loud that it can’t be muted with earplugs, but it’s strange if you’ve never experienced it before. That’s the cost of an interrupted tread on hard surfaces.
Ridden side by side with a KTM 950 Adventure shod with Continental TKC 80s—the current standard for 50/50 tires—proves that the K60s are significantly better on pavement, without sacrificing too much off-road ability. Heidenau’s knobs are larger and more closely spaced than Conti’s and so present more surface area at lean, improving cornering grip and stability, but there are still enough hard edges to grab rocks, roots, and soil when the going gets rough. Heidenau’s biggest deficit off road is that solid center ridge, which makes the rear quicker to spin up. Functionally speaking, for the type of off-road conditions most ADV bikes see, the K60 Scout is comparable to the TKC 80 everywhere except serious mud.
One area where the K60 Scout solidly out competes the TKC 80 is durability. After 2,500 hard miles in all conditions, the Heidenaus still appear almost brand new, with little center-flattening on the rear and no evidence of front cupping. The K60’s knobs appear to maintain their shape longer compared to TKC 80s, which typically round off the knobs over the same 2,500 miles and are usually toast around 4,500 miles. Advrider.com regulars report that 8,000 miles is normal for a pair of K60 Scouts. It looks like I’ll get at least that much out of the set I’m running now, if not more.
HEIDENAU K60 SCOUT DUAL-SPORT TIRES
PRICE: $133.90–$252.20, depending on size
An excellent if little-known option for heavyweight adventure touring motorcycles.