Thanks to our friends over at Kiwi Rider Magazine we scored a set of Avon Trailrider tyres for our Honda CRF250L Rally. Here are some of our thoughts on this set of road-biased rubber, but for the full review check out the March 2020 Edition 2 of Kiwi Rider.
When adventure riders start looking away from the tried and true knobbly for a set of more road-biased tyres, they tend to look at brands starting with the letters B, D, S or M. But why not start at the beginning of the alphabet?
Avon is a British manufacturer which is probably more known as the supplier of tyres for Triumph Motorcycles, but they offer a range of tyres suitable for more than just the modern classic market.
Now, as much as I like to think of myself as an adventure rider with my trusty Honda CRF250L Rally, I also like to think of myself as a realist.
As cool as grabbing a set of gnarly off-road tyres for the little Honda would be, a more off-road capable tyre isn’t what I really need. In fact, for the type of riding I use the Honda for most, even a 50-50 tyre would be excess to requirements with all the road riding I find myself doing.
Recently we grabbed a set of Avon Trailrider tyres for our Rally to replace the factory IRC knobblies.
The Trailrider is what Avon calls a 90-10 tyre and replaced the Distanzia in the Avon lineup. It’s designed to spend 90% of its time on the road, with just 10% off-road, so think of it as an adventure touring tyre with a focus on the touring side of the equation rather than a trail bike tyre as the name suggests.
With a high silica compound, Avon says the Trailrider is quick to warm up and offers enhanced wet weather grip, while the tread pattern comes in the form of your classic chevron shape for a decent evacuation of water and debris. Look a little closer Avon has integrated interlocking three-dimensional points hidden in the sipes which are meant to improve stability and grip, while also limiting tread flex and allowing the tyre to warm up quickly.
Fitting the tyres just prior to winter, my first impressions were that Avon wasn’t making up the wet weather performance.
With the majority of my rides including some aspect of the damp element, the Trialriders impressed with their road-holding abilities. Considering I ride the Rally at pretty much 9/10ths as soon as the road gets twisty, I was very pleased to be able to confidently lean it in without so much as a worry thanks to the progressive profile of the rubber.
Okay, hitting a patch of slick tar in the wet still complicates things – they have a high silica content, not glue – but even then the Avon’s still always hook right back up.
When it comes to that 10% off-road performance, it seems Avon have been pretty honest here as well.
So far, of the roughly 4500km I’ve ridden on them, about 800km has been on gravel roads. This is probably a little more than I anticipated, with a trip down the Raglan-Kawhia coast and a good romp around the backroads behind Port Waikato making up most of the rough mileage they’ve seen.
To be fair, I wasn’t expecting huge things from them in gravel - particularly in terms of lateral grip - but they have surprised me to some extent.
While they won’t be kicking butt up a muddy hillclimb – or sand dunes for that matter – they are surprisingly predictable in terms of how much grip is on offer. Most gravel roads aren’t going to be a problem at all, with the only times the tyre struggled were with deep loose gravel where the lack of knobs on the front tyre made life a bit hard. This was easily countered by slowing down my pace.
With the Trailrider stepping in to replace the Distanzia naturally tyre life is going to come into the equation. Speaking with Avon’s New Zealand distributor, Dold Industries (the same guys behind the excellent NZ designed Ventura luggage) I was told the Trailrider holds up to the same long-distance values.
So far with roughly 4500km rolling under them, in theory, I’ve only used nearly a third of the tyres theoretical life.
Looking at them, they still look brand new, so I reckon so long as I look after them they’ll easily last even more than that theoretical 15,000km distance.