Extreme, or hard enduro, is a new niche in the off-road arena. With less riding real estate available, the enduro world has split into two arenas: sprint-type events and obstacle-driven events, such as Erzberg, the TKO and EnduroCross. With the latter, the equipment has also morphed, and huge gains have been made in the traction and grip world of tires and tube/mousse technology. Gummy or sticky tires dominate the obstacle-driven hard enduro sport, and technological gains in foam-insert products have skyrocketed.
The gummy tires have super-soft and very flexible knobs that grip and bite on feisty terrain that has little purchase. They have taken over where trials tires were the rage several years ago. The tight lug pattern of the trials tires clogged easily in mud and didn’t handle sand well, either in acceleration or braking. Gummy tires have varying sizes of lugs and knob spacing and provide a wider range of bite in a multitude of soils and textures. Logs, rocks and roots (basically anything ugly) are in their wheelhouse. In the right environment, the gummy is a total game-changer, getting grip and traction in spots that weren’t fathomable a few short years ago.
The hot gummy tires that we’ve tested come from Goldentyre (first used by Taddy Blazusiak and Graham Jarvis), MotoZ, IRC, Shinko and Kenda. Dunlop offers a gummy version of the AT81, and there are more coming. There is a lot of variety in brands and knob designs, as some are very short-term tires designed for major grip at the expense of durability and others try to walk the fence between great traction and a longer life. This is our guide to what’s available and the information for the tire. If we’ve tested the tire, there will be a note and a quick briefing on our take of the product.
DUNLOP GEOMAX AT81 EX
The AT81 already has a championship-winning record, scoring numerous titles in AMA National Enduro competitions, Grand National Cross-Country and other series. The new AT81 EX was built with the same tread pattern and construction as the AT81 but adds ultra-grippy compounds to the equation.
• The AT81’s rear tread-block shape and distribution, plus flexible knobs, help the tire penetrate down through the surface dirt for extra traction across a broad range of off-road applications.
• The new high-wear-resistant rear-tire compound offers enhanced chipping, tearing and wear prevention.
• Lateral grooves on the shoulder knobs provide additional biting edges and allow the knobs to be more flexible.
• Rear center blocks are arranged inline to provide a larger contact patch for maximum traction.
• Dunlop’s “plush pad” recess design between tread blocks enhances compliance for bump absorption and ride comfort.
TESTING NOTE: The knobs on the AT81 EX are super flexible and work well in rocks, roots and other slippery conditions. It’s not a great mud tire. The smallish and tightly arranged knobs don’t clean out as well as others. Available size: 110/100-18
IRC VE33S GEKKOTA
The IRC VE33S Gekkota is brand new to the line and was developed and tested in extreme enduro/off-road conditions, making it a viable option for singletrack riders and enduro racers. IRC developed a new gummy compound that doubles for riders looking for a little less knob flex than the standard Gekkota.
• The 2-ply plus Breaker carcass structure resists punctures and optimizes stability over a range of speeds.
• The new, stiffer gummy compound acts as a suspension component within the tire.
• Proper rigidity of the sidewall with gummy compound will provide extra bump absorption.
• Tall blocks are designed to provide a larger contact patch and also flexibility for maximum traction, no matter the conditions.
TESTING INFO: This is an excellent versatile gummy as it wears well, provides great traction and will last longer than the majority of the sticky tires on the market.
Available size: 110/100-18
IRC IX-09 GEKKOTA
IRC’s IX-09 Gekkota tire is specially designed with a 2-ply carcass for flex and the gummy knobby compound for traction. Its design is 100 percent for hard enduro applications, and it targets riders looking for maximum traction in rocky/nasty terrain. This means that it’s a high-wear item that really targets maximum racing traction in ugly conditions.
• The lug design features a large, spaced-out layout that helps clean debris.
• Super-flexible knobs flex, bend and grab on a wide variety of terrain.
• In simple terms, the Gekkota is a hybrid tire that features a trials rubber compound and a motocross tread pattern for maximum traction.
Available size: 110/100/18
KENDA EQUILIBRIUM K787
The DOT-approved Equilibrium is “trials meets enduro” and offers the best qualities of a trials tire and motocross tire all in one. It’s a super-sticky race compound for unbeatable grip in both wet and dry conditions.
• A trials tire and off-road tire all in one product.
• Trials-inspired center-tread design for the best possible traction
• Motocross-style shoulder knobs for aggressive cornering.
• Super-sticky race compound for grip in both wet and dry conditions.
• Braking scoops in center area provide the stopping power that a trials tire can’t.
• Ultra-soft casing for maximum terrain adaptation.
TESTING NOTE: This has been a favorite for our dual-sport machines, as it offers very good grip with the flexible sidewalls and sticky race compound.
Available size: 450-18 (110/100-18), 120/80-19
KENDA IBEX K774
The Kenda Ibex has been a favorite for EnduroCross and extreme enduro racing. It has a very tall knob and has worked well in the looser terrain mixed with rocks. It gets praise, even in the sandy Southern California desert, with an appetite for gummy rock-crawling and hill-climbing.
• Designed for EnduroCross and extreme enduro-type conditions.
• High wet-traction compound developed by top pro EnduroCross riders.
• Open, aggressive drive pattern for max grip and clean-out.
TESTING NOTE: This has been a good tire for us, being versatile and sticky for tough enduro conditions.
Available size: 110/100-18, 120/100/18
Price: $76.88–$79.88 depending on size
KENDA KNARLY K777F / K778
The Knarly is brand new to Kenda’s off-road line and is a super-grippy tire that targets strong traction in wet and dry conditions. Not only is the tread a gummy compound, the footprint is extra wide, allowing riders to run lower air pressure for better traction. Cody Webb used this tire to win the King of the Motos extreme race.
• Extreme enduro FIM-approved.
• Super-soft and flexible for ultimate terrain compliance and grip.
• Compound provides highest traction in both wet and dry conditions.
• Reversible rear for variable terrain applications.
Available size: 90/90-21, 130/80-18, 140/80-18, 130/80-19.
KENDA GAUNTLET K776F/K779
The Kenda Gauntlet is new to the off-road gummy line of tires, and runs more balance to the compound so that it has a strong sticky feel for nasty terrain but lasts longer than most gummy tires.
• Hard enduro FIM-approved.
• Perfect balance of sticky grip and long-lasting wear.
• Open, aggressive pattern allows for excellent clean-out.
• Available in super-wide rear and two other popular sizes.
Sizes: 90/90-21, 130/80-18, 140/80-18
MAXXIS MAXXCROSS EN
The Maxxis Maxxcross EN is the weapon of choice for EnduroCross pros. Featuring a tacky compound and a compliant carcass, the EN is designed to grip the gnarly obstacles found on an EnduroCross track. The EN also excels on technical trail rides, inspiring confidence through predictable traction and unparalleled ride comfort.
• Aggressive shoulder knobs instill rider confidence in corners.
• Knob sipes enhance grip on hard terrain and rocks by increasing the tire’s biting edges and knob flex.
Available size: 120/90-18, 140/90-18
The Mitas XT-454 is their mid to soft terrain tire and targets Cross Country and Hard Enduro. It has excellent grip on wet roots and rocky terrain via the Super Soft (double green) extra sticky compound. Softer tread compound allows the tire to flex without tearing knobs.
• Strong grip properties
• The lightweight, flexible carcass with a reinforced shoulder for large contact surface
Available Sizes: 110/100-18 Super Soft Compound only
MOTOZ ARENA HYBRID
The MotoZ Arena Hybrid uses a trials-inspired hybrid carcass with a motocross-inspired tread design and minimized weight to produce the tire for EnduroCross, extreme enduro and any hard-core off-road riding. It comes in both a regular and gummy compound.
TESTING NOTES: The Arena Hybrid is one of our top choices in the gummy tire world, as the carcass is flexible, the knobs generous and the grip outstanding. One other note here: the MotoZ Arena Hybrid has proven to be incredibly durable.
Available size: 110/90-19, 110/100-18, 120/100-18
MOTOZ MOUNTAIN HYBRID
The MotoZ Mountain Hybrid Gummy is basically a trials-type tire with stronger sidewalls so that you can run super-low air pressure to make better traction. It has the DNA of a trials tire with the profile and handling of an off-road tire.
• Unique concave and lock system for increased traction.
• Flexible tread zone for awesome traction in a wide variety of conditions.
• Long wear life in technical terrain.
• DOT homologated.
• Available in gummy and standard compound.
Available size: 110/90-19, 110/100-18, 120/100-18
SHINKO 505 HYBRID CHEATER
Hybrid Cheater hard-terrain enduro/ extreme singletrack trail tire finds traction in the most extreme conditions—it’s almost like cheating! The Hybrid Cheater has a soft, sticky trials-style rubber compound on a moto-style carcass.
• Tread design and unique rubber compound work well in a wide variety of soil conditions.
• Strong in braking and loose soil conditions.
• 505 Cheater prefers dry, harder conditions.
Available size: 110/100-18, 110/90-19, 120/90-19, 120/100-18
SHINKO 525 HYBRID CHEATER
Shinko’s newest enduro/extreme, singletrack 525 Hybrid Cheater trail tire finds traction in the most extreme conditions. It is designed for soft/intermediate terrain with a spaced-out knob pattern targeting grip and bite.
• Strong braking in sand and loose conditions.
• Wide self-cleaning tread design.
TESTING INFO: A strong performer that is versatile and grippy. Overall a strong do-it-all gummy.
Available size: 110/100-18, 110/90-19, 120/90-19, 120/100-18
Price: $89.95–$102.95 depending on size
SHINKO 525 HYBRID CHEATER 90/100-16 FOR SUPER MINIS AND SMALL TRAIL BIKES
Perfect for the TT-R125L/LE. KLX 125L, KLX 140L, DR-Z 125L, CRF 125FB and Super Minis.
The 525 Hybrid Cheater is a soft, stocky, trials-type rubber compound wrapped in a moto-styled carcass. The tread and knobby design work well for soft and loamy terrain.
Available size: 90/100-16
SHINKO 216 MX FAT TIRE CHEATER FRONT
The taller, fuller profile of the popular Shinko 216 MX Fat Tire front just went one step beyond with the new Cheater compound. The soft cheater rubber makes it a strong performer in rocks, roots and square-edged terrain, and the fuller size helps make the front end more planted and roll over obstacles better.
Available size: 90/100-21
SHINKO 216 MX SERIES ULTRA-SOFT REAR
Shinko’s 216 SX rear uses a lightweight and flexible carcass with an open tread design that clears out well in mud and loose dirt. This is a popular tire in enduro competition where the ultra-soft compound gives strong grip in extreme terrain. The large size makes for a good footprint, and it’s DOT-approved.
Available size: 140/80-18