PRODUCT TEST: METZELER KAROO 3

PRODUCT: Metzeler has completely redesigned their Karoo tire with introduction of the Karoo 3. This tire targets the adventure and enduro rider looking for better off-road traction coupled with improved on-road manners. It has been designed specifically for those riders using medium-to-large displacement bikes who venture off-road in addition to the pavement. It’s rated as a 70-percent street, 30-percent off-road tire. The new tread design greatly improves on-road performance, increased tire life and less noise. The large open spaces in the tread perform well in the dirt.

pemetzkaroofrOUR TAKE: We mounted a set of Karoo 3s on our Husky Terra before finishing the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route (January 2017 issue). This would prove to be the ultimate test ride for a tire touting itself as an adventure tire. The portion of the route that was left to complete consisted of 50-percent highway and 50-percent dirt with a total of approximately 1000 miles on our out-and-back loop. The ride quality of the Karoo 3 was immediately noticeable when we jumped on the highway towards the first dirt sections. The tire was extremely quiet, especially compared to the Heidenau Scouts and Kenda Big Blocks that had previously been used on the Terra. Even the open-block design of the tire provided much better traction in paved corners than the other tires. We never felt the tire squirm when leaned over with a full load of gear on board. Very impressive considering this tire is expected to perform double duty. Once we hit the dirt portion of our adventure, we were a little concerned that the tire could handle the varying conditions. Most dual-purpose tires that work on pavement really suffer in the dirt. The rear hooked up well on the loose forestry roads, seeming to hunt for traction whether it was hardpack, loose dirt or rocky. Equally impressive was the rear tire’s ability to drive forward in sandy conditions. The front tire had a tendency to push before grip, and the dirt performance was better than the Heidenau, though sketchier than the Kenda.

GROANS: As a multi-condition adventure tire, the new Karoo 3 gives up performance in certain areas. The front tire really suffers in soft sand. It struggles to keep a straight line as it tucks and dives looking for a solid surface. Compared to a true adventure full knobby, the Karoo 3s perform at about 50 percent in the dirt. Don’t expect these tires to last as long as a more pavement-biased tire.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re in the market for a new set of adventure tires, we’d highly recommend the Metzeler Karoo 3. Apart from desert sand washes, these tires performed outstanding. After 1000 miles of 50/50 dirt/pavement, wear is minimal. Mounted on the Terra 650, we expect to get 3–4000 miles out of the rear and 5–6000 from the front. If you’re not expecting pure knobby performance in the dirt, we think you’ll be very happy.

PRICE: Front, $119.95; Rear, $152.95. (Shop online, as we found ours for considerably less.)

CONTACT: www.metzeler.com

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