Choosing ADV Tires Needn’t be so Hard | Tips for Spooning Tires and Breaking Beads

Shinko E-804 E-805

Shinko E-804 E-805

If you ride 70 percent of your time on the street and 30 percent in dirt, you could be expected to buy, what’s called a 70/30 tire. But what does that really mean? And is it the right tire for your planned use for your motorcycle?

Find out how tread patterns are designed, how the tire compound affects traction, why tire inflation may cause you to lose your blocks when we talk to Jeff Reid from Continental Tire in the USA. 

And David Petersen from BestRest Products talks about breaking beads with the Tire Iron Bead Breaker. He has some great insider tips and techniques to make tire changing a breeze.

Mitas E-07

Mitas E-07

Jeff Reid (Continental Tire USA):
David Petersen (BestRest Products):


Interviewer: Jim Martin | Guests: Jeff Reid & David Petersen | Photos: Adventure Rider Radio

This transcript has been created from the original audio episode released March 22, 2018. This transcript may have been modified to make reading easier. As Adventure Rider Radio shows are meant to be listened to and not read, the following script may contain some grammatical and other errors. You can also listen to this interview by downloading the episode.


Jim (Narrate): If your riding style is 70% street, and 30% dirt, you can be expected to buy what’s called a 70/30 tire. But what does that really mean? And, is that the right tire for your planned use? Well, I highly doubt those ratios will ever deliver the best tire for your riding style (using those alone). In fact, there are some other factors to consider that are far more likely to get you on your best tire for your riding style, and they have nothing to do with those ratios. They have nothing to do with reviews, or what your friends are riding. Today I’m going to speak with Continental Tire in the US to find out how tread patterns are designed (whether they’re done with artists, or computers, or maybe a mixture of both), how the tire compound affects traction, and why tire inflation may cause you to lose blocks off your tire…and a bunch more other things. I’m also going to get to test out my theory on why ratios, just like I said, are misleading to say the least. Also, coming up is David Peterson. He’s going to talk about tire iron bead breaker, which I’m sure you’ve heard on this show before (me mentioning at the start of it). He is a tire changing fanatic, and he’s got some great insider tire tips for changing a tire and making it so it’s easier to spoon on and spoon off. 

PROLOGUE (Jeff Reid Interview)

Jim (Narrate): Well, the flying saucers that we’re talking about today are the two that are on your bike. You know- encased in black tread covered material we assume to be rubber (but who really knows). If you think about it, tire information can be a lot like information about flying saucers. In that- so much of it is misleading, and follow-the-leader type stuff, marketing hype…and downright (well-intended) but wrong information. So it’s no wonder that when we shop for a tire, we often see all this confusing and abundant information about them. And then we look to others to tell us what’s going to be best on our bike. When really, we should begin with ourselves. 


Jeff: My name’s Jeff Reid, and I’m with Continental Motorcycle Tire. I’m the Eastern Region Brand Manager. 

Jim: Jeff, welcome back to Adventure Rider Radio.

Jeff: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for having me.

Jim: So, when it comes to tire classification; when we’re looking at that 60/40 or 80/20 or whatever it is, when we’re shopping for a tire; what exactly is that telling us?

Jeff: Well, it’s trying to give the consumer the idea of whether this tire is primarily a dirt tire, or primarily a street tire, and what percentage of either category. Whether it’s 60% dirt, and 40% street, or whatever. But it’s trying to give the consumer some idea of the applications for that tire. 

Jim: But is it really saying anything, I guess is what I’m after. Because you’ll see 60/40, you might see 70/30…I mean, we’re talking some finite changes there.

Jeff: Right.

Jim: Let me ask you this- in your experience, where does that classification come from? Where do those numbers come from? Who makes them?

Jeff: Well, it’s mostly a marketing decision as to how they’re going to call it. What happens is that when the designs go to start building a tire, the product managers would then come up with a book (so to speak) that says, ‘This is what we want this tire to do, we want it to have…be quiet on the street, be primarily for the street, we want it to work on these bikes…’. And they lay out the parameters for the engineers to come up with the  design. Somehow then…of course, it’s always with tires that there is no “swiss army knife” of tires. So they have come up with…’Okay, well how much dirt ability can we get away with, and still have something that wears and handles decent on the street?’. It’s definitely a tough target to hit when you’re talking on the adventure category. Dirt versus street.

Jim: So when we’re looking at, for instance a 70/30 tire (let’s say the tire’s marked at 70/30), one can assume that {?} street. So it’s bias towards the streets- 70% street, 30% dirt. So what one could assume is, if my riding style is 70% street, and 30% dirt, this could be the perfect tire for me. Yet, when you go to ride in the dirt, you may find that the tire is absolutely horrible. Like, for instance, if you got into mud, I think that would go with just about any tired marked 70/30, you find that the tire fails incredibly.

Jeff: Sure.

Jim: So what does it really tell us?

Jeff: Well, it’s a hard one to put your finger on. Because, when you say 70/30…so primarily street, meaning you want it to wear good on the street, have good grip on the street…it’s going to have less open area. When you have the open areas, then of course the tire works much better in the dirt. Looser versus particularly mud. So it’s really hard to find that “swiss army knife” of tire. So let’s say a 70/30 tire like our TKC70; we don’t necessarily call it a 70/30. 70 was just the marking name we picked. But I think it’s pretty safe to call it a 60/40 or a 70/30 tire. It has a solid strip of rubber down the middle of the tire with no breaks in the tread. Which is really good for mileage [but] unfortunately doesn’t have that loose surface grip like you would with a more open tire, like the TKC80 for instance. So it’s really hard to find a tire that will do everything. Probably, in my opinion, the closest thing we have is the TKC80. But then of course, you give up some of the street wear. It works good on the street, works good off the road, but you give up the street mileage that you would get with a more 70/30 or a more street bias tire.

Jim: Well, when we’re looking at percentages- or the ratio, I should say- I almost see it as a better description looking at the percentage. So the 70/30 tire I think would be more accurately viewed as- ‘Okay, it’s 70% as good on the street as what a full street tire would be, and it’s got a 30% as good in the dirt as what a full dirt tire would be…’. That would be (to me) [making] more sense with this ratio. But having said that, if you get a 50/50 tire…which is to me, or to a lot of people I think would say, ‘Okay, well that’s the tire for a dual sport rider or for somebody who’s an adventure rider…get a tire that’s just as good on the street as it is on dirt…’. Well, in that case, if you look at it as percentages, it’s really a horrible combination, the 50/50. So, you know, it’s good at neither one. 

Jeff: Yeah. I think you pretty much hit it, because you’re right on the 70/30 stuff. Sure, it works great 70% on the street, but 30% on the dirt…yeah, when you think about it, that’s not a super high percentage. Which, I guess again, there is no magic wand or tire that going to be perfect in all conditions. It’s a compromise, both in design and application. Let’s say a tire like our TKC80 works great off-road, it has really good street manners, but sure, it’s not going to wear like a tire like the 70 or a TrailAttack2, or any of the other tires out there that are more street oriented. Because, those more street oriented tires…the reason they work better on the street is because they’ve got much more rubber on the road, and less open area. And that open area is what makes the tire work good in the dirt. But it’s also what kills the mileage on the street. So it’s tough to find that compromise. 

Jim: So when we’re looking at tires then, if somebody’s out there looking at tires, trying to decide what tire’s for them, I think…and I’m going to put this to you as sort of what I imagine is that the only way to really tell how good a tire is going to be in the dirt or how good a tire’s going to be on the street, is looking at that actual tread pattern. It’s almost a hands-on thing. You’ve got to look at the pattern and decide for yourself, and say…’Okay, this is an aggressive tread pattern, this is definitely going to be better in the dirt than when a non-aggressive pattern is…’.

Jeff: I think you’re exactly right. That’s it. It’s the rider, the consumer, that needs to look at it [and] think about exactly what you just said. The more open areas is going to be great in the dirt, and know I’m going to give up some street performance, and vice versa. Yeah, that makes total sense. That’s a good way to look at it.

Jim: Now, if we’re looking at the 70/30 tire, and we’re thinking, ‘Okay, I do a very small part of my riding in the dirt, maybe I can get by with a tire that mainly street orientated,”…Now, that makes a lot of sense. Except that there’s one school of thought that would say that when you get into the dirt, what you really want is the most traction you can possibly get. Because, that’s going to be the place where you need it the most. In the street, if you ride safely or ride sort of cautiously, you can ride with just about any tire on the street.

Jeff: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I was thinking; a few years ago, I was at the KTM Motors Rally in Taus, New Mexico, and Jimmy Lewis was doing a little riding clinic. [He] was talking about that very thing. Because, riders of course want a tire that lasts forever, but will climb dirt mountains. It really just doesn’t exist. He was saying that, ‘Yeah, you need to pick the tire for the area you want to have the least trouble with. So if you’re going to be riding-‘ and I’m sure he put it more eloquently than I did, but sure- what he’s saying is to pick the tire for the worst conditions you’re going to encounter. So, if you’re going to be doing some pretty serious dirt gravels, some uphills and some rough stuff, then you need to pick a tire that’s going to be safer in those conditions and give up a little bit in the other case. In this case, we’re talking dirt, so yeah, you’re going to give up a little bit of street performance. But, like you said, if you ride conservatively, you’re going to be fine on the street. But when you get off-road, especially with these big heavy adventure bikes, you need all the help, all the traction you can get. So yeah. Lean toward a more aggressive, a more off-road oriented tire.

Jim: So would you say, and this might be tough for you in your position, but would you say that that ratio is a waste of time to look at (and use that as a reference for a tire)? You’d be better off to compare tread patterns?

Jeff: Yeah, I agree. You’re absolutely right. And we try not to live so much by the market {?} of this or that kind of tire. It’s more- here’s this tire, it’s radial construction…or, it’s a bias belted construction…and yeah. Let the consumer look more. In a good example, I think [of] exactly what you’re saying when we’re doing the motorcycle shows (the progressive international motorcycle shows). We have a kiosk with all our best selling [and] our new product tires on there. And, when I have the adventure tires, people want to ask. ‘Is this a 90/10? Is this a 85/15?’ I say, ‘Well, here’s how I look at it,’ and I’ll show them our TrailAttack2 (which is mostly a street tire, but has some pretty aggressive grooves that are pretty deep, and more on the edges). It’s more of a street tire with some dirt road performance. Our TKC80 on the other hand, is really good off-road, but still works decent on the street. Then we have the TKC70 that’s somewhere in the middle. [So] without specifying that this is 60/40, this is 70/30…without getting into the numbers game, just kind of showing them that this is more street, this is more dirt, and here’s somewhere in the middle.

Jim: Well you mentioned the TKC80. In my mind, the TKC80 should be marketed as a 90/80, for off-road/street. It’s 90% off-road, it’s a fantastic tire off-road, and it’s a fantastic tire on-road, too. The downside is the wear. Because, once you run a knobby, you’re obviously not going to get the mileage out of it. As you said, less meat in the middle is going to mean more wear.

Jeff: Sure. Yeah, that’s exactly it. Yeah, you’re right. And that’s why it’s very hard to put exact numbers on tires, for sure.

Jim: When they design a tire, when you guys decide you want in a tire (and we talked about this before), really the idea for a tire often comes from the marketing, doesn’t it?

Jeff: It does. Maybe it’s something we see our competitors doing. We’ll say hey, somebody’s got something new, that we’re losing some market share because of this other tire, and we need something that meets this or answers this question. So the marketing department would start that book, say here’s what we need, and send it to the engineering department…or the product manager rather…and they start to make up the books saying, okay well, what are we really looking for? What the price? What’s the target audience? And start to develop the parameters that go into making up the design.

Jim: I’ve always been curious, when it comes to designing a tread pattern, how do they do it? Is there tried and true tread patterns that the engineers know- okay, well these work really well- or is there a scientific aspect of it where they say, well according to the computer, it comes up with this pattern as being the ultimate pattern to cover this sort of use? Or, is it somebody looking at it going, I really like this pattern, this is very cool?

Jeff: Yeah, I think it’s some of all of the above. Looks certainly play a little bit of a part, but not as much as the actual performance. It’s not necessarily computer generated. I think it’s done more with experience. I’m not in the engineering department, but that’s how I see it, and talking to the guys [about] how they come up with it. We might start with…front versus rear. Let’s say we’re talking street tires. There’s a typical way to run the front tread pattern versus the rear because they’re doing two different jobs. So you kind of know, going into it, that tread patterns need to go in a certain direction. And then certainly you have to come up with something for the adequate drainage, or in the case of the off-road tires, with adequate space to get the grip and the loose surfaces. The interesting thing, I think, is how that works. Once they get a few ideas or a direction, then they take a raw tire that looks like a slick, and then they’ll actually hand cut the tread patterns and start to test. I think when they’re really actually testing is when they can start to say [things like]…’Well okay, how’s this tire for noise? How is it for wear?’ Because, every little nuance to the tread design, as far as angles…if it’s a street with a lot of grooves, the angle of the grooves, maybe some undercuts in the groove…have a lot to do with how the tire’s going to wear, how it will disperse water, how noisy it will be…Does it get noisy as it wears? Does it work just as good fresh as it does worn out? So there’s a lot of testing that goes in. [It’s] not so much just computer design and saying here’s a tire, let’s start making it. There’s a lot of hands on with that testing.

Jim: They must have some base lines to go on, too. I’m sure they’ve got your tires that have sold very well, that have done well overall through the years, and they probably use those as a base line to work off of [for] the new tire.

Jeff: Oh yeah- I think that’s right. One thing that’s kind of interesting in our HyperSport and Sport touring line is… we really got away from…we always used to do this continental look, it was kind of a shark fin, we called it. The tires are the Attack Series, so we had this shark fin look. Real aggressive looking tires. Then we started to realize that, they looked great, performed great, but we think we can go farther in performance. So the SportAttack3, and the RoadAttack3 are the first tires that we’ve built that are- don’t worry about the looks, what’s the way to make it perform absolutely the best? So we’ve gone to more of a backbone type tread design, where there’s a solid strip down the middle with no actual grooves that cut across, which helps with the wear. Which is actually fairly similar to our TKC70, come to think of it. So yeah, all of it goes into it. The mix, the looks, the performance, what they’ve known has worked in the past…maybe it’s a continuation of a line, so we want to carry on some of that heritage. So yeah, kind of all of the above.

Jim: So there’s quite a bunch of variables there as well, when you’re talking about a tire. You see it when you see reviews. You see reviews on tires all the time, and it’ll depend on the bike somebody’s riding, the style of ride, the style of rider, the terrain they’re riding in…there’s so many variables, it would be impossible to say [that] one tire’s going to work great on all the bikes. (I assume.)

Jeff: Yeah, that’s true. And again, that’s a challenge for the designers- to make a tire that works on everything. Every motorcycle has it’s own steering and suspension geometry. Some bikes are harder on front tires, and some bikes are harder on rears, and vice versa. Some bikes have some characteristic that need to be tuned out (steering characteristics). It’s pretty difficult to make a tire that works in all conditions on all bikes. So, yeah. It’s definitely a tough one to handle. There used to be tires that you would see- let’s say you looked in the distributor catalogue- that would be listed a Brand X tire, here’s your standard replacement model, and here’s the one specifically for Yamaha R1. Here’s the one specifically for…well, we do have (in our TrailAttack2 Series) a tire specifically for the F650, F700 GS BMW’s, and then we have a general replacement one. And what that means is that tire was tuned especially for that bike. So there’s something about the geometry of that bike that it needed it’s own tire.

Jim: So would you say that bike shouldn’t be run with a different tire, then? 

Jeff: I wouldn’t say shouldn’t, but it’s going to work better with the one that is specifically tuned to that bike, yeah.

Jim: So that means tread design as well. It’s going to be a street bias tire.

Jeff: Yeah, and the tread design is the same, but there’s some subtle differences in the circus construction. 

Jim: As the tire wears, it changes. The knobs start to get rounded off. I just read a while ago about people who race in motocross, and how they’ll change their tires after one run, just because they might lose that sharp edge off their tire. If that little bit makes a difference…obviously these guys are racers, but, if that little bit makes a difference, then we have to fully expect that our tire’s going to be different from the day we put it on, to the day we take it off. 

Jeff: Oh, sure. That’s what is the challenge, to build a tire that works good from new to the end. On street tires, the tread pattern’s not going to change as much. There is something that happens with tires, and this is something [the kind of thing] you chuckle or shake your head at a little bit, folks will talk about getting ridiculous amounts of miles out of their tires, and you’ll look at the tire, and there’s no tread left whatsoever. There’s no wear bars. But the grip really goes away as the dirt wears down. Not with the dirt tires, because you’re counting on the sharp edge of the knobs to get the bike. With the street tires, it’s the rubber and the heat and the rubber. When the tire works, as it goes from loaded to unloaded shape, and everything’s squirming and working together, you’re building up heat. The depth of the tread holds that heat. That’s how the tire produces grip. The rubber gets warmed up, and starts to work. But the less rubber you have on the tire, the less heat you’re going to build up, and the less heat it’ll retain. So you might think you’re getting X number of ridiculous amount of miles out of my tire, but you’re really compromising your safety in the grip level. Because there just isn’t enough rubber to wand to build the heat, and also to retain it. So that is a factor, and that’s why it is important to watch the tread wear indicators, and make sure you don’t run the tires down too far. Actually, when you get down to the tread wear indicators, there’s not much rubber there as far as working up heat and retaining heat. Certainly there’s rubber there that you’re not going to be into the cords to be a safety issue, but you’re certainly diminishing the grip level the more the tire wears down, for sure. And again, that’s the challenge to building a good tire, is one that tries to minimize that difference between first to last mile. That’s something we concentrate on for sure.

Jim: It’s interesting you bring up heat. Because I think for most people, when you think of heat, you think it’s something that you don’t want. But in a motorcycle tire, we do want a certain amount of it. But you mentioned to me before about running too low of pressure, and what that does for us for heat.

Jeff: It does, because, think about a tire. A tire’s round when we’re just sitting here looking at one on the shelf. But when it’s on the motorcycle on the ground, the unloaded side of the tire is at the top of the wheel, and then the loaded side on the bottom. Of course, the tire flexes. So each time that wheel rotates, it’s flexing. Going from loaded to unloaded shape. There’s a lot of flexing going on. So the less tire pressure you have, or the less air pressure in the tire, the more flex you’re going to get. The more flex your’e going to get, the more heat builds up. And of course, the more heat builds up to the point of starting to deteriorate. That can definitely accelerate tire wear. I think sometimes that, particularly the dual sport tires, I’ve run into, occasionally, guys who used to ride on dirt bikes…a 275 lb dirt bike, even though it might have the same size front tire as your F800 GS BMW, but the tire pressure requirements are quite different. So let’s say you get off your 450 enduro bike, and you get on your 800 GS…’well I used to run 15psi in my 450, so I’ll put that in my GS’…it might get some decent off-road traction, but you’re probably going to bend some rims and pinch flat some tires, and also overheat it and premature wear. So yeah, definitely air pressure has a big effect on wear.

Jim: Could that be part of the reason that you see sometimes people post that [with] their tires, the knobs have actually started to come off? Could it be that? You’re running up too much heat?

Jeff: Yeah, there’s a couple things. One, the deeper the knobs, the less speed rating it has. So let’s take the TKC80 for example, that’s the tire I know best, that’s a 99 mile an hour tire in most sizes for the adventure bikes. What that means is that the tire will carry it’s load rating at 99 miles an hour for a continuous hour safely. That’s at the proper inflation pressure. Let’s say you’re running instead of 35psi, you’re running 20psi. That load rating and speed rating dropped considerably. But on a modern adventure bike, we know they’re capable of cruising at 80 miles an hour down the interstate, no problem whatsoever. But let’s say you’re running 20 psi, and you’ve got your Panniers on with some luggage and stuff, you could definitely be overheating that tire. That could lead to break down as well. Then of course, the speed itself. Because you’ve got a, I hate to say unattached, but you’ve got a chunk of rubber hanging out there, that there’s a point where centrifugal force is going to start working on those. Particularly if the tire’s overheated from the under inflation and the running too fast, there’s a point where thing’s might start to happen.

Jim: You said that the load rating, or the speed rating rather, was 99 miles per hour for one hour. Is that what it is? For one hour? That’s what it’s rated for?

Jeff: Yeah, that’s how they do it I think, with speed ratings on tires. They’re tested to say if it’s a 149 mile an hour tire, it will carry this load for this speed for one hour continuous.

Jim: What about compounds, when we’re looking at it? Obviously a tread pattern is going to make all the difference, particularly with off-road riding. I mean, definitely on-road, but if you think on-road, you’ll get away with a lot. But what about compounds? Do tire compounds change from one tire to the next? When you’re looking at for instance a TKC80 to a 70, in your company, are there compound differences?

Jeff: Yes. How that works is, we’re working on compound families all the time. We have…and I’m sure other companies have their own marketing name for it…we call ours RainGrip. That was a real high silica compound that we introduced with the RoadAttack2 Evo and the TrailAttack2. So then we’ve carried that compound family over to the 70’s. So the compound on the TrailAttack2 and the 70 are virtually the same. When we talk about silica, and again I’m not a chemist or an engineer, but there’s a lot of different things that go into tires that make up the rubber compound. Polymers, carbon black, silica, natural rubber, synthetic rubber, and things like that. And, silica is…the easiest way to explain it [is], it’s a molecular level spacer that kind of spaces out the rubber molecules that lets them get a better hold of the imperfections of the road. So we’re always constantly evolving with compounds, but we kind of have a family. In this case for us, it’s the RainGrip family. That in particular is a high end silica compound, and that’ll carry over. But of course, as a new tire line comes out, there’s subtle changes, and subtle improvements. Or, let’s say various formulas…okay, our SportAttack3 and RoadAttack3 are both RainGrip compounds. But in the RoadAttack3, that’s more of a sports touring tire, it’s a bit more durable. Whereas that SportAttack3 is about ultimate grip, not so much longevity like you’d have on a sport touring tire. So it’s a compound family with subtleties between the tires. Now the TKC80, that’s it’s own deal because that’s a bias type tire. So we don’t use the same compounds that we do on the radial tires. The TKC80 definitely has evolved over the years as far as compound and construction things.

Jim: When you make a compound stickier, like you’re saying more silica in it, does it increase the wear on it? 

Jeff: Well, silica does tend to make the tires wear better, which is a great benefit because you get the better grip, cold weather grip, and wet weather grip. And it does actually last longer. The downside with too much silica in a tire is that maybe they don’t hold up to heat as well. Which isn’t so much a problem for in the adventure world or dual spot tires, but in hyper sport bikes, if you had a tire that’s maybe too heavy on silica on a track day situation with let’s say 1000CC bike…yeah, that tire might tend to over heat or start to feel greasy toward the end of the session.

Jim: Are these secret sauces that you don’t give out the combinations of? For the RainGrip for instance? (I think it’s McDonald’s with their secret sauce.)

Jeff: Yeah, most likely. It’s not something that I’ve ever been exposed to, the ins and outs.

Jim: You don’t have that clearance level.

Jeff: I don’t [for the] secret sauce, yeah.

Jim: We’re talking about tread pattern. Tread pattern’s obviously huge for us, right? To look at it in particular when your’e headed for dirt. But for street then, obviously compounds can make a really big difference.

Jeff: Oh, sure.

Jim: Now, my question to you is; as a general consumer, how do you know one compound from the next?

Jeff: Well, mostly by the category of the tire. We talked a little bit about hyper sport tires versus sport touring tires, and that is your tip off as to if it’s a harder compound or a softer compound tire. So we say this is a hyper sport category tire, then the consumer needs to know or should know that this is going to be a softer, stickier tire than the same company’s sport touring tire. The sport touring tire is meant more for touring so it’s going to be a longer wear, therefore would be a…I hate to say harder, but a different compound that’s more durable so it won’t produce the same level of grip as let’s say that hyper sport tire. Now, having said that, touring tires/sport touring tires have reached such a level of performance that a lot of folks do run sport touring tires on sport bikes because they do perform pretty amazingly, and still wear really well. But there is no…like, let’s say again our RoadAttack3 line, for instance. We don’t say well this a hard compound because no, it’s a sport touring tire. Now if you’re talking race tires, yeah, they’ll have soft medium hard tires generally so you can tune for track conditions. But in consumer tires for street use it’s more of a, is this a hyper sport tire, or is this a sport touring tire, or an adventure tire.

Jim: So that’s important. Seeing what the marketing is pointing it toward gives you an idea of what compound has been used for it. Obviously these are ideas with companies that are…I want to say reputable, I guess really…because you really want to deal with a company (I know you’re bias for Continental, obviously, because you work there)…you’d be really wise to stay away from a tire that you don’t know. Wouldn’t that be right? Because you have no idea what the compound is.

Jeff: Yeah, I think so. I think you’re [right]. There are so many good tires out there, from all the premium companies like ourselves and other folks like Michelon, Dunlop, Metzler…everybody makes a good tire. I sometimes say tires are like shoes. You have to try them on and walk in them for a little bit to see if this is the one you like. Tires are that way, too. But yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff out there. But, then you’re also starting to see some tires that maybe aren’t such name brands. Then you’re not as sure as to what you’re going to get, I guess.

Jim: Is there any way to tell by feeling the tire? I’m thinking for compound wise, by squishing the tire, pushing a coin into it or something, that you could tell how soft or how durable the compound is?

Jeff: Not really. If you had a durometer, which is a little instrument with a little needle, you could get a durometer reading. That could give you some clue, I think. But durometers are kind of hard to use, and really get an accurate reading, but I’m not sure folks carry a durometer around and test tires in the store. But that would probably be the best way because the tire’s going to react different when it’s warmed up versus sitting on the shelf cold. So that’s not always a good indication. I used to work with suspension. A lot of times folks bounce the bike or the race car or whatever, and it’s like well, the actual speed that shock is going to move when it hits a bump is…you can’t push it by hand fast enough to really tell much of anything. You can kind of get an idea of the bleed circuit, but what’s going to happen when the {?} really happens, you can’t. I think that’s somewhat true with tires. 

Jim: So just to recap then; tread design, in particular if you’re looking for an adventure tire or dual sport tire, tread design is going to be probably the first thing you should be looking at.

Jeff: Yeah.

Jim: And then taking into account also how the tire’s marketed. If they’re telling you it’s for this, then you might want to pay attention to that, because obviously the compounds have been made for that. The tread design had been made for that. But nothing’s going to beat a knobby if you’re looking for real dirt traction. Is that the right way to look at it?

Jeff: That’s true. Yeah, I think you’re right. Yeah, if you’re taking one of these big adventure bikes off-road, you really need some open tread design. A tread design that’s closed might get you some better mileage, but it’s not going to give you that off-road traction that you’re probably looking for. 

Jim: Jeff, thank you very much. I really appreciate you speaking with me. I’m always happy to talk tires with you. It’s always a good time.

Jeff: No problem. Talking about tires and motorcycles is my favourite thing, so. Glad to do it.

OUTRO (Jeff Reid Interview)

Jim (Narrate): I was speaking with Jeff Reid from Continental Tire in the United States. We’re going to take a quick break and be right back with more. We’ve got David from BestRest talking about his bead breaker, and giving us some tips on changing tires. Stay with us.


PROLOGUE (David Peterson Interview)

Jim (Narrate): Since we were talking about tires on this episode, we wanted to tie something else in. So we figured, may as well get somebody in who gets really excited about flat tires. David Peterson from BestRest products has been tinkering in his shop for years now, trying to invent things to sort of help make life better for us motorcyclists. In fact, he’s worked on…I think it’s over 40 inventions. Some didn’t make it, some no longer produced, and some that are found in most serious riders kits. And no, he hasn’t invented a way to hide your purchase of your new motorcycle from your significant other. Instead, he’s been working on inventing lots of tools and products, including his well known cycle pump. But today, we’re going to talk about his bead breaker. As well, we’re going to extract some tips from him about tire changing, making it less painful.

INTERVIEW (David Peterson)

David: Hi, I’m David Peterson; owner of BestRest products. I make motorcycle stuff. I invent stuff for motorcycles because that’s what I do. That’s who I am. I’m a motorcycle rider.

Jim: David, welcome to Adventure Rider Radio.

David: Thank you.

Jim: I should be saying welcome back. It’s been a while, but we’ve had you on here before. 

David: Yeah, we did. I think it’s been about a year. 

Jim: And today what we’re talking about is your tire and bead breaker. We’re going to talk about the intricacies of that. First of all, you mentioned that you’re inventing stuff. You’ve got about 25 active inventions right now?

David: Right. I went through a list, and there’s 35 or 40 things that I’ve invented. Some of them have run their course, and we’re no longer manufacturing them. But I’ve got a lot of stuff that I’ve come up with and usually it’s the result of a problem that I have, or something I see [that] needs to be fixed. So I come up with a common sense solution that nobody’s thought of before.

Jim: What schooling do you take to become an inventor?

David: Well, that’s a good question. I studied electrical engineering in college. But clearly that wasn’t my gifting. I just had a good mechanical aptitude. For many years I ran a commercial cabinet shop, which allowed me to work in woods. It allowed me to understand how things interreact, and working with the equipment and machinery. I think that’s something that my father taught me because that was his trait also. I was able to translate the ability to draft and design and problem solve from my formative years

Jim: Did you do a lot of that with the cabinet making?

David: Oh yeah.

Jim: Come up with different ideas? Things that haven’t been done before?

David: Yeah, things that met the customers needs. Solving all sorts of different issues. Working in different dimensions. I think the biggest thing is being able to put it down on paper, and have it make sense. One of the inspirations that I took was from John Browning, who was a famous gun designer. He used to sit in a coffee shop and drink coffee, and [take] a pair of scissors and a piece of paper, and cut things out and see how they went together. I’ve often done that. Make a full size prototype. Mechanically work out those pieces on a kitchen table. Seeing how they work; will this work, will this not work, how does it not work? Then being stubborn enough to come up with a solution. Other things that I’ve pulled out and tried to do, couldn’t make it work, and pulled it out later and couldn’t make it work…maybe about the 6th or 7th time I come up with a solution. But there are also items where I never really have been able to come up with a good resolution. A good resolution means that; A, it works. B, it’s marketable. C, there’s a need for it, customers actually need it. D, was are the costs? If you come up with a solution to a problem,  and it’s cost prohibitive, it’s not going to do any good. If it’s a problem that just I have, and I don’t think that it’s commercial viable, then it doesn’t make sense to chase after that illusion. You have to be practical when it comes to inventing things.

Jim: But this is how you started as well. That’s what BestRest is formed on. It was a back rest, wasn’t it?

David: Right. That was the first product. And it’s something that I made for our wife to make her comfortable on the back of our BMW. Other people saw it and said hey, could you make one for me. I took the initial design and built on it, and made it into something that we could make and produce in quantity. Got a patent on that, and we sold a bunch of them. 

Jim: What’s been a total bomb?

David: Well, I wouldn’t say there’s total bombs. But one of the things I worked with…you’ll like this…we called it ‘hauling ash’. We actually had a trade name for it. ‘Hauling Ash’. It was inspiration from a magazine ad that I saw, which was a funeral tricycle that hauled somebody’s coffin. I thought, well a lot of people get cremated these days, so let’s come up with a cremated remains dispenser that you can mount on the back of your bike. You take your dearly beloved on that last road trip, and as you get to his favourite spot, at 50 miles an hour you hit a button, and out the back the ashes spew.

Jim: There’s a fundamental problem with this idea. First of all, you’re saying his. It could be a her, too.

David: His/her, whatever.

Jim: But I don’t think that’s the reason this product didn’t fly. 

David: Well, there were some logistical issues. One of them would perhaps be some legal issues. I was spreading remains on the highway. Then testing with non-cremated remains, we discovered the cloud of ash was not conducive to a bunch of guys riding behind because they got covered. So, we put that one on the shelf. 

Jim: That’s hilarious. That’s good to know, that all inventions don’t turn out beautiful. Also, that couldn’t have been very complicated to do.

David: Well, it was a container with a funnel in it, and an electric motor with a fan to disperse. So the mechanics of it were not that hard, but figuring out the marketing of it might have been difficult. A lot of people would have enjoyed it, but maybe as a talking point. But we wouldn’t have made any money on it, so I put it on the shelf.

Jim: Don’t you have family that shakes their head when they look at something like that? You say, this is what I’m inventing, and [they’re] there thinking; David, what are you wasting your time on this for?

David: These things come to me in the middle of the night, Jim. I just can’t help myself. I’m like a-

Jim: They’re call dreams. You’re supposed to let them go.

David: Yeah, like a kid in a candy shop or…I was probably the problem child in school. I don’t know. Another thing we had was a trail marker. I’d been on rides where you’re riding with buddies and you’re on these narrow tight trails, and you come to a crossroads. Typically you do a staggered wait for your buddy, he catches us, and the next guy catches up, and so on. I’ve gotten groups separated that way. So we practiced some stuff with a chalk dispenser that would mark the trail. It worked under some conditions. But when things were wet, the dispenser got clogged up. So, you give it a try. You do some initial design. You make it cheap and simple, and see how it works before you put it into production.

Jim: Well, the tire and bead breakers [are] a little more complicated than that. You’ve got several levers here. One big level, I guess. Why don’t you describe it?

David: Well, let’s start with the initial need. The need was…I’m out there on my motorcycle riding on the continental divide, and I’m thinking about what do I do if I had this, what do I do if I had that…and I realized that if I had to change a tire, I can do the spooning, but I can’t break the bead. Some guys say, well you take one wheel off and you put it on the ground, and then the bike’s standing up by itself. That might be an urban myth, but really it’s largely theoretical because most people can’t do it. Most people haven’t done it. They’ve heard it’s been done. But I challenge whoever listening to go out and try it themselves. Not just try it on a concrete surface, but try it on some trail or by the side of the road.

Jim: You’re talking about using the side stand. Putting it up on the centre stand, using the side stand to break the bead.

David: Yeah. Or the centre stand. There’s variations to that. And I ride alone a lot, so I need to be able to solve this on my own. So I started thinking, what are the components of the bead breaker? Back here at home what I would do for a bead breaker, is I would stick a 2x4 under the bumper of my truck, lay the wheel on the ground, and then use a short piece of wood between that big 2x4 and the side wall, and I would break it that way. When you break that down, no pun intended, when you break down that process, what you’re doing is using the level and some type of vertical arm to carry the mechanical motion. Then you need something that acts as a plunger to press down on the side wall. So that’s the concept. And then I thought, well how do I make this simple? Because there’s other bead breakers out there. The simple part of it, or perhaps the brilliant inspiration is, using the tire iron as part of the device that breaks the bead. The bead breaker consists of an L, and on each side of the L, there’s a socket for a tire iron to fit into. Those tire irons have holes in them, pivoting holes, then you have a level. The tire iron fits in one end of the lever. The other end of the lever fits into one of the pins of the vertical tire iron. The final component is the plunger. Which has to be able to move back and forth on that lever to accommodate the size of your tire, and the circumference, and things like that. So when you put all that together, you get this kind of strange looking device. But it’s brilliantly simple in the sense that once you’ve broken the bead, then half of the components are then used for spooning your tire. It all fits into a very small pouch, you can take it anywhere, carry it on the bike. The tire iron bead breaker is a departure from most bead breakers that you buy at Harbour Freight or somewhere else. Those are for the garage, and they have their place. This is something that you can take with you on the road. So if you’re going to Alaska, or you’re going to South America, or going to the Black Hills, you’re going to have to change your tires on the road, you’ve got everything you need in that kit. Basically it’s a tire shop in a pouch.

Jim: Yeah, and you’re only looking at like 3 lbs, something like that?

David: It’s less than that. It’s 30 or 35 in change, I think (ounces). And there’s a few components in there that add a little weight. We put in a mounting fluid called Bead Goop. It’s basically a soap solution, special soap solution that makes things slippery so that the beads will slide off the tire. Then when that dries, it becomes tacky. So the sidewalls adhere to the rim. We used to put in rim protectors, but we discontinued that. Most people didn’t use them. We put in a valve stem tool, so you can take out the core. (Remove the core so you can deflate the tire.) We’re always trying to think, what does a guy need when he’s on the trail. And these are the basic components you need to change your tire, whether you’re in your garage or you’re out in the middle of the woods.

Jim: The nice thing is, you’re going to be carrying tire irons with you anyways, so some of that bulk…really there’s only a few components that you’re carrying extra with this to make up the bead breaker itself. Maybe some people carry two irons, this is three, three’s a lot more convenient than two. What length irons are they?

David: They’re 8.5. And what I found is that if you need tire iron longer than that, you’re probably doing something wrong. I change a lot of tires. I’ve done everything from BMW K12 LT’s to my KTM trail bike. I’ve found that if you’re struggling with a tire iron, trying to spoon the tire on and off, then it’s a technique issue. The two things that most people run afoul of are properly lubricating the rubber side wall or the tire or the bead, and lubricating the rim. That’s number one. The second ones you need to crush that tire down so that you can get the tire bead into the well of the rim. If you’re not getting into the well of the rim, that doesn’t give you working room on the other side of the tire. Those two items are the two biggest Achilles heels for anybody that’s tried to change tires.

Jim: When your’e saying lube the beads, you’re talking on and off. Taking the tire on and off. 

David: Right. Both on and off. Some people don’t understand where you’re supposed to lube. There’s an easy rule of thumb, and that is, anytime the rubber is moving over the rim (whatever direction it’s going), that tells you which side of tire bead you need to lube. So when you’re spooning off the first side of the first tire bead, you need to be lubing the top side of the tire. Then when you take off the second side wall, in other words the tire is halfway on the rim, you need to be lubing the inside of that tire bead. Inside the tire. When you put the tire back on, you need to lubricate the outside of the bead where the tire slips over the rim, and finally lube the inside of the second bead where it slides over. You just need to think; where am I going to have a friction point? When you’re lubing, you can go overboard. But the truth of it is, that more lube is better. It just makes the whole process go easier. 

Jim: Yeah, far better more than less.

David: Absolutely. I’ve seen guys try to do it with dry tires and they just struggle. It’s just really hard. Even if you don’t use our Bead Goop, you could use dish soap, you could use…any kind of liquid solution. From hand cream to bacon fat. It doesn’t really matter. As long as it’s wet, it’ll help that rubber slide right over that rim. 

Jim: Bacon fat. That’s the first I’ve heard for that one. What about WD40?

David: Well, you can. WD40 is slippy, it makes the rubber slippery, but WD40 is a penetrant and a petroleum product. Mixing that with rubber tires may not be in your best interest. If that’s all you have, then by all means use it. Quite frankly, if I know that I’m going to take a set of tires and throw them away because they’re no good, and I’m out of Bead Goop here at home (because it’s all sitting at the shop), then I’ll use a can of WD40. But I wouldn’t use that as a go-to method. I think there’s better options and you want to use something that’s not going to potentially attack the rubber. 

Jim: Yeah, I’ve thought the same thing for years. All kinds of people go on about WD40. Finally, I tried it. It works really, really well, it does. But I agree that it’s going to end up, or it could potentially end up, affecting the tire itself.

David: Well, and the other thing too is that, ideally what you want this lube to do is be slippery while you’re using it. Then when your’e done using it, when the process is done, it still shouldn’t be slippery. You want the side walls to adhere to the metal rim. I have a question in my mind whether or not that rim is going to be slipping against the rubber once the tire’s on. 

Jim: Yeah.

David: You know, with higher performance trail bikes or even some big adventure bikes, they have rim locks to prevent that tire from spinning on the rim. If you have Bead Goop on there, that thing is basically glued in place. You can break that glue bead when you break the bead, but you don’t want the whole thing to be spinning. If you had a tube inside, you might tear the tube right off of the stem. 

Jim: So what’s the deal with the Bead Goop then? It’s a lubricant when you put it on, then it dries tacky?

David: Right. It evaporates. It is technically soap solution. The stuff is slippery so that when you’re done your lubing, and if you get that stuff in your hands, you can’t hang on to the tire irons. They keep slipping out of your hands, and you have to wipe them off. After a period of 5 or 10 minutes, and that depends on how warm it is…if the sun’s shining, that stuff becomes tacky. It creates a light cement like bond between the rubber and the rim. It is water soluble. So you could hit it with water, and it would sweeten up again. In fact, you could even dilute it and use it that way. Or if your goop starts to get a little bit tacky, then put a little water on it, that’ll help things.

Jim: You don’t make this goop. You’re getting it and packaging it.

David: Right. We’re getting it in bulk and then we put it in the smaller packages.

Jim: Is it the same stuff they use on car tires?

David: Yeah, they could use it on car tires. We actually get this stuff from the trucking industry. It’s under a different brand name. But we get it and we repackage what we need, and it’s under a different name. But the chemical composition is basically the same.

Jim: Right. The rim protectors- you said you don’t include them anymore? You’re not finding a need for them, especially with all the black rims out there nowadays?

David: Well, for every ten bead breakers that go out the door, eight guys don’t use the rim protectors. There’s two guys that do. So in the instructions we say, hey listen, if you’re concerned about your rims, then get a set of rim protectors. Or a penny type way of doing it is, go out to the garden and find an old hose, cut some 8-10 inch lengths, and then take them and split them down the middle. What you end up with is something that you can slip over your rim. That hose protects the finish of the rim from the tire iron as you’re doing the spooning.

Jim: Oh, very nice. I’m going to have to try that. I’ve always used a shop rag with limited success. It does what I need it to. I’m not all that fussed about it. But that’s a good idea, I’ll have to try that.

David: Yeah. Or if you had a syphon hose in your kit, and you decided that at that moment in time your rims are more important than the ability to syphon gas, you could always take a piece of plastic or vinyl tubing and slit it and do exactly the same thing. 

Jim: Oh I like that. As far as the bead breaker itself goes, when you assemble it, it’s got a bunch of different attachments. I’ve never used one before, but I’ve seen one used. It’s got a bunch of different settings on it, or holes I guess, that you can set it to to match your different sized wheels. So it basically should do, I’m guessing all the motorcycle tires, front and rear? 

David: Everyone that I’ve run into…and you know that size of the circumference of the tire, or the bulk of the tire, that determines where you place your pins. And after you’ve done one tire, like say do your front tire, it’s going to have a closer smaller assembled size. If you do the rear tire, you have to move up a notch in the fittings. You have to adjust for the length and the height to allow for that. So it’ll fit almost all tires that I’ve ever seen. It won’t do quad tires off of a ATv because they have a solid rim. There’s no spoke holes. But any bike that has either spokes or a cast, as long as that vertical piece can fit up between, then you can use the bead breaker.

Jim: And, ostensibly, that is the toughest part of changing a tire, when you’re on the backroad somewhere, is breaking the bead most times.

David: It is, for most people. When I look at the process, breaking the bead is for me (because I’ve done it so many times) a snap. I think the hardest thing that people have is when they’re putting the tire back on, the final bead back on, they really seem to struggle with that. That’s because they’re not crushing that side wall down with their knees. Typically the posture that I use is, I have this tire laying on the ground, and I’m leaning over the hub with my belly button, and my knees are on the closest part of the bead, and I’m squishing that down. Then I’m working on the far side. And if that bead is not broken down, or crushed underneath your knees…I say crushed, this isn’t a damaging thing, this is a term. But it’s squished down together like taking your hand and making a big C to where your index and your fingers touch. That’s crushing the bead down. If you don’t do that, then that upper bead will slip up into the rim, higher, and now you don’t have enough room on the far side. So that’s where most people struggle, and flounder, and get red in the face. Once they understand that, then it goes well. And here’s another tip, Jim, when people are doing that especially on these real stiff tires like the Heideneau tires, or maybe a MotoZ, some people physically don’t have the weight to crush that bead down. So you can use zip ties to squish those tires. We did a video showing our Motozips, which are those real heavy duty zip ties. By using two or three of those, you use the power of the zip tie to squish the side walls down to where those two beads will touch. Then you can be assured that when you’re working on the far side, you’ve got plenty of working room. 

Jim: That’s a good tip. [Do] you have any other tips for changing tires while we’re talking about this?

David: Yeah. Do it at home before you head out in the field. Unfortunately a lot of guys buy stuff the last minute. They figure they’ll solve the problem when they get there. But when they get there, either the mosquitoes are biting them, or the sun is beating down, or it’s raining, or whatever the circumstances are. And that’s not when you begin your learning curve. 

Jim: Even just the stress of something going wrong. Because you’re on a trip, and maybe you’ve got people waiting. Stress can really put the edge on.

David: Right. I’ve had that happen myself, where I’ve got in a hurry. I’ve got ten guys waiting, and I’m trying to change either my tire or one of our guy’s tires. Take your time, and do it right. Otherwise you’re going to be doing it again. So get the learning curve down. Do it once at home so you got the process. You can go out and learn how to ride a motorcycle or drive a car the first time out. You have to spend a little time, and then your’e comfortable and you’re proficient. 

Jim: You’re probably one of those guys that likes to change tires, so when somebody has a flat tire, you’re right in there?

David: I can’t help myself. 

Jim: So then the tip that I would throw in then is that, if you’re going to go ride somewhere, go with David. 

David: Well, i used to…I’ve seen myself literally go in there and push the guy over on the side and say, get out of the way, I’m in a hurry. Let me take care of this. But I’ve since gotten past that, and now I just sit there and watch, and I give a few pointers. I do ride with one friend who, on the Idaho BDR, he had three flats. The last one was in a parking lot in Mountain Hoa, Utah, and we were trying to get on the road, and the sun was coming up, and it was going to be a hot one. I was just about at the point of doing that- pushing him on the ground- and he still got it. But you don’t want to catch everybody’s fish for them, you gotta let them fish for themselves.

Jim: True. Well David, thank you very much.

David: You’re welcome, Jim. 

OUTRO (David Peterson Interview)

Jim (Narrate): Well, that was David Peterson; head inventor, and probably chief bottle washer and cap wearer…What do they call it? Chief? Chief…chef…chief…I can’t remember. Am I getting old? Chief, cook, and bottle washer. That’s it. Wow. Where’d that go?



Interviewer/Host: Jim Martin
Producer: Elizabeth Martin
Transcriptionist: Natasha Martin

*Special thanks to our guests: Jeff Reid & David Petersen


This episode of Adventure Rider Radio is made possible by the following SHOW SPONSORS. Please support ARR by supporting our sponsors.

Max BMW:
BestRest Products:
Green Chile Adventure Gear:
MotoBird Adventures:
IMS Products:


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