Over the last three years that I’ve owned a BMW R1200GS in Dubai, UAE, I’ve tried to tackle a lot of different terrains that this country has to offer. However, sand is one surface I’ve actively stayed away from. The stock Metzeler Tourance tyres that the bike came with were very road biased and riding on gravel or even inch-deep sand deposits on the road proved challenging.

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A couple of years ago I moved to Heidenau Scout K60 and was wonderfully impressed by how good the grip was on gravel and I stuck to these. Somehow, my aggressive road riding habits led me to believe that the K60s were as far as I could push it when it came to balanced tyres that last long, work well off-raod and provide adequate grip on tarmac. I also assumed that anything more aggressive, like the Continental TKC 80s wouldn’t provide the cornering grip that I might need.

Having stuck around with the Hidenau’s for a bit, I was beginning to fall behind when we started upping the ante with our off-road antics around Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. Most of my friends moved to the Continental TKC 80s and they seemed to be far superior to the Heidenau K60s. However, they wore off quickly and as I commute to work on my motorcycle, changing tyres every 5-7,000kms is something that I can’t afford.

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In the midst of all this tyre researching, I came across the Shinko 804/805 series and for the price, they looked unbeatable. I ordered a pair and soon the rest of the gang got interested and we placed a bulk order of four pairs, not even knowing how good these are. For AED 500 a pair from the distributor in Deira, Dubai, they seemed worth the risk.

A few weeks later, there were three R1200GSs and a Yamaha Super Tenere shod with these brand new Shinko 804 front and 805 rear tyres. A few thousand kilometres later, there is no faulting these. Even the TKC80 users have seen no drop in high-speed noise, grip and off-road performance. This just shows that these are equally good as tyres that cost three times more and have pretty much the same tread pattern and wear. In fact, on-line research claims that these Shinko tyres last longer than most knobblies.

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Finally, these Shinkos have allowed me to try a surface I’ve never tried on the R1200GS and a surface I never thought was possible on a heavy bike like this. We started on some gravel tracks with occasional sand dunes but after an hour or so we were so confortable with these tyres and the bike, we started attempting the big dunes and made it all the way to the top of the tallest dune!

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We dropped the pressure to about 1 bar (14 PSI) on both tyres (standard is 2.3 bar front and 2.5 bar rear) and enjoyed a beautiful morning of pushing our limits and trying our luck on sand.

Can’t wait to do more of this in the winter!