Kenda K270 Dual Sport Motorcycle Tires Review

[This Kenda K270 Dual Sport Motorcycle Tires Review was originally published in the June 2009 issue of Rider magazine]

Since completing the MotoVentures dirt-bike school last year (see Rider, November 2008), dual-sport riding has been my new jam. Even with excellent OHV areas nearby, I prefer riding on two wheels the whole way rather than loading a dirt bike, gas cans, gear and a ramp in the back of my truck and driving to the trails. That, of course, is where dual-sport motorcycles come in.

Recently I conned Editor Tuttle into letting me borrow his kitted-out 1998 Kawasaki KLR650 to participate in a monthly dual-sport group ride ( “No problem,” Mark said, “as long as you test these Kendas while you’re at it.” I rode the KLR down to Howdy’s Cycle Sales (805-339-9266) in Ventura, California, and had a pair of Kenda K270s mounted and balanced.

Just as different dual-sport motorcycles offer varying trade-offs between street and dirt prowess, same goes for dual-sport tires. Kenda K270s are DOT-approved knobbies designed for a 50/50 split between street and dirt use, whereas others in its lineup have more aggressive tread patterns and are made for only 10-30 percent street use. Fronts are four-ply, fit 21-inch wheels and range from 2.75 to 3.25 inches wide. Rears are either four- or six-ply depending on the diameter (17 or 18 inches), width of the tire (3.5 to 5.1 inches) and intended load capacity. For the KLR, we used a 3.25-21 front and a 5.10-17 rear. See Kenda’s website for a metric conversion chart.

Kenda K270 Dual Sport Motorcycle Tires
Kenda K270 Dual Sport Motorcycle Tires

Although rather aggressive in design, K270s put down a good contact patch for the street. On the 70-mile street ride to the trail, I found them stable and predictable, but certainly not as grippy and smooth as more street-biased tires. With 8.5mm-deep tread up front and 14.5mm-deep tread out back, the knob blocks are tall and flex when pushed hard on the street. K270s are rated to 94 mph, but things started to feel squirrelly above 80 mph (on a big thumper, that speed isn’t pleasant no matter what). Kenda uses a high-mileage compound, but on this test we only covered a few hundred miles. Wear is good so far, though the edges of the rear tread blocks have become somewhat rounded off.

Upon arriving at the fire road in Los Padres National Forest, I reduced the tire pressure to 25 psi. Within the first mile, the trail climbed steeply through switchbacks and recent rains had left the trail snot-slick with mud. The K270 knobbies dug in capably and carried me to our first checkpoint, with the knobbies easily shedding mud along the way. Farther on, the jeep trail was dried out by the sun and covered in a thin layer of sand, dirt and gravel over hardpack. Acceleration, braking, cornering, slides—all were done with confidence. When I rode the same fire road a week later with the tire pressure at 19 psi, the tires felt too loose and had less impact resistance. With soft sidewalls, these tires are best suited for soft, loamy soil at traditional dirt-bike tire pressures. Keep the tires pumped up for hard surfaces, especially on the street, or else you’ll slide around too much and possibly damage your bike’s rims.

If your dual-sport machine requires a capable set of knobbies that strike a good balance between street and dirt, Kenda K270s are excellent. MSRP not available, so check with your dealer for pricing.

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  1. hi, i recenctly bought that tire for my ktm lc4 2001, i feel kinda unsecure on the streets, it slips when i break, but when i try to break softly on corners it freaking slips real bad, could that be cause its a new tire, or cuz it needs more air, past weekend i went for a trail ride and i lower the air pressure cuz also was slippery, but when i did that it i had no more problems, i’d apprecciate if you could give me some pointers, thank you very mucho

    ivan godoy from tijuana mexico.

  2. I picked up a K270 based on the review above. it lasted 3 weeks and 800 miles before it started chunking knobs off. I contacted the Kenda Rep Laura Hunter for Warranty claim. Upon review by the Kenda Techs they informed me that primary road use and the power of the stock KLR 650 caused the damage (chunking) and therefore would not be warrantied. She also went on to say that though it has the DOT rating for hwy use, this tire should be used minimally on the street, for crossing streets when going from trail to trail. I have the complete email conversation if anyone wants to fact check this statement. Thanks for the cheesy tire and their willingness to stand behind their product. I would not recommend this tire to anyone that values their safety.

  3. I use the rear K270 on my primary street use 2006 KLR650 and have been quite happy with its wear and performance. I’ve got roughly 2000mi on my rear at the moment and it looks like I’ll be good for another 1k. The key to performance is proper tire inflation, harder for the street, lower for dirt, I’ve done long road rides then turned of the road and onto soft sandy/hard pack roads in Anza Borrego area and they performed as well as I could have hoped. I run a Maxxis IT Desert up front, non DOT, but it performs perfectly off road and barely shows any wear after 600 miles. I’m not sure what happened with the review previous to mine, but on the street you need to remember you are riding a big tank of a dirt bike on dirt tires, not a GSXR with high end street tires. I’m happy with the K270 myself.

  4. ivan ktm , you shouldn’t be braking in corners. Slow before the turn and accelerate through the turn. Not the tires fault.

  5. I have used these tires on my DR650, DRZ400, and other bikes. Wear is excellent with about 90% street use after 3,500 miles. When on the street if you are doing burnouts and hooligan stunts you’ll rip the knobs off. Ride normally and you should get 3-5k out of a set. I’ll buy these again when they wear out.

  6. Unfortunately not good for street or dirt. My xr650r spit the center knobs off at less than 500 miles in which 95% was Moab hard pack and sand.

  7. Excellent dualsport tires. 2013 KLR650. Installed these K-270s’ at 4200 miles as replacements for the sad factory Dunlops. Now,at 9,200 miles, the rear tire still has 1/2 ” tread left in the center! The front tire is in even better shape! Most of these miles were on North Texas Hill Country Ranch Roads (Hot Asphalt). At 6K miles I’ll replace them. They are also excellent on gravel and dirt roads and trails. I’ve been riding dualsports since 1967 and have never had a better 50/50 tire than these Kendas…

  8. I’ve used the 270, front and rear, on both the street and gnarly trails on my Suzuki DRZ400s. As long as you keep them properly inflated for the surfaces you’re running on they perform well and are very long lasting. Excellent bang for the buck.

  9. I am currently putting on a brand new set of K270’s. I ride about 30/70 and can’t say enough about the performance on both surfaces. 6-7k miles later, my rear was starting to flatten on the top. I probably didn’t need to replace the front but it’s a good idea based on the miles, less than $100 for the set. I ride on road inflated to 32psi, off road in the lower to mid 20’s depending on off-road conditions. (Dry dirt, mud, gravel, snow…whatever. Yep, they are a little skittery during the break in but it goes away. Looking forward to another 6000 on my 09 KLR650!

  10. Been riding K270s on both XR650L & KLR650 for many years. Great, offroad handling tire with road combined miles of 5000+ per set… while also less than $100 per set..


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