Choosing a tire for a multi-surface tour isn’t always easy. You want a tread that’s aggressive enough to grip anything you might encounter, yet wears well enough to last the ride. Do you choose one of the street-oriented dually skins and hope for minimal sand and mud along the track? Or do you spoon on the security of knobbies, understanding that you might be finishing the trip on slicks? When I toured Patagonia last winter (Rider, August 2013) with Heidenau heavyweights John Bettencourt (U.S.) and Pierre Schäffer (Germany), the choice was simple—the Heidenau K60 Scout. Eight of us ran these do-it-all tires for 1,800 miles on various BMW GS models, with more than half that distance off the pavement.
Heide-who, you say? OK, it’s a small tire company; you can be excused for not hearing about them until now. Small, but flexible, I’d say—the company produces an impressive 550 types of tires at its factory in Heidenau, Germany. Early reports of good handling and high mileage among adventure riders established a cult following when the K60s hit these shores a few years ago, and they remain a popular choice for a 50/50 street/dirt tire. Available in eight sizes spread among 17-, 18-, 19- and 21-inch rims, Scouts fit larger dual-sports and adventure machines. I tested a 150/70 B-17 rear with a load rating of 716 pounds at 39 psi, and a 110/80 B-19 front tire that carries 536 pounds at 36 psi. Both are tubeless and carry a “T” speed rating, making them good for sustained operation at 118 mph.
The Scouts took us over everything from the freshest asphalt to washboard gravel and rutted, potholed dirt, much of it at elevated speeds. Stiff sidewalls created by polyester material laid up in a belted bias-ply construction provide excellent stability for this kind of riding. Mud and sand were scarce on this ride, but the K60s handled the short sections we did encounter without incident. The front Scout’s chevron tread design gripped gravel and pavement with equal zeal, giving me the confidence to lean my BMW R 1200 GS into loose corners, pass cars and busses in heavy gravel, and still carve a pretty good apex on the tarmac. Patagonia has hundreds of miles of good pavement that invite sporty riding, and we made excellent use of it on the Heidenau Scouts.
Spinning up the rear wheel on gravel sections became my favorite pastime once we left the pavement. I knew my hijinks would shorten the tire’s life, but they certainly enriched mine. Though the intentional abuse and the 80 mph we traveled for long stretches took their toll on the rear tire, the front K60 was in excellent shape when I turned in the bike at Punta Arenas. And despite the hard use, the rear could have easily made a return trip north. Its zigzag center rib helps it take a licking and keep on sticking, making the Scout a 50/50 tire that you can commute on during the week and still have plenty of tread left to explore the hinterlands on the weekends. Ready for anything, the Heidenau K60 balances the needs of the adventure rider better than any tire I’ve ridden to date.