Tour Reports
…I’ve ridden on baking hot Spanish motorway and beautiful curvy rural N roads in Murcia. I’ve ridden water logged French motorway at 120kmph+, and navigated flooded, debris strewn D roads south of Bordeaux. In the Basque Pyrenees I rode through sleet, hail and snow in freezing temperatures through high mountain passes on some of the narrowest twisty roads I’ve ever encountered – anywhere! Oh, and not to forget mud-caked forest tracks in Aragon to gravel and dirt tracks in Navarra…
May-June 2013

For those of you who follow my travels you know that this year I changed over from my long running BMW R1150RT and chose the BMW F800GS as my new touring bike.

This was a big change, but my riding and road lust has started to lean ever more towards the roads less travelled, or as the French say “Bison Futé”.

And in my case, the idea of the “roads less travelled” is in the fairly remote areas of Europe, specifically in France, Spain the Alps and the Pyrenees. Inevitably such roads are narrow, twisty and most importantly poorly surfaced if maintained at all. Throw in some “light” off-roading – a few dirt roads and forest tracks and you can understand why I’ve opted for the F800GS. It is a light, affordable, easy to manage dual purpose bike, which is well capable of touring on everything from A roads to no roads at all.

So, with a dual purpose bike in hand and an intention of trying some rougher roads and tracks it stood to reason I needed to choose a dual purpose tyre like the Metzler Tourance – an 85/15 road biased tyre or the Tourance EXP – 95/5 road-biased tyre.

F800GS with Metzler Tourance tyres in the Dublin Mountains

F800GS with Metzler Tourance tyres in the Dublin Mountains

There are other tyres in this category from other manufacturers, but I’ve never used them so I can’t comment on them. When I bought the F800GS it came with the Metzler Tourance tyres that favoured by many as they are a primarily 85/15 road biased tyre with some off-road ability which offer the dream of adventure touring. Personally I’m not a fan of either of the Tourance tyres for a number of reasons, which I’m not going to go into just yet. Simply put, as with many tyres they either suit you or they don’t.

Tourance tyres grip well on rough mountain roads, but square off too quickly.

Tourance tyres grip well on rough mountain roads, but square off too quickly.

Either way I was shifting around the Interweb trying to decide which might be the best rubber for the touring season. Rubber that would both suit the F800GS in all weathers, my riding style, long distances on all types of surfaced roads, weather-broken mountain roads and un-surfaced tracks. Another priority for me was good feedback, tracking and road handling as I obviously wanted to enjoy those wonderful smooth French and Spanish twisty rural D and Na roads. All things considered that’s a fairly tall order with the most likely candidate for the job being the Metzler Tourance EXP tyre – a 95/5 road biased tyre, even though I’m not that keen on this tyre either. But with the F800GS’s 21 inch front wheel I was facing very few tyre choices.

For those who may be a little confused about how the knobblies and the dual sport “pretend knobblies” fit into the biking world here is a quick explanation.


For full on, balls out, 100% no compromise off-road riding ye obviously need the real knobbly deal like the E-09 from a knobbly specialist manufacturer like Mitas. However, if you try riding this type of tyre on a wet tarmac road you can likely find yourself doing an impromptu impression of road kill.

Then there’s the adventure or dual-purpose touring tyre. So if you are heading to Morocco on a 1200GS, where your suspension is going to get a workout on rough roads and battered sandy, gravely tracks ye might well choose the Metzler Tourance, an 85/15 road biased tyre. If however you are heading into the Alps on the new gutsy 1200 Multistrada and want to match its looks with a pretend knobbly-ish tyre then you would definitely be better off on the Tourance EXP – a 95/5 road biased tyre. Now, on the face of it there might not look like there is much difference between the Tourance and the Tourance EXP, but I assure you there is. So choosing the right tyre for your grand summer tour is really important.

Choosing the right tool for any job is important. Theoretically you may be able to use a dead hedgehog to brush your hair, but dare I say there are better options? Tyres are by far one of the most important components of a motorcycle. The interface between you and the road, the one thing separating you from a potentially deadly, solid, abrasive and utterly unforgiving force if you and your bike suddenly go your separate ways at 100kmph.

To get the best road handling experience possible and maintain a good level of safety for my touring season I needed to choose a tyre that suits my bike model, my riding style and for every type of surface I’m likely to ride on. Also, as I’m likely to ride 10,000 km – 15,000 km over the summer the tyres need to last and they need to handle potential weather extremes, which have already played a big factor this May and early June.

The Tourance and EXP

As far as I’m concerned the Tourance and EXP are fine for light off-road stuff, but they are not a great tyre for touring on surfaced roads! Comparing to a proper road tyre they square off too quickly, they’re not great when cornering – even when not squared off. And of course they also have less grip on wet tarmac then pure road tyres. As I will enviably spend 95% riding on surfaced roads I really need to choose the best tyre for road use as I can possibly get. I wanted to do some light off-road tracks and trails, but the emphasis needed to be for a strong road biased tyre. Of course I needed to accept a compromise in road ability in a dual propose tyre – but not much.

The Michelin Anakee 3

It was round about this time that Michelin announced their new offering – the Michelin Anakee 3 – a 95/5 road biased tyre! I immediately thought to myself that I had to get my hands on a set for my 2013 tours of France and Spain – the Pyrenees and Alps. I wanted these tyres not because I’d heard great things about them, but simply because Michelins fantastic Pilot Road 3 tyres have placed me firmly in the Michelin camp.

Michelin Anakee 3 back tyre looks a bit mad, but so did the Pilot Road 3!

Michelin Anakee 3 back tyre looks a bit mad, but so did the Pilot Road 3!

The Anakee 3′s were so new to the market that there were no real world reviews as yet, but on the back of the PR3’s I felt justified in choosing a relatively untested tyre. When the PR3′s first hit the market most people including myself thought the thread pattern looked bonkers, and as for the sipe technology, well what the hell was that all about? It was a radical new design, but it worked very, very well! Looking at the first promo photos of the Anakee 3 tyres it looked like Michelin took their inspiration from the Texas Chain Saw Massacre with those big deep gashes slashed across the tyre. To me it seemed evident the engineers at Michelin were thinking well outside the box yet again designing a dual sport tyre with absolutely no hint of knobbly patterns but a completely new pattern for shedding water and mud!

Upon closer inspection of some hi-res photos of the tyre it looked to me that these tyres were more similar to a no-compromise road tyre with all the grip and cornering ability that a true road tyre offers. With a thread pattern on steroids, those deep groves and their inner teeth looked like they may well shed dirt, gravel and mud, offering fair off road grip. Could these be the tyre for me, a road tyre that will keep me rubber side in the rain, won’t turn me into a milkshake on the motorway, will allow me the full enjoyment of diving into Alpine twisties? And allow me to run on dirt tracks in the Pyrenees? And will they last the distance?
Michelin Anakee 3 front tyre and the Bridgestone Battle Wing

Michelin Anakee 3 front tyre and the Bridgestone Battle Wing

Unfortunately I could not have ‘em as no-one had ‘em, yet!

Weeks of ringing suppliers led nowhere, but eventually Mark at Platinum Motorcycles somehow managed to find and fit a set of this newest of rubber and I was all set to go on my latest of adventures to find the roads I’d been dreaming of all the long winter.

New rubber for the F800GS...

New rubber for the F800GS…

Time to hit the road and see how good the Michelin Anakee 3′s really are…

Starting in Brittany on the French North-West Coast I made my way South towards Biarritz on a speedy, pleasant, if un-challenging, mix of National N and D roads only jumping onto the motorway to bypass Bordeaux. It was the 18th of May and just south of Bordeaux, where I should have expected the much anticipated warmth of the early summer sun the weather went distinctly “arse-holes”!!!!

I’ll get into the full story on this with the trip reports later, but suffice to say the weather was perfect for a wet and extreme weather test. From Bordeaux to the Spanish border the flooding was the worst I’d ever seen, even on the A63 south of Bordeaux saw prolonged riding through surface water anywhere between 5cm and 40cm deep.

-1C on a wet Col de la Pierre Saint Martin, French Pyrenees

-1C on a wet Col de la Pierre Saint Martin, French Pyrenees

For the next 3 days navigating the Pyrenees I experienced sub-zero temperatures, sleet, snow, washed out and badly flooded roads, and visor-smashing hailstones. Some of the roads in the Pyrenees “or any mountain region” can be a challenge due to weather. But bloody hell, Mother Nature was having a full blown of psychotic episode this year!!!! On my life I’ll tell ye this, due to the weather and road conditions I gained a new insight into the abilities of the F800GS as a touring bike.

To get back on track, how did I feel about the Anakee 3′s on weather-battered French A roads, D roads, and Pyrenean back roads on both side of the border?

Well they safely took me over flooded roads covered in debris, mud, sleet and the usual cow shit without the slightest hint of loosing grip. Comparing them against the Metzler Touranse they had far better handling ability on those narrow and steeply banked hairpins, in this scenario they were undoubtedly a better tyre. Wet weather grip on slippery roads was actually far better than expected, not PR3-good, but again definitely more confidence inspiring than the Tourance. Right now I’d say without hesitation that the Anakee 3 is as close to a proper road tyre that it makes little difference.

On cold wet A, B, and D roads I am more confident and can happily ride marginally faster on the Michelin Anakee 3 compared to both the Tourance tyres. On the same roads in drier, warmer conditions the ride is smoother, more planted and far better when cornering.
Crossing the Col du Portalet on the French/Spanish border on the 20th of May

Crossing the Col du Portalet on the French/Spanish border on the 20th of May

By the 21st of May the weather was only getting worse and some of the roads and areas on my intended tour were now cut off by either floods or snow. The conditions in the Pyrenees were simply becoming too dangerous so I cut my losses and rode south into Alicante and Murcia until the weather picked up and I dried out.

Eh!!! Portalet is not supposed to be like this in late May!! Made for a brilliant ride though..

Eh!!! Portalet is not supposed to be like this in late May!! Made for a brilliant ride though…

The Anakee 3’s on long motorway days

A long day on the motorway at high speeds is not something I looked forward to on any dual-purpose road-biased “pretend knobblies” as the noise and vibrations, while liveable, can get annoying after 400km. But the Anakee 3 proved a strong road-biased pedigree here too.

Cruising at 130kmph was smooth and quiet. From the Pyrenees to Valencia I was still hounded by storms. With high winds, heavy downpours and with an added liberal sprinkling of aggressive and stupidly dangerous drivers in the mix and the ride got interesting again. I had occasion to hammer on the breaks and swerve to avoid a nasty case of probable death. Again, at no point did the Michelin Anakee 3′s feel like they had met their grip limits even while being forced into a breaking series of swerves at high speed on a wet Spanish motorway.
After berating myself for allowing myself to get boxed in by idiots and forced into that manoeuvre I found myself incredibly impressed by the Anakee 3’s ability as a road tyre.

The Anakee 3′s on ideal, dry twisty roads

Hanging around the Alicante region for a bit allowed me to hook up and take a ride out with one of the local bike clubs and get to grips with the Spanish roads inland from the coast. Again, the Anakee 3′s were in their element allowing me to easily keep up with some very experienced riders on more powerful bikes. This time the roads were blissfully dry, and with the panniers and luggage unloaded I could let loose the reins of the F800GS for some speedy shenanigans. Running fast on smooth twisty dry roads I honestly could feel the Anakee 3’s acting 100% like proper road tyres allowing me to forget about them and fully enjoy hairpins.

Into the Murcia landscape with the Torrevieja Bike Club

Into the Murcia landscape with the Torrevieja Bike Club

The Anakee 3′s off road

Well not being one for lounging around on the beach and soaking up the sun I ran back up to the Pyrenees after a week or so. The weather had warmed at this stage, but rain storms and severe weather warnings were still in place throughout the Pyrenees. However as I was riding the epically capable F800GS and now having fully bonded with the Anakee 3 I was in a good frame of mind for an attack at the rougher roads.

Mountain trail near Ainsa, Aragon, Spanish Pyrenees

Mountain trail near Ainsa, Aragon, Spanish Pyrenees

The 14th of June saw me rising early in the medieval fortified town of Ainsa in the Aragon Pyrenees. The night before I had a chance encounter with a couple of mud splashed, bearded and hard core off road types from Madrid also on F800GS’s – which is how we got talking in the first place. These lads recommended I try a forest track leading from Ainsa up into the mountains. They promised me it was an amateur friendly track and nothing I could not safely navigate. Unfortunately for me it had rained heavily the night before and the track was thick in the type of sticky red mud used for making terra cotta pots! I spent the first hour profusely sweating and swearing in equal amounts with many moments of “Oh dear Jesus get me home alive”! All this of course was down to my own insecurity and limited experience in this type of riding, but by the time the track dried out a bit I was flying along.

Despite the mud, the Anakee 3′s did not turn to slicks..

Despite the mud, the Anakee 3′s did not turn to slicks..

Anyone who is used to riding on muddy tracks would probably laugh at my efforts, but please take into account that I was alone, well out of my comfort zone and really hadn’t a bloody clue what I was doing. However despite the really slippery track, the 800GS with a little help from the Anakee 3′s safely carried me along my first Pyrenees track with little effort.

If you notice in the above photo the Anakee 3 tyre’s design does eject mud and despite my ham fisted efforts the front tyre never lost grip and the back rarely gave me real cause to worry. All in all it was certainly less dramatic then it felt at the time, both tyres and bike did a brilliant job, me not so much, but hey – Rome was not built in a day!
Anakee 3′s in muddy action

Anakee 3′s in muddy action

I fully admit here and now that I’m not in anyway qualified to judge these tyres in an off-road environment. However my experience is this, not once did I drop the bike in the shit as the front tyre did grip on the slippery mud track. Neither did the rear tyre clog up and become slick, and by the time I got onto drier stuff my confidence was soaring. During the next few days I took more opportunities riding dirt tracks of the dry dirt and gravel variety and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, it’s certainly given me more of a taste for it. I’ll be back in the Pyrenees in September for more of the same…

Pyrenees tracks and trails are serious fun..

Pyrenees tracks and trails are serious fun..


To date I’ve ridden just over 7,000km since having the Michelin Anakee 3 tyres fitted in May. I’ve ridden on baking hot Spanish motorway and beautiful curvy rural N roads in Murcia. I’ve ridden water logged French motorway at 120kmph+, and navigated flooded, debris strewn D roads south of Bordeaux. In the Basque Pyrenees I rode through sleet, hail and snow in freezing temperatures through high mountain passes on some of the narrowest twisty roads I’ve ever encountered – anywhere! Oh, and not to forget mud-caked forest tracks in Aragon to gravel and dirt tracks in Navarra.
Off road in Navarra! Baby steps :)

Off road in Navarra! Baby steps :)

Hmm, looking back on all that now I recon that was a fairly good real world, if armature road test of Michelin’s new Anakee 3 dual sport tyre. But I’m not finished yet, after 7,000km they still look new and that does not qualify as a long distance road test yet. So in September I’ll ride the F800GS from Alicante to Briancon in the Alps for a few days in the lesser known passes before returning to the Pyrenees to see if I can do a bit more off road stuff. After that it’s back down to Alicante.

So far my opinion of the Michelin Anakee 3 tyre is this — Bloody Marvelous! It’s as good a road tyre as most, makes a great touring tyre (longevity is still in question, to be answered in October) and it can definitely do a little light off-road work as well as the Metzler Tourance tyres. But for me the key difference between the Tourance & EXP and the Anakee 3 is that while the Anakee 3 can do limited off road like the Tourance family, the Anakee 3 is a better road tyre.

From my experience the Michelin Anakee 3 on the F800GS has a better grip on surfaced roads, better road handling and offers a smoother, quieter ride. It is by far the most road-orientated tyre and a really great option for those who want to break up a road tour of motorway days, fast mountain sweepers; Pyrenees back roads and Alpine hairpins with a novice class dirt track or two.

Thanks again to Mark at Platinum Motorcycles in Bray Co. Wicklow for getting me the first set of Michelin Anakee 3′s to grace the soggy shores of Ireland…


2013 Pyrenees Motorbike Tour, Reviews 18 Responses so far

18 Responses to “Michelin Anakee 3 Review – 7000km Euro Tour Test!”

  1. Banzai600 says:

    Enjoyed this review. Currently running Matz EXP’s on the S10, need a new set of rubber. Was going to go for the Metz “next” but might try these Anakee 3′s. Good write up.

  2. Coops says:

    This is the sort of write-up on a tyre that I have been searching for. Honda XL700 now in need of new rubber and loads of dross but little real world insight into tyres available across the interweb. I’m convinced, thanks, decision made, I’m going to try my first ever pair of Michelins in the form of Anakee 3s.

    • gpsroutes says:

      Thanks Coops,

      Would love to hear what you think of them once you have clocked up a few miles. I’ve now got 14,000km + on mine and still love them. They also have plenty of wear left which makes my pocket happy too :)


  3. tomtwix says:

    Hi Denis

    Great write up on the Ankees
    I have always used Tourance on my WeeStrom & find them very good all round tyre. They give exceptional mileage for me & are very hard wearing.
    I was down in South of France last week in May & could not believe how wet & cold it was. I went through the Bielsa tunnel into Spain on 1st June & could not believe the difference in weather. I parked up in Ainsa for a week & toured all the passes back & forth France/Spain for the week. I stayed in the Dos Rios hotel & couldnt fault it. Very friendly staff & great lockup garage very secure.
    You must have been around down there at the same time, too bad we didnt meet up. Maybe next time.



    • gpsroutes says:

      Hi Tom,

      Sounds like you had a great trip yourself and I may well have passed you on the road. I was in Ainsa myself in May/June with a great bunch of lads on tour from Israel of all places.. I started of on the French side but the weather was so awful I had to pull out. I was meant to base myself for a couple of days in a little village I know on the French side near Bielsa but it was impossible to get too due to flooding. Between the melting snow and heavy rain the flooding was so bad the a few unfortunate soles in the village died when there houses were washed away.

      Either way I had to get the lads over to the Spanish side for the rest of the trip as the French side was not just miserable but dangerous. We stayed around Ainsa and Broto, absolutely marvellous roads through incredible gorges and mountain passes throughout the whole area. I’ve actually come to love the Pyrenees more than the Alps in many ways.

      The striking difference in the weather between the French and Spanish sides is a very common occurrence and a good thing to remember for anyone riding the Pyrenees, if the weather on the French side sucks just head over to the sunny Spanish side to dry out. The Spanish side is also a hell of a lot cheaper for hotels, booze, food and petrol with the only down sides being that Spanish campsites can be inexplicably expensive and of course my friends, the Guardia Civil.

      I hope my article on the Anakee 3’s was not too critical on the Tourance’s, they’ve soled countless sets and many people swear by them. But I still maintain my opinion that the Anakee 3’s are the better road tyre and certainly more fun in the twisty’s. I’ve easily clocked up 14,000km now on just about all terrains and they are only now starting to show a little squaring off. There’s plenty of wear left in them too, I should get the winter and possibly one tour in the spring out of them.

      Of course everyone’s riding style is slightly different, different road types, temperatures and most certainly the weight/model/HP of the the bike wearing the tyre also can make a big difference. So it may not always be a clear cut or easy decision as to what tyre to fit. I agonised over my choice for the F800GS for this years tours. I ended up choosing the Anakee 3’s on the back of the brilliant Pilot Road 3’s which suggested to me that Michelin are currently on top of their game.

      But, at the end of the day confidence is key to an enjoyable ride and if any rider is confident and has intimate experience with their tyre of choice then the correct tyre choice for them is usually to stick to what they know. Swapping tyre type, even for an arguably better tyre can throw confidence for many making the “stick to what you know” unarguably the better choice.

      I however had a problem with the Tourances right from the beginning and this was down to me constantly changing bikes from the 1150RT and F800R, both with the PR3’s fitted to the F800GS and Triumph Tiger 800 which both had Tourances. That experience showed me the handling characteristics and handling differences between a proper, full-on road tyre (PR3) and a dual purpose tyre (Tourance). And, like I said, for me the Anakee 3 handles like a proper road tyre and it does have the ability for some “light” off road work which is exactly what I wanted. A bonus to that is that I feel slightly more confident on the Anakee 3′s, most noticeably when belting through a set of twisty’s as they don’t feel like a cross breed tyre. I honestly could not tell the difference between the Anakee 3 and a 100% road biased tyre.

      In saying all that, it can’t be said that there is a massive difference across the board between the Anakee and the Tourance, but on surfaced roads I’ve no doubt the Anakee 3 has a slightly upper hand.

      Stay in touch Tom, maybe I’ll bump into you next year, I’ll be back in the Pyrenees for sure in 2014, I also have my eye on the Picos de Europa, Galicia and Asturias some time in early June.

      All the best,

  4. peterc says:

    Hi Denis,
    I fitted a set of Anakee 3s onto my 1200Adv just before going to Spain. I have done about 4 k on them and seem to wearing well, certainly not squaring off as quick at the Metzler and no issues with grip, better than more off road based tires.
    However, I have to say that I think they are very noisy especially about 60/70 which is a pain, a real whine/howl, gets annoying after a while if having to do a bit of motorway, I even rang the tire dealer to voice my issues soon after purchase so the jury is out if I fit them again.

    Looking at doing Austria/Italy nx year, roll on sunshine.


    • gpsroutes says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the feedback. I’m really surprised to hear you are getting so much noise from the tires as I found them slightly less noisy then the tourance set I had previously. I can only imagine the cause possibly being from the extra weight, I’m on a F800GS, almost always solo and I do try to travel as light as possible so just maybe that makes a difference? Or maybe the different tyre widths is the cause?

      On the continent if you buy the 800GSA or the new 1200GS “not sure about the 1200GSA” you have the option of the Anakee 3′s to come with the bike so “I’m assuming” they have been tested by BMW on their bikes. To be honest I’d be worried that you might be a problem with a defective tyre, worrying in it’s self, or something else as the level of noise you’re describing sounds really bad and would certainly affect anyone’s enjoyment. I will definetly be fitting another set when mine are done as I love them, but like I said, I really think they suit the F800GS but I can not comment on how they feel, or sound on a different bike model.

      I’ll ask around to see if anyone else is having this problem and I’ll post an update if there is an issue. If anyone else reading this has found the same problem with excessive noise please dont be shy, let us all know as these tyres are not the cheapest.

      Hope you had a good trip otherwise, Spain is a great destination, Pyrenees, Picos, Sierra Nevada and sangria, you just cant go wrong, as long as ye stear clear of the Guardia Civil pirates :)


  5. Helmet Dryer says:

    Love your comprehensive review on the
    Anakee 3′s. I have a set almost all road use
    in Florida. I bought the bike at 33,000 miles the
    3′s were put on at around 25,000 and I am now
    at almost 36,000. Tires still look good and I
    Will be replacing them in the near future.
    I do light duty off road (1200 GS) and I am
    thinking of Heidenau K60′s. Any opinion the
    K60 is supported to be a 50/50 with good tread
    life. Supposedly many reviews indicate not good
    in sand and mud. This is I will most likely
    encounter. I love my Anakee3′s and am torn
    between these and a more cleated tire. Should
    I just stick with the 3′s?

    • gpsroutes says:

      I’m actually in a similar situation at the moment myself, my new F800GSA came with a set of Pirelli Scorpion Trails and I’m trying to decide if I’ll use them for a 7-8000km trip in September or put my hand in my wallet for another set of Anakee 3’s which I know will do the job brilliantly. The Scorpions are great on dry roads but not as good as the Anakee 3’s in the wet and I’m not sure if they will last the full trip. But that’s a problem for another day.

      As for your predicament it’s a really tough call for me to advise as there are so many variables with so little information to go on. Also I’ve never used the K60’s so it would be unfair for me to comment on them specifically.

      But from what you said I get the impression you are like me whose priority is surfaced roads with light off road tracks whenever possible. From my point of view the 1200GS is a brilliant road bike that’s fully capable of dirt/gravely tracks even with a novice on board and still be enjoyable. My F800GS & 800GSA are slightly less good on the road but slightly better than the 1200GS off road which suits my riding.

      But lets be honest, to ride really rough muddy or sandy proper off road tracks neither bike is built for that task, they are too big and too heavy to really enjoy a proper off road experience. When getting off the tar I am far more comfortable on 125′s or a 250cc dirt bike on 100% off road tyres and most professional off-road bikers rarely ride anything bigger than a 450cc anyway. This is why I’m currently looking for a good 2nd hand 250cc so I can play in rough stuff. It’s more common for bikers like us to have two very different bikes – the main bike for everyday use, touring and light dirt tracks, (a GS) and a cheap 2nd bike being 100% for playing on the rough stuff. From my point of view asking one bike to do everything is asking too much.

      Of course the 800 & 1200GS can do serious off road tricks, we have all seen the YouTube vids of this. But there is a large element of bullshit to it, especially to the paid promotional vids. They don’t show the plenty of poor sods trying the same and dropping their bikes only to find the gear shift has punctured the engine or other stupidly simple to do but cripplingly expensive damage. And not to forget it’s easy to spot if a GS has been taken off road which buries the resale value and regularly make’s the BMW warranty worthless. Hence my argument for a 2nd bike that’s built for it and more financially replaceable.

      Choosing a bike that suits you can be very personal and as much of a compromise as choosing a tyre but I think the 80/20 or 90/10 road biased tyres (Anakee, Scorpions) easily suit the likes of the big GS’s better for the greater majority of riders, myself included.

      What ever way you look at it the big GS’s are primarily road bikes and putting a set of 50/50 or proper knobblies on them completely ruins the ride on surfaced roads. The handling will suck and enjoying fast twisty’s or mountain switchbacks will be impossible. Increased noise from such tyres will also ruin any longer trips and riding on wet roads may well be terrifying. While your GS may look very heroic wearing 50/50’s or full knobblies it will still be a big, heavy lump of metal in the sand or deep mud unless you have the skills to enter the Paris-Dakar. Doing an advanced off-road skills course would probably fix that though.

      To me putting any brand of 50/50s on a GS is a dangerous compromise as they will suck both on tar and off giving you only a 50/50 experience in both environments. Your GS will still be floundering in the mud and it will be handicapped on the road and possibly dangerous in the wet.

      But that’s not the worst of it, so many riders forget about this next point but it’s a big one. I don’t know about the US, but in Europe 9 times out of 10 putting a set of 50/50’s on any bike will invalidate your insurance even if the tyres are road legal! If those tyres are not officially tested and recommended by the manufacturer “for road use” for your model of bike (they almost never are) then in the event of a road crash your motorcycle insurance company will have a good laugh and quickly shut the door in your face. You will not be insured unless you get your insurance company to say “in writing” that they will insure you on tyres not officially recommended by the manufacturer! Incorrect tyres are one of the many excuses insurance companies use to get out of paying a claim. It can be difficult to get an insurance company to insure you on 50/50’s as the risk of an accident is obviously higher, but you can expect your premium to go up if you do. Don’t let the fact that those 50/50 tyres are road legal fool you – read the small print!!!! Non manufacturer recommended tyres come under the insurance section “modifications”, if you don’t at the very least tell your insurance company about them you are most likely in breach of contract.

      To me the Anakee 3 is a great road tyre, not nearly as good as the Pilot Road 3, but good enough. They are also very good in the wet and are happy in dry dirt and gravel. The Anakee 3 is also a great touring tyre as they are quiet, dive easily into corners without drift and have an excellent lifespan. They are also tested on GS’s and officially recommended by BMW. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the K60’s are so if you choose them make damn sure your insurance company is happy – and get it in writing!!!!!!

      One last point, for me at least, I ride better and enjoy myself more when I’m confident of my tyres. I know and love the Anakee’s as I know their limitations and exactly how far I can expect to push them. Put me on a set of 50/50’s and I won’t be nearly as happy or confident. Like me you may not feel as confident on the K60’s, especially on a wet road.

      This is just my opinion based on my experience. But the way I see it you have 3 choices…

      1. Keep using the Anakee’s or similar and make the best use of the GS while investing in a cheap dirt bike for the rough stuff. Riding a light 250 with proper knobblies in the muck is far more
      fun than a 250kg brute and you won’t be worried about damaging an expensive GS.
      2. Get yourself 2 sets of tyres, 1 for the road, 1 for the dirt and swap over as needed.
      3. Keep using the Anakee’s or similar, accept their limations and stay away from swamps sand dunes :)

      Hope this helps,


      • Helmet Dryer says:

        Thanks Denis,
        Great answer and great information.
        I guess I got caught up in the hype; don’t get
        me wrong the GS is the finest bike I have
        owned. I traded in my LT for the GS and glad
        I did. I am having trouble getting rid of
        the low frequency rumbling which goes away
        If I put my head down. LT was perfect for
        this and keeping however it was a hog at
        low speed. I am working on some wind screen
        solutions. I did add the GSA wind deflectors
        Which helped tremendously.
        Now back to tires. Are the Pilot Road better
        than the Anakee’s? If so I am not adverse to
        Trying a set. Further, I have come to the conclusion
        Through my own dirt racing experience and others
        In publications citing the obvious disadvantages
        of an over weight bike. I will look for a KLR
        650 or Versys if sold in the US or many others
        To do dirt riding.
        The part regarding insurance is brilliant
        as it is something not many of us would
        consider when merely switching tires. I will be placing
        this topic at the top of my safety lecture at
        our next BMW club meeting. Another person indicated to me after I asked why the Kroo3′s were not listed under the 1200GS and it is because they are not certified by BMW for that size bike. Interestingly,
        When they developed a problem he was told TS because they were not supposed to be on the bike to begin with.
        Was going to try to make it to the Isle of Man TT, however we decided on the Ulster GP instead. Perhaps we could meet if it’s a race that you frequent.
        Again, thank you for all the great info. You have one of the most comprehensive review sites on the web.
        Best regards,
        P.S. It’s supposed to be Helmut Dryer otherwise the joke doesn’t work.

        • gpsroutes says:

          I know where you’re coming from, I changed my R1150RT for the 800GS, I still love the RT, but it became too heavy and limiting for my taste.

          As for the low frequency rumble you’re getting this may be the tyres. I’ve heard a few accounts of the Anakee 3’s causing this, although those accounts mostly come from 1200GSA owners. But I still think this is part of the compromise you take when choosing a dual purpose tyre.

          Have you tried the Wunderlich Ergo screen extension? I’ve been using this for years and love it. I’d never take a long ride without it as it cuts wind/road noise massively and therefore fatigue. At least for me it’s easily worth the money.

          I have to admit I’m very happy to hear you intend to bring up the topic of insurance and tyres in your safety lecture. So many forget to take it into consideration when choosing dual purpose, or even race/slick tyres and leave themselves potentially uninsured in the event of an accident. For the most part this would never even enter the thoughts of younger or new riders to please pass on this information at every opportunity.

          While reading your reply last night I was reminded of a conversation I had with a mechanic 10 years ago. I was talking to a wizened old mechanic about fitting a new set of tyres I was considering for the bike I had at the time. The conversation went like this,

          Mechanic: (With a sly smile) – Would you consider your tyres are an integral part of a motorcycle that can both positively and negatively affect not just your ride but your safety?

          Me: Of course, that’s a no-brainer.

          Mechanic: OK, so with that in mind would you consider putting an engine oil into your bike that’s not recommended?

          Me: No way, I could seriously damage the engine, it could overheat or seize – anything could happen!

          Mechanic: OK, would you consider putting a non recommended brake fluid into your break system?

          Me: Not a chance, that would be insane for any number of reasons!

          Mechanic: What about brake pads, would you use pads not recommended by the manufacturer for your bike model?

          Me: No, never as I assume the manufacturer recommends certain break pads for a good reason and I’m not about to experiment with different pads as it could likely result in a severely shortened life expectancy. Insurance never entered into my considerations, but I was now starting to have an uneasy feeling as to where the mechanic was going with this topic.

          Mechanic: Right, so you’d adhere to the bike manufacturers recommendations when it comes to brakes, engine oil etc. so why the hell are you asking me to fit a set of tyres that are not recommended either?? Do you fancy yourself as an unpaid product tester in a highly dangerous environment? Fit them yourself if you like, but don’t ask me to take responsibility if the tyres explode or you slide off the road.

          At the time I left the bike shop seriously pissed off at the mechanic for making me look like an idiot. It was only after I calmed down and thought it through that I saw the mechanic had a very valid point. He was also probably only looking out for my safety as he was a friend of my father. He was a good 20 years older than I and was an ex-racer with a world of experience that I could not help but respect.

          Some may not agree with him, but I went back 2 days later and thanked him for the slightly harsh education and got him to fit the recommended tyres. The fact that he also risked loosing a sale and a long running customer by giving me a kick in the arse was not lost on me either.

          Years later I actually did end up working as a product test engineer and I have a very deep understanding as to why only a certain number of tyres are recommended for any particular motorcycle.

          As for the PR3’s vs. the Anakee 3. Simply put the Pilot Road 3’s are most definitely a better tyre “on the road”! They are a 100% road biased tyre with 0% off road ability. So roughly speaking, on the road the PR3’s are 20% more effective than the Anakee 3’s in certain road conditions and most certainly in wet conditions. The PR3’s are better cornering, have more grip and they are much quieter.

          I have never experienced, nor heard of anyone experiencing low frequency noise. They are perfectly suited to the 1200GS/A and I think they now come as standard with many touring and sport touring bikes like the 1200RT. There is also the Pilot Road 3 Trail tyre to consider which is specifically for the GS.

          I rode 14,000km on the PR3’s on my RT and when they came out in 2011 they were a revelation in tyre grip technology. I sold the RT with those same tyres fitted as there was unbelievably still wear left. I never got more than 9,000km on any other tyre on the RT.

          I also put a set on my F800R and they were also brilliant on that bike, I even did a track day on them and loved it. When I soled the F800R I had 10,000km of aggressive riding on the PR3’s and there was tons of wear still left on them. I do a lot of riding on wet roads and found the PR3’s stunning in the wet compared to anything else. It’s not just me who loves them, check out any other review website and you will find they get global 5 star results.

          For 100% road touring the PR3’s would be at the very top of the list for my tyre of choice. But the Anakee 3’s are perfectly fine on the 800GS/A as it’s not nearly as fast or powerful as the 1200GS anyway. And if it’s wet I simply slow down and take it easy.

          The Pilot Road 4′s are now out making the PR3′s cheaper and even more attractive. The PR4′s are supposed to have an even longer life, but I’ve yet to try them for myself.

          You can read my own review of the PR3′s here:

          I’ll be missing the TT again this year as I’ll be back exploring the back roads of the Pyrenees and Spanish Sierras in preparation for offering guided tours from 2015. I’ll also be missing the Ulster GP as I won’t get back to Ireland until the 1st week in September where I’ll be riding from Donegal along Irelands 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way coastal route. From there it’s along the west coast of France to the Spanish Picos, hopefully taking in some off-road trails on the Santiago de Compostella route and eventually ending up back in Alicante again. It should a magic trip taking in some wildly differing roads, hence my own predicament in choosing the right tyre.. :)


  6. Helmet Dryer says:

    Dear Denis,
    Thanks again for the info it really is on the same page as what I am thinking.
    I believe my low frequency rumble is turbulence off the top of my 4″ over windscreen. I was forced to add an Airhawk which works great, however does boost me up slightly even at the minimum setting. As I put my head down it goes away eliminating tire vibration as the cause. I have looked at the ergo and am considering purchase however I make a lot of my own accessories either out of cheapness or like my headlight cover. Ordered one from Max BMW and the part number matched however, what I received wasn’t close so I made my own and all the members of the BMW club asked me where I got it. I have a design for a windshield extension if I can find materials that do not have to be transformed. If I can figure out how to post a pic I will.

    I totally agree, I will look for a dirt capable bike lighter and will haul it to where I will ride. I looked at the Sertao,however heavy and a lot of mechanics here won’t work on a Chinese engine in case I can’t service it. HP2 weighs less however twice the price. Likely it won’t be a Beemer. The pilot Road 4 is looking better. The difference between the road and the trail is the softness of the compound. As one of the people on the ADV forum said why pay for a tire that will wear quicker than the tire originally designed to give 20% more life. An oxymoron if I have ever heard one. We had a rider go down on one of the rides and my first question was what kind of tires was he using; answer: a 50/50. no surprise there. in any event I will report on my new tire experience. I am still leaning toward the Anakee however, I will keep an open mind in any case cost could dictate the choice.

  7. Anand7 says:

    Hello, I was prompted to join this forum after reading your review. I put the Anakee III’s on my F650GS Twin last year. I ride year round in all sorts of conditions, but mainly on paved roads.

    I had the tyres installed with Ride On sealant/balancing fluid. I had it installed in my last set of tyres, the Bridgestone Battlewings and I was thrilled with the performance—19,000 KM, 6000 of which were highspeed trips through the US Southwest desert at temperatures exceeding 43ºC. As I was planning more trips there, I had the fluid installed (apparently it helps tyres last longer by pulling heat away from the tread) in my new tyres.

    I liked the Anakee III’s but I did find them very noisy (they howled!), and I checked with the dealer who claimed he had never had that complaint before. I also found that they took a while to break in. But, once they did, they were stellar in the dry and the wet. I’m not the greatest fan of them in the gravel but that is a small part of my riding and may have a bit to do with the weight on my bike when I am travelling. Now that they have ~10,000KM and I see that the tread is still in good shape, the noise has definitely lessened and they seem to grip well in the wet, I’m pleased with my purchase.

    • gpsroutes says:

      I have heard some reports of the Anakee III’s making some noise on 1200GSA’s but this is the first I’ve heard of them making a howling noise on a 650GS. I have to admit too that they are not much fun on gravel, but there is aways a compromise with any dual sport tyre..


  8. profoundly_disturbed says:

    Hi Denis

    My 2014 F800GSA is about to become my only bike. Like you I’m extremely pleased with the bike having traded a 1200GS for the new F. With a supplementary 8 litre fuel tank fitted and a 10 litre bladder I can cover over 800 kms and run out of water before I run out of fuel.

    I have always run Metzler Karoo 3 as I only use bitumen as a tool to get to the dirt (read red gravel roads and trails). I’m very happy with the Karoos both on and off road but bitumen eats up the rubber quickly. I’ve clocked nearly 30,000 kms on the bike mostly in the dirt here in Western Australia with most trips being in the order of 2,000 kms or more.

    I’ve used the BMW Cool Down vest in temps of up to 48 degrees showing on the dash. It works best if you wear it next to your skin with a tee-shirt over to slow down the evaporation. I also use a similar gel filled product made here in W.A. (AUD$10 for three) that fits around the neck, I believe it was a British Army invention.

    We have to cope with a lot of deep, soft sand here and the addition of a steering damper has transformed the bike in bulldust.

    I read your review on tubeless rims, personally I wouldn’t travel without spare inner tubes no matter if I was riding tubed or tubeless tyres. I patched a split tyre with a new tube, a piece of tin wrapped in a sock that got me back to civilisation.

    So, given I’m going to be using the bike for my commute I need road biased tyres. I’m going to try the Anakee 3 and if they don’t work as you intimate I’ll be looking for a refund from you.

    ATB Chris

    • Denis Smyth says:

      Hi Chris,

      I get the impression you have a healthy dislike of normal roads lol, good for you mate. I’m very jealous, I’m based in Ireland these days and very much missing the trails I had every day when living in Spain. Not much trail riding in Ireland unfortunately..

      I’d agree with you about the tubeless rims, if heading into the wild where surfaced roads are few and far between carrying a spare set of tubes is a no brainer as the likely damage to a tyre would be far more severe than the usual nail I’d normally get on surfaced roads. The main reasons I decided on the tubeless rims was firstly a safety issue on surfaced roads as they reduce the risk (small though it might be) of a high speed blowout which my insurance company recognised with a slightly lower premium. The 2nd reason was I figured I’d get a few more kilometers out of a set of tyres as tubeless rubber do not get as hot at tubed tyres. To be honest though I think that might be argumentative as for me this difference seems to be marginal. Either way, if you are riding 90% of the time on hot roads and often at motorway speeds I’d prefer to do so on tubeless rims, whether anyone would get a return for their investment is a different conversation and very much down to the individual rider. However, it’s good to know you have a choice.

      How the hell did you manage to fix a split tyre with a piece of tin and a sock?? That’s brilliant, if you’d like to write a “how-to” with a few photos I’d be more than happy to publish it on this site, I’m sure I’m not be the only one who’d like to know how you did it ;)

      As for the Anakee’s, sorry mate – no refunds. Being “Independent” means I get to say anything I like, but it also means I don’t get paid for endorsing products so I’m usually broke, any money I have goes straight into my motorbike addiction..

      I still like the Anakee’s and still think they suit the F800GS 21″ front wheel setup very well as a road tyre with an occasional side track onto easy trails. As a 90/10 road biased tyre I certainly prefer them the the other dual sport tyres i’ve used. However my article on the Anakee’s is getting a bit long in the tooth and new rubber has come to market. I’ve been hearing a whole lot of good feedback from others who’re now using the continental tkc 70, although most of them are on the 1200GS. I’ve not tried them but there’s more than a fair chance I’ll fit them to one of my F800′s when it’s time for a new set. But as the 70′s get very good reviews both on & off road and are a 70/30 tyre I’d wonder if they might suit you better? By the sounds of it you might have to spend more time on civilised roads, but you’ll still likely take every opportunity to get the bike dirty in which case you might find the Anakee 3′s limiting.


  9. DesertSweeper says:

    Fantastic trip Denis – am green with envy and itching to get my own 2013 F800GS out into the world…soon. I thought I would share a recent experience I had with this tyre on a friends bike in sand dunes. It was the first time I had ridden it. I was pleasantly surprised. A short clip of me riding it in soft sand dunes:

    • Denis Smyth says:

      Cool vid DesertSweeper, I enjoyed that and subscribed ;)
      So here’s a question for you, which did you prefer riding in the dirt, the 800GS or the 1200GSA? The 1200 looked more stable from the vids on those trails you were on but obviously it’s a completely different experience in the saddle..

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