The Michelin T63 tires offer a good value for an adventure or dual sport motorcycle tire. They have a long tread life for a knobby tire and they provide excellent handling characteristics in almost all conditions I have tried them in.
The Michelin T63 tires were inspired by Michelin’s Desert Tires. The T63 tire is Michelin’s 50/50 tire for on and off road use. They have reinforced the knobs to resist tearing and chunking while riding on paved surfaces while keeping an effective tread pattern for offroad riding. They are DOT legal and they have a speed rating of “S” which means they have been tested up to 112 mph.
On Road Handling
When I first mounted the T63 tires on my 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 I was unsure what to expect. I have been street riding for a long time, but knobby tires and dual sporting was new to me. The first 50 miles or so I was getting the feel for them on the road and in the twisties of the Appalachian Mountains. I ride spirited on the street and as I got the feel for the T63 tires I found that I could ride as spirited as I am used to on these tires. It didn't take me long to figure out that I can drag my toes with these tires!
I have only had the back tire let go one time. I came into a decreasing radius turn a little too fast and I did feel the back tire slip out a bit. The tire did not just let go though. I could feel it about to happen and I was able to handle it properly and stay upright. I was definitely pushing the tire too far in this instance and the predictable behavior of the tire allowed me to pull through it.
As with any knobby tire you do get some road noise. I wear ear protection and I have an aftermarket exhaust so I really don't notice it much, but there is a hum at about 50mph or so.
Last summer we had a lot of rain so I did get some wet weather riding in as well. I always back off a bit on wet pavement, but these tires did perform well on wet pavement.
The T63 tires have really good turn in characteristics and something I noticed on the new set that I do not remember from the previous set is the front tire tends to follow the grooves in the road. This may be a matter of scuffing them in because the set I took off did not behave this way.
While braking hard on the street the knobs of the front tire feel a bit squirrelly. I think this is a riding style problem though. I am used to my FZ1 and FJR on the street and I just need to ride the KLR in different way so I started going easier on the front brake and adding in more rear brake and that has helped with the hard braking feel.
Off Road Handling
Now remember, I said I was new to offroad riding so I am not doing power slides and drifting so if that is your offroad riding style just keep that in mind. However, I am on a bigger bike for offroading and that should factor in to this review as well.
I have used the T63 tires on hard pack gravel, loose gravel, some sand, red clay mud, rocky terrain, and grass. On most of these terrains the T63 leaves me feeling confident. They are predictable and seem to hook up well. The exception for me has been the red clay mud. This stuff gives me problems, and these problems likely have a lot to do with my offroad skills, but I find that my front tire often washes out from under me. There are many factors playing into this such as the balance of the bike, rider skill, and tire traction. I can tell you that the rider skill is intermediate and the bike is a bit front heavy. The positive of the T63 tires in the mud is they seem to resist caking up with mud and that is very helpful. If the mud isn’t too deep I don’t have any problems getting through it on the T63 tires.
As with all motorcycle tires the air pressure is pretty important on the T63 tires. For street riding I started off running about 24 psi front and 26 psi rear. The tire handled good, but it does accelerate wear on the street. I have since increased street pressure to 32 psi front and 35 psi rear. At the higher pressure the tire seemed to wear slower and the on road handling was still very good.
For offroad riding I have experimented a bit and I find I like to air down to about 15 psi front and 18 psi rear. This improves off road grip and improves off road handling a lot. If I am loaded with camping gear and luggage I will run offroad pressure at 18 psi front and 21 psi rear.
I do run Michelin Heavy Duty tubes and (knock on wood) I have not experienced any pinch flats.
Earlier I mentioned that I was running the air pressures a bit low for the first part of the tire’s life and I was also braking really hard on the street. I believe this contributed to a shorter tire life for the front tire. You will notice in the pictures that there is some pretty severe cupping. The cupping happened very early on and as I adjusted my braking and air pressures the rate of wear slowed down, but the cupping had already started. I have a second set installed now and I will let you know if I experience the same cupping on the new set now that I have found optimal air pressures and braking style.
The back tire had a very even wear pattern. I got just short of 4500 miles on these tires before I swapped them out. I could probably have put a few more street miles on them, but for off road riding the knobs were getting low.
I like the Michelin T63 tires. In fact, I like them enough to buy a second set as you can see. I have not tried all the tires out there and I am not saying the T63 tires are the best tire ever made, but they do their job very well. I purchased my tires from Competition Accessories and they will run you about $150 for a set. At that price they provide a great value. If you are in the market for a good 50/50 tire the T63 is definitely worth trying out.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or would like to know anything I may have forgotten to mention please feel free to leave a comment and I will respond as quickly as possible. The opinions in this review are my own. If you found this review helpful, please consider supporting our sponsors with future purchases.