If you’ve been watching one of the best Pro Motocross seasons we’ve seen in recent years, you likely heard about a few of the top riders running a dirt bike paddle tire. In fact, 450 Champion, Eli Tomac of Star Racing Yamaha, ran a dirt bike paddle tire on more than one occasion where the announcers weren’t sure it was the best choice.
This type of tire gives unmatched forward traction, but it lacks side-bite and can make the rear end of the dirt bike quite loose in the corners. If you’re looking for top speed or great forward traction, the dirt bike paddle tire is often a good choice.
Tomac often wanted a paddle tire dirt bike to give him an advantage for the holeshot, which it certainly can do, while accepting he may need to work a little harder the rest of the race due to the less-than-optimal tire choice.
What is a dirt bike paddle tire?
In the world of motocross, paddle tires for dirt bikes are typically the go-to tire choice for sand and mud conditions and have a tread pattern that resembles a “scoop.” However, many riders have started to use this type of tire for conditions other than just sand and mud recently.
Outside of motocross racing, a dirt bike paddle tire is more commonly referred to as the type of tire that you would run if you are riding in the sand dunes. This tire here is an example of what would be run in the sand dunes.
Paddle Tires for Dirt Bikes
The image below is one of the more popular dirt bike paddle tires for motocross, Dunlop’s Geomax MX14. Dunlop had its signature paddle tire, the MX12, on the market for quite some time without much change or improvement.
Then, over the last few years, paddle tires for dirt bikes have become a lot more popular with riders, causing Dunlop to invest more time and money into R&D to improve its dirt bike paddle tire offering and releasing the improved sand/mud tire in 2022 with the Dunlop Geomax MX14.
The knobs on the MX14 have been made 18% taller than the previous version, the MX12, to improve sand/mud penetration. Dunlop has also optimized the tread blocks using Reinforced Scoop Technology (RST) and V-Block Technology Advanced (V-BT Advanced) designs, and improved the stopping power provided by the tire by utilizing Flexible Fin Technology (FFT).
That’s a bit wordy with a lot of acronyms. In short, Dunlop has improved its sand/mud tire offering to handle better and give you more traction and braking power.
Although Dunlop’s tire is currently the most common, it is not the only one. In fact, most major dirt bike tire manufacturers have their own version. Other dirt bike paddle tires are:
- Pirelli: Scorpion MX Soft 410.
- Michelin: Starcross Sand 5.
- Hoosier: ST1.
- Kenda: Sand Mad K782.
- Bridgestone: Battlecross X10.
All dirt bike paddle tire brands have their own tweaks on the design, but overall, they’re quite similar.
They provide a “scoop-like” design made for sandy and muddy conditions but can also do quite well for forward traction in soft terrain. Careful on the throttle coming out of corners or on hard-packed conditions with this tire — your rear end might slide out and put you on the ground.