Let’s talk about some tires. The Shinko brand seems to be a popular topic these days. So I set out to see what the fuss is about and how they would perform in some of my local Baja conditions.
Testing Shinko Tires In Baja
Does Size Matter?
The Shinko MX216 front comes in three different 21” sizes: 80/100, 90/90 and 90/100. The large 90/100 “fatty” has become a popular size in the past couple of years. It is praised for the traction and plush feel of the large footprint. The down side is that it can flex enough to cause a vague front end feel. It also tends to feel wide when hitting trail junk and catch on the edge of ruts easier.
For this test I chose the 90/90. In theory it should be the best of both worlds. It has a slightly wider footprint than the 80/100, but without the overly tall stance of the 90/100. A standard size mousse fits well in it too.
As for actual measurements, the 94mm max tread width Shinko 90/90, mounted with a mousse, is 3mm wider than a Kenda Millville 80/100 and 3mm narrower than a Kenda Washougal 90/100. But I don’t know that those numbers mean much on their own.
The other very popular Shinko choice right now is the 505 “Cheater” soft terrain tire. Paired with the MX216 this would be the perfect hard enduro combination. But I need a good Baja tire, so I decided to run the hard terrain Shinko HT505 for the testing.
All of the riding was exclusively in Baja. But the terrain is far more diverse than you might think. Baja has everything; sand, rocks, hard pack, pavement, wet and dry conditions. We rode everything from dunes to wet mountain trails, 1400 miles in all.
Long Term Wear - Shinko MX216 Front
The MX216 front shines. It is at its very best in the soft conditions. I have one trail that winds through a couple of miles of sand dunes. The front carves through the sand with amazing grip and precision. It is the kind of riding that makes you feel like a hero.
Performance remains good through most kinds of terrain, including hard pack fire roads. As gravel gave way to boulder fields, the front would start to deflect just a bit. But overall, it is hard to find something it doesn’t do well. Riding included a couple hundred miles of pavement. The tarmac did not accelerate the wear significantly on this FIM/DOT approved tire.
I tested the similar Golden Tyre 216AA in the 90/100 size a couple of years ago. Overall would have to say my impressions are very much the same. These tires are quite close to each other in feel and wear characteristics. The larger size Golden Tyre did perform better in the rock fields.
As for the HT505 I am left with nothing more than a lukewarm impression. Granted it did wear very well, 1400 miles is just about the very most I can get from any type of tire for the riding I do. As expected, the knobs are worn quite low, but with no tears or chunking. From start to finish the performance was the same, no drop off.
1400 Miles on Shinko HT505 Rear
But the traction and feel are very middle of the road. The 110/80/18 505 rear is a tall tire, so much so that other reviews have commented that the 120 size will tend to rub on some bikes. When pushed, the carcass will start to move around. This is compounded by the rather rounded knob pattern that does not give much side grip.
This can be kind of fun on hard pack roads, just a blip of the throttle will get the rear end to spin up flat track style. But more often it leaves you wanting for traction at some critical moment. The tall profile absorbs trail imperfections well. Overall I would put this in the same class as perhaps a Dunlop 606, a good high mileage tire that trades off some performance for durability. Some friends recently used this tire for a trip to Cabo and reported it to still be in good condition upon arrival.
I am impressed enough with the GT216 front that I have decided to use it in the Sonora Rally. I expect dunes and plenty of soft desert terrain for the event. Unless you are already of fan of the 90/100 fatty tires, my recommendation would be to start with the Shinko MX216 90/90/21 size as it seems to be a good all-around choice.
Here is a video look at the comparison between brands.