DOT-legal, OK in dirt, OK on the street, and affordable.
What’s the best budget dual sport tire? You’ll find plenty of opinions on this question, and it's a great way to start arguments on adventure riding forums and Facebook pages. If you really want an expert opinion, YouTuber Barry Morris makes a pretty good argument for the Shinko 244, in his latest video on the Cross Training Adventure channel.
The Shinko 244 is a DOT-legal 50/50 tire; it’s aimed at 50 percent usage on paved roads, and 50 percent usage off-pavement. That means you’re going to see compromises. It won’t have the long life and grip that some users will want on asphalt, and it won’t perform as well as a true knobbie in the dirt.
As Morris points out, it’s a design that’s been around a long time. Previously, Japanese manufacturer Yokohama built motorcycle tires with the same tread design. Korean manufacturer Shinko bought the design in 1998, and has been manufacturing them ever since, sometimes under the name Goldenboy. The 244 is also very similar to the Kenda K270 design, but is almost always less expensive.
That’s why people are initially attracted to the Shinko 244—it's very affordable, often the lowest-priced street-legal dual sport tire available at most online retailers. However, as Morris points out, most users eventually realize the tire might not have the same performance as other, more expensive rubber (a Dunlop D606 will always spank the 244 off-road), but it’s good enough for what most riders are asking from it. It’s especially decent on gravel roads, although its performance worsens in mud or sand.
Shinko motorcycle tires had a crummy reputation in the 1990s and early 2000s; some 244s would shred their knobs on the highway. Quality control seems to have improved, though, and did we mention it’s affordable? If you’re riding a KLR with a milk crate for luggage, are you likely to spend big money on tires?
Everyone will have their own take on this, but Morris seems to approve of the 244, and if you watch all the moto-hoonery on his channel, you can see his opinion is as qualified as anyone’s.