Undoubtedly, tyres can make, or break, a motorcycle. Take the KTM 390 or 200 Duke for instance. For their size and in their segment, they are easily the most powerful motorcycles available. With so much power and torque being sent to the rear wheel, you really need a good set of tyres. Tyres that will not be overwhelmed by the grunt, that won’t give up when the bike’s leaned over, that will grip when you haul on the stoppers. That is exactly where the latest series of radial tyres from Ceat, the Zoom Rad X1 radial tyres come into the picture. This brand new pair that was sent to us by Ceat for evaluation has been created specifically for the KTM Dukes.
Since these bikes are primarily bought by the enthusiast for their share of the Thrill of Riding, the tyres need to at least match if not deliver superior performance than the stock tyres the bikes get. One of the first things that stood out for me was the fact that the soft compound used in these new Ceat Zoom Rad X1s takes less time to warm up. As a result, the tyres on the 200 Duke you see here got up to temperature sooner than I expected from my previous experiences either on this bike or on other 200 Dukes. So I could get started on all my antics much quicker because I already had the extra grip I needed.
I also found that I was able to push the bike harder than I would otherwise. There’s certainly an increase in traction that’s very reassuring when the bike is cranked over. Now, the 200 Duke is a very agile, powerful and enjoyable motorcycle to ride. It’s something that you want to push. So when you get a pair of tyres that not only allow you to push as hard as you want to but also harder than you had expected, the grins inside the helmet only grow wider. Mine certainly did. Besides, it isn’t as if this grip is only enjoyable when you’re carving up corners. Even on straights, the extra grip gave me the confidence to wind the throttle open a fraction more than I would have done otherwise. This is thanks to a wider shoulder and a new tread pattern that is said to improve overall traction.
However, anyone who thinks of tyres in relation to just grip is making a big mistake. To me, tyres are also about comfort. If a tyre is too noisy, it can become very irritating over a long distance. Thankfully, the Ceat Zoom Rad X1s are built with enhanced vibration damping for low road noise. Going over the multiple variations of our roads (from tarmac to concrete to concrete with tarmac patches, etc) I could sense a significant reduction in noise. As a result of it, I finished my ride less fatigued and stressed than I normally am.
The tyres also offer solid feedback when you need to brake hard. Really hard. While on the 390 you have the safety net of ABS, the 200 on which we tested these tyres leaves it all to the rider’s right limbs. Braking on the bike with the wheels shod with these Zoom Rad X1s, felt extremely positive. The tyres let me know exactly how hard and how long I could stay on the brakes without fear of locking the wheels. The overall effect was very reassuring indeed.
The best bit however is that all of this comes neither at the cost of tyre life, nor fuel economy. The fact that these Ceat Zoom Rad X1s are priced reasonably and offered with a 72-month warranty only add to their appeal as an aftermarket upgrade for your Duke.