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Pirelli MT 43 Pro Trials Tire Review

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The Score

Pirelli Trials Tire
Pirelli offers a trials tire that is DOT-legal. It doesn't provide the amount of ridiculous traction that competition tires do, but it is still as good or better than regular knobbies in many situations. 
Trials tires have seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years with a huge boost in sales from the enduro world. No longer are the soft-compound, square, narrowly spaced knobbies reserved for the competitive world. Everyday trail riders have discovered the many benefits and are creating more demand than the actual trials industry. Pirelli has joined the list of tire manufacturers offering this kind of tread, but its approach is slightly different with the MT 43 Pro Trials Tire.

The Scoop

Pirelli wanted to widen the scope of use and strengthen the eco-friendly, low-impact characteristic inherent to these tires. Rather than create a meat that is super gummy, flexible and wears quickly, the MT 43 Pro has a reinforced bias-ply carcass with stiffer sidewall and more durable rubber compound. Tread pattern is different with non-square knobbies and a DOT-legal 11mm depth. Higher speeds and increased heat from dual-sport and pavement use were part of the reason the carcass and rubber compound were strengthened. However, the sidewalls still flex and make an enormous difference absorbing sharp impacts.

The MT 43 worked perfectly during our off-road test in Southern Oregon.
The MT 43 worked perfectly during our off-road test in Southern Oregon.
Traction is very good under acceleration and braking, but the key is to keep things under control. Getting the rear spinning limits the MT’s effectiveness. Grip over rocks, roots, hardpack and even mud is, for the most part, on par or superior to full knobbies. When the tire is rotating, the closely spaced lugs are actually good at self-cleaning, but we found slippery downhills where the rear tire locks up fairly often is the biggest weakness.

We used the tire on a 2009 WR250F, and the match is nearly perfect as far as we’re concerned. It’s a very competent bike for trail riding and the motor isn’t exactly the type to spin up the rear tire very often. For pure off-road use, with the relatively docile power and excellent wear thus far, we expect to get 3-4 times the lifespan compared to a regular knobby on this bike. Dual-sporting would of course alter the air pressure needs and wear pattern, but we ran 10 psi with stock tubes for general off-road use and haven’t experienced any flats.

The Sentence

Motorcycle-Superstore customers rated it 4.8 out of 5, and all of them echoed our findings – long-lasting performance, excellent grip, wide range of use and attractive pricing. For what this tire is designed to do, the MT 43 Pro Trials Tire met and exceeded our expectations. Throw in the fact that it’s DOT-legal and popular with greenies for its minimal impact on soil and this Pirelli offers more than most tires can even dream of.

Sizes: 4.00 x 18 (rear)
MT 43 Trials Rear Tire: MSRP: $117.40
MT 43 Trials Front Tire: MSRP : $105.40

Check out more Pirelli Tires and Motorcycle Tires at Motorcycle Superstore.
Highs & Lows
  • DOT-legal
  • Better suited for "general" off-roading
  • Affordable
  • Not as sticky as competiton tires
  • Not enough people using them!

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Curtis G -dual sport  September 6, 2010 10:59 AM
The MT43 is simply awesome on my ktm 450 exc dual sport,I had a lot of problems hooking up in the technical soft dirt,tree root,rocky areas in the mountains.This tire has cured all that and lasted twice as long as he stock D.O.T. knobby.Not to mention it is awesome for any trail riding(except mud) and great on the street,i cant believe the side hill traction when riding out of ruts at a 2nd gear lug! Great tire,will never go back to a knobby. going to order my next one right now,I have about 1200 on/off road miles on it and it is still half tread depth,let me remind you it is a 450 with mass tire shredding torque!
kevin -crf450x  February 5, 2010 08:15 PM
Used this tire for the first time on a 4 day 900 mile ride through Nevada. Amazing hookup hardpack, sand, gravel it didn't seem to matter. Normally I run 18 lbs. of air front and back in my knobbies, sucks flatting. I ran 12 lbs., nailed a rock which sliced the sidewall and broke 4 spokes. I replaced the spokes and ordered a new mt43 even though this one still has over half the tread left. Its raining so I'll be using it at least one more time.
JC -RE: MW  February 1, 2010 11:02 AM
Muddy and extremely muddy conditions are not the preferred terrain for this tire. It performs surprisingly well in the slippery stuff, especially when you find a buried rock or slimy root hidden underneath. However, if you plan on riding in mud conditions, stick with a soft-terrain knobby.
MW -Mud?  February 1, 2010 08:26 AM
How do these trial tires hold up to muddy to extremely muddy conditions?
Ryan -sand  November 27, 2009 11:05 PM
These tires work good in the sand, once up to speed they kinda float on the surface like a boat.
x2468 -re: sand  March 22, 2009 09:09 PM
thanks for the input. Yeah, not desert riding. i do a lot of riding in a sand/gravel pit and the composition and make-up look similar to the pictures you had. especially the lower left picture of this article, and the harder sand in the cliff climb picture from the wr250f test (lowest on the left in that article). I've been running a maxxis SI (soft-intermediate) and have really liked it in the sand, as well as the muddy trail sections. but the trials tire rave has made me very curious. I was very surprised that this tire had good traction given it's bias ply construction. that's the same as knobbies. where as trials tires are traditionally radials. but it seems to work.
JC -Sand  March 19, 2009 05:28 PM
The performance in sandy terrain is surprisingly good. By sandy we mean desert riding with the occasional wash or maybe some loose DG - not dune riding. Because it is DOT legal, the Pirelli has stronger sidewalls than other trials tires. This allows for a lot of air to be let out to accommodate for sandy spots but still provides better protection from hard impacts to the rim. I absolutely loved them in our desert ride because there were so many rock formations to play around on and the tires are unbeatable there. I spend a lot of time dinking around with logs, rocks, etc - slow, technical stuff, so I was very impressed with the MT 43.
x2468 -trials tire in sand  March 19, 2009 05:05 PM
hey JC, i know this artcile is a little old. not sure if you'll see this comment. but how does that trials tire do in the sandy conditions i see in these pictures, and in the wr250f test pictures. i ride in similar sand/baked clay conditions i see you riding in.
Scott A -Pirellis on a Pulsar?  January 22, 2009 04:42 PM
The only thing suitable for a Pulsar would be a bonfire. Seriously though, you've got 17" wheels and the MT43 only comes in 21 and 18.
jimmy -r these tres suitable for pulsar 150  January 2, 2009 01:51 AM
please suggest