Inspired by a meme from this morning, I had to add my limited opinion to the matter!
It always amazes when clients ask my opinion on Tyres, only to complain about their (tyre) noise! Safety first people!
In my opinion, tyres depend on a number of things (and more) in no order of priority:
Cost, Grip (On & Offroad), Riding Style / Preference, Durability / Puncture ability, Tyre Life, Noise…I prefer to ride matching sets, I.e. the same brand of tyre front and rear, I don’t like mixing tyres… but that’s just the ocd in me. There are many great tyres in the market, but the typical goto options that suit my needs:
Lets get that out the way. Yes, I am in a privileged position (tyres at dealer cost, although I do ride a lot!), but cost doesn’t bother me. I choose safety over saving money. I always start every trip with a new tyre and use whatever is left of it in and around town. I generally get three rears to one front.
I like the bike to be loose on the rear but grip on the front. I.e. slide into and out of corners. A knobbly on the rear generally hooks up too much and therefor wears far too quickly for my riding style.
I really like pushing the corners on the road, especially on the 1290, so road grip is an important compromise to me. A softer compound (and round profile tyre, not square like the original Mitas EO7) works better for me on the road. This also generally compromises tyre life (3000km or more).
I love the TKC, although it gives me more rear grip (and subsequent wear) than I want, it offers all round great performance on and off-road. I will not ride on the road with traction control off, a knobby simply does not offer enough side grip for the power of the 1290 and I generally do not get more than 1200km from a rear. With thin side walls, the TKC is prone to snake bites and punctures, which puts me off the tyre completely. Generally every puncture has become a show stopping tyre change scenario.
I loved the Karoo 3, great on and off-road grip, not great in muddy conditions, but I do not think a great mud tyre exists. Regardless, muddy conditions are less than 1% of my adventure experience, a worthwhile compromise. Karoo3 have triple carcass, resulting in less punctures, but changing a tyre, in the field, is a mission! And they are noisy, although I always wear earplugs, so not something I’m concerned about. Function before form.
Pirelli STR: my current favorite. Superbike like grip on road, compromise off-road, although the loose rear is what I like. This tyre gives me what I want, the stronger sidewalls and carcass punctures less. Once you get your head around the off-road performance and calibrate your riding accordingly, they are great tyres. And the mileage is not too bad. At least for me.