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Thursday, 3 May 2018

Tyres and other stuff

It's been a busy few days for this old fella!  Last Sunday saw an IAM ride in wet and often torrential conditions.  Not the most enjoyable environment but it's good practice riding in adverse conditions whilst making progress to keep us sharp.  Tony, one of our Trainee Observers (mentors) is getting to the pointy end of his training so getting him and a new Associate out in challenging conditions keeps everyone honest.

Yours truly from Tony's Go Pro - rain, rain go away......

The ride went surprisingly well with no anxious moments and all our rain gear did its job with no leaks.  I gave my Cordura gear a wash recently with Nikwax Tech Wash and TX.Direct Wash-in and those two products do a great job of rejuvenating riding gear.  I've used Tech Wash previously on hiking jackets etc but never previously used the two products in combination.  Don't know how long it will last but extremely impressed.

Great for Cordura/Gore-Tex-type riding gear


Tony (Yamaha Tracer) and Jim (Honda ST 1300) at the coffee stop

On Tuesday, it was an early start to the city of Hamilton 160 km away for a routine service and new tyres.  The last 2 sets of tyres on the Suzuki have been Metzler Roadtec 01's.  On both occasions, useful life has been about 11,000 km.  Whilst there is still some reasonable tread left on both tyres, the front 01 goes out of shape and the bike tends to drop in rather than roll into tight corners.  False economy to wring every last km out of such critical bits of equipment so both always get changed at the same time.

Metzler Roadtec 01 front tyre at ~11000 km

Metzler Roadtec 01 rear tyre at ~11000 km - kept its shape quite well

Even with the front tyre going out of shape, they're a superb tyre and grip well in all conditions from torrential rain to a trackday in hot conditions.  I would have happily replaced them with an identical set but more on that in a minute.

Arriving at Boyd Motorcycles, they were waiting for me and the bike was whisked off into the service bay pretty much as soon as I got off it.  Great staff who try and get me back on the road as soon as possible as they know it's just over 2 hours to get home.  Only had time for a quick peek in their showroom as a friend was picking me up rather than hanging about at the dealer,  However, I liked the BMW R9T cafe racer in the photo below.  Not sure how comfortable it would be on a long haul though.


BMW R9 Cafe Racer in the foreground

The service and new tyres took about 4 hours which was pretty good.  The replacements are the new Michelin Road 5's, the successor to the PR3's and 4's which I've previously used on various bikes and liked; especially wet weather performance.  The switch away from the Metzlers is pure curiosity.

Having been been released relatively recently, the pricing is still pretty sharp, presumably to gain market share.  There's a host of technical differences compared with both their predecessors as well as the Roadtec 01.  The most obvious visual difference is that the design more resembles their pure sport tyres than the PR3's and 4's with a high crown and a tread pattern which stops a long way short of the tyre edge - see below.

Michelin Road 5 front tyre

Michelin Road 5 rear tyre

Preliminary magazine road tests suggest that it's a superb all round sport touring tyre and outstanding in the wet.  This is somewhat comforting because that lack of tread out towards the edge is a slight worry.  I just hope that the design brief to the French engineers wasn't " Nobody leans a bike zat far in ze wet, so no tread is needed.  If anyone does, well, merde......".  Well I do, given half a chance so "merde" indeed!  I'm sure that the compound  takes care of that problem (he says hopefully).

Although the Suzuki came with 50 profile tyres, I've gone for 55 profile again for quicker turn-in and a bigger contact patch when leaned over.  Michelin's marketing department are a bit vague on expected tyre life compared with its predecessors but from experience, they speak with forked tongue anyway.  The claim was that PR4's lasted 20% longer than PR3's but from personal experience, there was absolutely no difference.

It's far too early to make any objective comments about performance, not wanting to skate along on my arse on the delivery trip home.  That will have to wait until they are properly scrubbed in.  If they are as good as the Metzler 01's, last for a minimum of 10,000 km and are trustworthy at pace in the wet, I'll be a happy camper!

The ride home was one of those which are truly good for the soul.  No time constraints, beautifully warm and because it was late afternoon, very little traffic on the road.  New tyres meant not treating the road like a personal race track whch meant that I could chill and enjoy the spectacular views along 50 km of coast road.  Arriving in Coromandel at sunset, I pulled up at the wharf which is just a few hundred metres from our home on the ridge in the following photo.

 Sunset on Coromandel town wharf

Aren't days like this what we live for?  Good for the soul indeed and out fishing in the boat tomorrow.  This retirement business isn't too bad at all!

25 comments:

  1. Nice. Totally agree about fronts going off - it always amazes me how well the bike handles once a fresh one goes on...Connie is feeling new again with a new set of 4's on.

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  2. Hi Andrew,
    Absolutely! It felt really skittish as soon as I left the dealer. New tyres always feel like that but also, the pressures were set to the manual and I have mine a tad lower than that. Anything new on the horizon, or planning to keep the Connie forever? The Suzuki will need a new rear shock later this year. Nitron I think.

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    1. Always looking but the Connie is not going anywhere - after all she only has 147,000km on her. Just read of one with 400,000 and still going strong.

      I have wondered about giving her a suspension themed birthday at some stage.

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    2. Excellent! Yeah, those bike in line 4's last forever. Good suspension makes so much difference.

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  3. Nice write up as always Geoff. It makes me more than a bit envious sat here in Upper Hutt on course!

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  4. Thanks Lee,
    Yep, a course of several months duration is a tough call but should be worth it in the long term. Take one of your bikes out to Makara whilst you're stuck in Wellington - great biking road and close to town! Go up to the wind farm whilst you're there.

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    1. Oh, and just to rub it in, I'm down in the Waikato on an IAM observed ride on Saturday. Weather forecast is superb! :-P

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    2. Flyboy has left a new comment on your post "Tyres and other stuff":

      I love that last photo Geoff. Great timing!
      On another note, is “repellency” really a word?? ;

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  5. Cheers Dave,
    I had to make a wee bit of "progress" to get there in time, but nothing which would be frowned at too much! Nope, don't think it is a word but everyone seems to murder the English language these days, especially the press!

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  6. Saw a copy of that model R9 at the local BMW dealer a few weeks ago and it immediately brought to mind the Norton Commando John Player Special - a bike I lusted after big time back in the 70s. As pretty as it is though, I don't think my aging and abused back would be too happy after about 30 minutes in the saddle.

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    1. Ah - good point about the John Player Nortons! Yep, back, wrists and knees would take a hiding on it. I had to put,slightly,lowered footpegs on the current bike to take the stress off my knees after a few hours in the saddle.

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  7. Hi Geoff
    New rubber is always good, it makes the bike feel like new again. I'll be interested to see how long you get out of the new PR5's.

    Absolutely loving that last shot of the bike on the Coro Pier. Is that a phone pic?

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    1. Hi Steve,
      You're dead right about that! I was out yesterday for a fairly brisk ride with a couple of IAM guys through the Waikato back roads and the Road 5's behaved just like a sport tyre when leaned over - terrific grip.

      Yep, that photo was with my Samsung S8 - 16 megapixels. Seems to be pretty good in low light.

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  8. Gorgeous sunset photo Geoff. I bet just having new tires on made a world of difference in handling on the way home. Hope the new ones last as long as your usual ones.

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    1. Thanks Brandy, we do get nice sunsets at this time of year. With these tyres being new to market, it will indeed be interesting to see how they hold up. They have to be better than the OEM set where the rear was worn out in 3700 km!! Hope that your tyre troubles are now over on the car!

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  9. Interesting to see how the 5's compare to the 4s, having just slapped a set of 4's on the XJR. Bugger! The FZ1 is due a new set soon, so...although Maddi likes the Pilot Power (or whatever it is) that's currently on the front.
    As you say - the lack of tread on the edges looks a little off-putting....although I don't think I've ridden in rain for 7-8 yrs now....surprisingly I miss it. There's something very satisfying about making swift progress in wet, miserable conditions. Not pleasant, but satisfying.....

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  10. Hi Jon!
    Living in WA, a set of Pilot Powers would be fine apart from the generally poor lifespan of pure sport tyres. Since writing this post, I've given it a caning in the twisties and it grips really well on those soft compound edges. Yet to do it in the wet though. Agree with you about making progress in the wet!

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  11. Hi Geoff, that lovely sunset photo on the Coromandel harbour reminded me of my visit there way back in '96, man I would love to ride there. We have relatives in Auckland, both my wife and I so it's not inconceivable that we will visit again, if we do I'll hire a bike and give you a call. Just don't expect me to keep up with you on that Coromandel road!

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    1. Hi Andrew, lovely to hear from you! You'll always have a warm welcome if you ever decide to visit! I guess that the coast road is relatively unchanged since you were here, apart from a better surface thanks to a specific safety initiative for bikers.

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  12. A great post as usual Geoff. I'm gearing up for riding in wintry conditions having been spoiled with a dry, balmy autumn. My rear Road 5 has 7K kms on it and now has obvious wear. Actually, I'm beginning to detect a little scalloping on the right side of the tread - something I've never experienced on the rear before.

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  13. Hi Jules,
    Thanks, always an interesting subject! Yes, we're the same weather-wise and about to get hit this weekend. Will be very interested in your end of life assessment. Don't know why you would get scalloping just on the right either unless the crown of the road has something to do with it. My last Roadtec 01 started to scallop (evenly) but since I had the suspension adjusted, the wear corrected itself.

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  14. The last pic looks like out of a commercial ;-) Lovely shot, Geoff.

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  15. Thank you Sonja - sometimes we just get plain lucky!

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  16. Great Blog, love the practical subjects..
    At this point how are you finding the PR5?

    By the way, From your experience. In terms of tire profile, What are your thoughts about switching from a 180/55-17 to a 190/50-17 on a Kawa ZZR1200?

    I'm looking for better stability in corners considering that the ZZR feels taller than the ZZR1400 or even the Blackbird..

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    1. Thanks for the kind words! The Road 5's are excellent with a very progressive roll-in rather than tip-in. Haven't tried them in really wet conditions yet but have no reason to question all the great reports I've read.

      Speaking from just a personal viewpoint, I'd stick with a 180 profile as a 190 will probably slow your turn-in. A good set of sport touring tyres like the Metzler Roadtec 01 or Michelin Road 5's should give you all the stability you need. Thanks for dropping by!

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