Perhaps I should explain the title of this post for readers who are unfamiliar with the item of clothing in the title line when it is used in a mildly derogatory way by those with British connections! To call someone an anorak is to describe a person with a nerdy obsession. It probably stems from from the days of UK steam trains when legions of train-spotters would collect train numbers as they passed, often wearing anoraks to protect them from the crappy British weather. Let me say right now, dear reader, that I don't currently possess an anorak although I did have one in my teens. It doesn't stop my darling wife Jennie calling me one though if I talk about motorcycles too much but that's ok as I've been called far worse on numerous occasions.
Getting back on topic...... every so often, fellow moto-blogger Julian Pearce
and I will swap our experiences with oils, chain lube, tyres and pretty much anything else we have a common interest in. This time it's tyres, especially as Jules and I have both been using Michelin PR4's on our road bikes.
Going back a bit, I used Michelin PR3's then PR4's on my Street Triple and found them nigh on perfect for the type of riding I do. Phenomenal grip in the wet and not too shabby when pressing on in the dry either. The only slight disappointment was that Michelin's claim of a 20% increase in tyre life compared with the PR3 did not materialise in practice - they were virtually identical for a higher price. On the other hand as I mentioned in another blog post, the PR4 front tyre felt slightly more planted than the PR3; perhaps due to the bigger spacing between sipes. All things considered, the price difference between the 3 and 4 didn't really bother me.
When I bought the Suzuki GSX-S 1000 just over a year ago, it came fitted with Dunlop D214's. For my particular requirements, they were horrible things. Being a pure sport tyre, it takes a bit of heat to make them grip. The often damp, cooler conditions of an NZ winter didn't give the level of grip which inspired confidence and there was no way I was going to rely on the Suzuki traction control to stop me skating along on my arse. Also, the flatter 50 profile of the tyres slowed turn-in and it was easy to run off the edge of the tyre at decent angles of lean. The final turn-off was tyre life. I'd destroyed the rear D214 in a mere 3700 km from new and to replace them at that frequency would bankrupt me! A good example of "fitness for purpose".
Rear D214 at 3700 km from new - not much tread pattern to start with but rather less now!
It was a no-brainer to replace them with PR4 sport-touring tyres, but go for the 55 profile rather than 50 as the sharper profile would assist with a more rapid turn-in. Some photos of the pristine PR3's and 4's and a review of the PR3 can be found HERE
Well, it's now approximately 12,500 km later and they've just been replaced. They've done one track day and most of the remaining k's have been generally spirited riding with the Institute of Advanced Motorists and minimal commuting. The centre of the rear tyre was down to the legal minimum tread depth of 1.5 mm and the front hoop was a shade above 2 mm at the same position. Pointless to extract every last km from them when they are such an integral part of staying upright.
So how did they go? Well, I'm pretty pleased with the distance they lasted, considering what they've had to put up with. Going to a 55 profile was also a good move as turn-in was noticeably quicker. Can't take the credit for this as one of my IAM friends, Rob Van Proemeren
, had previously done the same to his Hayabusa and was delighted with the improvement in handling.
Equally importantly, front and rear PR4's retained a good profile for most of their life. It was only in the last 1000 km or so that the rear showed obvious signs of flattening in the centre and the front showed flattening towards the edge. Here are some photos taken at ~12,500 km from new.
With the rear, it can be seen that the centre part of the tyre is starting to flatten as you might expect, but not excessively so. This would be principally due to the dual compound construction, aided and abetted by never having a pillion passenger and a relatively light bike. It can also be seen in the right hand photo that despite some enthusiastic riding including a track day, the wear marks don't quite extend to the edge of the tyre. Compared with running off the edge of the D214, this is is almost entirely due to the higher crown of the 55 profile. I guess it also gives a larger contact patch when leaned over.
The front tyre is also in pretty good shape but is starting to get flats on the outer edge of the tyre. The probable cause is that the bike spends a fair amount of time in the twisties where countersteering is a "must" to make progress!
So in summary, how have the PR4's gone on the Suzuki? The answer is that they've delivered everything I'm likely to want from a tyre for the type of riding I do. Phenomenal wet weather grip, good in dry conditions and even handled a track day ok. Would I replace them with another set? Certainly would, BUT.......
....... the Metzler Roadtec 01's have been getting great reviews since their release earlier this year and I'm not so one-eyed as not being open to doing a comparison this time around. Price is comparable with the PR4 so why not give them a go to test longevity and performance? Today's activity involved a 320 km round trip to my favourite dealer to have them fitted and here they are:
The new Metzler Roadtec 01's
Coming away from the dealer, the bike felt like it wanted flop over, such was its sensitivity and I was ultra-cautious about slow speed tight turns until I got used to the rapid turn-in compared with the PR4. The most likely reason is because of the imperceptible flattening off of the PR4 which is impossible to pick up on a daily basis and we don't notice that the rate of turn-in is affected.
: The full end of life review of the Roadtec 01 can be found HERE:
As a parting remark on wheels and transmissions, particularly for us chain-driven luddites, I've periodically commented on my near-fruitless quest to find a decent replacement for the wonderful DuPont teflon product which was discontinued without notice in 2012. One of the chain lubes I've tried since then (a Castrol product) was truly hideous, flinging itself over everything despite marketing claims to the contrary. Others were a dirt magnet but Maxima Chain Wax was pretty darned good. Unfortunately, my dealer had run out when I needed some 6 months about ago so reluctantly accepted some Tirox synthetic chain wax on their recommendation. So glad I did! Like the DuPont product, it has a Teflon base and and dries to a non-tacky finish and no fling! The chain stays totally clean and I haven't had to adjust the tension during the time it's been used, so it looks like we're onto a winner. The only negative is that it doesn't seem to come with a fine application pipe. No big deal as I had one laying around. This is the product:
Tirox chain wax - does the business!
New tyres, warm, sunny weather and mutton dressed as lamb