Wheel alignment

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Game of Fours Challenge, Kiwi Style

Fellow Kiwi moto blogger Andrew tagged me in a Game of 4's Challenge in which 4 questions are provded, each to have 4 answers.  I won't tag other bloggers because I'm pretty much at the end of the line!

The questions are:
1.  What is your favourite food?
2.  What are your favourite drinks?
3.  Places you've been?
4.  Names that you're known by?

Favourite food
By region, it has to be Asian.  Tremendous variety of flavours, quick to prepare and healthy with loads of fresh vegetables.  These are among my favourite foods, not in any particular order.

1.Vietnamese chicken and prawn salad.  Chicken, prawns, cashews,lots of fresh salad vegetables and vermicelli, drizzled with a dressing of fish sauce, white vinegar, chilli and garlic.  Yumm!

2. Tom Kha Gai.  Hot and spicy Thai/Malaysian soup with a coconut milk base.  Normally with chicken but vegetarian with mushrooms instead of chicken is divine.

3.  Beercan Chicken.  Our summer BBQ staple meat dish.  Half a can of beer stuck up the chook's fundamental orifice to keep it moist with herbs and spices of your choice inside and on the skin. We prefer middle eastern spices.  Best done on a BBQ with a lid.

4.  Fresh Snapper.  Great fishing grounds only a few hundred metres from our house.  Normally filleted, dusted in flour and pan-fried.  Raw sashimi-style marinated in coconut milk, lemon juice, diced red peppers, chilli and spring onions makes a great entree.

Jennie looking rather smug

Favourite drinks
1.  Good coffee - black.  NZ has a reputation for roasting and brewing great coffee, even in out of the way places as opposed to trendy city coffee shops.  As a result, Starbucks hasn't gained much of a foothold!

2.  Craft beers.  Just love the proliferation of small breweries using natural ingredients to get fantastic flavours.  Life's too short to be drinking mass-produced crap!

3.  Wine.  Sitting on the deck before dinner sipping a glass of something is one of life's real pleasures.  Ditto for a single malt at the end of dinner with friends!

4.  Water.  We're not on town supply with all its added chemicals.  Filtered rainwater is just delicious.

Places we've been
Travelled round the globe a fair bit with hopefully a lot more to see and do yet.  Some random photos from our travels below.

1.  Tracy Arm, Alaska

About 1 km from the glacier face

2.  Vietnam

Street vendors, Hanoi

3.  Western Australia

Karijini National Park

4.  Thailand

A bit precarious

Names that you've been known by
1.  At school, Jesse - after the outlaw Jesse James.  Cowboys and Indians were big at the movies and on TV at that time.

2.  BAMBI.  Pre-retirement, a woman I used to work with christened me with this.  Born Again Middle-aged Biker.  I can't ever remember her calling me by my real christian name after that.

3.  Geoffrey.  This is my real name but  used by my wife when I've blotted my copybook in some way.  If I hear it being called out in her best school ma'am tone, I know I'm in for a bollocking so make myself scarce.  If she uses Geoff, it's green lights all the way!

Good fun!

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Michelin PR 4 tyre review for anoraks

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.

Rear PR4

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.

Front PR4

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.

Addendum:  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