Wheel alignment

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

New tyres - again!

I bought the KTM in March last year, a replacement for the Suzuki GSX-S 1000 which I'd owned for the previous 3 years.  Regular readers may remember that the last tyres I had on the Suzuki were Michelin Road 5's. I loved their wet and dry weather performance and "feel".  What I didn't love was getting 3 punctures in 4 months, including one rear tyre which was beyond repair.  I live a long way from tyre dealers and it's a good job that I carry enough repair options to not get stranded.  The whole saga was listed in THIS POST .   Naturally, I became a bit gun-shy of the Road 5, not knowing whether they were susceptible to punctures in the conditions I normally ride in or whether it was sheer bad luck.

The problem sort of solved itself with the sale of the Gixxer and the purchase of the KTM.  The birds sang in the trees, the sun shone and all was well with the world - until winter came.  The KTM came equipped with Maxxis pure sport tyres.  They gripped well in the warmer weather but as soon as the cold and wet arrived, they became unpredictable, even with the benefit of lean-sensitive traction control.  I guess the problem was exacerbated by the roads in our area.  Some of the best technical twisty roads for bikes anywhere but challenging when it's cold and wet.  Simply couldn't get enough heat into the tyres in those conditions and on one occasion, I lost the front end in a fairly big way but managed to stay on.  It wasn't as if  I was "pressing on" excessively either.  I didn't trust the bloody things after that and within a few days and only 3500 km from new, they were ditched and a set of Bridgestone T31 sport touring tyres had been fitted.

Recovering from eye surgery and Covid-19 lockdown excepted, I cover a fair bit of ground annually and in all weathers so fitting sport touring tyres made sense.  On the bikes I've owned over the last few years, a life of a bit better than 10,000 km was achieved from any of the main brands and this sort of life was acceptable.  I chose the T31 based on a series of positive reviews in the motorcycling press and a fellow Institute of Advanced Motorists friend had recently fitted them to his Hayabusa and was impressed with them in all conditions.  My experience was the same as his.  Nice, progressive turn-in to corners although not quite as fast as the Road 5's.  Grip in both wet and dry was excellent and on our  North Island Green Badge Tour in late Feb/early March, they were great.

The only downside was that at 6000 km, the front hoop had started developing a slight wedge shape in section, i.e, flats on the soft compound out towards the edge of the tyre.  The rear tyre was still in good shape.  This wasn't anything particularly new as my previous 3 bikes had all shown similar traits.  The twisty roads that I mainly inhabit coupled with fairly aggressive countersteering to maintain progress are the main contributors.  Where the T31 differed however was that by 8500 km, the front tyre had reached the wear bars on the right hand side (the effect of road camber, driving on the left) and the left hand side wasn't far behind.  The handling had become noticeably heavier on the turn-in too.

Front T31 @8500 km

Arrow showing the extent of "flattening" @ 8500 km

The same characteristics also manifested themselves on my mate's Hayabusa, junking it at 7000 km and at 6000 km, another friend with a Yamaha MT10 SP is showing the beginnings of the same problem.  Time for a replacement set!

Apart from the punctures on the GSX-S 1000, the Road 5's were the best all-round tyres I've had for the type of riding I do so the decision was to go for them on the KTM and put the past experience with punctures down to sheer bad luck.

A quick trip to Drury in South Auckland yesterday and a new set were fitted in 3/4 hour.  Service from Aida and Des is outstanding.

Des from the Drury Motorcycle Performance Centre fitting the Rear Road 5

New front Road 5 away being balanced

New tyres always feel "flighty" compared with worn ones and leaving Drury, only a light touch on the bars was required for directional changes compared with the worn T31's.  Most of the 130 km trip home was at a cautious pace and angle of lean, not wanting to skate along on my arse due to new tyres. No anxious moments at all and the handling of the bike has been totally transformed.  With the higher crown profile on the Road 5's, turn-in is really quick too and requires much less countersteering.  Really looking forward to seeing how they go compared to the T31's in terms of performance and life.

Rear Road 5 profile

Front Road 5 profile


  1. Mmmmm, new rubber. The Connie is not seeing a lot of action and her 4's are still ok. Will probably try the GT version of the 5's when the time comes, although price may come into it if 4's are still around cheaper...

  2. I was quite disappointed with the front T31 going out of shape and wearing so early. No complaints about performance though. Looking forward to seeing how 5's go on the Duke and hope to be puncture-free this time 😁

  3. Looks like you had a lot of fun wearing those T31's out. :-)

    1. You may think that Ian but I couldn't possibly comment 😎. The coarse chip on a lot of NZ roads certainly doesn't help life but it sure helps with grip!

  4. Hi Geoff

    Here's hoping that the punctures stay away this time!

    1. Thanks Lee and here's hoping! In terms of performance, they're such a good tyre.