Frustrated Tire Shopper

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Smallj, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. Smallj

    Smallj Dirty Traitor

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    Every time I go to purchase a new set of tires for a bike, I scour the web in vain trying to find some honest opinions about grip, mileage, overall user experience, and how the grip "ages" as the miles add up. What I find most is dealer propaganda, people that love or hate the tire irrationally, and motorcycle magazines that read the dealer propaganda, spend a day on brand new tires and proceed to write a glowing review.

    Well shit. I guess I'll at least try to write down my experiences with tires so maybe someone else can benefit. Below is a bit a out me and my bikes. I'll enter new posts to talk about each tire I've ridden or are currently riding.

    Me: I'm 40+ and about 135 lbs. My low weight means I generally get 8,000 to 12,000 miles out of tires even when I ride them hard. I go two up with the wife when I get the chance. She's all of 110 lbs so we are still pretty gentle on tires but they will square off much quicker with both of us on the bike. Recently relocated from Indiana to El Paso TX. I'm excited by the mountain roads in southern New Mexico!

    The Test Mules:
    Primary bike is a 2016 BMW R1200RS I prefer grippy tires over high mileage tires because I still like to pretend I'm Valentino Rossi on occasion.

    Track Bike is a 2010 BMW S1000RR. I've not found any good tracks out here so it may be a while before I can write much about track tires. Depending on the track I will ride expert on tracks I know and intermediate on tracks I'm still learning. I've raced a couple times but I'm not really that fast (yet).
    Previous Favorites were Pirelli Superbike Pro Slicks. I liked the Gen 1 slicks better than the dual compound Gen 2 slicks. I put on Dunlop Q3's last year but I was promptly sent overseas and didn't have a chance to abuse them. I rode Pirelli DRCs (Diablo Rosso Corsa) for a bit and found they got greasy too quickly for me. I expect the Dunlops will do the same thing and I will be back on slicks again soon.

    Some tires I've ridden in the last few years and could probably write something intelligent about. You will notice I have an affinity for Pirelli tires. I'm used to them and like how predictable they are when you exceed the limit. Metzler's are made in the same factory and perform very well also.

    Metzler Z8
    Pirelli Superbike Pro Gen 1
    Pirelli Superbike Pro Gen 2
    Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa
    Metzler Z6
    Before these it gets real foggy...

    Next Up:
    Dunlop Q3 - Too cheap to pass up and great reviews on the track.
    Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2 - Just in case I want to see what's down that gravel road.
    #1
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  2. Smallj

    Smallj Dirty Traitor

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    WP_20170619_16_16_40_Rich.jpg WP_20170619_16_17_22_Rich.jpg Metzeler Z8 - 12,000+ Miles Front. 11,000+ miles Rear - 36psi front, 42psi rear
    The Z8s came on the bike from the factory and I was glad to have them. I ran through a set of Z8s on my F800GT and a set of Z6s on my F800ST. The Z6s were passible, they didn't do anything wrong but were not amazing. Lacked a bit of grip and started cupping during the last half of their life. The Z8s on the F800 were an amazing improvement. Fantastic grip and great life. On a light bike like the F800, with a light rider, they lasted forever. Grip was more than I could use on that bike which seemed to be more limited by the power output and the suspension, meaning I reached the limits of the stock suspension before I reached the grip limits of the tires.

    With this in mind I had high expectations for the Z8s on the R1200RS. The RS is a bit heavier, with a bunch more torque, and a much better suspension. I was almost let down when I was able to spin the rear up coming out of a corner. It was no fault of the tire though, just a function of more power and better suspension. You may have noticed the rear has 1000 fewer miles than the front. Yes, I picked up a good sized bolt when the bike had a 1000 miles on it. That sucked. These tires have never scared me, never let me down, slide predictably, and obviously have given me some good mileage. When the mileage was low, I bombed around deals gap and ground my peg feelers down to nubs (they have since been removed). The Z8s provided more grip then I cared to ask for on the street, and this is coming from a guy who's ridden expert a few times on the track. The ride to Texas, 1500 miles, 2-up, fully loaded, and crazy hot, squared the rear a bit but the tires took everything we threw at them in stride. Just before dropping into Alamogordo near the end of the ride, we came through a mountain pass where the temps dropped from 95 down to 42 and it started pouring rain. With the wife on the back we took it real easy in the cold rain, but never had an issue or a twitch. At the 11,000 mile mark, I terrorized the mountain passes in the Gila National Forest. (Deals Gap on steroids) I knew the tires would not have the same grip levels as new tires and didn't push too incredibly hard, but with over 11,000 on both the front and rear tires, I was able to wear off the head of the elephant. I didn't have the guts to take them further, but they still provided great feel. With the rear squaring off, the turn in was no longer neutral and felt like the bike was falling off a cliff as it rolled over the squared grip. With a little more beating in the corners, I was able to "unsquare" the tires some and the handling improved.

    In the last week I've hit the wear bars on the Rear. The heat is soaring the tires are now dropping off significantly. With the heat well over 105 yesterday, I accidentally spun the rear up turning left away from a stoplight. I tested a few times in a straight line and I was able to spin the rear up in a straight line if I asked for it. Today I've been playing around a bit and spinning the rear just a touch at will. Time for new tires.

    Because of the abundance of gravel roads out this way I decided to try the Pirelli Scorpions Trail 2 tires. They are OEM on the Ducati Multistrada which I figure makes more power than my RS and engineered for 99% road use so they should work just fine. I had every intention of trying out the Pirelli Angel GTs next, but the Scorpions seemed like they might be fun so why the hell not. I'll spoon them on as soon as my tire changing equipment is shipped to Texas (2nd week of July) and I'll let you know how they were to mount and early impressions. With some luck I will wear them out by the fall and let you know how they did.

    These tires have ridden from Indiana to Deals Gap 2-up twice. Indiana to Washington DC and back, and Indiana to El Paso TX (1500 miles) 2-up. They provide more grip than you should need on the street and have always been predictable. So far they are the best sport-touring tire I've used.
    #2
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  3. ErikMotoMan

    ErikMotoMan Airbag crash survivor!

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    Wow - that's quite the re-count!

    I went from Z6 (OEM) on my HEAVY K 1200 GT to the Z8's and was NOT impressed. I have no idea how you got that kinda mileage out of them but it seems they're the perfect tire for your r 1200 RS. Like you, I ride hard, fast and far. Best long distance tire I've encountered is the Dunlop Roadsmart II and I'm looking forward to trying the III.

    On my 2015 R 1200 GS i got 6500 out of the (noisy) Anakee and almost 2000 more miles out of the Dunlop Trailsmart. I replaced those with the Avon Trailmax which have a very aggressive tread for what I would consider a street tire. Surprisingly quiet and good grip. Didn't get more than 500 miles on them before I was rear ended and broke my leg on March 25, 2017.

    This is the Avon:

    IMG_6343.JPG
    #3
  4. ErikMotoMan

    ErikMotoMan Airbag crash survivor!

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    Anakee vs. Dunlop

    IMG_4160.JPG
    #4
  5. oldadvtraveler

    oldadvtraveler Been here awhile

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    Perilli scorpion II tires hands down imho, getting me second set in about 2,000 miles. i'll get about 9,000 miles out of them and i am 200 lbs and never hold back! the grip, wet or dry, twistys, wear pattern all good! does well on gravel to. don't fix something not broken....:y0!
    #5
  6. Smallj

    Smallj Dirty Traitor

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    I can only guess that the weight of the bike and the fact that it's a 4 cylinder caused it to eat tires faster. I've always been easy on tires and very precise about air pressure. I've never ridden Dunlops and I'm anxious to try out the Q3s on the S1000RR. Generally I stick with Pirellis because, If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
    #6
  7. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son?

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    It is extremely difficult (nearly impossible really) to get any sort of meaningful feedback on tire performance from the vast majority of riders. There are many reasons for this. Most importantly, people mistake predictable results of ham-fisted riding technique for poor tire performance. Coming a close second is feedback from riders who experience expected results given pavement conditions/other factors as tire performance feedback when really any tire would have acted the way that the rider is describing.

    My personal favorite is reading accounts of how [insert modern tire here] slides all over the place on dry pavement in spirited riding. A year ago May, I took a ride to the Smokies, and took a trip through Deal's Gap (everybody's favorite squid-a-torium). I was passed by a guy on a ZX-6R who badly misjudged his entry speed increase that resulted from his making the extra effort to stuff it up the inside, took trail braking to a predictable extreme, ansd lost the front, ending up in a heap on the side of the road. I stopped to assist, and sit with him while he waited for a friend to come by. During our conversation (he was completely fine) he said that he'd recently tried new tires (I cant' remember what they were...a modern sport tire), and he hadn't been happy with them, saying that his previous Dunlops had way better grip, and he'd never have had this crash on them. Of course I'm not gonna argue with the poor guy, but I'm here to tell you that there isn't a tire on Earth that would have even come close to saving him from that crash. I knew what the result of that move was before he was even all the way past me. In fact, I slowed and stopped behind where he ended up without any hard braking at all, having begun the maneuver before he even actually fell off.

    Believe me, this kind of thing is not limited to street riding. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a racer say 'ya, I tried the [tire brand x] and they just don't have the grip that [tire brand y] has' when that racer was striving for lap times 20% slower than fast guys were going on the same bike, on tire brand x. I too was that guy. The difference is that I knew that the 20% wasn't down to the tires. A carpenter doesn't blame his...grip...or something.

    My non-scientific estimate would be that for every 700,000 times this kind of thing is said, one time is partially true in some way. And I might be being conservative on this.

    Coming a close second is reading or hearing about how [insert modern tire here] is awful and scary in the rain. There hasn't been a street tire produced that can't be ridden safely in the rain decades. Yes, some are better than others, but please. Not understanding how to ride on a wet ride properly isn't the same thing as poor motorcycle performance.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not purporting to be the master of all things motorcycle. But, I do know the difference between my shortcomings and my bike's shortcomings. There is a point here...

    Modern tires are good. There isn't a sport-touring tire made today that doesn't have enough outright grip to wear your footpegs into nubs in short order. You are a light guy, so it's not automatically tire failure if you manage to spin it up a little coming off a corner. That said, it wouldn't hurt to examine technique either. The things that matter are feel, durability, and cost. IT's the same deal with wet road performance. Yes, some tires are better than others. But, there isn't a modern tire available that is an absolute death sentence on a wet road. In particular, all modern sport-touring tires are amazingly great compared to what was around 15 years ago.

    Sorry for the rambling, but...I ramble.
    #7
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  8. Smallj

    Smallj Dirty Traitor

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    I wouldn't argue with anything you've said. I'm a little guy riding an S1000RR around a track on slicks. I should be fast as hell right? There have been many days were some "old" dude on a 10 year old R6 rode right around me on street tires when I felt like I was on the limit. Technique is more important than equipment any day. But, if we are paying for the equipment, we should make informed decisions. And not all tires are the same, I would not trust my life to budget tires like Shinko. And while I'm not fast enough on the track to "need" slicks, the Superbike Pro slicks provided me much better feeling and confidence than the DRC. I didn't like that the DRC got greasy and slidey early in the session when I was not outright pushing. I could make the Superbike Pros slide, but it was always when I wanted them to slide. I don't think I'm fast enough to need real racing slicks and I certainly don't want to pay for them.

    I've never ridden on the Michelin Pilot Road 2-3-4 tires. I've seen too many examples in bike shops where the tires showed disturbing wear patterns. This could have been caused by improper inflation, suspension setup, or a number of other reasons, but I decided that I didn't want to risk having a tire wear funky at the cost of grip and safety.

    Tires are all about confidence and feeling. What works for me wont work for everyone.
    #8
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  9. dietDrThunder

    dietDrThunder Why so serious, son?

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    All very reasonable. One thing to consider, given your true statement that we should make informed decisions.

    What is it about Shinko tires (just because that was your example) that makes you say you would not ever use them? Do you have data that demonstrates them to be less safe? Are you basing that decision on information, or prejudice because they cost less? There was a time when motorcycle riders in the US would say 'Pirelli? you think I'd trust my life to anything made in Italy?'

    Just a thought...
    #9
  10. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    Tires....

    I was talking to a buddy who worked for a big motorcycle magazine, they decided to do a test out in the parking lot, by checking tire pressure on a lot of the bikes, something like 200 bikes.

    What they found was staggering, something like only 10% of the bikes had their tires inflated to withing 20% of the right pressure.

    A couple of years back I was working on a MC safety study
    One of the things we did, was check tire pressures, about 70% of the bikes had tire pressure more than 10% off.

    So how can you trust tire reviews from people who don't even inflate their tires?

    Add to that, if your riding the same bike and wearing the tires out, you adjust to the tire wear, it's challenging for a skilled rider to pick up on those changes, let alone an average joe or jane rider.

    I learned a long time ago, especially with modern bikes, modern tires.
    It's not the equipment holding a rider back, it's the nut between the seat and handle bar that's holding the rider back.

    You are your own best tester, keep trying tires until you find one you like, and hope that it stays in production or you have to do the whole thing over again.
    Keep a tire diary to write down impressions when you first mount the tire.

    I use Pilot Road 3&4 on my DL650 and i get a weird wear pattern on the front and a little feathering on the back,
    But it still turns in nicely and is stable but still flickable mid corner if needed and I'm able to get about 15K miles out of a rear, so that makes me happy.

    But a DL650 is totally different then a 1200 R bike our a liter class sport bike.
    #10
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  11. aldend123

    aldend123 Long timer

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    I've also read a few tire reviews/descriptions that had me skeptical if the author really understood what tire slippage felt like. Sometimes there are hints that if the tire squirms, or if the bike 'hiccups' due to pavement variation, etc, the author is incorrectly perceiving this as a slide. I've seen it more than a few times, and leaves me skeptical of other less descriptive reviews that wouldn't reveal the inexperience.
    #11
  12. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT bring the rape whistle

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    I have a buddy who buys whatever is cheap or on sale,,, he doesnt care about brand and he stilll outrides most guys...:dunno
    #12
  13. swingset

    swingset Got the knack.

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    Tires are too subjective to ever give any meaningful, useful advice for bikes, IMHO. You can maybe get in the ballpark of knowing what tire is right for you, but until you try it on YOUR bike, where YOU ride, you'll never know what it's like...and everyone's expectations differ.

    I know a lot of people who absolutely HATE the Shinko 705, it's my favorite tire bar none. So, what would their experience mean to me? Nothing, I've run dozens of them, they always perform well. See the problem?
    #13
  14. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    Rambling sure, but a lot of truth in it. For me, sport tire choice comes down to turn in for me. I love a tire that turns in quick, and I don't mind losing a little straight line stability for it. I've never had an issue with grip in any of the dozen brands I've tried. I could run them all to the edge and never feel any slip. Now some I could spin up a little easier than others, and some were more predictable in those situations, but that is not the same SLIPPING. Grip has never factored in which one I buy. I absolutely hate Dunlops for one reason only. The fronts cup to hell quickly and then the bike starts to turn like shit. The main reason I've pretty much stuck with Michelins is that they cup very little and turn in really quick through the life if the tire.

    As for wear, I found out long ago, bike type, weight, and power really doesn't mean dick for longevity, or at least for my riding style. Using the same Michelin Powers on both my R1 and my SM'd 690, I usually averaged around 1200 miles out of a rear on EITHER bike. Exact same tire aside from a 160 width vs a 180 width. A 155 HP, 500 LB sport bike compared to a 55 HP, 300 LB SUMO.
    #14
  15. Jager

    Jager Been here awhile

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    Could not agree more.

    We'd all like to buy success. Alas, the world doesn't work like that.

    One evening many years ago I was wandering around the hotel parking lot a few miles from Mid-Ohio, a dozen hours before my first track day. Observing all the fine, exotic, race-ready machinery I quickly concluded I had made a terrible mistake. This was all clearly way out of my league.

    The next morning, round about the middle of the second session, I learned something else... money can't buy speed.

    Modern motorcycles are a marvel, astonishing in how much better they are than their predecessors from forty years ago. And the thing that has improved the most are... tires.
    #15
  16. Smallj

    Smallj Dirty Traitor

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    Below are a few pictures of my poor tortured Superbike Pro tires after two hot and hard days at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky. Needless to say I had some issues getting these to work right for me all weekend. The soft compound was overheating almost every session. I played around with pressure, but didn't get them working how I wanted. To be fair, part of the reason they are so destroyed is I abused them pretty hard on the last session knowing I wasn't going to ride on them again. WP_20160220_11_28_53_Rich.jpg WP_20160220_11_27_45_Rich.jpg WP_20160220_11_28_02_Rich.jpg
    #16
  17. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Bitch called me a feminist.

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    That tire is massively hot tearing. What pressure were you running?
    #17
  18. Mr. B

    Mr. B Slowpoke

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    I believe you. Not that I'm that ^^^ guy, but I buy harder compound tires for long wear and I still manage to scrape the pegs once in a while. I think it's more important to have tires that are in good condition than the stickiest possible road-racer tires. What sense does it make to get ultra-sticky tires if they wear out in 2,000 miles and now you're riding with less tread? I see this all the time.
    #18
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  19. Schmokel

    Schmokel I got peed on today.

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    Pretty much the way I go.
    #19
  20. Leatherstocking

    Leatherstocking Lurker

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    I agree with your whole post, but especially this part.
    On some of the Scrambler forums we occasionally get people who complain that the stock Pirelli MT60-RS tires are "no good in the rain." Which is hilarious, because they were developed from a rain racing tire.
    #20