Sporty/sticky 16 inch tires

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Adv_Hoon, Oct 5, 2020.

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  1. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    I need new tires for my 1977 kz650. I used to have a TL1000s and then a 2006 ZX10R which were used both for spirited driving and track days. I know that the kz650 is a totally different type of bike and I ride it quite relaxed, but I would really like some tires that would at least somewhat support spirited driving.

    DSCF5126.jpg

    It is currently fitted with 140/90-16 Michelin Commander II in the rear which seems to be a difficult size to find anything other than pure cruiser tires? The options I have found are:
    • Commander II + III
    • Shinko 777
    • Avon Cobra Chrome
    • Dunlop D404, American Elite, 491, K527
    • Metzeler ME888
    So as far as I can see "only" very cruiser-oriented tires. I would really like to keep the size as I like the look, but I am also considering going down a size to 130/90-16 as they at least have Metzeler Roadtec 01 which seems to be a more sporty tire that the ones listed above.

    My main problem is that I have no real experience with all the tires listed in the 140-list, but I can only say that my current Commander II is almost hard as rock and I am not in any way looking for longevity in a tire.

    So any input would be highly appreciated. Also if I have overlooked a possible tire in the 140-list that could fulfil my needs.
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  2. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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    The problem that you've probably already run into is finding something to fit that 19" front wheel and then finding a nice match for the rear.

    The Dunlop K491 was the preferred tire for the Honda GL1200s. I don't know how many pairs I bought over the years. On an 830 pound touring motorcycle, they typically ran 18-20K miles. To do that, they had to be made of iron. If sporty is what you're looking for, I'd steer clear of them. That tread pattern also cups pretty badly up front (if you ever manage to wear them out).

    You mentioned the D404. I think the tread pattern of the 404 is the same as the 491 and I believe that's their low-end market tire (less rubber, softer carcass or?). I'd personally not buy them unless I had no other options.

    You also listed Shinko. If you want cheap, they might be fine. If handling is what you're after, I'd be cautious there. The Shinkos I've had in my hand seemed very light and had very flexy sidewalls compared to other tires in the same size range. Not saying you wouldn't get bang for your buck but, since you're after handling...

    I have six Excelsior Hendersons (different accessories but, otherwise identical) running the MU85 (140) x 16 on the rear.
    • Dunlop American Elite: I bought these for one reason: they offered a narrow whitewall version (also available wide-white or blackwall). They cost more than a comparable Avon or Continental but, that was the sidewall I wanted and Dunlop was the only one to offer it. They handle better than the K491 the bike came with. If I hadn't run some other brands, I'd think they were great tires and that the handling is a trait of the bike they're on. I don't see anything here in a 19" though, which limits you to a rear.
    • Continental Legend: I bought these in wide-whitewall for two of the bikes (also available blackwall). Great handling tire. I'm not sure how they wear but, they are my favorite of the tires in this size. Problem I see: they don't make a 19" version.
    • Avon wide whites: one of them had these and I changed to Continental because they happened to be cheaper when change time came. Comparable handling to the Continental, all the way until they were worn out. I wouldn't hesitate to buy them again. I see that you can buy the current Avon Cobra Chromes in a couple of 19" sizes.
    • IRC Wild Flares: I wouldn't recommend these for handling but, if you're looking for something unique, I'll toss this in here. These are probably comparable to the Shinko in cost and stiffness. I notice it in the handling. They aren't bad but, they are certainly the bottom selection of the tires I've run on these bikes. They're a little vague in the corners. This choice was pure fashion: the Wild Flare has a flame-shaped tread pattern and the bike they went on has a flame graphics motif. It originally came with raised white letter Dunlop 491 Elite IIs, I didn't want another set of those, white stripes didn't seem to match and I still wanted something different. They offer these in two 19" sizes so you could get a matching front.
    [​IMG]
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  3. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    Thanks a lot for your long thorough break-down. That helped me remove some options from my list. And you are correct with regards to the 19 inch front. First of all I find the 140/90-16 options to be quite limited but adding to that, then afterwards having to match it with a 19 inch front, does not make it any easier.
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  4. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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  5. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    IMHO front shouldn't be an issue there are plenty good choices in 100/90-19

    @OP I would just get a Commander rear and Pilot front. Roadtec front +me888 rear is a popular combo but I'm not big fan of ME888 and Metzler in general.. had bad experience with ne880.. though OEM Tourances on last 2 bikes were not bad. Shinko 777 supposedly grips and cheap if it matters.
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  6. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    I think my bike is somewhat of a bastard. The original LTD only had one front brake as far as I know and disc brake on the rear as well. So I think it is somewhat of an amalgamated bike :)

    I do think that the rear is 16x3 though.
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  7. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    Yes you are right. It is of course also an option to chose different options for the front. The rear is also my main gripe to be honest.

    All this research also brought me to the Pirelli MT60RS, which is a somewhat knobby tire, but apparently very sticky. They are dirt cheap as far as I can see and I may give them a go in 130/90-16.

    I have nothing to prove my scepticism, but cruiser-tires are just not something that floats my boat. I would have more confidence in the soft "knobby" tire than hard cruiser-tires. But again that is probably totally wrong and faulted reasoning.
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  8. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    I somewhat agree with you though me880/888 had a radial option for BMW boxers; I specifically disliked how crappy it was when it got cold and wet. Mileage wasn't as great as everyone was saying it didn't like heat they work in narrow temp range.

    Michelin Commander got good reviews and good grip I wouldn't avoid it just because it targets cruisers. I'm generally fan of michelin they're good except for the price.
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  9. zap2504

    zap2504 Dave E.

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    Another option might be to hunt for a "standard" 18" KZ rear wheel (IIRC most of the wheels from the 4-cyl KZs interchange regardless of displacement) with a drum brake. I believe the "standard" wheels bolt right up to the swing arms of the LTD/CSR variants. But they are fairly rare to find in the USA.
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  10. Donkey Hotey

    Donkey Hotey De Jo Momma

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    I wouldn't dismiss cruiser tires as all being hard compound. Some of the power cruisers have a lot of horsepower to get to the ground. Also: that Continental Classic Attack I linked above is marketed as a race / soft compound tire:

    "Exceptionally easy handling with ultra high grip and cornering stability."

    It's available in the 18" rear as well. So if you changed the rim as @zap2504 suggested, you'd have matched high performance tires. Or you can still go for a fat cruiser tire on the back. With the fat rear tire, the bike will probably have weird turn-in anyway. It's not going to be a cornering demon.
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  11. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    Yes, I actually briefly thought about changing the wheel to a bigger size. But I really like the look of it with the wheels as they are, so I think I will just have to settle with the options that are available in 16 inch.

    Yes, you are of course right. There will probably be some tires that fit my prejudice, but others that, as you say, are very good tires. Right now I am leaning heavily towards Metzeler Roadtec 01 where I would have to go down to 130 instead of 140. At the end of the day you are right in saying that it will never be a cornering demon and that is also not why I bought it. So I should try not to make it do too much and enjoy it for what it is.
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  12. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    It's a wet noodle between frame, fork and wheels.
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  13. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

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    IMHO set of Shinko 777 is $170 and way to go. Their rubber compound inherited from Yokohama is sticky; the only thing I had issue was premature wear on rear they seem to be a bit optimistic in speed/load ratings. Sure it can do either but not both at the same time LoL.

    Both f/r of 777 are reenforced in your sizes, bike is lighter and I don't think you will load it up to gills and keep it on interstate at 90mph 4-8hr straight.
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  14. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    Yes I would really like to keep the 140 size as I like the look of it, so must admit that the Shinko 777 is high on my list. I also read others recommending it for grip and as you say my bike is not heavy at all, so the issues that apply to heavy cruisers should not apply for my bike.
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  15. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    Just wanted to give a final update on this. I ended up ordering Metzeler Cruisetec 140/90-16 for the rear. Just found out that they made them in that size and going by their marketing, it is aimed exactly at what I am looking for. I then ordered Metzeler Roadtec 01 for the front for even stickier tire in that end. I look forward to receiving them and putting them on the bike. Thanks a lot for the help everyone that replied to the thread!
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  16. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades... Super Supporter

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    Most tires are better than most riders, I'd say just get a good tire and live within the limits, which probably won't be horrible. A friend used to run Dunlop Tour Elite 491s on the back of his GSXR (long time ago, probably 18" era) and was fine with it. He preferred it over the sport tires mainly due to tire wear and because I was willing to give a little to get the wear. They won't lose much.

    Here's Revzilla's take on the subject - click here. Here's more from Chaparal, click here. Fact is we used to sell the snot out of the bias belt Bridgestone Spitfire S11 tires for bikes like that KZ back when they were "late model" bikes. Dual compound and built for those kind of bikes. I actually ran them on the back of my Nighthawk S and also on a GL1100. I didn't baby either bike. The S was far more my style than the GL that I had to ride with my friend that had a GL1200, then sold and got the S. Play riding with sport bike riding friends without much problem. The S had 16 rear and front back then but the S11 didn't come in 16" for front, so I ran the S11 with a Metzler Laser ME33.

    Either way, hope you find what you need.
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  17. Adv_Hoon

    Adv_Hoon Adventurer

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    On a general note I totally agree with your assessment. There are bad tires, but they are luckily rarer these days. For most people tires out-perform their own abilities and they do not require the stickiest rubber out there.

    But I must admit that I found the limit of the Commander II tires that was on the back of my bike a few times. I had some near-misses. That could be because of age of the tire etc. but at the end of the day I lost faith in the tyre and hence changed it. I haven't ridden any real miles on the new Cruisetec yet, but I look forward to doing so. I actually think about booking a trackday next year just to explore the limits of the bike under safe circumstances. With the cruisetec on the rear and roadtec 01 on the front I am sure that the bike will still be able to handle just fine and offer loads of grip. But time will tell.

    I must admit that it was the worst tires I have ever worked with. The stiff sidewall of both tires made it a total nightmare to remove and put back on. And for my kz650 such stiff sidewall is unnecessary. For that alone I want to look for something softer the next time I have to change. So unless I really fall in love with the Cruisetec it will probably be replaced by a MT60RS or Roadtec in 150/80-16 which I think I will have room for when I change the chain for a longer one.
    #17