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Friday, November 22, 2013

The tire(d) post

Sometimes you need to get a thought out.  No matter what day, what calls to you, demanding to be let out.  It's 1:36 AM when I started this post.

I try to post a new entry to this blog about once a week.  Sometimes if something is stuck in the back of my mind demanding to be let out I'll update a bit early.

Sometimes I got nothing to say.  It's been one of those weeks where nothing has happened.  No epic rides off to places unknown.  No interesting stories; but I will write something anyway to keep the two or three people that read this regularly happy (Thanks Mom!).

Tonight it's tires.  A few weeks ago I rode down to a Buddhist temple for something to do.  I also had to check on a friends house and decided to do a bit of joyful riding as well.  Towards the end I heard a "POP" and pulled over to the side.  My bike tire had blown.

I was able to pull over quickly and realized that I had gone flat.  The good news was that I was able to keep the bike upright, it happened in a safe area (I had been riding on the highway before that), and that no one was on the bike with me.  Kimmie is good bike, she and what ever Guardian Angels I have kept me safe.  The bad news was it was on a Sunday, my mechanic could not look at it till Tuesday and the tire would arrive on Thursday.  So I missed out on a week of riding basically.

Tonight on the way home I pulled up to a red light and put down my foot...and slipped.  I run my foot along the surface looking for someplace solid.  The roadway felt like glass.  It could not have been cold enough for black ice?  No, I was in my regular jacket nice and warm in the high 60's (18 C)!  It had to be road wear, somewhere where the traction had worn to nothing.

Gingerly I moved the bike ahead and made the turn carefully.  Curious now to know what was going on.  Another spot at another light.  Now I was concerned.  Hitting a slick spot at any speed would not be a good thing.

Recently I replaced the rear tire with a Shinko product.  I was not that familiar with them, but at the time of the blow out due to some unforeseen expenses I went with a cheaper product.  Now I have my doubts if that was a good idea.  The tire is only rated for about 4,000 miles (6437 KM) and frankly I should wear through that tire pretty quickly.

Now I've a bit of a pickle.  Kimmie just doesn't "feel right" with the Shinko's on.  I know it's a perfectly good tire and I'm not experienced enough or an expert enough to say..."Hey this tire is good because".  I also understand that the tire needs to wear in a little as well.  I feel safe on it...but the tire does not "feel right" for what ever reason.

Which brings up a good question.  I replaced the tires on my Burgman three times (2 rear and 1 front) and used Pirelli Diablo's exclusively.  They came highly recommend by the good people on the Burgman USA forum and I figured they would know.    Yet what highly recommend for the 400 model was universally dismissed on the 650 model.  When I visited the Kymco forums asking for advice on tires the Michelin City Grip model was the preferred one to use on the Xciting.  Not so much on other models.

So...does it really matter?

Are certain brands of tires better for certain bikes?  Is it just a matter of personal choice?

Or does cost, quality of the materials used, tread design actually matter?  How does a new motorcyclist choose the tire that is best for them?  Is the all weather radial the best option?  How about the mysterious "Dark Side" where a motorcyclist actually uses a car tire?

How does one determine what tire is best for them?  I use my bike for my daily commute, so I need a tire that will perform well at highway speeds and in traffic.  Living in Florida means dealing with the heat and I need a tire that will stand up to that.  Also, do to the high amount of sand used in our asphalt and concrete mixes...slick spots will and do develop.  Should I invest my money in a tire designed for touring?  Tires designed for the rain?

In the end I suppose it's up to the individual rider what tire will work best for them.  Where there confidence, ability and yes, even their pocketbook will bear.  I know enough about materials science and engineering to know that tread design does matter.  That rigorous testing is done and done again.

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