Friday, November 19, 2010

Tires and Stuff

A couple weeks ago Ron picked up a nail in his tire. Why does this always happen with a new tire? My tires are at the end of they're useful life. Will I get a flat? Of course not. We'll come back to my tires in a moment. Ron pondered and puzzled whether there was a way to salvage the tire, but after EVERYONE told him it wasn't a good idea, he bit the bullet and bought a new one. With a uselsss tire available, we took the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Cyclists (the non-motorized kind) carry tools and tubes and an assortment of stuff for basic repairs on the road. Then we look down our snotty, elitist noses at any cyclist who doesn't come properly prepared to fix their own flat or do minor repairs.
No spare tube?

Didn't bring your chain tool?

Sucks to be you! 

It's time for Ron and I to learn how to fix a flat on the big bikes. It's really not hard, and I suspect a tire plug kit/air should be a part of every riders kit. We're halfway there. We purchased a plug kit. Nothing special, just something we found in Walmart.
Yank out the offending nail
Ron pulled out the nail from the tire.

Such a tiny hole...


This can't be fixed??

He used one tool to make a bigger hole, no going back now. He then threaded some sticky black stringy stuff into another tool, and shoved it into the hole. (Did we just violate that tire?) He gave it a quick hard tug to remove the tool leaving a big black blob.

Really, that's it?

That's gonna stay? 

You're sure??

Punch a bigger hole.

Sticky black stringy stuff 

My turn. We needed another flat. Out came the drill, and a "puncture" was made. My first attempt didn't get the plug in, but we got it on the next try. The next day when we replaced the tire I had a chance to see the inside of the plug. I'm a visual learner, so I appreciated seeing a fat wad of sticky rubber on the inside of the tire. (Having said that, did I take a pic for the blog? Of course not!)

Back to my tires. My tires are nearing 10,000 miles and are looking a little worse for wear. I have no complaints about the stock tires, but I'm curious what other riders like, and what they look for in a set of tires. I'm making some assumptions here. I assume a grippy tire that sticks to the road is a softer tire that will not last as many miles. And I assume different tires give different feed back from the road.

Since confidence isn't one of my strong suits, and I have a strong distrust of tires sticking to the road, I think having tires that would inspire confidence and have good grip to the road would be a better choice for me. Can a tire inspire confidence? Strange question really. Okay, enough rambling, bottom line: What tire's do y'all like? chicken am I gonna get rid of them this time...


  1. bluekat, FWIW I have been told a person could 'vulcanize' a patch in the inside of the tire that would make it safe to ride on.

    I agree, tossing a new or even half used tire can be expensive!

  2. Kari:

    As Ken said. depends upon the size and placement of the offending hole. In this case an inside patch would probably have been Okay.

    it's hard to recommend a tire. On my prev bike I purchased Pilot Powers and I thought they were good, but then I don't ride as fast as you

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  3. A trick to make sure your tire plug stays and is sealed is to goop up the worm (plug) with rubber cement first. If the hole is bigger then you can use two worms to patch a hole to get home. IMO, I would have plugged a small hole on the rear tire and kept riding, but a plug on a front would have me buying a new tire right away. Maybe it's a false sense of security that if the rear tire fails I can still keep it under control, whereas a front tire failure is certain disaster.
    As far as new tires go, if you got 10K out of your stock tires and you like them, go with the same tires. However, like you said if you want a sticky tire you're going to sacrifice mileage.
    I had Avon Storms (silica compound) on my Sprint ST and they stuck like glue, a good rain tire but I only got 4k miles out of them. I put Kendas on the cruiser, got over 10k out of them and kept up with sportbikes on dry roads but I didn't trust them in the rain at all. I have Michelin Pilot Roads on my Tiger and love them, they stick very well in both the dry and in the rain. If I was going to stay with road tires I'd put these on again. I too am due for new tires soon, but I am looking for more aggressive dual sport tires this time and will be buying the Continental Trail Attack, simply from reading reviews and asking friends.
    You are doing the right thing asking around; read reviews and don't get caught up in the higher priced, fancy name tires are better game. There are plenty of good inexpensive tires out there.

    Good luck.

  4. For the kinds of riding you do, Michellin Pilot Road 2 or Pirelli Angel ST (or Pirelli Diablo Stradas if you can find them on closeout sale and slap them on your bike pronto).

    Pilot Road 2 if you want longevity.

    Angel ST/Strada if you want confidence and grip. (I got 8k out of a set of Stradas but YMMV.)

    I've heard good things about Avon Storms, but like Troubadour said, they wear quickly.

    Stacey has Dunlop Sportmax Q2s and she likes them well enough. I haven't ridden the Striple lately enough to form an opinion on them.

  5. The previous owner of my bike had Metzler Z6's. Fabulous confidence inspiring agressive corner carving tire. But soft compound and I only got 3000 miles on the tires. I replaced them with the Dunlop Roadsmart 2. It is a dual compound tire that has the denser material in the middle for slab and the stickier stuff on the sides for curves and twisties. I really like them. I've been average 10-13K miles on them with a variety of riding. Though I noticed the table topping was rapid with the Florida trip...all slab, few curves. I am not a hard rider by any means and am not too aggressive in the twisties.

    I found my last set at Cycle Gear with a great deal if I purchased them both at once. Just saved the front tire in the garage until I needed to replace it. But they aren't too highly priced.

    Another way of looking at that rear tire replaced for husband...a couple hundred dollars is with his life, right? It sucks to replace a new tire...but better then the alternative.

    Good luck!


  6. So you're in a hard lean on a curve at 55 mph in the coastal range. The thought comes to you... is that plug going to hold? I've asked around quite a bit on this issue. What Ron just experienced happened to me a couple of months ago on a new tire. The answer I like is, you're only on two wheels, don't you want them to be good quality and with no defects? I agree with Troubadour - shop around. But get the best you can afford... your life is depending on them! Love Uncle Mikey! :-)

  7. For me a plug is just a way to get the bike home. I ask a lot of my tires at ART, police training, and, er, sometimes otherwise. Wouldn't trust a plug on a track.

    You are wise to practice ahead of time. Like any other skill, better to have it down before you really need it.

    As to the flat on new tires, it's the same karma that makes your first bug splat right in front of your eyes.

    Tires do contribute to confidence, or lack thereof. I had a pair of Dunlops on the ST1100 that were SO good I found myself riding way too hard on country roads.

    If you want the best wear and traction, see if a sport touring tire will fit your Ninja. I don't think you will ever ride over your head so you don't need REALLY sticky tires. Go for wet traction like the tires with a silica compound. You can also look at tires with harder tread in the middle and softer tread on the outsides. Best of both worlds. Bridgestone BattleAx tires seem to be the leader in this endeavor.

    By the way, I saw where you mentioned a local camera club. Can you tell me how to find it?

  8. Kari,
    I hope my comment above didn't sound too harsh. I just meant to stress the safety issue. Looking forward to seeing which tires you choose!

  9. Hi Ken,
    Believe me, he really wanted to just patch it. This is the guy who doesn't think tires are worn out until a few cords are showing. J/K - He quit doing that a long time ago. :)

    Hi Bob,
    Are the Pilot Powers flameproof? I need flame proof tires for all that speeding, ya know. :)
    Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check them out.

    Hi Troubadour,
    Thanks for the details on the tires you've used. The Michelin's sound pretty good. I haven't had any complaints with my current tires and I certainly haven't ever pushed them past their limits. Mostly I just wondered if there were other options out there I should consider. As for the fancy namebrand ones, well I'm still enough of a noob, none of the names are familiar anyway. :)

  10. Hi Stacy,
    Thanks for the reply. I think I'm going to have a lot of homework after this. 4k! - It sounds like the Avon Storms are probably overkill for my riding anyway, but I'll take a look at the others. Thanks!

    Thanks Lori,
    I haven't heard of dual-compound tires. Interesting & probably would work well for me. I'll take a look at the Dunlops too. It dawns on me I should probably see what the heck I do have on the Ninja!

  11. Thanks Uncle Mikey! :)
    If I'm going 55 in a curve, it's prolly a 50 mph curve! Ron would have just fixed it and went on. I'm the one who fussed about it. He's also the one who would buy the cheapest tire he could find, yet he's the more aggressive rider who could appreciate and use a better tire. Go figure.

    Your first comment was fine. :) I didn't think it harsh at all. I'm sure a post will be forthcoming on the new tires.

    Hi Dan
    Just sometimes, off the track that is??? :)

    Ron asks much more from his tires than I do. In fact I'm not sure he should be allowed sticky, grippy tires. Plugged tire is history; I feel better knowing he's not running around with a dicey tire.

    I braved the cold garage to see what's on the bike, and they're Bridgestone Battlax...too cold to read the "fine print". The tires have performed well, and I may go with the same. Mostly I wondered if I should look at other options and what to look for when shopping, but sounds like I'm already well matched.

    Soft tread on the sides...That's funny, You think I use the sides of my tires lol.

    Camera club is Valley Viewfinders:

  12. OH MY...Kari don't look at my Iron miles...I'm embarrassed! Maybe if I had somewhere to go everyday I'd have more....

  13. lol - Eve
    Now I have to go look. :)

  14. For me as a sport tourer... I prefer Michelin. This tire inspires great confidence for me. I trust it thoroughly. I also get about 10K on the tire.

    I will not trust a plugged tire for long. As soon as I can, I would buy a new one. I've been fortunate. In 40 years of riding, I've had one "blow out" where I needed to replace the tire on the road. Another time I got to work after riding the Angles Crest Highway from Lancaster to Hollywood CA. when one of the Mechanics asked me how I got there on a flat? WHAT? Yuppers it was totally flat in 15 mins.

    I enjoyed this blog and I will return for more! NicE!

  15. Hi Chessie, thanks for stopping by :)
    You've had several wild tire stories, I'm glad they all ended well, with only a flat to deal with. I've had one flat, that never went flat, we just found the nail one afternoon! That's close enough for me.