Tires, a tiring topic you cannot retire from

Since picking up riding again, after more than a quarter of a century “in darkness”, the topic around and about tires bounces back, all the time. What to choose, and what to use.

April 3rd 2017: Just got the GS Adventure with factory fitted Michelin Annakee 3 tires

April 3rd 2017: Just got the GS Adventure with factory fitted Michelin Anakee 3 tires

Tires, not an -ism, not a religion

although sometimes I wonder if that is exactly what the topic has evolved, or rather devolved, into.  A human (dis) quality for sure, the ability to turn almost any topic into “a religion”.  Don’t know about you, but I am learning new things, all the time. If asked I usually open with “in my experience” or something like that.

Age has brought more humility, and respect for both unknown and known variables. I hope to continue learning till the time has come for the last breath of air. What I know is based on experience. Regarding motorcycle riding and tires based on what I’ve ridden, tires and/or motorcycles, where I’ve ridden, under what conditions I’ve ridden and etc etc.

It would be both fair and true to say, that a given tire has performed vastly different, under different conditions. I am not only referring to roads, but temperature, tire pressure, and where in the life-cycle the tire is/was.

Like all of us I too digest information. Contemplate and reflect on a number of factors, to (hopefully) arrive at a conclusion. Analyze, sometimes over-analyze, in a (sometimes) feeble attempt to make the right choice. Read articles, watch videos, listen to views and try,  based on my own experience, to compile a set of relevant (and useful) preferences.

Sometimes I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out what to choose. When in fact making the choice and move on would be the most sensible. God knows how much time sometimes is wasted on (so-called) research, where after finding out that it was just another evolution on the (spiral) ladder of experience.

Every religion have priests

Some of these annoy me. People who, based on their individual preferences, their individual choices, tries to impose their beliefs on others. While forgetting, or rather conveniently leave out, the fact of all the variables that may, or rather will, impact a choice. Given advice is one thing, elevating oneself to priesthood another.

In our material, market economy based (for most of us) competitive world, with ever ongoing R&D, manufacturers compete to become the best in their respective field. This is (of course) a good thing for us, the consumers, since without competition we would have ended up with fewer choices, fewer truths based on a limited set of absolutes.

This means that, with regards to tires, not only is it difficult to find the ideal solution, but it might also change, over the course of well, just a few years. I said it might, because as we know, novelties must not be confused with improvements.

My facit, this far`? There is no “One Truth”.

Choices and influencing factors

Selecting a tire, a “one size that fits all” is, if not impossible then at least extremely difficult. For one thing, aside of specifications, composition and features, a choice depends on personal preferences like

  • do you mostly ride on road or off-road?
  • do you ride a lot or just a little on gravel, dirt?
  • how much does comfort matter?
  • how much does noise level matter?
  • ride alone? or do you (frequently) have passengers?
  • live in a region/place with high temperatures/big differences?
  • like to ride fast? do you go “all in” with rgds to curves?

The list of preferences and things to consider may go on and on. To some extent, a choice might also depend on your economy. Some tires are more expensive than others. As usual it’s not always the most expensive that is the best. Some tires wear fast, some “ideal” choices are only ideal for a limited time, then degrade to the point of the (almost) unrecognizable and starkly annoying.

Tire-some? indeed so

On a previous bike I chose a tire primarily for maximum comfort and optimal handling on wet surfaces. The experience swiftly went from awesome, to bloody awful. Swift degradation might have been attributed to a variety of reasons, one definitely being speed. I had a good set of tires but the rear only lasted for a trip down through Europe.

On my GS Adventure the transition from the factory delivered Michelin “AnnaScream III” to Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2 was pretty huge. It’s puzzled me that BMW Motorrad actually delivers the model almost entirely with what must surely be one of the noisiest front tires I’ve ever come across.

My GS Adventure fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2

My GS Adventure fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2

However, when it comes to performance they were not bad at all.  The current choice derived from quite a bit of research. Here’s one of the many articles I read. Wanted, and needed, a set of tires that had good cross-over abilities. That would last me a bit longer than the Michelin (they barely did 10k kilometers).

Criterion, things that matters

I did not want a knobby tire, because I am still too playful when it comes to curves. Some of the more “off-roady” tires supposedly degrade rather quickly.  This far, for me, the Scorpion Trail 2 has been a good choice.  Done a fair bit on gravel, on mountain roads, forest roads.  I can definitely say a more off-road tire perhaps would have been a better choice in some cases.  The Anakee actually might have been better or equal on wet surfaces, but it’s hard to be sure.

For me performance on pavement or various kinds is absolutely paramount. it’s where I spend at least 75-85% of the time. For this reason I’ll continue along the path of testing out cross-over tires. Tire-lessly look for the best option there is. A new Metzeler is (supposedly) on its way to the market as I write. And I expect other manufacturers will do their best to push the Trail 2 down from the “throne”.

However, you only know what you know, what you’ve tried.

Update 22.04-18

Found a review of the new Metzeler Karoo Street. Still not found any comparison review but this does look promising. I might go for this tire when changing before summer holiday. This might be it BUT I doubt I’ll be able to crank out the same mileage as I have on my current Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2. nearing 14.000 kilometers on them now!

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