Monday, October 8, 2012

The conundrums and decision process of choosing new rubber

wrote recently about the fact that tyres do my head in, and for good reason. I was driving my cage today in the rain when I realised that I know more about driving than riding bikes. And that really pisses me off.
When I see videos like this;
 
 I realise that I don't know half of what I want to, or possess even a quarter  of the knowledge that I'd like to about riding. Drifting, power wheelies, figure eights and backflips off a moving bike? You have got to be kidding me! My bike is so much better than my ability I over compensate by over thinking all of the things that could make it better, and end up doing ridiculous things like changing tyres all the time instead of improving my riding skills. Back to the cage for a tick, mine is a front wheel drive and it was a wet day when it dawned on me - I know exactly what is going to happen mostly when driving a car, I know when understeer or oversteer occurs and what to do in each situation. I know how to break traction, front or rear, and understand what is going to happen next. I learnt how to pull up a hand brake at ridiculous speeds in a VG Valiant when I was maybe 19 or 20 years old. I used to go paddock bashing in acres of slippery wet grassy hills; sideways everywhere and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. We drove all the time, dirt roads, back roads and highways. I learnt how to handle cars with confidence, before ABS became so affordable and disc brakes were commonplace. But despite growing up on dirt bikes before progressing to road, these are things I don't really feel I can say the same of true of riding. I never really learnt the art of wheelies or sliding the back wheel in a controlled way, I've not been taught or learnt how to control the front in the wet. I could never really mono on my BMX as a kid, and I've only got my riding experience to lean on when it comes to road riding. I guess most of us have, I just talk about it a lot more than most you. So when the front wheel comes up nowadays (fairly common occurrence riding a Hyper), I am not really sure what is going to happen next and I typically push the bars  back down, shift my weight forward or roll off the gas and freak out like a little girl (a little bit). So there it is; I'm a little bit chicken shit (especially in the wet) and I don't understand the physics of riding motorcycles as well as I do driving a cage.

That really bugs me. I wish I understood the theory behind throttle and clutch control, power control, traction control. I know I don't like ABS on a bike, but what I am really trying to say here is, that I want to be a better rider. I'm paying closer attention to this than I ever have before, partly because the bike is so damn powerful, partly because I am getting older (having passed the magical 4-oh this year), and partly because these days I'm a whole lot more interested in being a better, safer more completely awesome motorcyclist. I'd like to do some advanced riding courses, I intend to hit the track for different kinds of practise and I want to learn about technique and how to handle my mental machine a whole lot better. I've had two front wheel wash outs on my Hyper so far, both of them a result partly I think because of the wrong tyres. My experience with Pirellis so far has taught me that they aren't great all-weather tyres. Stock, the bike came with Pirelli Super Corsa SPs, which admittedly stick like glue on a hot road, but are basically slicks and just absolutely horrid in the wet. No good for everyday Melbourne riding at all. I think they were a major contributor to my first front wheel wash out. Doing roughly 30-40km an hour approaching a left hand T junction I turned my head to the right and next thing I know the bike just wasn't there anymore.

Inexplicably disappeared from underneath me. More embarrassing than anything. From there I was recommended a set of Pirelli Diablo Rosso 2 as an alternative, considering I ride almost every day in every kind of weather that Melbourne throws our way. I thought they were better and sticky in the dry, but I also believe to be pretty crap in the wet and I think also contributed largely to my second front wheel wash out. This one I accept a part in though, because I was jet lagged and should've been more careful around a wet chicane. Maybe I was in the wrong gear and maybe the tyres weren't warm enough and it was raining, and maybe something something...  Anyway, again front wheel just wasn't there anymore. Scrape crunch and ka-ching. Six weeks later and I'm back out in the traffic with the Diablo Rosso 2s and surprise-surprise it's raining. Again and again I've felt that unsettling twitch in the front and frankly I'm just sick of it, it makes me ride like a nervous nanna. So I did a lot of forum reading, listened to quite a few different dealer opinions, blubbered endlessly to Big Steve and finally thought to myself, what do I want from my tyres on this bike? The answer? I want tyres that stick in the wet as well as Super Corsa SPs do in the dry. That's how I came to  decide on a set of Michelin Pilot Road 3s. I'm really impressed by what I've read and like the look of the tread pattern, it's mega deep and apparently has 'superior grip on wet roads' which I think piqued my interest most. Delivers superior grip on wet roads* thanks to its new revolutionary sipe technology MICHELIN XST***

 No idea what 'revolutionary sipe technology MICHELIN XST' is but I made my choice and asked a pal and ADR buddy, Murphy from Discount Motorcycle Wreckers, if he could get me a set and was really chuffed when 24hrs later he had a pair waiting in his garage for me. I only had to wait until Saturday to take a trip out to Coburg to have them fitted up.

 


 Up she went  and off came the Pirellis and on with the Michelins. First thing we noticed was the difference in weight between the two, the Pirelli is a MUCH  lighter tyre, so I've upped the weight a touch by going with the Michelins.
 


 It gave me the opportunity to inspect the brake pads and get a different perspective of the bike while it was up on the hoist. We found those little bolts holding on the carbon fork covers were pretty threaded, so had to remove the sump guard and jack it up under the crank to get the front out. That would've been easier with the right type of jack on hand but we (they actually, I didn't touch it) compromised and found a solution.

 

 Front pads are probably around 50% which isn't bad after 6,000kms I think.

 




 The Michelins look really impressive in the flesh and feel as sticky as blue tack to the touch, even when stone cold, so I'm hopeful I've made a good choice this time.

I admit that I chickened out on trying to scrub them in properly on the way home, it was pretty wet so I just nursed it  from the shop, but I am really chuffed so far. It's almost Summer in Australia which is the stupid thing out of all of this, I should've went this option straight after the Super Corsa SPs and had them during Winter, but I'm learning from my mistakes and I'm feeling more confident already, I hope they help stop all this front wheel washout rubbish. Now all I have to do is learn how to ride like this and grow a pair (note the Pirelli Diablo Rosso 2s) hahaha... I'll let you know over the coming days, weeks and months what I think of the tyres as I get more time with them, until then, stay upright.


What rubber are you running and how did you decide on it?

 
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