I know this has been discussed over and over again and the reason it keeps coming up is because more and more people are getting tired of the cost and safety of the motorcycle tires on our heavy bikes.
This is a user writeup that I found to be very interesting and states very well the facts.
[align=center]A look at living on the Darkside
As some of you may know, I just got back into owning a Goldwing again after a 21 year hiatus. Laurie and I owned a 1985 GL1200 which we thoroughly enjoyed riding. The "new" bike was a 2003 with 3625 miles on it which I purchased from a seller in Chicago.
When I got the bike home, I had to have a safety inspection done to license it in Ontario. The tires passed with flying colours. I knew that the tires were the originals from the showroom floor and were 8 years old. I needed new tires soon and started my investigations on the best replacement tires.
One of the things I did between Goldwings was to take up road racing. I say this to set the stage from where I am coming from. Road racing taught me a lot about the feel of the motorcycle and its reaction to input from the rider. You need to be at one with your bike when racing as you are always riding on the edge of traction and control. Being able to feel the tires start to slide is a valuable asset to prevent a crash.
That being said, I spent many hours looking at websites, comparing the price of tires, reading reviews, comparing longevity, pros and cons of each manufacturer, and trying to make sense out of a lot of speculative information. Basically, like car buying, most people seem to have a tire "brand" and anything else is junk. I suppose that we are somewhat the same with our choice of motorcycle brands.
After hours of this research, I stumbled across a website that had a totally unique view of rubber on a motorcycle. Car tires, "who’d of thunk it"? I spent many more hours reading this site and a couple of other ones and read about the pros and cons of running a car tire. What I did discover is that a lot of people are passing judgement on this without any first-hand experience.
These are a group of people that are willing to buck the system and try something that is not conforming to any set standards. Read into this the theory that was rampant for a long time about our world and how it was flat, and anyone that challenged that theory was thought to have been crazy.
I decided that I was going to challenge the theory of a flat world. Based on my evaluations of the car tire on a motorcycle, it seemed at the time that the Khumo Runflat 195/55-16 radial tire was the tire of choice.
I read some more and was just about to pull the trigger and order one when someone else came up with a new tire that they tried. I read some more about this new "wunder tire" and decided that I would give this a whirl instead of the Khumo.
The tire I have on my bike now is none other than the Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 ZP in the 195/55-R16 size. This tire fits in the wheel well of the GL1800, but is a tight fit to get it in. A "snow tire" you say!!! Yes, a snow tire.
What is a snow tire best at? Providing traction in less than ideal conditions. Take a look at the sipping on a snow tire and you can see how much better it is at channelling away water and snow. Now I don’t need the snow removal part, but being able to remove water effectively really floats my boat.
The Alpin designation in my tire is for the snow tire. You will notice, if you check out the tire on my bike, that the edges of the snow tire are rounder and have tread farther up the sidewall than the all-season version. This contributes greatly to the fact that it does not feel any different than a motorcycle tire.
The ZP designation stands for "Zero Pressure", or run-flat. This is a technology that I am surprised has not made it to motorcycle tires yet.
Some of you have experienced the dreaded blowout on a bike at highway speeds and I can tell you that it causes your butt to grip the seat quite tightly until the bike stops. If you are fortunate, you can keep it upright. If not, well, the consequences can be much worse.
Being able to run with no air pressure is a huge benefit to any rider. It keeps you from being stranded with a flat tire. It will allow you to ride to somewhere where you can get it fixed or replaced. It also keeps you from losing control of the motorcycle. You can ride for 50-100km easily with no air pressure in this tire.
Let’s talk about weight for a while.
The usual suspects of rear motorcycle tires are rated at a carrying capacity of between 825-1000 lbs. Think for a moment of how much your bike weighs. My 2003 non-ABS version weighs in at 791 lbs dry weight from the factory. It tips the scales at 880lbs ready to ride. It can carry 417lbs. of extras. Extras count as riders and passenger, contents of the saddlebags, Farkles and your trailer hitch, as well as hitch weight if you tow one.
Don’t forget the weight of the helmets and riding gear when calculating the weight of the rider and passenger. If I use Laurie and myself as examples, I weigh in at 215lbs in a speedo, and probably an extra 25 lbs if you add the helmet and jacket and boots and clothing other than the speedo.
Laurie weights XXX with an additional 25 lbs for her riding gear. This would bring the total to somewhere around 375 lbs. give or take Laurie’s version of the numbers.
We carry a bike cover, some maps, rain gear, and a pair of running shoes, a hat and a bottle of sunscreen. When we tow our trailer, we add about 30 lbs of hitch weight to that total. We have installed very little in the line of accessories on the bike, but we have added a hitch, a back rest, highway pegs and floorboards with a heel/toe shifter, which probably accounts for about "50 extra lbs." of accessories. All told, we are at 425lbs.
Based on this information, we are overloaded on our weight limits of 417lbs. When I pulled onto the scales at the local truck stop, the front wheel weighed 520 lbs. and the rear weighed 860 lbs. The Bridgestone G704 rear tire is rated at 827lbs. carrying weight. The Dunlop E3 is rated for 992lbs. The Michelin car tire is rated for 1201 lbs. of carrying capacity. Keep in mind that these weights are based on the maximum tire pressure on the sidewall. Not everyone is as diligent as they should be about checking tire pressures so running under inflated tires reduces the carrying capacity and increased heat buildup, which can lead to premature tire failure.
You have all heard the saying that "If the wife ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy". The sharp rapping feeling you get through the seat when you hit a bump is gone. The ride is much smoother for the missus. I must say that I enjoy it too.
Mileage on a motorcycle tire seems to be measured in hours these days. It seems a shame to pay well over $200.00 a shot for a rear tire that lasts all of 14,000 km and needs replacement. I am still working on wearing out the first tire, but the early reports are that users of this tire are getting 20,000 MILES out of them.
Some of the guys that take their bikes on the track are getting less than that out if it, but I suppose that YMMV (your mileage may vary). I checked on Motorcycle Superstore website which seems to be the cheapest place in the USA to buy tires. They are asking $229.00 for the rear G704 Bridgestone GL1800 rear tire. I paid $141.00 for the Michelin.
I am all for saving money as I have only won the 50/50 draw once since rejoining GWRRA.
So in a nutshell, my reasons for choosing a car tire over a motorcycle tire are, increased load carrying capacity, which makes for a safer ride, run-flat technology which makes for a safer ride, smoother ride which makes for a happier ride, cheaper, which makes for more happy safe riding, and longer tire life which means I can spend more time riding between changing tires.
I have put about 1500km on this tire so far and I can honestly say that I cannot feel the difference at all between the motorcycle tire and the car tire. I can still drag my floorboard in the corners and it instills a lot of confidence. I have not had the chance to put it to the test in the rain other than the little sprinkles we had on the Elora pop tab ride, but I will report back on my findings after I have some more mileage on the bike. One other added bonus that I have found is that the bike does not seem to react to the tar snakes on the road as much as the motorcycle tire did, but I will have to go out and play some more to be sure.
Automotive tire technology has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past 5-10 years. Unfortunately, the motorcycle tire industry has not kept pace. I am still surprised that we do not have run-flat technology in our motorcycle tires. It is my personal feeling that I can get a much better tire for my bike for less money by running a car tire.
All of this information is based on the GL1800. I have not done any research on the GL1500, but I am sure there are those who use them on that bike as well. Please take this information as one riders experience and is not intended to be comprehensive advice or a recommendation.
This is in no way endorsed by GWRRA or any of its affiliates, nor is it endorsed by any of your chapter staff. I just wanted to pass on my findings and let you all know that I feel much better now, knowing that I won’t be riding off the edge of the world.
GWRRA Chapter M, Burlington, Ontario, Canada