New Tires after 8,100 miles!
There is a ton of opinions on tires for motorcycles. Regarding Goldwings there are as many opinions about tires as there are tire sizes. What brand of tire is a great discussion, so many opinions as to why one brand is better than another. Should you ever go the “dark side” (putting a car tire on the back). If you want
to talk about air pressure …. wow … that discussion only comes second to wheel weights or beads for balancing.
Let me add here that I love reading about this stuff as it relates to my riding a Goldwing. After reading countless articles, viewed to many YouTube videos to count I have come up with MY opinions to all of these tire questions. Am I an expert? Only as it relates to what I’m doing … yes. And the great thing about my expert opinions is that they can be changed …
So let’s start with tire brand. When I took Eleanor (name of my 2008 GL1800) to the shop for tires, brakes, oil change and all around check up the guy asked me what tires did I want. At this time, I knew so little about any of this I ask for his suggestions. He said the Dunlop Elite 4 was a fairly new tire with good reviews and there was a $90 rebate. I said ok, put on the Elite 4s. I asked how he would balance them: wheel weights or beads? He said they only do wheel weights. Again, I said ok. Had he said “beads” I would have said yes to that as well. At that time I had not formed an opinion and was very comfortable with wheel weights.
Most of us know how wheel weights work. They are those little pieces of metal stuck to your rim to balance the tire. Very common for cars. Another way to balance motorcycle tires is to place little tiny beads in the tire that move around as the tire moves. Once the tire begins to spin the beads move around so as to balance the tire. The subject of balancing tires can be very passionate. Beads vs wheel weights, people swear each works and each doesn’t … kind of funny.
New Dunlop Elite 4 installed, balanced with wheel weights and new valve stems, out the door: $530.51. The rear was $208 and the front $170 (add taxes and $90 for installation). Like new car tires, new motorcycle tires feel really good underneath you! I pick Eleanor up with my only experience riding 50 miles from the purchase to the Honda shop. On that first 50 mile ride I noticed that sound when turning; the kind of a roaring sound from the rear scalloped tire. With the new tires … so quiet and extremely smooth.
So, what have I learned? After riding for a little over 4 months Eleanor is in the shop as we write getting new tires. After 8,100 miles I’m replacing the tires. While the center of the tire has plenty of tread the side walls are becoming smooth … the tread is wearing out on the sides. Surprised that I needed to replace the tires with so little mileage I reflected on my first 8,100 miles to see what could have caused the low mileage.
As shared prior I live in a great place to ride motorcycles! One of my favorite rides is from my house to Glennville, CA. It’s about 80 mile round trip, 70 of which are very twisty miles. The personality I have forced me to count the turns on one of my trips to Glennville. At the end of a one-way trip there were over 200 turns. That’s about 200 turns in 35 miles or 400+ turns in 70 miles. It really is beautiful ride. I’ve made this trip in the past 4 months probably 18 or more times. That’s about 7,200 turns! As with most riders I love the twisties! Add several trips to coast from Bakersfield via highway 33 and 58 (beautiful roads!). Rode to Ponderosa, CA a few times … lots of turns! I think the soft outside tread of the Elite 4 simply wore out due to so many turns. Had I cruised to the east coast and back a few times, probably get 15-18k on the tires.
In addition, my first two weeks of riding I probably practiced stopping fast 20-30 times from different speeds. This can’t be great on tires, even with ABS. I checked my air pressures regularly; at least twice a week. Front at 36 and rear at 42. That seems to work fine.
You can see by the pictures …. I probably could have gone a few miles further on the tires. As I talked to a few more experienced riders I decided to put new tires on … new Elite 4s. There is so little actual rubber touching the road on a motorcycle that I’d rather error on changing the tires too soon as opposed to too late.
I had no reason not to go with the Elite 4s. They seemed smooth and worked great in the turns albeit, not long enough for my expectations. I have talked to several riders who replace tires at 7-9k miles. Again, to me changing too early is better than too late.
Next blog posting we’ll talk about what kind of riding gear I’m using … again, more opinions than stars in the sky!