Buying tires: Why Getting Advice Online was a bad Idea.

Last year I returned to riding after over 20 years and bought a new-to-me 2013 Suzuki V-Strom. After putting on 23,000 kilometres it was time to buy new tires. The question I had: What tires should I buy?

 

To do some research I went to the web and various V-Strom forums and asked for suggestions. After all, I hadn’t bought new motorcycle tires in over twenty years. It was a bad idea.

 

Fred recommended the tires I ‘absolutely must have’. The only problem is that Fred is a very wealthy entrepreneur and for him price is no object. He simply wants the best, whatever the cost.

 

Sam recommended a high performance tire because he is a former racer and likes to get his bike as far over as possible in the twisties. He doesn't care how long his tires last, only that they give him maximum traction when he's getting his knee down.

 

Ted, a student, assuming everyone is as price conscious as he is recommended the cheapest tire option he could find and wrote,” They are pretty good for the price "

 

The truth is I didn't actually know the background of each of the commenters but I came to realize that without that knowledge and without an understanding of their criteria, their recommendations were, although maybe perfect for them, probably not going to be for me.

 

What I needed was my own criteria based on my bike, my riding style, my budget, and how long I wanted the tires to last. I was interested, not in the cheapest tires, but in the best value given my criteria. 

 

  1. I ride an adventure bike.

  2. I ride 90% road and 10% off-road.

  3. I like riding in the rain.

  4. I like being sporty in the twisties but I'm not very aggressive.

  5. I ride about 25,000 km per year.

  6. I like to tour with my motorcycle.

  7. I regularly put in 8–9 hour riding days.

 

I wasn’t  looking for the cheapest price or the best tire. I was looking for the tire that would give me the best value, that is to say, the best performance in wet and dry conditions over kilometres ridden for a reasonable price. Longer lasting tires give up performance as softer tires have more traction. High performance tires are softer so don’t last as long. I wanted something between the two. I wanted good performance over a reasonable number of kilometres (tire life span) but not the best of either.

 

The tires I had on my bike were the Suzuki-specified Bridgestone A40 ADV tires. Oddly, I cannot remember one person recommending them. There seems to be prejudice against OEM-specified tires. It’s just not de rigueur don’t you know. I didn't know.

 

Since I got about 25,000 kilometres out of my OEM tires I thought they were good place to start. I was happy with their performance—they always inspired confidence in both wet and dry conditions—and certainly went the distance.

 

The good news I found out is that Bridgestone released an updated version of these tires, called the Bridgestone Battlax A41s, bringing them up to their state-of-the-art technology and improving their wet and dry weather performance and durability. After a little research I decided on these tires and haven't looked back. I have now put over 5000 kilometres on my new tires and I love them: they inspire confidence in wet and dry conditions, on the asphalt and on gravel, and at speed on the highway and in the twisties. (I haven’t tried them in truly off-road conditions.) I have never felt, even once, that they fell short or left me wanting in terms of performance. In the fact, on more than one occasion, I hit gravel in a corner and, as I kept my nose pointing where I needed the bike to go, they carried me through the turn without so much as a rise in my heartbeat or a rush of adrenaline.

 

My lesson, whether I'm buying tires, or anything else for my bike, is that I need to take other people’s recommendations with a grain of salt as I simply don't know their criteria: their level of knowledge, experience, riding style, available funds, etc., and therefore have no way of knowing if their recommendation will in any way suit my needs. It might, but there’s probably a better chance it won’t.

 

So, with that said, this is NOT a recommendation for Bridgestone’s new A41 Battlax Adventure tires, unless of course, your criteria exactly matches mine, as noted above, and maybe not even then. 

 

E. & O. E

By: John Lewis 

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