I just replaced my stock front tire with a Metzeler 880. The first thing I noticed is that the bike feels 100 lbs lighter with the new tire-- it is much easier to turn. The second thing is that before, I had to countersteer around corners, whereas the new tire is actually pointed in the direction the bike is headed: it's cross section is rounder. What a !%@$#^@ to get the new tire on the rim! I wouldn't say that it doesn't vibrate, but it is much better than stock-- it's not so much a vibration as a faint sound like knobbies on your bicycle. The stock front tire howled like a spitfire that's been shot down. Kelly
Kelly...The 880s are a great tire. They do seem to improve handling noticeably. Sounds like you mounted it yourself. I'm seriously thinking of buying a tire mounting apparatus. My dealer charged me $125 to mount /balance my Metzelers last year. I'm not doing that anymore! Any hints? I'm slowly but surely adding to my mech skills, with a bunch of help from this group, I must say. After I finish this stator change I'm in the middle of, I feel I will be ready for ANYTHING...short of splitting engine cases.
I've never heard of it! For piece of mind and performance I'd recommend one of the following brands: Avon, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Metzeler, Michelin or Pirelli. If ya can afford to spend a little more than go with Avon or Metz. Best bang for the buck would be the Dunlop D404 at $106.00 for the pair + shipping from: This tire is basically the Dunlop D402 which Harley puts on the Fat Boy but the compound is the same as the Dunlop CruiseMax tire (which Victory puts on the front of their Vegas model) - a tad softer so it has a more grip. If price isn't a concern then move up to the Metz ME880.
Good gosh, how can ya go wrong? These are much better than the stock rubber that Kaw puts on our VN750. My buddy just put a set on his Yam V-Star 1100 and loves 'em. For the price ($106 for the PAIR!!! + shipping) I probably would have bought 'em if they were available last year.
Dunlop Cruisemax- good luck finding them. Last year they were out of stock. Maxxis Classic - I know nothing about them. Bridgestone Spitfire S11 - Great tire. If I could not afford or find my Metzlers, I would mount a set again. Michelin commander - I know nothing about them. So, based on my knowledge, I have had a set of Bridgestone Spitfire S11's and would recommend them. The price is right and the performance IMHO is excellent for what they cost
I understand that the Metzlers are suppose to be superior rain tires. Mileage wise they don't last as long as the Dunlops, but they are made of a softer compound and that is suppose to equal better traction in general. I've seen a lot of personal testimony on tires here and other places, and it seems like the ME880s get a lot more praise than any other brand/tire model. Based on this totally unscientific analysis, that's good enough for me. ME880's it is. Regarding Dunlops, Motorcycle consumer news supposedly compared the ME880s to the Dunlop D250's. The comparison appears to be tread wear type of comparison. Bottom line there was the the Dunlops were less expensive and gave ~30% more tread life (hence a lot cheaper over all). I'm still going to take the ME880's, I only have two wheels, so I want the extra traction. If I was running a touring rig, with a side car or trike setup, I'd probably go for the harder compounds for longer tread life.
For the money the Bridgestone S11 is probably your best bet although the 150/90-15 (rear tire) is only available with raised white letters. As Bulldog said the CruiseMax is hard to find due to limited production. I had a set on backorder for 4 months before finally giving up and getting the Metzeler ME 880s.
I too am looking for tires. Here is what I've discovered, in somewhat descending order.
- Best performance, highest load rating, you basic top of the line tire, with top of the line cost. (A good internet price would be around $175 + shipping)
Bridgestone S11, Dunlop 491 Elite II
- Moderately priced tire ($150 + shipping), factory load rating... The S11 is actually a sport touring tire so it's treadlife is a little lower than the Dunlop, but performance is also better.
- Moderate price tire, factory load rating. Your basic middle of the road tire. Does well under all road conditions but excels in no particular area.
Kenda, Maxxis, and other "discount" tires
(<$100)- Lower priced tires, factory load rating... you basic average tire for an average rider.
If you drive the speed limit, commute, and generally put no demands on your tires, any of these will serve adequately. I had difficulty finding any information on any brands, to tell the truth. Well, other than the Metzler, which everyone raves about. But what I did find leads me to believe, for all the talk about "tires are the most important thing", ANY tire thats on the market will fill the needs of 80% of the riders out there. (Stewart’s comments on this last part of the above - I think the writer is going to find a fair amount of disagreement about his last statement - as can been seen by the previous posts, a lot of riders have tested these tires themselves over the years)
What a co-winky-dink - I had a 920 Virago as well and my last set of tires were Dunlop Sport Elites. Nice tires IMHO. Worked great in the rain and on highways with the rain grooves there was none of that annoying swaying you get with stock tires. Phil 'Stargazer'
That's a decent tire summation. As for the S11, it only comes with raised white letters in 150/90-15. The Dunlop 491 Elite II is a high milage tire without the grip I'd like. The CruiseMax is a good tire at a great price and is standard equipment on the '03 and '04 Victory Vegas, so it has to be pretty decent. The problem is very limited production and it's almost impossible to find in the sizes for our VN750. Forget the $100 off brand tires, why risk it? As for the Metz ME880 - most will feel more confident in the corners, at speed and in the rain for what amounts to an extra $20.00/yr, so go for it. It's like insurance - it's nice to know it's there. I'm glad I have a set. Another plus is that if your on a road trip and cut one down the likelyhood of finding a new one is good due to it's extreme popularity.
Re: Dunlap 491 Elite II I am on my third set of these great tyres (Scots for "tire"---Scot named Dunlap invented the inflatable tire) I have replaced them between 11 and 12 thousand miles. They had tread left, but I am on the conservative side. This tire is made of a special compound for wear. The tread design is great for wet roads, grooves, and bridge grating. It has the same tread design as the Harley MOE tires. I believe it to be the same tire with their name on it. This is the same tire that a lot of Goldwings use. It has very heavy sidewalls to carry the load. I have ridden the 'Dragon' (Deals Gap) three times on these babies, once in the rain (not smart) without a slip or slide. I was in the company of sport tourers and kept up just fine. Make sure they are mounted properly, and balanced. While I'm on the soapbox, I have noticed what I believe to be tire dressing shine on some of our bike photos. This useage is definitely dangerous. I have read this several time in articals from Motorcycle Consumer and from folks like Keith Code and others. If you tink about it, the side wall of the tyre is exposed to the road surface during hard leaning turns. Do you realy want a slick surface on the road at this point? I dont think so!!!!!!!! Off box now See you in Ky (Seems all my TN grandfathers married KY women. Must be the water.) Joseph Haley
Wear and tear is not the only consideration. Your tires are getting old too (11 years). The compounds deteriorate naturally over time. I had good results with the OEM Bridgestones, so I can't recommend against them. They are affordable too. I switched to the Dunlop D404s and they are fine so far. Also beaucoup less expensive than the Metzlers, which are the favorite here it seems. Get matching tires front and back to ensure that the handling characteristics are compatible. Get them balanced for sure. You might want to consider switching the rear valve stem with a 90-degree stem to allow easier access for checking and filing that rear tire. The stock stem is tough to get some air nozzles on. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
I've decided to replace both tires. However, I will not be buying Metzlers. As someone pointed out, Murphy is alive and well. No sooner will I spend $140 on a tire than I'll get a nail in it. My budget for new tires is $150 before installation costs. So, I am looking at some of the less expensive tires. So far my list looks like this, but isn't complete, opinions and suggestions welcome.
Any of these tires would seem to suit my riding style and environment. By the way, what's it cost to get motorcycle tires mounted and balanced? I would presume its more than auto tires, but a ballpark figure would be helpful.
Some places won't charge anything if you get the tires from them.
At the time we had no Kaw shop here so I took the wheels off, and took them to an independent shop. He charged me $30.00 per wheel (mounting and balancing). It was $70.00 per wheel if I had taken the whole bike in.
Mounting and balancing off the bike usually runs anywhere from $20- $50 per wheel. The average here in Metro Detroit seems to be about $42 + tax (per wheel), Ouch!
If you did it yourself you would probably need to invest over $50 for tire irons, a bead breaker assembly, tire weights, and a balancer assembly.