Categories
Motorbikes

Bridgestone BT 016 tyre review UPDATE

P1030276b

This is the front tyre. Worn almost flat on the sides. Very strange wear.

It’s been a year since I bought a set of Bridgestone BT 016 tyres for the Monster. My initial thoughts can be read here. What do I think now after a couple of thousand miles?

Well, I’m still not convinced. These tyres just don’t feel right. Admittedly they turn in faster now that they are scrubbed in a bit and it has become easier to get the bike through the corners but I still don’t feel completely confident in them. Is this because they don’t give much feedback or is it my built in survival instinct keeping me reigned in?

They have not frightened me or done anything untoward, though today the front end did seem to lose it’s grip for a moment and I was surprised at that. The one thing these tyres don’t lack is grip.

The back tyre is wearing well and evenly although there is actually a step where the softest rubber at the edge of the tyre has worn more than the middle compound. This has not yet affected grip or performance, or at least I am unable to detect it.

P1030277b

Back tyre wearing very well compared to the front although a slight step is noticeable between the softer outer compound on the outside edge and the slightly harder compound next to it. Softer outer edge quite visible.

The front tyre is another matter. The sides have a distinct flat on them. This is very unusual for me as I do not weigh much and am not a heavy braker. This must be why the turn is improved because of the slightly V shape the tyre now has. Normally when the back tyre is worn out I still have plenty or grip left on the front but with these BT 016s the front tyre is more worn than the rear already.

I’m not sure how many miles the tyres have done but it must be a couple of thousand so they are not doing bad. Mind you the bike is not heavy and neither am I. I’d like to think that my riding style is fluid and I don’t brake much so in theory I should get a lot more miles out of a set of tyres than most.

The question is really; would I buy these tyres again? The answer is a most definite NO. Mainly because I don’t like the way the front tyre is wearing unevenly and because the outer part of the rear tyre is at a lower level than the rest of the tyre but mostly because I just don’t like the way they feel. The bike is twitchy coming out of bends and on uneven surfaces. It never did that with the Pilot Powers. I don’t think it’s a problem, it just takes the edge of one’s confidence when the bike doesn’t feel completely planted.

Perhaps I could mess about with the suspension settings but I hate to do that, especially when the bike was so well set up for the Michelins.

What will I replace these tyres with? A mate has fitted Continental tyres to his Paul Smart and he seems to like them a lot but I still think those Michelin Pilot Powers were an excellent tyre at least once they were warmed up. I think that triple compound is a bit overkill for the road so I will probably go for something fast street as opposed to road/race. I’ll keep you posted on that!

So, conclusion:

The Good – Fast warm up. Excellent grip.

The Bad – Lack of feeling. Uneven wear. Slow turn in and direction changing.

Marks out of ten. A seven at best.

Categories
Motorbikes

Michelin Pilot Power tyre review

-1001223b

Leica M9, Voigtlander f4 21mm 160 ISO Michelin Pilot Power

Before buying some new tyres for my cousin’s Ducati Monster M900 he’d been kind enough to lend me, I did some research online and soon realised that there is a huge choice of rubber out there. Actually it’s just plain confusing. I tried reading reviews of tyres but everyone seemed to be happy with their choice no matter who the manufacturer was and anyway, how can one know the experience of the reviewer?

In the end I decided that since the Monster is a powerful bike and I want to live for many years to enjoy it I’d go for a high performance street tyre and sacrifice a certain amount of wear for more grip. Since tyres are what keep you planted it makes sense to me to buy sticky tyres plus I wouldn’t be touring or going long distance on the Monster because without a fairing it’s just too tiring to ride.

Not sure why I chose the Michelins over any other brand but in the end I went for the Pilot Powers, maybe it was the tread pattern which is about as minimal as you can get. It looks pretty slick. I wanted to try the dual compound version but they didn’t do one in the right size for the Monster so single compound it was. The Pilot Powers are made from synthetic rubber straight from Moto GP land so should still be pretty good.

Another thing that I like from a tyre is a nice clear end to the tread. I want the tyre walls and the tread to have a sharp angle and not be rounded off. It just looks better to my mind. The Pilot Power is a good looking tyre. Some might say that it doesn’t matter, what matters is performance, not how a tyre looks at standstill. But the designers of bikes go to a lot of trouble making their bikes look a certain way and there’s no denying that tyres can completely change the look of a bike. Don’t agree? Put some trial bike tyres on a Ducati Monster.

So choice finally made, I took the bike down to the garage to have new shoes fitted. I was glad to be rid of the Pirelli Corsas that were on the bike, especially the rear, it was too wide, a 180/55 and not the correct 170/60/17. It’s not much, but I always think that designers know what they are doing when they specify a certain size of tyre. If they had wanted to fit 180/55 they would have done. It still had plenty of tread but the tyre gave me absolutely no confidence at all. Every corner I went around filled me with terror. A Ducati Monster is a great handling bike and shouldn’t feel like that.

The Pilot powers looked much better on the bike and the back tyre better proportioned to the wheel. After a warning from the fitter to be careful until the mould release has worn off the tyres I set off and wheelspun out on to the road. I had not intended to at all but the low down grunt of the 900 cc engine was enough to spin the back wheel. Guy wasn’t kidding.

Right away the bike felt better. The ride was softer yet firmer and the steering neutral. After 100 kms or so of gradually riding faster and faster and building confidence I realised that these were bloody good tyres with excellent grip and feel.

They need warming up for about 10kms but once up to temp they just do their job. The only time they aren’t very good is when riding over white lines. That may just be because the French have a rubbish reflective paint that appears to be made with Teflon on all their roads. Someone told me it was because the high quality Patented grippy version in the UK was too expensive. Who knows, perhaps with some other tyres it might not be so bad.

On one trip with a mate following on his Hornet 900 I was told that I was leaving black lines on the road coming out of the corners! The power of that big V twin must have been pushing the back tyre to the limits but I had no inkling of any drama being played out, the bike just goes around corners like it is on rails.

The turn in is very fast with these tyres, I think I read somewhere that the front tyre has a slight V shape which aids this. The bike lays down in the corners and stays there, the angle of lean stays fairly constant. They were never tested in the wet so I can’t give any feedback about how they might have performed but in the dry they grip very well.

They lasted well too. I managed to get about 3000 miles from the rear which, considering the kind of abuse it was subjected to was quite impressive, or at least I thought so, no doubt some reading this would be horrified but from what I can tell this is about right for a high performance street tyre. The front has plenty of tread left but it is lightly deformed but that’s hardly surprising considering the awesome stopping power of those 8 pot Brembo brakes. Both tyres wore evenly but that’s mainly because I rarely ride on straight roads.

I have been warned though by someone who gets through a hell of a lot of tyres on his bikes that Michelins can become suddenly unpredictable near the end. I have recently noticed a couple of little twitches from the back end when well heeled over but I couldn’t say whether it is the tyre going off or just an irregularity in the road surface but in my mind it could be the tyre, it probably is the tyre and so it’s time to change it.

Even though the front tyre looks OK, I’ll change it as well just to have a new matching pair from the same maker. One set of new tyres every year seems fair enough and the Pilot Powers were bought and fitted for about £200 which isn’t bad really, the Monster has big wide wheels after all.

If all I could get was a new set of Michelin Pilot Powers as before I would not be disappointed at all. Marks out of ten? I’d have to say at least a 7, maybe an 8 but I really haven’t tested that many different types of tyre so this is fairly meaningless although it can act as a bench mark. Lets go from here.

This time I am going to try the much rated Bridgestone BT 016 (read the review here) just because I feel that the bike deserves it and can you ever have too much grip? Will the BT 016 be better? I’ll let you know in a few weeks after I have thoroughly tested them in the real world.