Thursday, October 22, 2009

Anatomy of Tire Issues

This is in response to Ms M and Dave's comments on the Riding Post? post.

I bought Petunia in February 18, 2007 with 3,890 miles on her odometer. I had a 5,000 mile service and a new set of Metzler 880s installed in March with 9,953 miles on her original Dunlop tires. As luck would have it the tire went flat as I was talking to the service writer at the dealer scheduling that service. Because of changing to Metzler I changed both front and rear.

My next rear tire change came after 8,787 miles and I stayed with Metzler. I was very happy with the ride quality of the Metzler and found them to be quite good sticking to the road. Many of these miles were on the highway in wet weather and I was very confident of their gripping power.

Metezler was my choice again in 6,840 miles. This was going to be my fourth rear tire in 25,580 miles. There were miles left on this tire, but I was getting ready to head to Alaska and opted to change it prior to leaving. This time after only 4,747 miles I had to replace the bald Metzler, in Anchorage, after pulling a trailer across the AlCan Highway. The Anchorage Harley dealer only carried Dunlop and so I was a captive audience.

Arriving back home in Arizona I put on the set of Metzler black walls I bought before leaving for Alaska. This was the first time I changed the Metzler front tire in 24,946 miles and only changed it because I bought the set. The Dunlop had 4,572 miles and was well worn, but would have lasted a while longer. This change was chronicled here and all of these miles were with Piggy attached and traveling the highways coming home from Alaska.

I went with Dunlops when I changed this summer prior to heading to Sturgis. I put these on with 43,125 miles on Petunia and that made the Metzler last only 8,226 miles. That brings me to this week when I again changed out a rear tire after only 7,328 miles. Granted 4,000 or so of those miles were pulling the trailer and most of the others were two up, but only over 7,000 miles seem odd. The shop did find the caliper misaligned and maybe the tire was as well.

So, in my world there have been seven tire changes in 50,453 miles. That averages to 7,207 miles a tire. Three of those tires were Dunlop and four have been Metzlers. This recent tire change is only the second that I have had done at a reputable location, if you count the Stealer as reputable. That dealer installed tire lasted 8,787 miles which by far is the best except for the original. Also important to note is all the tires listed here, except the dealer and this last one, were purchased from the Internet. There are those who subscribe to the theory that all of the Internet tires are seconds, blemish, and old stock tires. I only know changing rear tires every 7,000 miles is getting expensive.

So, when this new Metzler is getting thin I will make arraignments to have a set of Avons at the Wheel Shop and give those a shot. The Metzlers have a great ride and I find they stick to the road very well even in wet conditions, but I'm looking for more miles out of a tire. A part of the trouble is timing for long trips for me and I always opt for leaving with maximum thread. I'm now thinking of adjusting that philosophy and just changing a tire when needed during the ride.


  1. I like plan b. Change em when you need to, not before. Tires are expensive, and so is the labor.

  2. 7,000 miles sure doesn't seem like much. The tires on my Dyna were changed at about 18,000 miles - front and rear. Now those were mostly 1-up miles, and there was no extra weight from a trailer, but still.

    And as for when to change? I'm with Mr. M. - change them when you need to.

  3. hmmm, pondering...
    excellent timeline and great info azhd. lets see what the mileage is on this set for you, hopefully better.

    gotta tell ya, in the past metzler was tire of choice out here. but in the last few yrs, maybe 5 yrs now, locals have been really vocal about happily switching to avon for a few reasons; compound, traction, stability, wear, looks... your results will be interesting.

    now those miles of daves...holy mole... :)

  4. Ahhh...decisions, decisions. I'm going to be in the market for some new rubber myself soon. I definitely want to try an alternative to the Duns...Metz & Avon seem the best two other choices. From what I've read so far, I may lean towards the Avons.

  5. As some of you might recall from a earlier tire bitching post of mine, I was having some of the same gripes and concerns. I did switch to Metzler, but my front Dunlop was perfectly fine. I decided to do the unthinkable and only change out the rear. I figured if I had a problem, I'd fork out the extra dough, and buy the matching front. So I'm running with a Metzler rear, and a Dunlop front. I know some people will say you shouldn't do that, but It's working just fine. No handling, traction, or steering problems whatsoever, and I don't feel like I just wasted a perfectly good Dunlop front tire. I do like the Metzler rear. It is more aggressive that the Dunlop, in looks and handling, and seems to be wearing much nicer than the Dunlop. Maybe for shits and giggles I'll try Avons next.

  6. Mr. M I also ran a mismatched set of Dunlop rear/Metzler front coming home from Alaska with no ill effects. I now have that reversed, Metzler rear/Dunlop front, because the front looks like new. I wasn't willing to pay a taste over $200 so others would be happy. I'm wondering if Petunia even knows what style of shoes she's wearing?

  7. I'm sure that in the utmost perfect conditions, it is recommended to run a matching pair, but it's not like I'm a professional bike racer or anything. I think that this is a bullshit idea that is given to us to brainwash us into spending more tire money. The idea that when you change one, you need to change both is sold to us by the tire manufactures. Just the same as the oil change places, and dealerships trying to get us to change our oil in our cars every 3,000 miles; even though most vehicles don't need it on average until they hit about 7, or 8 thousand miles.

  8. Addition to my last comment.

    Of course when I do switch out the front tire, it will be at least to the same brand of tire as the rear, however, if the rear ain't worn to the point of needing replacement, I won't replace it.

  9. Personally, I've run Dunlop, Metzler, Avons, and Bridgestones with nearly identical results. Each brand ( which is affected by the series of tire ) had pluses and minuses.

    I don't know if they are available for your bike, but Bridgestone has dual compound tires. They are harder in the middle and softer on the edges. Might help with a bike that has a lot of torque.