New Shoes for Blue
Blue is the name I have given my Buell. Motorcycle riders get very attached to their motorcycles, to the point that we see our machines as having distinct personality traits, moods and sometimes even genders. So much so that we often name them. This is one of those things about riding motorcycles that non-riders may not comprehend. But for motorcycle riders it is just one part of a passionate commitment to our lifestyle.
Just in case you don’t already know, motorcycling is my passion. It gives me a profound sense of peace, and it stirs my soul, invigorating every fiber of my being, two seemingly opposite results from one singular activity. It rarely matters what direction the front wheel is headed as I embark on a ride. Destinations are more the province of four wheelers. On two wheels it is the journey that is the focus. This is especially the case when I ride my Buell. Eric Buell has designed some incredible motorcycles through the years. Mine is a 2000 S3T powered by a souped-up 1200cc Harley-Davidson Sportster engine. A strong torquey engine wrapped in a tubular frame that is more akin to an Italian sport-bike than a Harley, it is a fine handling machine. It is my idea of a perfect mount for spending the day roaring and rumbling across the mountain roads of Western North Carolina.
The S3T is set up as a sport-touring machine, and it is a capable touring machine, however as with all of Eric’s designs it decidedly is a sporting motorcycle. That sporting nature is a trait that I love, particularly since its performance abilities exceed my skills as a rider, making it endlessly entertaining. Exploring the envelope of my skills on this motorcycle affords me room to grow as a rider. Growth is good the process of continually refining skills keeps me sharp. It also means that the entertainment value of my favorite roads stays fresh. As good as any motorcycle can be, its roadworthiness depends greatly upon tires.
Where the rubber meets the road is truly where the action is in motorcycle riding. Traction at the small contact patch between tire and road is the point of dynamic interaction influenced by acceleration, braking and cornering forces. While chassis design, engine performance, suspension and rider ergonomics influence how a motorcycle handles, it is the tires that are the ultimate factor in defining how much traction you have. So in essence as you explore the limits of your motorcycle and your skills, you are playing the traction game. In the case of my Buell there is plenty of opportunity to push traction to the limit, so tires are very important to me.
I have been riding on Avon tires for several years with great satisfaction. They have delivered exceptional handling and grip and are a marked improvement over the stock tires and other brands I have tried on this motorcycle. Living as I do in the mountains of North Carolina I have an endless supply of twisty roads that feature cliffs and shear rock walls instead of shoulders, leaving precious little room for error. Tire performance is very important to me. The Avon tires that I have been running on made such an impression on me that we used their tread pattern as the running footer graphic on my “Biker Billy’s Roadhouse Cookbook.”
Late in the riding season, a pre-ride-inspection revealed that my tires were approaching the wear limit. It was time for new tires.
After a little web shopping I discover that Avon Motorcycle Tyres has a new tire that would fit my Buell, the Storm 3D X-M. They offer the high performance I need and also offer extended mileage. High mileage is not something I expect in a tire that offers high performance. I have always accepted the tradeoff between sticky compound tires with lower mileage or harder tire compounds and longer mileage. On this bike, traction beats mileage in a tire. That being said, Avon Motorcycle Tyres is serious about high mileage, which is what the X-M in the name stands for, they offer a Mileage Warranty of 15,000 miles to back it up.
So I reached out to Avon Motorcycle Tyres and requested a set of the Storm 3D X-M. When they arrived, it was off to Mountain Cycleworks in Swannanoa, NC to have them installed. My friend Jody Martin who is the proprietor at Mountain Motorsports is a life long motorcyclist and a professionally trained Harley-Davidson mechanic. Jody has been working on my Buell for some years now. Buells are exotic orphans when it comes to parts and service. Fortunately for those of us that have a passion for these motorcycles there are folks like Jody, shops like Mountain Motorsports and manufacturers like Avon Motorcycle Tyres.
Storm 3D X-M
- High performance plus extended mileage
- The X-M version will deliver 15%-20% extra mileage compared to the current Storm range
- Interlocking three dimensional points hidden in the sipes to improve stability and grip, limit tread flex and allow the tyre to warm up quickly (3D Sipes)
- High performance single and multi-compound super rich silica tread enhances wet grip (SRS)
- Superb handling and stability characteristics
- Typical fitments: Suzuki Hayabusa, Honda Blackbird, Kawasaki GTR1400, Suzuki GSX1400
An added benefit that Avon Motorcycle Tyres offers is a Road Hazard Warranty (an industry exclusive), which covers you for puncture or accidental damage to your newly installed Avon tires. The warranty is in effect for the first 1mm of tire wear. They allow a one-year coverage period so you can get new tires late in the season or even off-season and have time to ride while protected. This is a cool feature, especially since damage to a new tire is an expensive frustration. Remember that motorcycle tires are so critical to your safety that a puncture you might fix on a car tire merits replacement on a motorcycle.
There is a lot of cool technology involved in these tires. I am sure that if you are a motorcycle enthusiast like me the technology is fascinating I will review all of it in this series as it progresses. But like you I want to ride so let’s get the tires mounted and hit the road.
Motorcycle tires should be installed by a professional and include high-speed balancing and new valves where appropriate. When the wheels are off it is also important that the axles and bearings be inspected and serviced if need. This is also a good time to check brake pads and replace if necessary, and don’t forget brake cables or hydraulic brake fluid. Once everything is finished and the mechanic has test ridden your motorcycle, then you are ready to carefully break in your new tires. That is the topic of another upcoming installment of my blog.
Till then Eat Hot and Ride Safe!