Monday, June 27, 2011

Ring out the Old

I was really hoping to get a season's worth of riding on the original equipment tires that came on the NX. They're the ubiquitous Bridgestone Trail Wings, TW41 in the front and TW42 in the rear. Some folks refer to these tires as "Death Wings" due to their dearth of grip in off-pavement conditions.



When I owned a DR350SE, fellow owners hated them and would remove them, regardless of condition. I was fortunate, my DR350SE came with Dunlop D607s. They howled on pavement but I got good wear and gas mileage out of them. I eventually sourced a second wheel set for some Pirelli MT-21s and replaced the Dunlops with some Kenda K761s. I loved both; the MT-21s were great off-road and even on-road they were good (in the wet, too). The Kendas were pavement only, smooth and quiet.

I digress, I found the Trail Wings to be pretty good on the pavement and got good fuel mileage to boot (~94 mpg). However, at twenty-two years old, the carcass can begin to breakdown which would lead to catastrophic failure. While that's not necessarily bad in the dirt, it's going to be very bad on pavement, worse on pavement and in traffic. So, I opted to purchase some Shinko 705s from Motorcycle Superstore.

I ordered them on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 and received them two days later (!!). I don't care where M.S. is located, that's some fast handling & shipping. What's sad is that the Bridgestone's still look great, there aren't any cracks or splits and there's at least 1/4" of tread depth left. However, I'm not willing to take the risk (on having them fail massively). The Shinkos were $92 for both (on sale as of this writing) which included free shipping. They mounted up easily and the only issue I encountered was that the front Shinko (90/90/-21) is slightly wider at the tread shoulder than the original Bridgestone (2.75-21). This caused some interference issues with the front fender/fork brace. I had to reform it to clear the new tire.

I took them for a spin to scuff them in. I did not notice any difference in smoothness/vibration but they do ride much more quietly. I've seen several reviews, both on M.S.'s web site, on TransAlp.org and on AdvRider. Most agree they're a good value and wear slowly. I would hope they'll last a while and should based on the light weight NX. They have wide, deep sipes which should allow them to clear any mud quickly (although, I doubt I'll have the NX off-road any time soon) and prevent any hydro-planing. The rest of the week is supposed to be warm/hot and dry. So, I'll have ample opportunity to fully scuff them in before extended gravel riding on Saturday, July 2.

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