Friday, May 3, 2013

Time to Re-Tire and Take a Brake

No, I am not yet old enough to retire, and I'm not going into a hiatus from the bike, but my front tire wore out and my back tire was close behind it. 

Most of you know that I am not a very aggressive rider.  My last two front tires, Michelin Pilot Road 2s, lasted 15,000 and 12,000 miles, while the rear average about 11,000, not including one that got punctured during my trip down the gravel Musterground Road at 8,500 miles.

Don't you sportbiker hoodlums make fun of my tire life that's three times what yours is.  I like to make things last a long time, you know.  [Now, if I could get some wear on the sides of the tires, too....]

I noticed something I had not previously seen on that last front tire.  It was slightly more worn on the left side than on the right.  I attribute this to higher speeds and lean angles on left-hand curves than on right.  I suppose this is because of the greater sight distance on left handers.
Edit: One of my blog readers, rc5695, pointed out in his comment below what should have been obvious to me: That the wear is caused more by the crown of the roads.  That makes sense. 

I sent away for a new Michelin Pilot Road 3 front at Jake Wilson, and had it put on at the Powersports dealer on Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greenville.  They almost always have time to do it while you wait, and they use the proper clip-on balance weights.  Some other places use stick on weights that are functional, but leave a sticky mess when removed.
Oh, by the way, the Cycle Gear store is right next to the Powersports dealer, so you can kill two birds with one stone, drooling over all manner of bikes and accessories.

I have noticed that there is a surprising contrast between these two stores.   The sales people in the Powersports dealer have never asked if they could help me, despite my milling around the showroom while waiting for tire changes.  By contrast, the Cycle Gear store clerks always ask, but don't push.  I would think that with such rotten sales over the last few years, the Powersports personnel would at least ask.  Who knows, maybe I could be persuaded to buy some of their two-wheeled wares.  (Don't tell my wife that I could be tempted, though.) 

My last rear tire finally wore out, too after a little over 9000 miles, so I looked around and found that STG had the lowest price on a Pilot Road 2.  That previous tire, a Pilot Road 3, lasted about 2000 miles less than the Pilot Road 2 before it, so I went back to a 2.  Powersports also mounted this one. 

Look here.  Nice and shiny.  Hasn't touched the road yet. 

By the way, do you know where the phrase "Time to Re-Tire" in my title comes from?  It is the slogan of the Fisk Tire Company.  Actually, the entirety of the slogan is "Time to Re-Tire. Get a Fisk."

1951 Fisk Tires original vintage advertisement.
It features the Big Boy tire with white sidewall protected with scuff guard.
Manufactured by United States Rubber Company.

The little Fisk Tire boy first appeared in 1907 when Burr Giffen, a young commercial artist working for Fisk Tire Company, sketched a figure of a yawning boy wearing pajamas. His right arm encircled a tire, and his left hand held a candle. Fisk management was enthusiastic about the sketch, and the clever slogan "Time to Re-Tire" was inked in below the figure. The drawing was copyrighted in 1910 and was registered as a trademark in the U.S. Patent Office in 1914.

While I was changing the tires, I noticed that the brake linings were getting a little thin -- not worn to the indicator grooves, but probably worthwhile replacing.  I looked at OEM replacements, but they are quite expensive.  Then I looked at Blue Ridge Performance, a shop that caters to the Ninja 650R. They sell EBC brand HH linings.  Being the miser I am, I continued to search for a low price.  Ebay to the rescue.  I found a complete set of four front pads for $50, and a set of two rear for $25.  I hit Buy It Now, and had all of them in my hands within three days.

The pretty new ones, and the dirty originals:

I have the bike's service manual, so installing the brakes was straightforward.  I am always careful to adhere to the proper installation torque of fasteners on my bike, so the torque wrench comes out frequently during servicing. 

How many of you recognize the bending beam style torque wrench I am using here? 

I decided to flush the brake lines while I was at it, so I got out my very sophisticated bleeding rig -- a hose submerged in some brake fluid in a jar.  Brake fluid is hygroscopic, so it pays to flush out the old occasionally, say every 30,000 miles or so. 

The procedure is simple, if a little tedious.  Just apply light brake pressure on the lever, open the bleeder screw, squeeze slowly not quite to the end of stroke, close the bleeder, then release the lever.  Do this over and over until new fluid comes out of the hose.  Keep the brake master cylinder reservoir full, though, or you will introduce air into the lines that is very difficult to purge.  Keep the brake fluid off the paint and plastic too.  It tends to eat them up. 

You can see that I have also removed the Hippo Hands for the summer.  I hope it stays warm now. 

Now this is something you don't see very often these days, on the back of the new linings:

Here are the new rear linings snuggled into their proper places. 

Hmmmm.  New tires and new brakes.  Pretty soon, this will be like a new bike: I've replaced the chain, adjusted the valve clearance, cleaned and spruced up the outside, and changed the oil and filter. 

I'll report on the brake performance difference once the new linings are well worn in.  Rain is predicted this weekend, so it may be a while.

So, if you see me on the road, it'll look like I'm riding a new scoot that goes, stops, and turns almost like it just rolled off the showroom floor.  Wave when you see me!  I'll do the same. 



Adam Owens said...

I love it when my bikes get new tires!

rc5695 said...

Me too Adam!

Bucky, the wear being more on the left side of the tire seems to be more attributed to us driving on the right side of the road. With the road being crowned in the center, you're actually riding more on the left side of your tires. For those in Europe that ride on the left side of the line, the right side of their tires wears more. I always though the same as you, until I started reading through some of the FZ (1 and 6) forums that have a lot of international members.