Good Rubber & other Safety Checks

The search for the perfect motorcycle tire is over, and it's been a long one. I don't have the flair for interesting or captivating writing, but I want to try to emphasize, to those of you that don't know, the importance of a good set of tires on your motorcycle.

Anyone that rides should realize that while you are riding, you have on the ground two small portions of rubber about the size of two standard playing cards. That is not much. Without going into a lot of technical jargon and pie-graphs, try to picture the small amount of rubber on the ground and then take part away for braking and cornering and what you have left is available for traction. The portions used for each varies with changing conditions. You can further complicate your life by not keeping good quality tires on your bike and not keeping the proper tire pressure in them for varying conditions such as the type of riding, road and weather conditions.

There will be those that will argue my choice in tires, but I would like to share this as my own opinion if you will. I have been riding motorcycles for almost 25 years and tour bikes for the last 13 of those. In 1986, I bought my first Venture. (I waited for the big saddle bags.) Three Ventures and a lot of miles later, I have found what I consider to be the perfect tire for the Venture, and the Gold Wing for that matter - the Dunlop K491 Elite II. I've just about worn out this set of tires but it has taken 18,000 miles, a sidecar and a 685 lb. (when unloaded) trailer to do it. Now the sidecar and trailer weren't on the whole time, but they got considerable use this summer. Hopefully, I've established that these are high mileage tires, higher than any other tire I've tried. You will be hard pressed to show me one I haven't tried.

Handling is very important to me as well as traction. I've found nothing even close to the perfection of these tires. Front end or deceleration wobble (HA) is not found on these tires. You may often hear someone say, "Keep the rubber side down" . Well, don't forget to make it "good rubber" by checking it for objects embedded in it such as nails, screws, etc., and to check the pressure regularly.

While we are on the subject of safety, how many things do you do on a pre-ride check? If you should have a problem with lighting, the computer is supposed to light up an "idiot" indicator, right? Well, for the sake of argument, it didn't or you don't have the luxury of a computer on your particular motorcycle. If your brake light or headlight doesn't work, when do you want to know about it. Before or after you get into commute traffic? Did you ever go to use your horn and find out later, when you got home, that it didn't work because there was a blown fuse? A pre-ride check is simple and easy to accomplish in a short period of time.

Lights - headlight, brake light, turn indicators, and horn.

Tire and Wheels - check for cracks and dents, pressure (manufacturer's specs), remove items stuck in the treads that may cause a puncture.

Fuel/Oil - do you have enough?

Cables/Suspension - check them. Does the clutch operate smoothly? The brakes should feel firm. Set the suspension for the load you will be carrying. Remember to ride safe. Thanks for your time.

Scott Lillis #04752 Mountain View, CA