So I've been riding a GS500 for about a year. My first bike. I knew the stock Bridgestone Exedras were considered "poor" new, and mine were now 7 years old. Still, I didn't really know any better, so what's good vs. bad?
Last week a friend of mine who's been riding for 15 years took my GS for a spin and came back and told me "dude, this thing is crazy! your tires have *no* grip, and the rear is worn flat making the whole bike super sketchy when you start your turn!! get new tires man! oh and your brakes are shit too." Ok then!
So I called around to a few places and ended up getting the guys at 5th Gear to install some new Michelin Pilot Activs, a new steel-braided front brake line, and bleed the rear brake too. About $500 worth of parts/labor. Drove it home today. Holy shit! It's a whole new bike! I can actually modulate the front brake now. The rear brake can be used without locking up the wheel.. And now when I start to lean to initiate a turn the transition is smooth and steady. Incredible difference. Bike feels soooo much more stable. It even seems to soak up bumps from road cracks better now.
Anyhow, thought I'd share for the benefit of any other new riders out there who might be riding on "starter bikes" with old crappy tires and brakes. I honestly expected the changes to be imperceptible to me, something I should "just do" as part of being safe and responsible and maybe one day it would save my ass. What I didn't expect is that the difference would be so immediately obvious, or that it would change the "feel" of the bike so dramatically.
So yeah. Tires and brakes. They're important!
Also, thx to Rudy @ 5th Gear for not complaining about a geeky newb watching him work and asking questions!