I envy you young guys. Decades in front of you, lotsa energy, heal fast when you get busted up. Me, I'm not so young any more. Had a bike when I was a teen, then not so for 4 decades and more. So now that I'm back on two wheels, I'm torn between being aware of my mortality and fallability, mindful of and pressed by the limited years ahead of me, and hungry for experience. So I ride all I can, and I try everything I can get my hands on. My bike isn't just my ride, it's my school. I'm trying to pack 5 decades of riding experience into 5 years, or maybe 10 - not that that is gonna work, but the attempt is better than a life adrift!
Three years ago, when I was a green-but-keen newbie, I posted a thread extolling the virtues of new tires, when I ripped the OEM Dunlops off my SV and replaced them with a pair of 'real' tires. The improvement was astonishing (no secret to the experienced members of the audience, but big news to me at the time, and well worth reinforcing to fellow newbies).
So now, after 70K km and riding on Avon Storms and Storm 2 Ultras, Shinko Podiums (don't ask...), Michelin PR2s, Dunlop Roadsmarts, Pirelli Angels, and Bridgestone 023s, I let myself get talked into 'sport' rubber. I'm off to do a week of riding with a couple quick riders, and their ability to simply ride away from me on tighter, more technical sections just amazes me, so I thought, what the hell, why not trade durability for grip... I need any advantage I can get... So on went a set of Bridgestone 016s...
Well, I gotta tell you, the difference is dramatic! Corners in town on my commute where I used to feel the front pushing if I got aggressive now have the front firmly planted. An easy-does-it ride to Squamish and back to wear the sprue nubs off the new rubber turned into a complete howl. And the softer rubber and softer sidewalls actually 'muffle' the short, sharp pavement breaks. Grippier, AND more comfy - jeeezuz!
But the REAL closer came this afternoon on my commute home from work. There's one corner, see, thru which (if there is no traffic in front of me) I like to kinda challenge myself. I run in as hard as I dare (or - that's not quite accurate - maybe as hard as I feel good about), and I glance down as I round out of the corner to catch my exit speed. Juvenile, I know, but there you go - proof, to me, lies in measurement.
And on the sport-touring tires that I've been used to, I'm used to seeing 96 or 97 or 98 kph, just that smidge under 3 digits. And I'm used to feeling 'uneasy', not frightened, but aware that I'm getting out towards my (self-perceived) limits (I have little doubt Mr Rossi could put my bike thru there at 140, easy). Once, and only once, I registered 101. Must have been a special day, I reckon.
But today, with all of 150km's experience on the 016s to guide me, I just cranked on the throttle and tipped it in and rode thru feeling good, not at all 'pressed' - and when I glanced down at the exit, the display read "108"! No drama, no slips, no 'holding on', no heart-in-mouth, just grip and grip and grip... Frikking astonishing...
I'll never be as fast as the 'quick company' that I ride with, but a lesson has been learned, just as it was 3 years ago. Yes, the rider makes the real difference, but don't underestimate the importance of the 'tools' either. Tires, in particular, change the game entirely. The shame of it is, now that I've experienced 'the other side', there won't be any going back, and my tire expenditure is likely gonna double per year.
Bring it on, says I. "108" is worth it! Now I just gotta be well enough controlled to avoid trouble, cuz if it comes, it'll come faster than it did before!
What do they say?
Enjoy your ride!!!