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"If you lose the front on a car you go wide. If you lose the front on a motorbike, you crash." - Casey Stoner.

I was preparing for a long weekend in Arkansas, and my front tire was toast. There was no way it would hold up for the trip up there and back. Last thing I needed was worrying about my front tire during a much-needed moto getaway. Fortunately, a local shop had a bike night on Thursdays, and their shop stayed open late. Did they have time to fit a new front tire for me? They did.

Upon arriving at High 5 in Dallas, I asked what the tire selections were. I was hoping for the same thing I normally use, which is a Michelin Pilot Road 3. It's a great touring tire, grips well in crappy conditions, and gets monster mileage. They didn't have those in stock. My choices were a Michelin Pilot Power 2CT, or the Michelin Pilot Power 3. I knew straight away that those were pure sportbike tires. I thought they had little application for a sport touring bike which serves commuting duty, and does a ton of miles compared to most folks who use their bikes for Sunday leisure rides. Feeling torn, I asked which tire got better life out of them. They suggested the newer Pilot Power 3, and I went with it, thinking the tire would last as long as Tony Romo being healthy and staying on the football field this year.

Not only did the Michelin "sportbike tire" last the Arkansas trip in July, it lasted through 1 track day, roughly 6 thousand miles, and changed my perspective on matching motorcycle tires on my bikes.

Better Feedback & Feel

As much as I loved the PR3's for their mileage, and ability to stick in the cold and wet, I didn't get much feel or feedback out of them. I couldn't feel what the front tire was doing. They stuck without question, but I didn't know where the limit was. This is a similar issue as the current MotoGP switch from the Bridgestones to Michelin fronts. The Bridgestones would take a lot of abuse, you could break very hard on them, and they would stick. Riders had to "trust the tire," according to the reports I've read on the issue.

Feedback leads to Confidence which leads to Speed.

I found the PP3's to have much better feel and feedback to them, which gives a lot of confidence in the front. Especially when I took the bike to the track. I had the confidence to brake later, and lean much farther than I would on the road. The front always telling me what was going on was a big part of that.

Decent Mileage

I really thought these tires would melt like hot taffy in the summer sun, or like the Dallas Cowboys playoff chances this year. Neither are looking good. I was surprised that the front had lasted this long. I'll likely replace it soon, but 6-8K out of a confidence-inspiring front, instead of the 15K I was getting on the PR4's is a trade-off I'm willing to make.

Mix & Match

Changing the front tire removed a bit of a "sticking point" regarding feel and my confidence in the bike. Racers mix and match their front and rear compounds every race to get the best performance. I'm not sure how many road riders do the same, to get the best of the characteristics they need for their riding style.

I still run a Michelin Pilot Road 4 on the rear, rather than a sport rear. The reason is that I put about 1 to 1.5K miles on my bike a month. The Sprint ST has a very linear powerband, and I'm pretty progressive with the throttle. I don't have issues with rear grip or feel with the rear. It just sticks. And they get great life out of them. I didn't see the rear being an issue really. If I have a bike with a ton more power, I might rethink that arrangement.

Original article and others here:
http://www.averagecarguy.com/why-you-should-consider-a-sportier-front-tire-on-your-motorcycle/

How about you? Do you mix and match your tires, or go with matched sets?
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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I don't, but many mix a sport front with a sport touring rear. The Pilot Road has a round neutral profile. The Pilot series is triangular and allows for faster turn in. I switched to the Pilot Power for my Daytona and would never go back to a round profile tire for that bike. Turn is much better without any jitters. It really does pay to try different tire brands, models and mixes when it's time to change tires. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but you don't know what you may be missing if you don't allow change.
 

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Whenever I have had to mix and match tyres, the front has always been a sports / stickier tyre. Never the other way around - you're ask for trouble
 

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Fair comments El Fenix, feel is feel. I look at it a little differently. If I match front and rear on top shelf sport touring tires, I can just check the rear and know exactly when I'm at the wear bars and then I swap them both out. That way, I have some safety margin on the front (which as you pointed out is where the rubber really meets the road). Sometimes you can get subtle cupping on a front tire that otherwise looks pretty good and unless you're inspecting carefully or really dialed in, it can sneak up on you.

To me the bigger mistake is guys who try to wring every last mile out of tires.
 

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I was under the impression that sports tyres can actually perform worse if not up to temperature, or to put it another way touring tyres get to temp easier so the same riding might not warm a sports tyre up fully whilst it would a touring tyre?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I was under the impression that sports tyres can actually perform worse if not up to temperature, or to put it another way touring tyres get to temp easier so the same riding might not warm a sports tyre up fully whilst it would a touring tyre?
Track tires surely do that. Sports tires are usually just a step or 2 more sticky then the touring tires.

I've never personally had issues with them sticking. They usually warm up pretty quick. You can also feel then the tire "comes in" or is really warmed up and feels good. The touring front tire never gave me that info.
 

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I only ask Because I've ridden the Pyrenees on Bt23s which felt sticky right to the edge with my pegs down on hot dry roads and I've ridden them on wet english roads and felt confident whereas Bt18s have always felt very skittish in the wet and cold. Never given way but just less confidence inspiring.


Obviously that hats sports-touring with the 23s not full touring but something about them just seems better than full sports.
 

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Track tires surely do that. Sports tires are usually just a step or 2 more sticky then the touring tires.

I've never personally had issues with them sticking. They usually warm up pretty quick. You can also feel then the tire "comes in" or is really warmed up and feels good. The touring front tire never gave me that info.
I think there might be a bit of a difference in stickiness for any tyre when comparing Texas temperatures with those in Hampshire, UK, or Edinburgh!
 

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I can say from very recent experience (about 2 hours ago) that Dunlop Qualifiers grip for nothing in sub-freezing temperatures.
 

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Here's why you shouldn't tell me what kind of front tyre I should run:

Because you don't own the bike I do. :wink2:

I'll keep my knobbies on my bike and you can keep whatever sporty tires you want on that Sprint of yours. Mmmmmmmmk?:grin2:
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Because you don't own the bike I do. :wink2:

I'll keep my knobbies on my bike and you can keep whatever sporty tires you want on that Sprint of yours. Mmmmmmmmk?:grin2:
For a Tiger that "not really an offroad bike" and that has starting and airbox issues when you do actually run it in a lot of dirt? ;)
 
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