Since I bought my FJR1300 two years ago, I’ve been religious about keeping her maintained at the proper service intervals, using OEM parts. You can skimp on auto maintenance a bit–though you really shouldn’t–and it might cost you some money. Skimp on motorcycle maintenance, and you could find yourself rapidly transported to that Great Laguna Seca in the Sky. part of my regular maintenance has always been replacing the OEM Bhe last ridgestone BT 021 tires regularly.
Until the last service at 24,000 miles. I’d been talking with Randy at North County House of Motorcycles–where I always get my maintenance done; great crew!–about switching away from the Bridgestones to the Michelin Pilot Road 2 tires. At my 24k service, both tires were ready to go, so I made the switch.
I’ve now done 5,000 miles on the PR2’s and I think I’m ready to give my review. The short version: They have transformed the handling of the bike.
The Bridgestones aren’t bad tires. They were certainly grippy, and allowed you to attack the twisties with confidence. But after 5k miles on the PR2s, I’ve learned that the BT021s really make the steering on the FJR far harder than it has to be. They’re certainly stable tires. Too stable. They required significant steering input to put the bike into the right line, and were resistant to changes in body position as a way to lean/steer the bike. All of the inputs had to come through the handlebars.
The PR2s on the other hand, are an extremely responsive tire. Shifting your upper body, or sliding your butt over on the seat is enough to initiate a lean, with no input on the bars at all. Prior to my experience with the PR2s, I assumed that the FJR was just too heavy to accept anything but extreme body movement as a steering input. With the PR2s, I’ve learned that the bike is actually quite responsive to the rider’s movement…with the right tires.
The Michelins have really made riding the FJR a more…uh…sportbikey experience, responsing to shifts in rider position by falling right into the desired line on a curve. Obviously, the handling on a 650 lb. sport-tourer will never match an R6, or a GSX-R1000 for that matter, but the improvement was immediately noticeable. And by that, I mean within a single city block, I could tell that the handling was vastly improved.
While responsive, the PR2s are not twitchy. The bike still does exactly what you tell it to do. It’s just easier to tell it what to do. After 5,000 miles, I’ve never gotten a sense of instability from the Michelins. Nor have I ever gotten a sense that the traction of the PR2s are any less reliable than the BT021s. Indeed, I’ve surprised myself by dragging peg feelers on a couple of occasions without any drama at all, and my chicken strips on the rear tire are down to about 1/4 inch.
What has really surprised me has been the lack of wear on either the front or rear tire. After 5,000 miles, the rear tire is hardly noticeably flattened at all. I was getting about 6k off the BT021 rear, but it’s looking like the PR2 rear is going to be good for somewhere between 8k-10k, if not more. I have no idea how long the front will last, as it still looks new. I’m nowhere near the wear marks on either tire. Usually, a tire compound that resists wear, also resists grip, but I simply haven’t found that to be the case for the Michelins.
Overall, I’ve been extremely impressed with the Michelin Pilot Road 2 tires. They offer vastly improved handling and wear over the Bridgestone BT021, without sacrificing stability or grip. I think it’s fair to say that my FJR1300 won’t be riding on the OEM Bridgestones in the future.
The Michelins may cost more, but with better performance and longer life, they’re well worth the extra cost.