New PR2s for the VFR

The front tire on my VFR was finally getting a bit…baldy, so it was time to replace it. I went a ahead and just replaced both tires with a new set of Michelin Pilot Road II CT’s. Once again, the handling of the bike has been transformed. The more aggressive tire profile makes dropping into the corners a breeze, and the bike—heavy as it is—now responds just to shifts of body weight.

I chose the PR2 instead of the new PR3 because I’m in Southern California, and rain just isn’t really an issue here. It rains maybe 45 days a year. Yes, the PR3 is a better, grippier tire in wet conditions, by all accounts, but I don’t really face those conditions. And the price difference between the PR2 and PR3 is great enough to keep me perfectly happy staying with the older model tire.

Maybe I’m wrong, and some of you can provide some better guidance on the advantages of the PR3 over the PR2. But none of the service guys I’ve talked to seem to think the PR3 is worth the extra price here in SoCal.

Anywaym I’m way happier with the bike’s ride than I am with the Bridgestones. I know the Bridgestones—in both the BT021 and BT023 models—are really poular both as EOM and aftermarket tires, but I’ve never gotten why. I mean, I understand why they’re popular as an OEM tire: they’re cheaper, while still being reasonably grippy, and very stable, along with having decent tread life.

But every bike I’ve ridden with them just has a far more leaden feel. With both my old FJR and the new VFR, the Bridgestones required far more effort to initiate a turn, and were completely unresponsive to shifts in body weight. They would do anything you wanted them to do, but you have to provide a lot more steering input than I like. Very stable tires, to be sure, and very trustworthy, but they just needed so much effort to corner. Of course, having said that, they hold a line like nobody’s business.

But then, so do the PR2’s. They’re significantly more expensive, but much easier to live with on those twisty, turny country roads I ride on every day.

If you spend the majority of your time in town or on the highway, there’s nothing at all wrong with the Bridgestone BT021 or BT023 tires. But if you like to dive in and out of the twisties, they can’t touch the Michelin Pilot Roads.

Michelin Pilot Road II vs. Pirelli Angel ST

I’ve gone through my first rear Pirelli Angel ST tire this week, and I can now report that, compared to the Michelin Pilot Road, the Angel ST just doesn’t get it done.

First off, the mileage was terrible.  My last mileage on a Pilot Road II rear tire was 6,800 miles when I replaced it with this set of Angels.  I burned through the Angel rear tire in 5,700 miles. The Michelin is a few bucks more than the Pirelli, but the extra 1,100 miles in wear more than compensates for the slightly greater cost.

In addition, the Angels, while acceptably grippy, and with better wet-weather traction, detracted slightly from the handling of the bike.  Certainly, the Angel ST provides much better handling than the leaden Bridgestone BT-021 OEM tires. Sadly, it also provides noticeably less sharper handling than the Pilot Road II. Granted, this may not be true for all makes of motorcycle, but it is certainly true of the FJR1300.

The Michelin Pilot Road II is hands down the winner in comparison to both the ANgel ST and the BT-021. It transforms the handling of the FJR, making it noticeably more responsive and easier to steer just with body movement.  The extra mileage over both the other two tires also makes it a better value.

Unfortunately, my front tire is still good, so I had to match up the rear with another Angel.  Next, time, however, I’m getting the Pilot Road II, and I’m sticking with them. The only reason I got the Angels in the first place was that the shop was out of stock on the PRII.  if that happens again, I will go to another shop that does have them.

I’m sold on the Michelin Pilot Road II.

Pirelli Angel ST Tire Review

Pirelli Angel ST Tires
Pirelli Angel ST Tires

On Saturday, when I took the FJR in for my 32k-mile service,I saw that the Michelin Pilot Road 2 tires on the bike, which were at 8700 miles, were down to the wear bars.  So it was time for a change.  Sadly, North County House of Motorcycles had sold the last pair of PR2s earlier in the morning.

Well, I certainly wasn’t interested in going back to the Bridgestone BT-021s.  They make the handling of the FJR heavy and unresponsive. But, they did have the new Pirelli Angel ST tire–and at the same price as the Bridgestones.  So I decided to take a chance on the Pirellis.

Unlike the BT-021s and the PR2s, the Pirelli Angels are not a multiple-compound tire.  Instead, Pirelli uses a single high-silica compound, and depends on both their unique method of wrapping the steel, and the tire profile to provide a wider contact patch when the tire is leaned, in order to provide the greater traction.

Apparently, Pirelli tested the tire life by running them through some sort of insane endurance test:

On March 15th 2009, 15 Journalists and 12 Pirelli Testers set 7 FIM World Duration Records at Nardò Technical Center in Southern Italy. On just one set of Angel ST tyres they covered a distance of 5,135 km at an average speed of 214 km/h in a tough 24H non stop trial which proved the consistency and the performance of the new ANGEL ST.

OK. That sounded…fine.  But how would they perform on my bike, compared to the PR2s, which I really liked?

As it turns out, pretty well so far, after about 100 miles.

The handling of the FJR is as good or better with the Angels as with the PR2s.  Grip seems pretty solid, even on the new tread, and with wet morning roads. Of course, only 100 miles into the tires, I haven’t been able to stretch the capability of the tires in the twisties, so the jury is still out, to large extent.  But so far, I’ve found them equal or superior to the Pilot road 2s.

I’ll keep updating on the performance as they get broken in.