New Tire Experience
Fair warning: This is a long post, that is essentially my experience with a long overdue tire change.
I just wanted to share my experience here.
Important background to the story. I am a new rider. I rode 30 years ago, and am just starting again. I took the MSF course, and then within a week after that, purchased a 2012 VStar 950.
On purchase, the bike only had 4000 miles on it, the tires had plenty of tread, but the tire tread was hard. I didn't really have much to compare it to, so figured it was something that would need to be addressed, but okay for at least a little bit. The dates on the sidewalls were the 27th and 28th week of 2012 - just about exactly 6 years prior. I knew the tires would probably need replaced, and figured I'd get around to it within a few weeks.
I got the bike, and after a couple of days realized I hadn't even checked the tire pressure. Both front and rear were at 15 pounds. I even verified with multiple gauges, thinking it couldn't be right - and it was. Fortunately I have a small compressor at home and was able to get them up to the advised pressure before riding again.
That's when things started to get interesting. All at once, it felt like the back tire was slipping around a bit - like it wanted to slide out from underneath me. Considering my extremely limited experience, I thought there was a really good chance it was all in my head. I dropped the pressure in the back tire down to 30 PSI and, it felt like things were a little better, but again - still within that range of wondering if it was just subjective on my part. I figured no matter what, it was time to get new tires ASAP.
After doing a bit of research, I decided on the Shinko 777 for a number of reasons. The shop I had do the installation took a couple days to get them in, so I went on only a couple of very short, and slow rides just to be safe.
I'm sure more experienced riders than me will know what happened when I got the new tires.
When I got the bike in for new tires and an oil change, I told the tech about my experience, and asked him to take it on a good solid test ride for me and let me know how it felt to him. After he got back with the bike, he told me it felt great to him - and was a really good bike in general
It turns out that that feeling of the back being unstable wasn't entirely in my head. On the bike that felt like the tire wanted to slide side to side when going in a straight line, suddenly felt rock solid underneath me with the new rubber. I am still in the break in period on the tires, so being very careful, but what had me questioning if this while thing was a bad idea, suddenly turned into just as much fun as I was expecting.
Advice I would give after this experience?
1: If the tires have a date code that is 5 years or more - replace immediately.
2: If the rubber feels almost as hard as the concrete the bike is sitting on - replace immediately.
3: If it feels like the back tire isn't stable under you, or any other reason that feels like things might not be safe, trust that feeling, even if you're a new rider. In hindsight, those few rides were probably extremely dangerous.
4: I also should have checked everything on the bike before riding it even the first time. I should have known right away the tires were dangerously under inflated.
If you made it this far - pat yourself on the back. I'll stop my long winded post now - thank you for staying with me.