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2001 Yamaha XVS650 Dragstar Classic and 1999 Honda NT650V Deauville
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Discussion Starter #1
Pirelli MT66 Route is the rear tire I choose to replace the 20-year-old original tire that came with the my XVS650 Classic. After 21.500 km, about 13500 miles, the original Bridgestone still sport 3 mm at the center of the thread, which I find amazing. But it is too old to be used further.

I did not measure the width and diameter of the stock tire before I took it off the rim – that was this winter, when I also stripped the rim off with plans of fitting a larger diameter rim and had no more use for the 15-incher. Six months later I regretted the choice and refitted the stock rim.

The Pirelli has a much larger diameter than the OEM Bridgestone, but it could be that the latter would become narrower and taller once inflated. I sort of hope not, because that would mean the Pirelli will lower rpm a little.

Also noticeable is that the Pirelli is quite a bit narrower than the OEM by more than 15 mm. In addition, the Pirelli is 15 mm longer across the thread. In short that means the Pirelli is taller, narrower, and more pointed. Excellent for handling. I hope it will transform the handling in a similar manner to my Kawasaki almost 2 decades ago. I will report back once I have it on the road. Matching front tyre is on back-order.



I have yet to ride on a Bridgestone tire I have liked. Although the BT001 soft had lots of grip when warm – it was a track tire that I got for free – I could not “read” it and had no clue of its limits. I currently run a BT30F on the front of my Deauville while I wait for my new front tire to arrive, and it is fine. Until it slides. You can see the slide marks in the picture, and it really pushes when that happen.



My Vulcan 800A, that I bought new in 2002, also came stock with Bridgestones; an 80/90-21 front and a 140/90-16 rear. Their profiles were a terrible match, with the front being used to the edges and the rear almost only in the middle. Grip was abysmal.

When they wore out after 8000 miles, I fitted a Pirelli Route MT66 140/90 at the rear and a sporty MT75 90/90 on the front. These profiles matched perfectly, with almost identical chicken strips. They also gripped way better, with braking distance from 60 mph being reduced by 8 metres / 26 ft from 100 kph / 60 mph! That is the difference between safe and dead in some situations. The Pirellis also handled way better AND delivered almost 50 % better life.

That said, I know that Bridgestones has won many comparison tests and are loved by many. Chances are that it is simply the way I ride that do not gel well with them. In general, I prefer Michelin and Pirelli. They ride smoother/softer and I can easily understand where their absolute limits are with most models, but even they have “dud” models that do not sit well with me.

Fitting the Pirelli together with the Michelin Butyl tube (forgot to specify natural rubber, but at least this will leak less from week to week at the cost of rapid air loss in case of a puncture) gave a little fight before I got the valve in position, but after that things went smoothly. It is a very soft and pliable tire, so it may not be ideal for long life combined with two-up touring.
 

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2011 Yamaha VStar 650
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324 Posts
@faffi - I am really interested in how this tyre performs. I need to change both front and rear tyres on my 650 due to the age of them... The MT66 is one of the tyres that I am considering.
 

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2001 Yamaha XVS650 Dragstar Classic and 1999 Honda NT650V Deauville
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409 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I will come back as soon as I get the bike rolling, it is undergoing a mild resto at the moment, should be finished within next weekend.
 

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2011 Yamaha VStar 650
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Thanks @faffi . Quick question is the new rear MT66 tire the same size as the Bridgestone that you took off? I'm pretty surprised at how visibly different they look in profile.
 
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2001 Yamaha XVS650 Dragstar Classic and 1999 Honda NT650V Deauville
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409 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Both are 170/80-15, yes. That is the nominal size which can vary greatly from one brand to the other, and even between models from the same maker.

As the sit, the MT66 has a diameter 4 cm greater than the Bridgestone. 1cm is down to wear, but that leaves 3cm. How much that would change by mounting the Bridgestone is anybody's guess
 

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2001 Yamaha XVS650 Dragstar Classic and 1999 Honda NT650V Deauville
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409 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Well, the bike is still not on the road due to the daily chores of life and incorporating weather, but the front tire is fitted to the rim, just waiting for the fender to be painted and fitted before the wheel can go back on between the forks. The tire of choice is actually designed as a rear tire, a Pirelli City Demon in the stock 130/90S16. I chose it partly for the price, partly out of curiosity and partly because it is tube type. While tubeless tires can be used with tubes on tube type rims, their bead profiles are quite different. Simply put, a TT tire will suit a TT rim better. One evidence is that it slid into place absolutely silently and smoothly, no "pop" sound and no high pressure needed.

I fitted it reverse to what the directional arrow tells, which is why manufacturers recommend when a rear tire is fitted on the front.

Pattern:




Thread depth about 6.5 mm
 

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I ran Pirelli's on my old KZ400. Wore out my pegs leaning that baby over! I thought they had traction to spare... (yes, 400 and yes I am tiny, 100lbs at that time..)
 

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2001 Yamaha XVS650 Dragstar Classic and 1999 Honda NT650V Deauville
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409 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I had a 1979 Z400G twin, the standard one with cast wheels. I modified the fork for better control, comfort and cornering clearance, plus fitted longer, firmer Koni shocks made for the KZ1000 for the same reasons. The thing would fly around corners and would change directions instantly, but there was not much power coming from that engine. Still tons of fun to ride!
 

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2001 Yamaha XVS650 Dragstar Classic and 1999 Honda NT650V Deauville
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Discussion Starter #9
Went for a ride of nearly 200 miles today, with lots of ups and downs and corners, wide and sharp. I must say I came away impressed!

Steering: The bike steers quicker than with the stock tires, something that is likely down to the sharper profiles of the Pirellis as well as the rear sitting higher now relative to the front, although the front also sits a bit higher. Changing directions takes next to no effort, and it can do so surprisingly swiftly - typically, cruisers often change direction with little effort, but very slowly. This Classic will now dance.

Stability: I tried to fully let go of the bars are various speeds, and the bike tracked straight every time, hands in my lap. The fork could not always cope with hard cornering and bumps and would wiggle slightly unless I stayed utterly relaxed at the handlebars. I did not go faster than 80 mph, but it was relaxed and steady at that speed.

Balance: The bike is easy to balance at a standstill, but it was even easier to do before. It could have something to do with the raised center of gravity, but I think it is mostly that the old rear tire was wider and much flatter, giving a larger platform to balance on. That a cruiser can be balanced at all at a standstill and is easy to ride below walking pace is something I have not experienced before - lots of rake and trail tend to make them floppy at low speeds in my experience.

Grip: I had great confidence from the word go, and if the bike had offered more cornering clearance, I could have cornered faster. Having firmer suspension with less static sag has no doubt helped giving it great cornering clearance for a cruiser, but it is still a cruiser.

Front tire chicken strips:


Rear tire chicken strips


Foot boards lost their virginity
 

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2001 Yamaha XVS650 Dragstar Classic and 1999 Honda NT650V Deauville
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Discussion Starter #10
I just noticed the chicken strips on the old tire as used by the previous owner. The boards had never touched down before, and the bike sat lower and compressed further as well during cornering due to soft springs and would have scraped much sooner, whereas I folded the boards quite a bit, yet the strips of virgin rubber on the sides is less on the old tire. That is purely down to profile; the Bridgestone was wider and flatter.

 
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