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Saturday ride and a lesson (or two) learned…

March 31, 2010

On Saturday, the weather cleared up enough—finally—to take a little spin down to Sonoma County. We did a family ride/drive, because my daughter was with us, and I didn’t feel like being enclosed in the four-wheeled box. Tony and Eden took the Miata, top down of course, and I tested my ZX6 on some tighter corners that I hadn’t yet ridden on this bike.

One thing was for sure: the ride was fun for about 50 miles, and then it was not fun. I thought it was my riding, taking this bike out for the first time in the tighter corners of Highway 128. I was having trouble getting any lean going, because the bike felt squirrely (is that really a word?), and I had to slow way down for the tightest corners. I thought perhaps my tire pressure was low, even though we’d just checked that a week or so previous. Or that, perhaps, I just wasn’t riding at the top of my game that day.

“It must be me, tired and out of shape after this drawn-out, hacking/coughing bronchial cold.” I was a bit disheartened, to say the least.

We made our destination of the Lytton Springs Salvation Army Thrift Stores (great, cheap shopping, if you like thrift stores), took a long break, shopped a bit, and then got ready to go as the stores were closing down for the weekend. I wanted to ride more, so I suited back up and headed north up Highway 101. No problems with my riding at all on the straights and big, gentle sweepers. Fun!

In Willits, I pulled over at the Shell station so that Tony could take over for me, as I was feeling weary after 160 miles in the saddle. We switched vehicles and drove/rode the last 33 miles home. As soon as we pulled in, Tony exclaimed, “You need new tires before you go anywhere else [besides town and back]!”

tire photo

Rear tire on the ZX6, showing big chicken stripes

We got my bike, as I related in a previous post, for a mere $1,500 with only 6,174 miles on it. Yes, the bike had been sitting for some time, but the factory tires looked pretty good upon visual inspection, with the exception that there were big chicken stripes on either side of the treadwear (meaning the bike had mostly been ridden in a more-or-less straight line). The realization Tony gained from our Saturday jaunt was that the rubber on these tires had hardened over time through a lack of use, and they will never, ever soften enough to work in the corners. He also noted that the tires slipped at various lean angles, meaning they are not gripping the pavement as they should. Lesson learned.

I’ll be ordering a set of replacements in the next couple of weeks. And I’m incredibly grateful to have also learned that perhaps my riding doesn’t suck, after all…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2010 8:36 pm

    I’m glad you found that out safely without falling down! When you get your new tires, be careful with them for the first few heat cycles and first 100 or so miles. They’ll be a bit slippy until they are broken in. They will still have the oil on them that the factory used to pop them out of the mold.

    You may also consider practicing plugging your old tires before you replace them. Jam a nail into one at the parking lot of the dealer and practice plugging it with your repair kit. Then get the new tires put on!

    • April 1, 2010 3:16 am

      Hi Chris. I’m always cautious with the new tires, but we also sand them a bit to remove the new tire “goo”, although a friend of mine says the manufacturers don’t coat tires anymore.

      Practicing with the patch is a good idea. Thus far, I’ve always had someone along who could take care of that for me, but I do carry my own patch kit, just in case.

  2. March 31, 2010 10:21 pm

    Liz:

    I am grateful that nothing serious happened. We only have two tires so they have to be in the best condition. Lucky you slowed down in the twisties, better to be safe if something doesn’t feel right. always trust your sixth sense,

    I wished I knew how to plug tires. Take Chris’ suggestion to poke a hole in the tire and plug it before you actually have to do one on the side of the road one late night in the dark

    bob
    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

    • April 1, 2010 3:18 am

      I’m pretty cautious on my bike, especially when things don’t feel quite right. Being a woman, and a mother, keeps me on my “two-wheeled toes”, so to speak.

  3. April 6, 2010 11:26 am

    Good to know it was the bike and not your riding! 😉
    I’m glad you’re okay though considering the things that could have happened. Sucks about having to shell out more money though. But the bike will be even better with brand new tires for you to wear out! 😉
    And yes, I think squirrely is a word for us bikers…hehehe

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