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Post 250: Dosvedanya Comrade Scorpion

Volgograd was a lifetime ago. A plea for help. A hastily scribbled note and a copy of The Rider’s Digest. Roman and Slava had raced to our rescue. Under their protective wings in an amazing city of plenty, we were wined, dined and lavishly entertained. With Roman’s help, we tracked down new tyres in Moscow. Metzler Tourance’s for the rear and Pirelli Scorpion’s for the front. Not ideal, but infinitely preferable to riding on canvas. Six days later, with tyres replaced and personal batteries recharged, we pulled out of the “BikeCity34” workshops and onto the wide and perfectly paved Strasse. The compass pointed East towards Saratov but the Tiger‘s were reluctant to follow. Around the first corner and safely out of sight, we pulled to the side of the road. Something was wrong. Tyre pressures too low? Steering bearings too tight? We checked and adjusted everything possible but both bikes had adopted new and dangerous personalities that we just couldn‘t seem to cure. The once reliable and precise steering of the Tiger was gone. The new tyres weren’t working as new tyres should. Individually they were probably fine tyres, but as a mismatched pair they were certainly an experience. At any speed below 40 mph, the handlebars oscillated violently and the bike gave a constant feeling of “falling over“. The front wheel just refused to steer. Where once a gentle nudge would tip the Tiger into any corner, every turn now required a threatening memo giving notice of your intention. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but I was confident that miles and wear would eventually solve the problem.

The mounting miles did little to improve the steering and the silky smooth roads of North America only highlighted the problems. In New York, 18,000 miles after the tyres had been fitted, I replaced the now threadbare Metzler Tourance. I couldn’t bring myself to replace the offending front tyre. In 18,000 miles the Scorpion had used less than half of it’s tread, the bloody thing just refused to die. Sadly, there was no improvement with the new rear. Granted, an undersized Pirelli Diablo Corsa wasn’t the ideal partner for the part worn Scorpion on the front, but it was all that I could find and came at an amazingly low price. Beggars don‘t make good choosers.

Back in Blighty and with only 3,000 miles under it’s belt, the new Diablo Corsa was already beginning to show-off it‘s canvas undergarments. The lovely people at Jack Lilley Triumph in Ashford Common replaced the rear tyre with a previously enjoyed, but free and lovely, Bridgestone Trail Wing. For another 3,000 miles through the summer, I wobbled on with the 24,000 mile Pirelli Scorpion before finally screaming “enough” . I now hated riding the bike, it was always awkward, like walking in flippers or dancing in clown shoes. Calling time on my frustration, this morning I headed down to Essential Rubber in London N1. The Pirelli Scorpion was removed and a new Michelin Anakee was fitted. For the very first time I‘d changed a tyre long before it was legally necessary. I rode out of Essential Rubber wearing a giant smile. The transformation was instant and amazing, riding the Tiger was once again an absolute pleasure. If only I hadn’t been such an arsehole, I could have changed the offending tyre in the Spring and enjoyed a Summer of motorcycling fun. 24,000 miles is a damn fine innings for a tyre, but I wasn’t sorry to see the back of it. Lesson learned.

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