The RT and Tire Pressures. - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 10:58 am Thread Starter
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The RT and Tire Pressures.

It became quite apparent to me that the RT is very sensitive to tire pressure, that is, you will feel huge difference in performance of the bike along with different tire pressure, in particular the front tire! First, let's take a look at what BMW recommends for tire pressures:

For my prior '07 RT, BMW recommends:

Front:

31.9 psi (2.2 bar), Single rider, with cold tire
36.3 psi (2.5 bar), Driver with passenger and/or
load, with cold tire

Rear:

36.3 psi (2.5 bar), Single rider, with cold tire
42.1 psi (2.9 bar), Driver with passenger and/or
load, with cold tire

For the 2015 RT:

Front: 36.3 psi (2.5 bar), with tire cold
Rear: 42.1 psi (2.9 bar), with tire cold

The above are direct copy from BMW's Riders manual, as printed.

I had always ignored the above recommendations, and had always ridden with my tires inflated at 40/42 (front/rear) from the very beginning, and had taken for granted as to how well the RTs had performed for me, in particular how the bike handle aggressive riding in curves. What caught my attention was that, many months back, Lee (LAF) had posted a comment that (for whatever reason) he had boosted up the front tire pressure from the recommended 36 to 40 psi, and found that the ride of the RT (wethead) to be totally different to what he had been experiencing! The bike became more nimble, and more sure-footed. I just took a mental note of this, since that had been what I thought about the RT all along. Then not too long ago (a couple of months?) a new owner of a '17 RT posted a thread asking what we thought was wrong with his RT, because when he picked it up from the dealer and rode the bike home on the interstate, he had felt very unstable. When he had gotten home, he looked over the bike and checked everything that would affect the stability. One of the thing that he did check, and reported on was that the front tire pressure was 34 psi, instead of 36 psi that the manual recommends. I told the fellow that probability is very high that the low front tire pressure was the cause of his instability, and suggested that he should get the pressure to the recommended spec. for a start, and see if he notice any difference. I also added that, people have noticed marked difference in boosting the front pressure up to 40 psi, and that he should try that while he was at it. The response, a day later, was WOW, it's like riding a totally different bike!

Now, that bring us to the present.....well, last month anyway. I had been visiting New Zealand for a little over a month, and the last part was to rent an RT (turns out to be a '17 RT) to ride around the south island for 10 days. one of the thing that was in my mind was to ask them to boost up the front tire pressure to the 40 psi that I am accustomed to, but I had forgotten about it until the day that I went to pick up the bike. On that day, I thought about asking them to add more air to the front, but then thought that I should ride at the BMW recommended pressure, and see for myself how much different the RT performs. One thing that you should note is that New Zealand roads are VERY hilly and winding. The perfect rider's dream, if you like riding the twisties! Anyway, as soon as I started to ride off, I noted right away that I didn't feel as sure-footed as I have been on my own '15 RT, but I chalked that up to the excitement. The feeling continued as I handle some of the curves, but again, I figured that I was just excited at doing the ride that I had been thinking about for a long time. However, when I came to a section where there was active roadwork, and several hundred meters were graveled (moderately), the "soft" front tire really shows its effect! Over here in Ohio, I had often ridden in deep gravel for more than 10 miles with greatest confident, and yet I can barely hold speed in 1st gear while riding that RT in moderate depth gravel. Several time I had to slow down so much that I had to grab the clutch, or fear that I would drop the bike. It was really bad!

Then, much further on, I had to cross a single lane bridge that has a railroad track down the middle of it. That bridge was actively shared between road and railroad traffic. I picked my path to the left of the tracks, which was narrow (no problems with that), but the wood planking had well worn asphalt over them, making the trail laid with regular bumps. Here again, the soft front tire accentuated the bumps by squirming side-to-side, enough to make the bike very unstable unless I slowed down to barely enough to hold speed in 1st. The next morning, I checked the tire pressure, and sure enough, the front tire was right on the BMW recommendation of 36 psi, and so I boosted it up to my usual 40 psi. To continue with my ride, I had to head back across that same bridge again, but this time, I breezed through in 3rd gear the whole way! Gravels? No problems, and I definitely felt very sure footed, and the curves were definitely more enjoyable to ride, with full confidence!

The point of this post is to share my experience. Not only what I have learned over the years of owning and riding the RT, but what I had just experienced for myself. I am NOT telling you that 40/42 psi (F/R) is the RIGHT pressure to use, because there are no right or wrong. All that I am saying is that for you to try and see how it works for you!

BTW, look above again at what BMW recommended for the hexhead ('07 RT) and the wethead ('15 RT). Why are they different, when the weight and geometry of the two bikes are basically the same?
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post #2 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 11:13 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

I went to 40 just to reduce cupping on the front which was prodigious at 36psi in less than 2K miles w/ the PR4GT, and in doing so liked the improved feel and handling. I wonder why BMW recommends the lower 36psi on the front tire?

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post #3 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 11:21 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

I always ride my '05 with 2.5 / 2.9 whether I'm solo or 2-up. I did try 2.2 / 2.5 riding solo many moons ago but it didn't feel that great, and you soon get bored with changing the pressures when the wife wants to hop on!

Looks like BMW have decided to go with the higher pressures for solo riding and 2-up on the later bikes.
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post #4 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 11:46 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

I have experimented with tire pressure some on the Wethead. Same as I did on the Oilhead.

I will first say that there is no exactly "correct" air pressure to go by. Based on what I have learned, the tire brand/model can be quite a factor. For instance, I cannot like the PR4 at all unless it has 40 or even 42 in the front tire. It simply squirms with less, to me and my riding style.

I do think those running 40 in the front will automatically think the bike feels lighter and more receptive to input. Because it probably is. There is less sidewall flex at higher pressures. That same feel may be less confidence inspiring when working the bike in the turns. The RoadSmart III's on the RT now perform great with 36 psi in the front ( cold ) and while good at 38 psi the feel is less and it feels more jittery when near the foot/peg touching. I wonder about doing a test of the exact same tire in the GT/A spec with different pressures to see how the supposedly stiffer tires react.

I don't know why the new RT has 42 psi recommended for the rear tire under all conditions. I have been running that. But, I do wonder if wear might not increase at 38 psi? I have been comparing some tires, so I have kept to the same rear 42 psi for the life of them.
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post #5 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 11:56 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by realshelby View Post
I don't know why the new RT has 42 psi recommended for the rear tire under all conditions. I have been running that. But, I do wonder if wear might not increase at 38 psi? I have been comparing some tires, so I have kept to the same rear 42 psi for the life of them.
Are you wondering if you might get better life out of the rear at 38 psi, or less life? Not sure what you meant by 'if wear might not increase'. I've wondered if as the rear tire gets more squared due to more unleaned straight up miles using a lower psi like 38 would have the effect of reducing some of the squaring as the outside of the tire gets more contact time. It should I think, but also the tire heats up quicker and more w/ lower psi due to rolling resistance effects so that should lead to some acceleration in total wear.

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post #6 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 1:15 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoelCP View Post
I went to 40 just to reduce cupping on the front which was prodigious at 36psi in less than 2K miles w/ the PR4GT, and in doing so liked the improved feel and handling. I wonder why BMW recommends the lower 36psi on the front tire?
+1 on that with both Z8's and 01's. Took it in for a service the other day and after riding for a bit I thought I had a flat front and a glance down at the gauge said 35psi. Damn tech had dropped it from where I had it to recommended. Soon put that right.

Being in NZ I get to ride those roads every day and most are nice but all are hard on the tires with the chip seal. South Island especially so.
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post #7 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 1:25 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoelCP View Post
Are you wondering if you might get better life out of the rear at 38 psi, or less life?
That probably could have been written better. I mean that I wonder if lowering the pressure might increase tire life. Just like on car tires, too much air pressure causes the center of the tire to wear faster than other areas. On a bike, I wonder if spreading out the contact patch a little would make the tire last longer. Provided I was riding solo........


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post #8 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 4:41 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

On the 2015 RTP I run the pressures at 42 front and rear. The bike just handles better.


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post #9 of 34 Old Dec 18th, 2017, 9:04 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by realshelby View Post
That probably could have been written better. I mean that I wonder if lowering the pressure might increase tire life. Just like on car tires, too much air pressure causes the center of the tire to wear faster than other areas. On a bike, I wonder if spreading out the contact patch a little would make the tire last longer. Provided I was riding solo........
I have a good op to sort of test this out because I have 7,482m on Angle GT A spec which I feel has tended to square a little less than PR4GT did. So I think I'll reduce pressure on the rear to 36-38psi and see if this gets a little more wear on the outer bands and keeps the squaring from getting worse w/o adversely affecting handling. I don't get to very extreme lean angles anyway so probably should be okay for me, and ride 1-up often w/o side cases on.

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post #10 of 34 Old Dec 19th, 2017, 11:14 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoelCP View Post
I went to 40 just to reduce cupping on the front which was prodigious at 36psi in less than 2K miles w/ the PR4GT, and in doing so liked the improved feel and handling. I wonder why BMW recommends the lower 36psi on the front tire?
Same for me re: cupping of the front tire.

IMO 40/42 feels best.
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post #11 of 34 Old Dec 19th, 2017, 11:28 am Thread Starter
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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Originally Posted by veldthui View Post
+1 on that with both Z8's and 01's. Took it in for a service the other day and after riding for a bit I thought I had a flat front and a glance down at the gauge said 35psi. Damn tech had dropped it from where I had it to recommended. Soon put that right.

Being in NZ I get to ride those roads every day and most are nice but all are hard on the tires with the chip seal. South Island especially so.
That's a fact! November is when the road crews do all the road maintenance and resealing all over the country, so that the roads are ready for the "season" that starts in Dec. I wish that I was on 2-wheels when I was driving around the Coromandel Peninsular though. That road would have been a blast on the RT, but I managed to have lots of fun in the little rental car!

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post #12 of 34 Old Dec 19th, 2017, 11:30 am Thread Starter
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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Originally Posted by realshelby View Post
That probably could have been written better. I mean that I wonder if lowering the pressure might increase tire life. Just like on car tires, too much air pressure causes the center of the tire to wear faster than other areas. On a bike, I wonder if spreading out the contact patch a little would make the tire last longer. Provided I was riding solo........
Somehow, I don't think so, BUT that depends a great deal on how you ride! I typically get 12k miles from my set of tires, and I always change both together.

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post #13 of 34 Old Dec 19th, 2017, 12:48 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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IMO 40/42 feels best.
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post #14 of 34 Old Dec 19th, 2017, 1:57 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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Somehow, I don't think so, BUT that depends a great deal on how you ride! I typically get 12k miles from my set of tires, and I always change both together.

I go through two rear tires to one front tire. Front tire usually still has some life in it, but not much after second rear.


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post #15 of 34 Old Dec 19th, 2017, 2:02 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

How many RTW owners have A or GT spec tires for both front and rear? Is the stiffer sidewall even needed for the front tire?
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post #16 of 34 Old Dec 20th, 2017, 8:51 am Thread Starter
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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How many RTW owners have A or GT spec tires for both front and rear? Is the stiffer sidewall even needed for the front tire?
I will be changing to the Angel GT next season, and I am sure that it will be the A spec. Whether you want stiff sidewalls or not depends greatly on how you ride. For me, I want the stiffer sidewall because I want to be able to feel what the tires are doing, which relates directly to the higher front tire pressure that I talked about! If your riding background, and style is more "cruiser" type, and you are more interested in comfort over performance, then perhaps you will want the non-A spec. The softer sidewall will give more flexibility, and more riding comfort. I do believe that either spec will be suitable for the weight of our rides, but you should also double check that.

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post #17 of 34 Old Dec 20th, 2017, 10:40 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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I want the stiffer sidewall because I want to be able to feel what the tires are doing, which relates directly to the higher front tire pressure that I talked about!
I was under the impression that a stiffer sidewall for the front tire would give you less feel, and that a non A-spec tire would perform better. That's what one of the BMW service guys told me. And even though a non A-spec tire would likely wear faster, the rear will likely wear out quicker. And I like to change both tires when the rear wears out, so I'd prefer a better performing front tire.
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post #18 of 34 Old Dec 20th, 2017, 10:48 am Thread Starter
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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I was under the impression that a stiffer sidewall for the front tire would give you less feel, and that a non A-spec tire would perform better. That's what one of the BMW service guys told me. And even though a non A-spec tire would likely wear faster, the rear will likely wear out quicker. And I like to change both tires when the rear wears out, so I'd prefer a better performing front tire.
I am basing the comment from experience. Think about it, how does a softer sidewall telegraph feedback better than the stiffer one? Same thing with lower pressure in the front tire makes the tire squirm around when you don't want it to, while the higher pressure gives a stiffer ride but makes the bike much more nimble and more responsive. I had picked the 40/42 psi pressures right from the beginning, not by accident, but from a lot of fine tuning to get what I thought was optimum, for me.

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post #19 of 34 Old Dec 20th, 2017, 11:30 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

At a track day last spring, all the novices were instructed to lower their tire pressures from their street settings to improve grip. If I remember, I lowered pressure on my RTW about 4 or 5 psi. Can't remember which tire manufacturer was there but they concurred. They indicated that the lower pressure would increase the tire patch size.
Here's an informative article about tire pressure.
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post #20 of 34 Old Dec 20th, 2017, 2:04 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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Think about it, how does a softer sidewall telegraph feedback better than the stiffer one? Same thing with lower pressure in the front tire makes the tire squirm around when you don't want it to, while the higher pressure gives a stiffer ride but makes the bike much more nimble and more responsive.
I don't think the feedback I am after is simply an extension of what the tire is feeling in the way of bumps and such. In fact I think the higher air pressures transmit too much of what the front tire is hitting. I also think that higher pressures can make a tire skitter ever so slightly before it regains full grip.

Lower pressure allows the tire to absorb irregularities. So you don't feel them. That, along with the extra contact area, keeps the tire from moving from the line it is on. That gives confidence to the rider.

That is how I see it and is opinion based on how I like a bike to feel when pushing it hard. But, just like bikes and cars, the "feel" that one racer likes isn't what another wants. Both might get the job done equally.
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post #21 of 34 Old Dec 20th, 2017, 5:18 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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Originally Posted by Littlebriar View Post
At a track day last spring, all the novices were instructed to lower their tire pressures from their street settings to improve grip. If I remember, I lowered pressure on my RTW about 4 or 5 psi. Can't remember which tire manufacturer was there but they concurred. They indicated that the lower pressure would increase the tire patch size.
Here's an informative article about tire pressure.
It also allows the temperature to build up faster. My dealer said to lower pressures 2psi in the winter to make them heat up faster and let the compound work faster.


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post #22 of 34 Old Dec 21st, 2017, 9:06 am Thread Starter
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Riding on the track is very much different than street riding, and so you are not comparing the same thing. The surfaces that you ride on is the key difference. For example, how many "bumps" did you encounter on the track, vs on the streets? If you want to get down to it, it is very important to understand how and what the various factors regarding tires; whether it's pressure, stiffness, compound materials; affect how the bike ride. When you do understand, then you can dial in the various factors to fit your own riding style. THAT is the main point. Don't be afraid to play around and experiment, of course within logical limits, and see for yourself what you like the best.

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post #23 of 34 Old May 3rd, 2020, 1:45 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonA View Post
I always ride my '05 with 2.5 / 2.9 whether I'm solo or 2-up. I did try 2.2 / 2.5 riding solo many moons ago but it didn't feel that great, and you soon get bored with changing the pressures when the wife wants to hop on!

Looks like BMW have decided to go with the higher pressures for solo riding and 2-up on the later bikes.
+1
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post #24 of 34 Old May 12th, 2020, 9:17 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

I have always rode my bike at 40-41psi front, and 42-43 rear. I just find the bike rides better, feels better, and I seem to get good mileage on tires. I have 10,500 miles on PR 4 GT's and they still have about 2000 miles left on them.
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post #25 of 34 Old May 15th, 2020, 8:35 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

14 RT. I have used several brands of tires in 65K miles and different air pressures. I only get 5500-6500 miles on a rear tire.

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post #26 of 34 Old May 15th, 2020, 9:57 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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14 RT. I have used several brands of tires in 65K miles and different air pressures. I only get 5500-6500 miles on a rear tire.
Could be different riding styles. I don't do a lot of aggressive riding, mostly highway, not too many twisties. I am also very meticulous with checking my tire pressure. I only got 7500 miles on the tires that came on the bike, can't remember the make. Put the Michelin Pr4's on and they have been great, I thought I would have to replace tires last year but they are still going strong.


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post #27 of 34 Old May 18th, 2020, 7:35 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

Can't speak for how this tire was rode, but when I bought bike it had 6167 miles on it and PSI was 38, and as you can see there are many wear bar showing.
It's a Pilot Road 4GT
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post #28 of 34 Old May 18th, 2020, 8:28 am Thread Starter
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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Originally Posted by 2wheeljunkie View Post
Could be different riding styles. I don't do a lot of aggressive riding, mostly highway, not too many twisties. I am also very meticulous with checking my tire pressure. I only got 7500 miles on the tires that came on the bike, can't remember the make. Put the Michelin Pr4's on and they have been great, I thought I would have to replace tires last year but they are still going strong.
Definitely riding style! I always gets 10k from my tires, regardless of brands, and I DO ride in the more "sports-like" manners, in that I always turn using lean rather than steer, even at very low speed, and I always attack curves fairly hard and fast, condition permitting.


I do have to confess though that I had to get rid of my last pair of tires, Pirelli Angel GT, at not much over 8k, with lots of thread remaining. I have heard of others getting rid of tires before they are worn, and this was my first one! That set of tires started out really well, and I thought that the brand was going to be my very favorite, but things changed as the miles piled up. At the end, I think that it was the worse tires that I have ever had on any of my RTs!

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post #29 of 34 Old May 18th, 2020, 9:41 am
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I stretched my front GT to about 9600 miles. I had more cupping than desired cause I got lazy about checking air pressure ! I will pay closer attention to the Bagger pressure as I start putting miles on it. Seemed to me that the RT tires seemed to loose air far too much.

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post #30 of 34 Old May 18th, 2020, 12:11 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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I stretched my front GT to about 9600 miles. I had more cupping than desired cause I got lazy about checking air pressure ! I will pay closer attention to the Bagger pressure as I start putting miles on it. Seemed to me that the RT tires seemed to loose air far too much.
My RT tyres do not lose pressure, they didn't on my 1200 and they don't on my 1250. The only air they lose is when I put a gauge on them
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post #31 of 34 Old May 18th, 2020, 12:54 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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At a track day last spring, all the novices were instructed to lower their tire pressures from their street settings to improve grip. If I remember, I lowered pressure on my RTW about 4 or 5 psi. Can't remember which tire manufacturer was there but they concurred. They indicated that the lower pressure would increase the tire patch size.
Here's an informative article about tire pressure.
Interesting. For track driving with a car, you typically increase the tire pressures (on street tires) by 2 to 4 psi to reduce flex and heat.

I would have thought that the same thing would be true for a bike.


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post #32 of 34 Old May 18th, 2020, 8:21 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

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Originally Posted by alegerlotz View Post
Interesting. For track driving with a car, you typically increase the tire pressures (on street tires) by 2 to 4 psi to reduce flex and heat.

I would have thought that the same thing would be true for a bike.
The linked article certainly is plausible at least most of it. We know very cold rubber does not grip well so warm tires to some optimal maximum should get you better grip and along w/ that the larger contact patch can't hurt. The author states, " By lowering your pressures, you’ll wear the middle of the tire out and ‘square off’ the tire." I understood higher pressures wear out the crown of the tire more so lead to squaring, whereas with lower pressure more of the entire radius of the tire is in contact w/ the pavement which should wear more of that radius. This was a complaint I had w/ PR4GT, that you needed to run at least 39 in the front to retard cupping.

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post #33 of 34 Old May 21st, 2020, 12:12 am
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

I have been using 38/38 psi for quite a while now and really just because when I replaced the batteries in my TPS the system started complaining so I upped it to 38 and no problems with TPS now but after reading your post I tried 40/42 and must admit it feels very slightly more stable on my local "race track", to be honest I think that the gravel needs it down a bit 36/36 but then I do carry a small compressor onboard to change pressure to suit road surface, thanks for the tip PadG.
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post #34 of 34 Old May 22nd, 2020, 7:27 pm
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Re: The RT and Tire Pressures.

I Just switched from 36/40 to 40/42 - I like the handling better especially at low speeds. The front tire no longer seems to want to "dive" into the turn when I'm popping a U-ey

Ski
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