Opinions on tires are like, well, opinions - everyone's got one and everyone else thinks theirs is the only one that don't stink.
B-stones: some say they have better wet traction. Usually don't last as long
Metzlers : some say that they have poorer wet traction. Usually last a bit longer
There is *NO* hard data either way on the wet traction issue. So far, it's all empirical. Too many variables. Pick your area of preference and you'll easily find a half dozen folks that say either tire is better or worse in that area.
Me? I run Metzlers. Never had a problem with wet traction and there are numbers that suggest they do last longer. Handling is great - I like 'em. But then, I've never personaly tried anything else.
You can find more info than you care to in our Tires forum.
There are basically four choices that are weight-rated for the LT.
Bridgestone BT020 Radials
Great handling, great traction wet or dry, shorter life, a small percentage have developed bubbles, especially towards the end of their useful life.
Bridgestone BT020 Bias
Good handling, good traction wet or dry, medium life.
Metzeler ME880 Bias
Decent handling, decent dry traction but lower wet traction, long life. Some ME880s have also been prone to tire failures, but very few.
Avon AV45 & AV46
Great handling, great traction wet or dry, medium life, the rears are soft and thus wobbly for the first few hundred miles.
There are also some Dunlops that fit, but have poor mileage and handling, and sometimes rub the swingarm.
I like the Avon front and BT020 rear for great handling and traction with decent mileage, that combo makes the LT turn in quicker and feel a lot lighter. I have also been happy with the BT020 Bias as the best overall compromise on all counts. I can't stand the ME880s (LT feels sluggish and they slip in the wet) or Avon rears (too wobbly until they settle in), others may feel different.
It all depends on how you ride, and what your priorities are.
When I bought the bike it had on a pair of 020’s. I like the handling but was disappointed with the short life of the front tire. It would start cupping around 5,000 miles and was shot by 7-9,000 miles. I am now on my second Avon front with the 020 on the back. I love this combo. The Avon showed no signs of cupping until close to 8-9,000 miles. I replaced it at 10,000 miles, not as good as the 12-15,000 miles I get out of the rear but way better that the 020. Handling is superb wet or dry.
I also have an '03 that came with the BT020's. The front was replaced with a Metz at 6800 miles by the previous owner, so I have no information on the B-stone front life. The rear I replaced at 8,500 miles as I was experiencing a very pronounced "wobble" between 30 and 40 miles per hour. It was especially noticable during decelleration. After much reading on this site, and after figuring that my problem was not the same as "the dreaded front-end shake", I replaced the back tire with the Metz. Wobble gone, ride fabulous, traction marvelous. I am nearing 3000 miles on the tire.
I also run Metzlers 880 front and rear on my 99 LT.
Been using Metzlers since I rid the bike of the original BT tires that came with it. No complaints except for the rumble noise from the sides of the tire as they wear. (Almost makes one think it could be the rear drive, at times.)
Actually , I had been using Metzlers on my 85 Suzuki Madura and my 84 Yamaha Venture before I purchased the LT in 99.
When you have the new tires put on, no matter which you decide on, make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the shop that mounts the tires replaces the valve stems. I had one fail, in Clarksville, Arkansas, on Saturday night. If not for an entire community coming together on Sunday morning to aid a motorcyclist in distress, I would have had a sizeable tow bill and missed some of the best riding in this part of the country.
FYI - Arkansas Highway 7, Jasper to Hot Springs - as good as it gets!!!!!!
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