Tire Thread ! :histerica
Metzlers are bias ply. From the Metzler Tire Fitment Guide:
BMW K1200LT (1999-2008)
ME 880 Marathon
Front 120/70 B 17 58V TL ME 880 MARATHON Front - 34 PSI
Rear 160/70 B 17 M/C 79V REINFTL ME 880 MARATHON - 38 PSI
Metz prices from Tires Unlimited:
Bridgestone BT020 are also bias ply. The "Stones" were radial once upon a time but were changed to bias ply. With the change in steering geometry in later year K1200LT models (ostensibly to improve low speed handling) the radial tires seemed to contribute to problems at speed. That seems to be the reason that Bridgestone changed their K1200LT offering from radial to bias, and the reason that Avon radials are listed as proper fitment for only 2004 and earlier K1200LTs.
From the Tires Unlimited fitment guide (the Bridgestone fitment guide is a little difficult to read):
BMW K1200LT (Bias) "M' Code
120/70VB17 Front 10 T057537 $106.39
160/70VB17 Rear 16 T057554 $130.54
Note that there seems to be a current radial Bridgestone BT020 but it is not weight rated for the LT and consequently not listed as proper fitment for the LT.
Avons are the only radial tires that I am aware of that are a weight rated matched set for the K1200LT. HOWEVER, Avon lists this tire as proper fitment for ONLY 1999-2003 model years of the K1200LT.
From the Avon Fitment Guide:
K 1200 LT (K2LT) (1999 - 2003)
Storm 2 Ultra
Pressure front: 2.5 bar (36psi)
Front size: 120/70ZR17 (58W)
Storm 2 Ultra
Pressure rear: 2.9 bar (42psi)
Rear size: 160/70R17 79V ..
Avon Prices from Tires Unlimited:
Also from the Avon Fitment Guide:
K 1200 LT (K12LT) (2004 onwards)
Front size: 120/70-17 No Avon Tyre Fitment
Rear size: 160/70-17 No Avon Tyre Fitment ..
My experience: I've run a couple sets of Metzelers. Many folks like 'em as they seem to last the longest. Good choice for cross country trips. I like to crank the LT in the twisties, and the Metz's will begin to whine and howl as they wear. I found the tire noise and roughness annoying even though there was mileage left on the tires. And while Metzelers are the mileage leader, they also cost more than the other offerings.
I ran a couple sets of Avons, and really liked 'em but the front tire was worn out pretty fast. If you want your bike to have that really solid, glued to the road feeling, the Avons are a great choice; the trade off is low mileage.
I keep coming back to the Bridgestones, and have been through more sets of those than any other; they are the best price/performance for me. Careful attention to tire pressure seems to be important in getting the most miles out of the front tire.
I used the Tires Unlimited website for price comparison. I've been happy buying tires from them for years.