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Discussion Starter #1
Sorry if I'm :deadhorse

I am going through my "new to me" 03LT with ~13k miles and am now looking at the tires.

The rear BT020 has 2 mm tread depth left and is date stamped "DEJ5002" which I understand was built in week 50 2002. :wow: So that is the original OEM tire and obviously needs to be replaced.

The front is stamped RA0605 so that's the 2nd tire but is old enough to replace for that reason, but the treads are down to 1.3 mm left of center and 1.7 right of center so pretty much worn out anyway.

But, overall I think wear life is pretty good and wear pattern implies to me the bike wasn't riden very aggressively. Based on what I've read about available options and people's experiences I'll be replacing with BT020's again.

Both mine are radials, but now only bias ply is available. I'm confused why the switch? Also, the websites I'm shopping only show those as applying to 2005-2009 LTs. Is there a reason 1999-2004 would take anything different?

Which websites have the best prices out there? So far I've found denniskirk.com cheapest at $113 / $137 with free shipping.

Thanks, Jim
 

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SWMotoTire.com is very competitive.

I find the best prices, not the URL, and then call Dennis Kirk and they beat by $1. I do not do this because of the $2 savings, I do it because I had purchased a tire that failed within first 1k mies and their service was incredible.

YMMV
 

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AFAIK, there are no radials available (I.e. specifically recommended by the tire manufacturer) for the LT other than the Avon Storms for the '99-'03 models.

The Storms are not universally loved, with a number of users complaining about fit (rubbing on swing arm) and other problems. When I bought the LT 18 months ago she had Metzler rear and Bridgestone front. The tires needed replacement due to age ( over 8 years old) plus the front showed some cupping.

I have been running Storms on my '99 for over a year and about 1500 miles. I like the grip, and so far have not had any problems. I am not an aggressive rider, which may affect my experiences.
 

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On the topic of Storms.... It was two Avon Storm front tires, on after the other, that failed on my '05 LT and which revealed the true commitment to customer service by the folks at Dennis Kirk.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
r_figueroa said:
AFAIK, there are no radials available (I.e. specifically recommended by the tire manufacturer) for the LT other than the Avon Storms for the '99-'03 models.
The Storms are not universally loved, with a number of users complaining about fit (rubbing on swing arm) and other problems. When I bought the LT 18 months ago she had Metzler rear and Bridgestone front. The tires needed replacement due to age ( over 8 years old) plus the front showed some cupping.

I have been running Storms on my '99 for over a year and about 1500 miles. I like the grip, and so far have not had any problems. I am not an aggressive rider, which may affect my experiences.
Guys,

Thanks for the replies and positive review of Dennis Kirk. From this info and searching around the site, it looks like if I want radials it is Avon Storm 2 Ultra (79V rated) for the rear and maybe Michelin Pilot Road 2 for the front. If I go bias ply it is BT020s for both. I'm going to stay away from Metzelers due to the noise, less grippy, etc. even if they get longer life. Am I right the shift from radial to bias ply has to do with sidewall strength? That has me leaning towards the BT020s.

I come back to my question about 99-04 vs. 05-09, since above you say the Avons are OK for the early bikes and when I go on the web, the BT020s are only listed for 05-09. I don't think there is an issue but want to make sure. Any difference in rear wheel shimming / position, etc.?

Thanks for your input - the wealth of knowledge on this site is a great resource!

Jim
 

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The difference between the models seems to be the fork angle, not the rear wheel. It appears that BMW changed the rake & trail in order to improve the low-speed handling characteristics (other changes may have been made as well). Why this would make a difference in tire selection is unclear and I will not speculate.

There is a spacer in the rear wheel assembly, which can be installed improperly. Failure to correctly install the spacer can cause problems with the tire rubbing against the swing arm.
 

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Jim_McG said:
....I come back to my question about 99-04 vs. 05-09, since above you say the Avons are OK for the early bikes and when I go on the web, the BT020s are only listed for 05-09. I don't think there is an issue but want to make sure. Any difference in rear wheel shimming / position, etc.?
My knowledge is a bit dated, but some time ago I did in depth research on tire fitment for the K1200LT. I even got email replies from tire representatives at Avon and Bridgestone. My purpose in researching at the time was to determine what tire manufacturers had matched sets of tires that they recommended as proper fitment for the BMW K1200LT. I was not interested in personal anecdotes regarding what people liked, or thought worked well, nor was I interested in mixing and matching tires that were properly weight rated for the K1200LT.

Tire manufacturers have liability concerns and are very conservative with their "proper fitment" recommendations. I realize that there are many combinations that will work, some safer than others, and some combinations will serve some riders' particular desires better that any tire manufacturer's specific recommendations. However, to keep it simple, I stuck to researching manufacturer's matched sets specifically listed as proper fitment for the K1200LT.

Here's what I learned at that time: Shortly after the time of BMW changing the K1200LT steering geometry with the 2005 model Avon stopped listing their radial tires as proper fitment for post 2005 K1200LTs. The Avon representative said they were considering making a tire for the post 2005 K1200LTs but I have never heard of one coming to market. The Avon rep said that the Avon radial was not recommended for the post 2005 models because of "stability issues". Just as others have posted regarding this, I have no idea why radial tires, when mounted on the 2005 and later bikes, might have stability issues. But I'm willing to take the manufacturer's word for it.

Early Bridgestone tires for the K1200LT were radial tires. My 2000 K1200LT came with Bridgestone radials as original fitment. Eventually those Bridgestone radials disappeared and the only Bridgestone tires that are available for the K1200LT are bias ply tires. Again, the issue was reported to be that radial tires could cause "stability issues" when mounted on the post 2005 model K1200LTs.

I have never heard that bias ply tires should not be used on the earlier 99-2004 bikes. It is only that radial bias ply tires are NOT recommended for 2005 and later bikes.

Here's the 2008 thread: http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=297451#poststop

The shim: My 2000 has the shim between the rear wheel and the final drive hub. I suspect that once BWM had the K1200LT manufactured and the got a batch of tires in for the bike, they realized that some of the tires were rubbing on the swing arm. Solution?, slap a spacer in between the wheel and the hub. There really isn't a way to put the shim in "wrong" as far as I can tell (and I'm pretty good at figuring out the wrong way to do things. ;) ), it is just that if you leave the shim out and you have a slightly wider profile tire, its going to rub on the swing arm. Not a good thing. If your tire is going to rub on the swing arm put in the shim. After many sets of tires, I've always just installed the shim and never worried about it. If your bike didn't come with a shim, and you're using an tire listed as proper fitment for the K1200LT I imagine you won't have a problem.

Addendum: I went through several sets of the Bridgestone radials and a couple sets of the Avon radials. They wore out fast. For a while, I was routinely mounting a new set of tires every 6000 miles along with the scheduled oil change. Even then, sometimes the front tire would be badly feathered and overdue for replacement. I found those radial tires to be very secure when aggressively cranking the mountian twisties. The Bridgestone bias ply tires aren't bad, but in my opinion don't give the same "glued to the road" sensation that the radials did. (another reason why I think the pre-2005 bikes have some advantages.)
HTH
 

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I've had my 99 for 5 years and 43000 miles on it. When I replaced the original tires, I went with the Avon's and haven't looked back. Check your pressures regularly and I go recommended +4 front and rear. This gives reasonable wear but changes the way the bike handles incredibly. As far as mileage goes, that isn't one of my criteria. I usually put a set on every other year. I did have a problem on one new front, warranty wasn't an issue at all. I buy from my local dealer and he has taken care of me. The problem evidenced itself immediately after a new install with a handlebar shake on deceleration about 40 mph. Changed the tire and that took care of the problem. Avon's are my choice, YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter #9
All,

Thanks again for your inputs. Since I only have 700 miles seat time on this bike so far, I am relying on your all's experiences, likes / dislikes, etc. realizing personal "bias" comes into play. I appreciate all the research others have done which benefits me greatly.

The change in rake angle makes a lot of sense for the change from radial to bias ply, and since mine is an 03 I can go either way. Since the original OEM radial rear tire is still on the bike, I expect to find the spacer when I take it off. Is it right to assume the bike's alignment is correct with the spacer in place?

Maybe a radial will grip the road a bit better, but I think that any new tire will grip a lot better than any old worn tire. So, I will go with BT020 bias front & rear, keep the spacer in place, keep the pressure +4 psi.

Thanks, Jim
 

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Jim_McG said:
.... So, I will go with BT020 bias front & rear, keep the spacer in place, keep the pressure +4 psi.....
That's what I've been using on my 2000 for the last several sets. I like them well enough, good choice.

I find that the front tire will be worn out before the rear by several thousand miles, although I tend to feather the brakes in turns. Keeping off the front brake, especially while cornering, and keeping the pressure a little high seems to make 'em last a little longer.

Here's what they can look like after a while:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
CharlieVT said:
Here's what they can look like after a while:
WOW - My gonads aren't large enough to run a front tire that long!
 

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Jim_McG said:
WOW - My gonads aren't large enough to run a front tire that long!
Well, it really wasn't intentional to ride after the cords were worn through. I just found it that way after getting home from a longer ride.

However, I find the "bumps" a normal kind of wear on the softer tires. Both the radial Bridgestones and the Avons looked bumpy like that after a few thousand miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Right, my radial BT020 front shows those bumps, but not as pronounced and with 1.3 left / 1.7 mm right tread depth left at the shallowest points.

I look forward to putting new shoes on the big girl - thanks again for guidance towards the decision.
 

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So you want to see how much clearance you get on a Bridgestone Bias Ply on the rear with the shim installed - WOW thats close!! :eek:

I would say about 1/8 of an inch!! - This was on my 2002LT . . .





and if you are wondering how I got that shot!!

 

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Discussion Starter #15
Dan, After seeing your photos I went down to the garage and took a look - that vantage point is easier to see with your lift than my HF table lift but with the rear panel removed I could see from below that I have ~1/4" clearance there with the radial BT020.

So it is closer with the bias tire? In any case I wouldn't remove the spacer (assuming it's there since I haven't removed the wheel yet), which would alter the front / rear wheel alignment, right?

Thanks, Jim
 

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dfinazzo said:
So you want to see how much clearance you get on a Bridgestone Bias Ply on the rear with the shim installed - WOW thats close!! :eek:

I would say about 1/8 of an inch!! - This was on my 2002LT . . .





and if you are wondering how I got that shot!!

No plans for tire change in near future.
Besides that's where my dealer get the big bucks. But your little demonstration gave me a very interesting perspective. I have walked under auto lifts and train lifts and seen their undersides but this is completely new. Where on the bike is that stand positioned SECURED????
ride safe :bmw:
 

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What stand is it? Where did it come from and how much did it cost?
 

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r_figueroa said:
What stand is it? Where did it come from and how much did it cost?
+1.... also intrigued
 

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Ditto on the lift. However, I would be a little concerned with its stability and what it would take to throw it off balance when doing front or rear end work...
 

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It is called an Easy Rizer (Lifts-and-stands.com), and goes for $685, not including adapters.

It is not clear from the web site what adapters will work for the LT.

Web bike world has a review as well.
 
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