After 6000 miles or so on the Avon AM26 Roadriders, i decided I needed a new set of feet for the Thruxton. There was probably another 3000 miles left in the tread, but I suspect a combination of underinflation and the tires having been just a bit off balance in their early days was giving rise to an annoying speed wobble in the 50-55mph range — nothing too terrible, but very noticeable — so I figured nip it in the bud.

So what to do? go back to the reliable and predictable Mezlers? Get another set of the Avons with their great turning and grip, but twitchy handling in wind and on grooved concrete? Maybe pop for the fantastic but expensive Dunlop Trailmax dual sport tires? I decided to take the advice of a cafe builder friend out here and try Shinko tires.

The obvious good stuff: they are cheap — the 712s for the Thruxton were about half the cost of a set of Avons. Even with install they’re cheaper than the Avons. They seem to sit just a bit higher on the back tire than the Roadrides did. They have a deep tread, and are nicely sticky, but the lettering style is not attractive. The bad: it’s got the usual center rain groove that doesn’t play well with grooved concrete. Once mounted, I took Trixie for a quick spin on I-40 and South 14’s nice set of twisties just south of Tijeras.

The tires are fairly quiet; I noticed no road noise of note. They have a slight vibration the Avons didn’t, but it’s not finger numbing. They take input very easily and quickly.

On the highway, they do seek on the grooved concrete (and to be fair, it’s an awful stretch of road, as well), but I didn’t get the wobble the Avons liked to give me. On normal pavement, they were sure and solid. I was also catching a hard set of crosswinds coming through the canyon. On the Avons, I would really feel the wind buffeting the bike, but on the Shinkos — as with the OEM Metzlers — there was minimal buffeting.

A quick run down the twisties on S14 (and absolutely not speeding…honest), and I found out the quick response to steering input was not linear (the best way I can put it.) The Avons have a steady fall into turns that is aggressive, but predictable. The Shinkos tip in fast and get progressively move aggressive in turning as you lean. A U-turn at the end of the twisties nearly put me down as the bike hauled over harder than expected, and when I gave it gas she sat up almost as sharply, and I nearly kissed the guard rail. And this is on a bike I know well.

(Hint for you bikers: changing the type tires really can change how your bike feels — be cautious those first few rides until you relearn the new handling.)

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the Shinko 712s, so far. I figure if I get even half the wear as i got out of the Avons, they were worth it.

UPDATE: Okay, it’s been about a month and closing on 700 miles on the Shinko 712 tires, and I’ve been doing commuting and spirited play riding over this period. First off — the wear is very good, so far. I’ve still got some of the injection nubblies.

Second — grip: I’ve had her on good and bad pavement, pavement with sand and other crap, been in gravel and hard dirt, some light wet roads, and on the grooved concrete. So far, they hold very well in all of these conditions, and only issue I’ve noted is the same as with the Avons as stated above; they hate the grooved concrete, but are much more controllable than the Roadriders were.

Lastly — I’ve been pushing her pretty hard in turns when the traffic is light and I busted out the clinometer on the phone today. Judging from the wear, I’m getting regularly into the 40-45 degree lean angle range (Some of the new strikes were closer to 50!) The Shinkos have not slipped or given me any problems.