Saturday, January 15, 2011

What A Difference A Couple Of Days Can Make

Today it was 33F and I saw Sun. I had to ride. When I rolled Billie, my 2010 Symba, out of the garage the alley looked like this:

Thursday night, just a couple of days ago, the alley looked much different:

I normally wouldn't choose to leave my garage when the alley looks like it did Thursday evening, but Billie's new tires were in. And, if I didn't get them put on Thursday night, I would have to wait until sometime in February. I had close to seven thousand miles on the original tires and really wanted them changed out. So, I decided to ride. The main roads were clear and at 25F the chemicals to melt the ice would be working just fine. No worry there. Of course, the alley and the side street might present a problem, but that was only the distance of a couple of hundred yards.

I eased out into the alley and stayed in the snow that hadn't been driven on. It provided decent traction. So far so good. When I got to the street it got more complicated, but I kept reminding myself to keep a steady throttle, to make no sudden movements, not to panic when my countersteering didn't produce immediate results, to trust the bike, to keep my hand off that front brake, and to keep my feet on the pegs. It all worked out, but I was glad to get to the main road, and even happier when I got to Maplewood Scooter Company.

Mike and Jake were waiting for me. They were even staying late, just so we could get these tires changed. Mike is closing his shop out in Kansas City and moving all his operations here. Since he has to be out of his Kansas City shop by the beginning of February, he was leaving the next day to finish up the job. Thus my sense of urgency.

Here are the new tires. The original tires were both the same size. We decided to go with a larger and wider tire for the rear. Mike thought it would give me more stability. Sounded good to me.

This is the old front tire. I'm not sure how one can tell if this tire is worn out, but I've not liked the tread pattern since the day I rode Billie home for the first time and I've been eager to change it out. But, being frugal, 6700 miles seemed as if I had been patient enough.

This is the old rear tire. Looking at the picture I'm wondering if the camera adds tread to a tire, like it adds pounds to a person's figure. The tread didn't look as good as it does in this picture believe me.
And, here she is modeling her new Michelin Gazelles. We also replaced the headlamp. It looks brighter, but I've not been on streets without lighting to see how much of an improvement this makes.

Everything went smoothly with the installation. I like boring and drama free experiences at the shop. After an hour or so, it was time to head home. And, it was a wonderful ride home. I was feeling fine and really enjoying the ride . . . and then I turned into my side street. Here is the scene:
I know it couldn't have changed it the couple of hours I'd been gone. I know it was still only two hundred yards or so to my alley, but in the darkness it looked much longer. Ah, but as is often the case, there was only one way through it, and that was through it.

The ride back in was definitely more interesting -- lots more slippin' and a slidin' going on. I suspect Chris at would tell me I was finally having some fun, but I'm not sure that was what I was having. I will admit; however, that it was certainly satisfying to make it safely back to the garage without a spill.
Billie with gazelles full of snow

On the right old tire print and on the left the new.

Late this afternoon when I returned from my ride I stopped at the same place where I took the picture of my street last Thursday night:
What a difference a couple of days can make.

~Circle Blue & Billie


  1. Kudos, Keith! That must have been quite the experience. I am not there yet to test the slippery grounds with my Nella (besides my better half is strongly opposed to me riding in icy conditions), but I envy everybody who dares to encounter the white stuff.

  2. Dear Keith:

    Those tires didn't look that bad to me. I've got about 5,000 miles on my tires and I expect to put at least another 6,000 on them. I am running Metzler's, which had a questionable reputation for a bit (at least in the size that fits the K75, as they came from a factory in Brazil, where quality was an issue).

    New tires have a lubricant on them, to pop them out of the mold, and I'd be more concerned about riding with the slippery tires on an icy street. It generally takes about 50 miles to scrub thelunricant off the tire. What made you decide to switch out the headlamp? Did you upgrade to different kind of bulb, or a higher wattage? I love bright lights on a motorcycle, and advocate lots of them.

    Here's hoping the rest of the winter is milder.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. Sonja,
    The Symba is a very light machine, and so picking it up isn't very difficult. But, heaven knows I don't like to have to pick her up, and I have only had to once. I called my "better half" when I got to the dealership and when I got home. Poor baby, was working late. She was much relieved when I didn't ride to work yesterday. I'll play in the snow, but I wouldn't want to have ride in . . . unless there was a third wheel :)

    Thanks for commenting,

  4. Jack,
    I am astounded at how good the rear tire looks in the picture. If it had looked that good in person, it would still be on the bike. The front tire, on the other hand, I just wanted gone.

    Yep, I knew new tires were slippery . . . and, I forgot. When Mike reminded me I said, "Oh great, just what I need when it's slippery out." If I'd remembered I may have waited. Oh well, today I put a little over 40mi on the new tires. Having the larger wider tire on the back is a definite improvement.

    On the light, I went higher wattage from a 35 to a 55. Yes, I too, like bright lights.

    Thanks for your comments.

  5. Hi Keith,

    I love the tread pattern on the new tires. Looks like they will have some good traction. Even being frugal I think I would have chucked that orginal front tire long ago. I found on my old machine that had a continuous groove around the middle, that it caught all of the seams or gouges in the roads (going in my direction) and would pull me into them.

    Since I refuse to ride on snow and ice, I wonder on keeping the landing gear up? Mr. Oilburner followed someone on a scooter the other day venturing over ice sheets that just kept his landing gear down and wobbled his way through the ice sheets. I also work with someone that rode as his only transportation in college. He rode home 10 miles through a sudden ice storm and kept the landing gear down too.

    Of course, I wouldn't have wanted to break a leg if the bike slipped one way while the leg was out for traction and slipped the other. Ouch!

    But Billie looks great with her new shoes!


  6. Bravo!
    I have to confess I want to attempt snow some day. I'm afraid to try it even on our little 200...maybe someday with a little dirt bike...

    Sam is getting new tires soon as well. the tires arrived Friday, but I'm not sure when Ron will have time to get them mounted.

  7. Looking good Keith. I can't say I would have gone out in that kind of weather. Actually, I haven't gone out in quite a while. You're kind of lucky with that little bike, too, if you run into a bad road it doesn't weigh 550 pounds like my old tank and you can push it around. If you find a friend you could probably just carry it.

    The tread on your old tires looked alright, but I've never trusted that tread pattern. I had that clown vomit rig (from one of my recent posts) and I always worried about the tires (In addition to just about everything else.) Better safe than sorry.

    Glad to see you going out, you've got the cajones I was trying for this year but lost early on.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  8. Lori,
    Yep, that front tire was a pain in the way you describe. I didn't like the experience of Billie seeming to suddenly have a mind of her own :)

    I'm not big on riding in snow and hate ice, but playing is different. That said, since I've put the plastic paniers on Billie, I'm not very excited about that. I wouldn't want to damage them.


  9. Bluekat,
    Trying snow on a small dirt bike sounds like just the ticket. It can be fun if falling is part of it, and from falling you learn to do it less.

  10. Brady,
    You are absolutely right, Billie is almost a bicycle. Heaven knows I see lots of bicyclist riding in horrible conditions. I don't know about cajones, as I hope I made clear the main streets were clear, it was only my side street which has very little traffic on it that was slick. I'm really a very very cautious rider. But all it all, this seemed like a manageable risk. Of course, for a while on the ride back in I wasn't so sure LOL.

    Good to hear from you and see you commenting on some other blogs. I've missed your voice.

  11. Bluekat,
    I meant you learn to fall less, although I guess one might learn to ride in snow less as well LOL

  12. Great job Keith! I was happy to see you made it home safe. Riding in snow can be quite rewarding! Snow is fun!

    Tires can be a funny thing. They can look like they have tread on the edges, but the wear bars are what you want to pay attention to.

    Here are two examples:

    And my scooter:

    -Chris @ - year round riding in Minnnesota

  13. How can you not feel energized and ready to tackle the world wearing tires called "gazelles"?

    That tread on the old front tire is well discarded.

  14. Chris,
    I couldn't find wear bars on the old tires and can't find them on the new. Do tube tires have wear bars or just tubeless tires? Anyway, the Symba holds the road much better then before the tire change.

  15. Irondad,
    Oh yes, I do indeed feel energized. It is a great name for a tire isn't it? I love the price, too. The front tire cost me $26 and the real $36, plus the cost of the tubes. Ah, the joys of having a 200lb bike :)

    Yeah, that front tire was pretty lame.

  16. Those new tires looked good to me Keith...but I have to confess the old ones also still look good to me...why did you have to change them...careful riding in that ice.

  17. Baron,
    I could have gotten more miles out of both of the tires. The main reason for changing them was to improve handling and the way the Symba sits the road. I haven't had much chance to ride since I had the tires changed, but if what riding I have done is an indication the change is remarkable.

  18. Keith,
    whatever you do be careful, because, as Jack Riepe tires are full of practice safe riding my good friend. BTW, I am very familiar with Camdenton MO..small do hickey town, but one of my favorites throughout