Dunlop versus Bridgestone

VFR gets new boots

I’ve been putting it off for a couple of weeks but the time came to fit some new rubber to my VFR this weekend. The fact that it was pissing it down seemed like a good excuse to spend a day in the garage anyway.

The Dunlop SportMax tyres I’ve had on for the past 3,500 miles have been awesome in the dry but even more amazing in the wet. They get to operating temperature so quickly and stay hot (even in the rain) that grip levels are stunning, the Bridgestone BT023s I’ve just fitted are going to have a tough act to follow.

The key to change came after the rear squared off its profile with all the motorway miles I do. There was probably still a mil’ of legal tread in the centre line of the rear tyre but the change in rear profile shape was beginning to upset the VFRs high speed stability, particularly through really, really fast sweepers. If I lived in the real World I’d have just changed the rear as the front hardly looks worn but as I want to try as many brands back-to-back I went for a complete brand switch.

I did a few laps round Thruxton on the VFR and it showed me that outright edge grip is not what the VFR needs. Ground clearance runs out pretty quickly with the footrests going down without even really trying. So it’s stability, mileage and wet grip that I’m looking for from these new tyres.

I took the wheels out myself. But first I treated the distinctly filthy, 7,000 mile VFR to a bit of a clean with the awesome S Doc 100 spray on detergent. This stuff is amazing and if you haven’t tried it yet, you should. It eats brake dust, grease, road film, flies and even those sticky rubber balls you get splattered everywhere after a track day. The fact that it’s also made by a company called Dr Wack makes it even better.

I needed to take the rear wheel out to remove my R&G Hugger which turned out to be more of a toucher than a hugger. No matter how much I spaced it, how much I Dremmelled off the edges, it still catches the rear tyre as the tyre grows with speed.  Rear wheel removal is much easier with the aftermarket Akrapovic can fitted than the massive standard system. Two bolts to slacken, a spring to remove and bosh – easy access to the rear wheel’s five studs.

The front wheel looked like being a problem when I realized that I’d lent my 22mm  Allen key to someone a few weeks back so getting the front wheel spindle out was a bit if a headscratcher. However, a quick rummage through the tool box revealed a 22mm plug spanner that did the same job. The way the radial calipers fit on to their precisely bevelled bosses is pleasing. No, really, it is. But there again, I don’t get out much.

Struan, the boss of my local Honda garage (A1 Honda - 01780 763232) broke the beads and fitted the tyres by hand using his trusty plastic rim protectors and minimal tyre lever use. The rims are unmarked due to his diligence. You can learn a lot by watching someone who’s good at this and it motivated me to make my own bead breaker and static balancer so I can do the whole tyre fitting job at home in future. Plans and instructions to follow, along with a report on how the Bridgestones are fairing