If you ride a lot, then you are more than likely replacing a tire or two throughout your riding season each year. Log in to any motorcycle forum, and you can spend hours reading heated debates about tire preferences (let’s not even think about oil…) Tires are a very personal preference. Some riders prefer to ride on only the stickiest rubber, while others debate the sanity of running a car tire on the back of a bike (true story). Now I’m all for bang for the buck and stretching every dollar, but there are some things, such as how my bike handles and sticks to the road that I’m just not fond of compromising. I have tried a wide variety of motorcycle tires over the years – from firmer compounds that are long wearing but do not inspire much confidence, to ultra sticky sport tires that make you feel invincible but lighten your wallet every 2,500 miles. Many motorcyclists are on the same never ending quest for that perfect tire. One that last a long time, handles well, sticks even better, and doesn’t cost a fortune – does it exist? I had heard some buzz online about these Shinko 009 Raven Sport Touring Tires over the years, and as our sport riding season winds to an end and my cold, wet commuting season begins, what better time than now to try them out?
I mount my own tires in the garage – usually with the help of a friend. A few tire irons, a bead breaker, a clamping wheel stand and an air compressor, and we can get the job done. Some tires are not as easily persuaded as others, though. We have fought our share of stubborn tires, and were prepared to do battle with these new Shinko Motorcycle Tires. To our surprise, the Shinko 009’s mounted up easier than any tire either of us has had to deal with. Both the front and the rear slipped easily into place, and the bead seated at a mere 30 psi. Okay Shinko, nice first impression, but let’s see how you behave outside of the garage, shall we?
Just by looking at the tire I can tell it’s going to have good wet weather traction. Very wide, deep rain grooves criss-cross the rear tire, while the front tire receives a longitudinal groove all the way around the circumference. The Shinko 009 tires have a thick, meaty carcass, too. With plenty of rubber that should last a good while. Surprisingly, the rubber feels fairly soft compared to other sport touring tires I’ve tried. A fingernail sinks easily into the rubber. Admittedly, the tires feel a little heavier than my previous sport tires, but that is to be expected with a sport touring tire with a thick carcass.
It’s always difficult to evaluate the profile of a new set of tires when you are coming off an old worn out set. Going from a flat spotted rear and a front that was down past the wear bars, to a brand new set of tires is going to take some getting used to no matter what tires you go with. As with any new tires, it’s best to take it easy for the first hundred or so miles to get used to the new profile and get accustomed to how much grip is available. Initial impressions on the 009 Ravens was the front felt like it wanted to fall in predictably, while the rear was more hesitant. Looking at the tires it is obvious that the rear is a very rounded profile without much of a peak, while the front falls off to the sides a little better. This feeling seemed to diminish over the next several days, surely just a result of getting used to them. Having ridden with many different styles of tires, these to not make the bike feel “flickable” by any stretch, but they do turn in predictably and hold a line quite well once cranked over.
Mother nature was also kind enough to provide me with the opportunity for some extreme wet weather testing while on the way to work the other day. Skies were looking dark as I donned my helmet in the morning, but I neglected to check the radar and left the rainsuit in the closet. Sure enough, as a crested a hill on the interstate I saw what looked like a wall of fog hanging over the roadway ahead. As I got closer, I realized it was not fog, but rain of monsoonal proportions. At this point there’s not much you can do but reduce your speed some, check your land position, and press on. My not-so-waterproof riding jacket held off most of the water, while my Sliders Kevlar Cargo Pants soaked up plenty of water (you know, just in case I get thirsty later). As I took my exit in Rock Hill and pulled onto the surface streets, the rain was not letting up. There were areas where I was literally leaving a wake, with easily 6+ inches of standing water in the road. Standing on the pegs I got a good look at the front tire as it cut through the water. A nice visual was provided of the rain grooves doing their thing, dispersing large amounts of water to either side as I pressed on. The bike felt very sure footed and without a hint of wanting to take an asphalt nap.
Admittedly I have not had the chance to really push the tires very hard at this point, but again, that isn’t necessarily what they are designed for. These tires are a great all weather tire that can eat up the miles and keep on going. For the commuter or the long distance touring rider who may be on a bit of a budget, the Shinko 009 Raven Tires are a great option. With fronts selling for around $75 and rears going for $100-120, they are hard to beat for the money. After we have had a chance to put some more miles on these tires we will update with how they performed on more spirited rides as well as the longevity we experienced. You can check out all Shinko Motorcycle Tires on our website, where you will find they offer a wide variety of tires at very competitive prices. Stay tuned for part two!