Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Tyred of this
Large and virile motorcycles destroy tyres. Getting 10,000km out of the rear rubber can be quite an achievement, and the weight of the Goatcycle causes the front one to wear out at an alarming rate too. The local Pirelli agent carries a tiny selection of very expensive bike tyres. Part of the reason for the expense is that they’re actually street-legal racing rubber: exceptionally grippy and incredibly soft. I don’t want racing tyres on a sports-tourer. Being the Stig’s slow, fat cousin, I’ve little need for excessive grip. I only want enough so that the bike won’t go slideways on roundabouts. Tyres that don’t immediately wear down to the cords after riding in a straight line would be good too; Qatar doesn’t have very many bendy roads. The perfect solution is a multiple-compound tyre, which is rock hard in the middle and soft and sticky at the edges.
The local Continental Tyres dealer carries such tyres, but not in my sizes, and no he doesn’t know when he’s going to get some Road Attacks. “Maybe April. Insha’Allah.”
Kawasaki does have some original equipment Bridgestones, but I don’t want those. I know from experience that they are less than confidence-inspiring, and are the only tyres I’ve ever encountered where the front wears out faster than the rear. It must take some extra special design expertise to achieve this, at the same time delivering soft rubber that doesn’t grip very well. Either Pirelli or Metzeler suit me and the bike very well, but suitable sizes are Not Coming In Doha™.
The Michelin agent promised that he’d call me. Much as anticipated, he hasn’t, so the apparently wonderful dual-compound Pilot Road 2s aren’t going to happen to a bike near me any time soon.
So it seems as if I’m unable to give my free money to the local agents, and instead eBay and Aramex Shop-n-Schlepp will get the business. Now probably in the autumn because I’ll not do much riding over the summer months, and the current tyres still have some realistic life.
It’s not just motorcycle tyres. I’m trying and failing to locate replacement rubber for Rio, the Tear-Arse. I’d like something slightly more knobbly than the stock tyres, and maybe just a teeny bit bigger. Naturally, nobody has my size in stock, especially the alleged purveyor of my favourites, Cooper Discoverer ATRs. “Maybe April. Insha’Allah.”
Actually, I did find one. I need five. Unfortunately the teeny bit oversize would prevent me from using the hard spare-wheel cover, which is a bit disappointing. And I’m not paying QAR3,900 after discount (which is £650 in old money). The Goatmobile cost no more than QAR2,500 to re-boot, and those were much, much bigger. After the man in the tyre shop removed the QAR850 sticky label and discovered a QAR625 label underneath, he still wouldn’t go below QAR2,900.
Part of the tyre supply problem is that a newish law in Qatar forbids anyone from selling tyres that are more than a specified age, which may be three years. After that, new stock has to be destroyed. Surprise, surprise: dealers minimise their stock levels and only carry the fast-moving lines. There’s also a rule that all after-market tyres must be rated Temperature A. This is sensible, given the ludicrously high temperatures the region attains during the summer. Yet vehicles are imported and sold as merchantable with Temperature B tyres fitted. Might it not be a good idea to legislate for the higher rating to be supplied to consumers when they buy new cars? And while we’re obsessing with rules to protect us from dodgy tyres, how about doing something about the appalling state of truck tyres on most HGVs? The legal minimum tread depth is not “It’s OK if it stays inflated.”
Why am I looking to replace car tyres already? Well, my new Daihatsu has been standing in the showroom since 2009 and the tyres have all developed flat spots. This was very obvious when I had the wheels balanced. I’ve argued the toss with the Daihatsu workshop, citing words like “merchantable quality” and “warranty”, but the manager sent me away and suggested that the flat spots would go away by 5,000km. I suspect the only true bit is the sending away. There is precisely zero evidence so far that the flat spots are disappearing.