BMWSportTouring

Wethead - sensitivity to tyres

Posted By: AndyS

Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 10:08 AM

Generally, I find the handling of the Wethead to be good. But I am using Michelin PR4's and they have about 3500 miles on them. The bike seems to be overly sensitive to white lines, over banding (tar strips), grooves in the road and any other road surface irregularities.
My 1150RT with anything other than worn out tyres or wrong tyre pressures, totally ignores such road surface changes.
So have you Wethead owners experienced similar and if so, have you found a solution because I don't like it much!
Posted By: sardineone

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 12:05 PM

I experienced at nearly the same mileage a shift towards unsure vague handling with the PR4's and that's on my Hexhead. I had a long relationship with the Pilot Road series until the PR4's. I think your problem is the tyres and not your bike. I recommend a change of tyres. I'm currently happy with my Dunlop Roadsmart 3's BTW.
Posted By: dirtrider

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 12:36 PM

Originally Posted by AndyS
Generally, I find the handling of the Wethead to be good. But I am using Michelin PR4's and they have about 3500 miles on them. The bike seems to be overly sensitive to white lines, over banding (tar strips), grooves in the road and any other road surface irregularities.
My 1150RT with anything other than worn out tyres or wrong tyre pressures, totally ignores such road surface changes.
So have you Wethead owners experienced similar and if so, have you found a solution because I don't like it much!


Morning Andy

I don't own a wethead but my personal experience with the PR4 on other BMW's is similar to your present situation. Personally I would put the PR4 near the bottom of my list of BMW RT tire choices.

I do push my motorcycle tires pretty darn hard & expect a LOT out of them (probably the reason that I get very poor tire mileage). To me the PR4 just doesn't get the job done for my riding style (or lack there of).

I have a good friend that is a lot more sedate in his motorcycle riding habits & is a more-or-less a fairly upright rider & he just loves the PR4 but he is an early braker & slows way down for curves & corners so he doesn't tax his tires very hard.

If you are pushing that bike hard with heavy late braking & near foot peg touching lean angles at speed then you might need to look at a different tire compound & construction.
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 02:07 PM

Well DR, I tick some of those boxes for sure, BUT my problems is occurring with the bike upright and at lower speeds. As I mentioned, it seems it is sensitive to road irregularities (Road marking lines, ruts, tar strips, road ironworks etc). However, I am for sure listening to you other riders for tyre experiences.
Posted By: realshelby

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 02:14 PM

Andy, be thankful your RT didn't come with the Continentals! They were atrocious just going straight down the road. I think the suspension is a bit more firm on average and may feed back to the rider a bit more than the Oilheads did. I think you will get used to it to some degree. I agree that the PR4 isn't good for some riders. I have run the Bridgestone T-30's and the RoadSmart III tires on the front and both are very good at stable tracking. I would give a nod to the T-30 as the best at not squirming when meeting road irregularities.
Posted By: Bodhi65

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 02:22 PM

I’ve had similar experiences on 2016 rt and pr4. Going to try Dunlop’s in spring.
Posted By: RecentConvert

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 02:23 PM

My 2014 RT came with Metzeler Z8 tires. They were very good in the dry until the last 1500 miles or so when they started cupping on both the front and the rear. I guess I was fortunate in having little rain riding on them.

The next set of tires were Metzeler Roadtec 01. These were very smooth, had excellent wet and dry grip and I pushed them hard. The front developed a pronounced center rib which didn't prove a problem until later. The rear really never developed a flat strip and provided excellent traction up to 5500 miles when it suffered a puncture while off roading. This set did like to follow grooves in the pavement and sometimes felt nervous when catching ridges. They also rumbled when leaned over. I think it just a characteristic of the tread pattern. I could also feel paint strip and road irregularities. I like them well enough that I am considering them again.

The puncture occurred 800 miles from home and caused replacement (insurance) of the rear Metzeler with a Dunlop RS III. On dry pavement the Metzeler 01 front paired with a Dunlop RS III rear worked well. The Dunlop certainly has a different feel but was a not issue when dry. A 400 mile trip, two-up, in the rain highlighted the need for a matched pair of tires! The front Metzeler was scrapped for a new Dunlop RS III to match the rear. The mixed pair was twitchy, had different characteristics of traction on wet paint, road grooves and were generally unsettling.

The Dunlops are truly excellent in the dry. They handle better than either set of Metzelers when the road in clean and dry. They don't follow grooves and grip is solid and reliable. They don't rumble (yet - I am told they will) when leaned over. I have 5500 miles on the rear and it looks good for another 2000(?). If the RS III is lacking, it is in the wet. I've not had a single issue with them in the wet, but when it is wet I wish I had the Metzeler 01 on. No slips, no twitches, no close calls, but I don't have the confidence in the RS III in the wet that the Metzelers provided.

I used up two sets of PR4s on my previous bike, an ST1300 Honda. The PR4s gave irregular wear in the front with scalloping/cupping showing up by 3000 miles. I didn't have any problems with them, but really never considered them when I changed bikes. I guess the PR4 didn't leave much of an impression, good or bad for handling. Unlike others, I found them to wear very quickly on the sides when using a lot of brakes and throttle to keep up with the lighter, faster riders in front of me.
Posted By: duegatti

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 02:28 PM

Bike came with Z8's. At some point in the middle of its 21,000 miles, I tried PR4's - whatever the version is recommended for the RT. The very first thing I noticed about them was a jarring ride. I also disliked their dynamic behaviour. As usual, they gave me the best mileage. I'm on my third, I think, set of 01's. For me, it's the best package of handling and mileage.
Posted By: mileypop

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 04:07 PM

My 14 plate RT came with Conti's as OE. Absolutely terrible, from new they moved all over the place especially overbanding, white lines. Most disconcerting.
Having heard how good PR4's were I went thru 3 sets. Pretty good but cupped a lot on the front.
Tried Dunlop Road SMART III, excellent tyre. Grip as good, if not better than the PR4's in all conditions. I ride all year round, in all weather's 'cept snow.
The 17MY RT I have now had PR4's as OE, onto Road SMART III's again. Can't praise them enough.
As already posted tyres are a very emotive, subject. It's very much a try it & see sort of thing, but can be expensive if you make the wrong choice.
Posted By: sardineone

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 04:14 PM

Quote
Pretty good but cupped a lot on the front.


In 47,000 miles of riding my BMW the PR4 is the only front tire that I have had a cupping issue even using PR2 & PR3 tires.
Posted By: T-88

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 04:36 PM

Andy,

Allow me to digress slightly from your tire question.

Is your Michelin PR4-equipped RT a new-to-you bike? What bike did ride before the RT?

The reason why I ask is some of the handling characteristics MAY be attributable to the relatively faster handling characteristics of the currennt generation of RTs compared to the previous generation.

I had the opportunity to swap bikes with a buddy with a camhead RT and noticed the last gen bike had slightly slower and heavier steering compared to the lighter, quicker steering of my '14 RT. On the long, straight roads we have in Alberta, I actually preferred the better straight line stability of the last gen RT over my current gen. Of course, when we get to the twisties, the current gen's faster steering is preferred.

Returning to your original Michelin PR4 question, my '14 RT came with Michelin PR4 GTs, and I liked them a lot. I did not notice over sensitivity to painted lines or following grooves, and I really liked their wet weather performance.

At 28,000 km, I switched over to Dunlop Roadsmart 3s, and immediately noticed they felt 'different' than the PR4s. The superb straight line stability the PR4s exhibited that I loved was lost. The Roadsmart 3s are 'quicker', faster handling, so much so I returned to the shop the next day complaining they felt 'twitchy'. I have gotten used to the Dunlops' different feel and am now ok with them.

Other questions to help your diagnosis: Did you buy the bike new? How many mikes/km on the bike? Has it ever been crashed?

Final note: There are 4 current gen RTs in my riding group. All are higher mileage riders averaging some 20,000 km per year. All have used PR4 GTs.
None have experienced the characteristics you have listed.

Good luck.

Tim
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 06:20 PM

Hi Tim.
I have an 1150RT which I also use regularly. I have clocked over 126000 miles on it. It handles delightfully. I
I will soon be taking out a few more Wetheads to see how they handle on similar road surfaces that I am having issues with, so I shall feed back more then.
The Wethead may well have a quicker steering geometry, but It shouldn't be displaying this behavior.
Feel free to keep the comments coming.
Posted By: Skywagon

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/18/17 06:54 PM

As Terry said the Continental's that came new were down right dangerous. They wandered all over the road and slid a lot. I'm on my second set of PR4 GT's. I have no issues with them at all. Andy you have the stiffer GT's or just regular PR4's. Supposedly the PR5's are coming out soon. When my PR 4 GT's wear out I would definitely buy them again.....or the PR 5's when they are available. As far as DR's question about how hard do you ride...I don't ride consistently hard, but do tend to drive above the 85mph speed limit here in Texas. When I do ride hard they are more tire than I am rider. The continentals that came on it were sliding out like my old Bultaco on a dirt track. There must be something about the combination of your roads and the tire. I seriously doubt it's your bike.
Posted By: RTinNC

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/19/17 02:15 AM

Wow .... reading this I am very happy I switched to Roadsmarts in the fall! Only have about 500 miles on them but am expecting good things.
Posted By: roger 04 rt

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/25/17 06:25 PM

Andy, Here’s my first impression of stability: http://bmwsporttouring.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1002726#Post1002726.
Posted By: BigTup

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 12/27/17 03:44 AM

This discussion is filled with the unknowns of each riders point of reference. Is it the tires, the quick handling of the bike, your riding style, or how sensitive you are to the dynamics of riding? Anyway, my 2016RT came with Metzler Z8's. I felt glued to the ground, but they were noisy, so I bought Pirelli Angle Gt's. At first I felt a very big difference, they were 'lighter on their feet', and I missed the feeling of the Metzlers, but they were quiet. Now I don't really notice the difference, I just ride, I'm used to them. Now that I think about it, I do miss the Metzlers, but, see, the noise factor comes into play...
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/02/18 10:16 AM

Well, my front tyre pressure is up to 40 psi and it feels a little better, but the bike still does not like road imperfections.
I have ESA on the bike and would love to be able to fiddle with the damping on the 'soft' end of the scale. The damping (imho) is way too firm in soft mode. I like considerably more 'supple' damping when gently pootling around on our pitted and pot holed country lanes.
Posted By: Paul De

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/02/18 01:08 PM

I think rebound damping on the soft setting is under damped, particularly with anything more than just the rider on board. I am beginning to think that the lack of a supple ride is that compression damping is too firm . If the feature is part of the ESA shocks I would like to see BMW reduce the high speed (bump) compression damping. With no way to address the issue on the OEM shocks, it comes down to a big gulp and spend the cash on Wilburs, or ?

I had contemplated getting a wethead with standard shocks and using the saved cash to put on third party premium shocks. But virtually none of these exist at the dealers and I didn't want to have a base model with no extras just to get the standard shocks.
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/02/18 02:45 PM

Yep, that is what I am saying. The ride is FAR from compliant. As a result the handling suffers because if the road surface is poor, the bike does not soak the bumps up, instead the bike moves sideways. Not good.
Posted By: roger 04 rt

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/02/18 03:38 PM

Originally Posted by AndyS
Well, my front tyre pressure is up to 40 psi and it feels a little better, but the bike still does not like road imperfections.
I have ESA on the bike and would love to be able to fiddle with the damping on the 'soft' end of the scale. The damping (imho) is way too firm in soft mode. I like considerably more 'supple' damping when gently pootling around on our pitted and pot holed country lanes.


Andy, When you say it doesn’t like road imperfections and I think you mentioned paint lines too in the first post, what happens?
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/02/18 05:45 PM

Hi Roger.
So, a couple of different things. Let's talk about the damping issue first. I hear folk raving about the suspension on these new bikes, but I have now ridden a few of them (2014 onward) and really can't agree that it is anywhere near as good as it could be. If the road surface is rippled, or rough, the bike does not dampen those irregularities out fast enough to make for the super smooth ride I am used to on my 1150. It's not really a problem if the bike is upright as the result is mainly a less than comfortable ride (and when coupled with that excuse for a seat it is even worse). Although my suspicion is that if you had to brake really hard under these conditions the stopping distance would increase a little. It becomes more of an issue if you are laid over (banked) to any degree, because the bike is no longer tracking smoothly with the wheels following the irregularities. The bike kind of 'judders' sideways. I don't want to make this sound worse than it is, but it could be way better.

The second issue is the following of over-banding, white lines, road repair grooves, and road joints. If you encounter these features, the bike will try to follow them, a bit like being stuck in tram lines.
Does this explain it any clearer?
Posted By: Bernie

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/03/18 12:04 AM

Hi Andy, I don't know what air pressure you are using in you front tire, but a higher pressure will give you a harder tire (absorbs less bumps and bounces more), then a softer tire.
Also a over inflated tire will have a pointier profile, which will handle like a knifes edge, instead of having the larger, flatter contact patch of a tire with lower air pressure.
As you know in the past BMW used to recommend a range of air pressures, based on load on the bike. Why the stopped doing that, I am sure a lawyer knows.
But on the 05-13 R1200RT they used to recommend for the same size and brand tire 32-26 PSI cold.
So depending on how heavy you are with all your gear on and how much stuff you carry with you when you ride in your cases and tank bag, I would recommend lowering your air pressures.
It may very well help you with your problem and I don't think the difference in mileage in wear is going to be a big enough factor.
On my 07 RT, my front tires lasted just as long running 32 psi as it did using 36 psi.
Now if you are more on the heavier side of the scale, setting the shocks up for more preload (rider with bags or rider and passenger) will level the bike out and let the shocks work in a proper range.
The shock pistons have to have enough room above and below them to move and let the oil handle the damping.
Also increasing the preload on the rear shock adds more weight to the front tire, letting it grip the road surface better and possible prevent it from following all the painted stripes.
Posted By: AndyS

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/03/18 09:25 AM

Hi Bernie, thanks for the input, but you may also have seen my comments on roger 04rt's thread, where we are discussing handling issues. So, for the time being I am playing with tyre pressures to overcome issues of the bike tracking badly along white lines, road cracks, road surface repairs and joins. I have not dropped the pressures below 36 in the front, but I may briefly give it a go to see if it changes things. As with most bikes it is worse when the tyres are cold (as in just starting off for a ride), but improve somewhat as they warm up.
Posted By: roger 04 rt

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/03/18 08:12 PM

Originally Posted by AndyS
Hi Roger.
So, a couple of different things. Let's talk about the damping issue first. I hear folk raving about the suspension on these new bikes, but I have now ridden a few of them (2014 onward) and really can't agree that it is anywhere near as good as it could be. If the road surface is rippled, or rough, the bike does not dampen those irregularities out fast enough to make for the super smooth ride I am used to on my 1150. It's not really a problem if the bike is upright as the result is mainly a less than comfortable ride (and when coupled with that excuse for a seat it is even worse). Although my suspicion is that if you had to brake really hard under these conditions the stopping distance would increase a little. It becomes more of an issue if you are laid over (banked) to any degree, because the bike is no longer tracking smoothly with the wheels following the irregularities. The bike kind of 'judders' sideways. I don't want to make this sound worse than it is, but it could be way better.

The second issue is the following of over-banding, white lines, road repair grooves, and road joints. If you encounter these features, the bike will try to follow them, a bit like being stuck in tram lines.
Does this explain it any clearer?


Hi Andy, Yes, that’s much clearer. Thanks.
Posted By: Red

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/05/18 07:30 AM

Ear plugs. That way you get good handling and no noise!
Posted By: Lucky Dave

Re: Wethead - sensitivity to tyres - 01/05/18 06:53 PM

I don't think RTs are that sensitive to tires, but they're VERY sensitive to inflation pressures. I run mine at 37/43. The front is especially important, at 37 it steers wonderfully, at 36 it's OK-ish and at 35 it steers like it has a flat tire.
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