Friday, 1 July 2011
Tyred and tested
Anyway, on to happier stuff. The lovely F1 Montjuichs in the picture have been recently restored to as-new, but with one sad failing: the tyres. The whole Paso/F1 16" tyre debacle staggers on, with the original sizes unobtainable unless you fancy paying £300-odd for a second-hand tyre that's probably sat outside on a bike, even though sellers always claim they've been in lightproof black plastic in a dry attic since new. Amazing foresight,some people. Or nerve...
The problem started with Pirelli giving up production of the sizes in question fairly early on (and it seems their tyres were never homologated in Germany) leaving Michelin as the sole manufacturer of tyres that would fit the Paso and F1. When both bikes bombed (barely 4,000 Pasos were made, some taking five years to sell, and only 2,500 F1s were sold plus maybe 1,300 of the 350/400cc variants) that left a fairly niche market. I'm told a tyre manufacturer won't do a run at less than a 1,000 tyres (unless you're prepared to pay silly money): so let's say (optimistically) half the bikes are used regularly enough to need new tyres every three years, and that half those people haven't discovered one of the many tricks that let's you go for alternatives - that still amounts to one tyre run every three years. But none have been made in over a decade...
I've been told the homologation certificate expired in Germany and it wasn't economical to rehomologate the tyre. Of course in these litigious times Michelin know you can't just sell in one country and claim they won't find their way into another. Occasionally NOS comes up but they can be 20 years old - the dating code's in Benzina #1. There are some bodges that allow slightly different tyres to fit (spacing sprockets out, or cutting swing-arms (eek)) but these are trickier on the 750 than the 906: which is why I bought a 906.
But Avon have now made some tyres that will fit without mods and the Germans have homologated them for the Paso (and by implication
the F1 series): interestingly, apart from the Michelin's these are the ONLY other tyres approved. They're the Azaro AV45ST (front) and AV46ST (rear) 130/70ZR16 and 150/80ZR16, and easy to source in the UK at about £220 a pair - they're intended for less sporty bikes so need a lot of warming up (faster riders tell me!) but at least those of us lucky enough to own a Paso can get back to mile munching in comfort without having to worry about wearing out tyres.