While not specifically covered in my review of the Triumph Speedmaster, the bike came with some pretty sweet options for an “entry level” motorcycle. I’m a big fan of the adjustable levers, 90 degree hard valve stems, and the bulletproof stock Metzeler tires. If nothing else, Triumph got it right when they mounted the Metzeler Marathon ME 880’s on their new cruiser lines; 25,000 miles later, I can’t see myself buying anything else.
Prior to my trip to The Dragon last year, I was concerned I was going to be due for a new rear tire. I went ahead and and changed the tire early, just in case I found fowl weather on the trip down. At 18,000 miles, the tire still has some significant meat left on it, but after weathering the punishing rain we dealt with on the trip, I was glad I made the switch. Metzeler now offers the new ME 888 Ultra Marathon tire, so I upgraded the rear to an (advertised) even longer distance tire.
This week, the front finally reached the wear marks, with help from some good friends, we spooned off the ME 880 champion at just over 25k. This was an awesome lesson in “do-it-yourself” motorcycle maintenance. Anyone convinced that they’ll save money riding vs. driving has probably not done the math regarding motorcycle service costs. Can you save money? Sure you can, but I doubt the average American has the dedication it takes to ride year-round, in all weather, and the mechanical inclination to do services at home in order to shave pennies off just driving a car. While I am aspiring to reach that level, I’m not going to kid myself, good tires are easily going to run you $15o apiece, and that’s not even mounted and balanced. I know guys that are probably shelling out about $350-500 a year installing new tires alone, suddenly putting new shoes on the Chevy seems reasonable.
Soap box aside, it was actually really fulfilling spooning on my own tires; well, helping anyway. With the right tools, the job was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. I emphasis “the right tools” because that means everything; fortunately my buddy Chuck has made the investment in the right tools. This lesson was two fold for me; one, I want to do as much as my own maintenance as possible; and two, I have aspirations of off road adventures to far off lands, changing a tire is pretty much a given, better to have those skills now. While we certainly weren’t spooning on the tire the old fashioned way, the concept is the same, just involves more muscle and more finesse.
Lastly I want to close with a selfish plug for Metzeler. While I could probably have bought cheaper tires, the Marathon ME 880s have been dauntless, so I couldn’t see myself buying anything other than the new ME 888. The Speedmaster weighs 550 pounds in running order, and has taken me around town and as far as North Carolina, through every road condition short of snow (there may have been a few off road adventures as well). When I changed the rear at 18k people were impressed with the mileage, even for a cruiser. When I tell them that I’m changing the front at 25k, they’re speechless. One would think that for a tire that hard I would have grip issues; not the case. I rode to the Dragon last year after a 7 hour commute through the worst rain I’ve experienced, even in a car; never had a grip issue. While no longer raining the Tail of the Dragon itself was still soaked when I crossed, still no complaints about handling. For me, the Metzeler Marathons are the pinnacle of cruiser tires, I can’t say enough about how great they are. If I ever manage to get my hands on the Tiger I’m craving so badly, I’m looking to mount a set of Metzeler Karoo 3s to see how they fair.