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Tyres

What are good tyres?

I've read elsewhere the standard factory issue PX tyres are not the best. Should I consider replacing and if so any recommendations to increase safety?

The tyres supplied with scooters are generally the lowest cost to meet the country standards. It does not make good business sense to do otherwise. It is very easy to improve the quality of tyre, either within the same brand or with a different brand. It is recommmended that the front and rear tyre be matched (ref: Motorcycle Tyre Safety Information)

New Vespa PX's come with Michelin S83's, these have poor grip and are only rated to a max speed of 100Km/hr. These tyres can be upgraded to Michelin S1's which provide better grip but are still only rated to 100Km/hr. For higher speed performance, Sava MC18/MC20 (and other tyres) are speed rated to 150Km/hr and are very high quality tyres. There are many tyres that are better performing than standard (and some worse). Below we discuss what to look for in the manufacturers tyre rating specification and how to match that to your riding requirements.

SavaMC18.jpg

Sava MC18 3.5-10 51P TL

MC20 Monsum.jpg

Sava MC20 Monsum 3.50-10 51P TL: originally a wet-weather race tyre

Michelin S1.jpg

Michelin S1:3.50-10 51 J

Tyre Ratings

Manufacturers state how their tyres perform in the tyre rating scale below:

Motorcycle Tyre Speed Ratings
SpeedRating Maximum Test Speed
Letter MPH Km/H
(KPH)
J 62 100
K 68 110
L 74 120
M 81 130
N 87 140
P 94 150
Q 100 160
R 106 170
S 112 180
T 118 190
Load index
LI kg LI kg LI kg LI kg
19 77.5 36 125 53 206 70 335
20 80 37 128 54 212 71 345
21 82.5 38 132 55 218 72 355
22 85 39 136 56 224 73 365
23 87.5 40 140 57 230 74 375
24 90 41 145 58 236 75 387
25 92 42 150 59 243 76 400
26 95 43 155 60 250 77 412
27 97.5 44 160 61 257 78 425
28 100 45 165 62 265 79 437
29 103 46 170 63 272 80 450
30 106 47 175 64 280 81 462
31 109 48 180 65 290 82 475
32 112 49 185 66 300 83 487
33 115 50 190 67 307 84 500
34 118 51 195 68 315 85 510
35 121 52 200 69 325 86 530

tyre_rating.png

What does the tyre speed rating mean?

As the wheel rotates the tyre deflects as it hits the road, grips and releases, this is the thing that causes the most stress. Tyre speed ratings tells us how much stress a tyre can handle. 10 inch wheel has a big disadvantage because the tyre deflects more times per second than a bigger wheel. As an example, a Dunlop K627 15 inch motorcyle tyre is rated to 210km/h whereas the same Dunlop K627 10 inch tyre is only rated to 100km/h. Other things that influence the amount of deflection are how much load weight is on the tyre (more weight = more deflection) and how much air pressure is in the tyre (lower pressure = more deflection).

The letter and number above translate to the maximum speed the tyre can be used at, along with the load on the tyre at the time.  This is a measured result from safety testing and is what the manufacturer (legally?) stands by for a quality measure. So no mater what else they say on their advertising, the tyre rating is a fact you can rely on.

e.g. "J" = Speed category 100 km/hr, "51" = Load index of 195 kg.

A detailed example of the test procedure is found in Australian Design Rule 23/00

A brief summary is that the a "51J" rated tyre has to "last" 20 minutes at 93 km/hr, with correct pressure and a load of greater than 80% of maximum (i.e. ~160Kg). A "51P" rated tyre has to "last" 20 minutes at 143 Km/hr.

"Last" means "After completion of the high speed test specified in Clause 23.3.5 no tyre shall have ‘Tread Separation', 'Ply Separation', 'Cord Separation', 'Belt Separation' or 'Bead Separation', 'Chunking' or 'Broken Cords'."

So the test is for the limit of the tyre before it fails! Riding at higher speed (or with more load or less pressure) than this limit means the tyre may start to fail. So do not treat the rating as a safe operating speed, manufacturers though will probably use slightly lower speed rating to account for variations in their production quality (so all tyres coming out good and bad still meet the spec).

Why you should be careful when considering "J" rated tyres for road use

Many scooterists choose tyres by brand, X brand is better than Y brand. With a tuned scooter or one used for carrying loads/pillions, you need to understand tyre ratings rather than rely on just brand reputation. For example Michelin S1's are considered great tyres as Michelin has a good reputation. However let's look closely at why you should consider the tyre safety rating over brand.

Many "good" tyres are only "J" rated (not just Michelin S1's) with an equally low load index, lets look closely at what this means for the perspective of a Vespa PX rider.

  1. A Vespa weighs in reality 110-125Kg with fuel and stuff in the glovebox
  2. The weight is mostly on the back wheel - about 80Kg
  3. Then add the rider who is also sitting over the back wheel - 80-100Kg (with gear)
  4. That means about 160-180Kg is hanging over the rear tyre

So at 100Km/hr you are riding at the very edge of the manufacturer's tyre limit! That is assuming that you have correct tyre pressure, if you don't you may be riding above the limit! And this assumes that you aren't ever going to carry luggage or a pillion.

Michelin S1's were used in this example, this does not mean the are not good tyres. They are designed for a specific task, this "might" make them the best tyre for racing a light scooter round a short track but the same attributes that make them good for that, make them "bad" for uses they are not designed for.

In short, if the manufacturer is telling you not to use something through their specification, then don't! Buy the right tyres for the right application and make sure you use them at the correct pressure and not overloaded.

Table of Vespa Tyres in order of High Speed/High Load

The following lists tyres in order of best performing tyres down, first by maximum speed and then by load they can carry. Within ranges of tyres there are also sometimes hard and soft variants. Soft are more sticky but wear quicker and harder are more durable.

Maker Model Sizes Rating Max. km/h Max. m/h Max. load
Schwalbe Raceman (HS 541) 3.50-10 59P 150 93 243 kg
Schwalbe Weatherman (HS 540) 3.50-10 59P 150 93 243 kg
Continental Twist Race 3.50-10 59P 150 93 243 kg
Heidenau Sports K61 3.50-10 59P 150 93 243 kg
Sava MC31-S Racer 3.50-10 51P 150 93 195 kg
Sava MC18 3.50-10 51P 150 93 195 kg
Sava MC20 Monsum 3.50-10 51P 150 93 195 kg
Continental Continavigator M+S 3.50-10 59M 130 81 243 kg
Continental Twist "PX/T5"* 130/70-10 59M 130 81 243 kg
Heidenau K 61 200* 120/90-10 66M 130 81 300 kg
SIP Performer 3.50-10 59L 120 74 243 kg
Michelin S1 P200* 130/70-10 62J 100 62 265 kg
Pirelli SL 26 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Continental K 62 WW Whitewall 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Continental K 62 (Zippy 3) 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Continental Continavigator 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
IRO Urban Snow 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Heidenau K 61 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Heidenau K 47 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Heidenau K 38 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Heidenau K 58 3.50-10 59J 100 62 243 kg
Yokohama ? (scootrs supplied) 3.50-10 53j 100 62 206 kg
Pirelli SC 30 3.50-10 51J 100 62 195 kg
Michelin
S1 3.50-10 51J 100 62 195 kg
Sava B14 Whitewall 3.5-10 51J 100 62 195 kg
Insert tyres in order… right click, select row, add...

*Wide tyre kit required to fit to a 10" wheel.

Not included in this table are race tyres (such as the Heidenau Slick) which are classified as NHS (Non Highway Service). See http://www.reifenwerk-heidenau.de/modules/reifenliste/view.php?point=3&rtyp=18&profil=117&pic=81.

heidenau slick.jpg

A race tyre for Vespas: Heidenau Slick 3.50-10 TL NHS

IRO_Snow_tyre.jpg


A snow tyre for Vespas: IRO Urban Snow 3.50-10 59J M+S

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Paul McIntosh,
Mar 25, 2015, 1:14 AM
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Paul McIntosh,
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Paul McIntosh,
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Paul McIntosh,
Mar 25, 2015, 1:14 AM
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Paul McIntosh,
Mar 25, 2015, 1:14 AM
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Paul McIntosh,
Mar 25, 2015, 1:14 AM
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Paul McIntosh,
Mar 25, 2015, 1:14 AM
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Paul McIntosh,
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Paul McIntosh,
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Paul McIntosh,
Mar 25, 2015, 1:14 AM
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