Yamaha XJR owners’ club founder puts Avon Tyres to the test

MOT tester and founder member of the Yamaha XJR owners club Martin Lynn, 58, has tried out a pair of Avon Storm 3D X-M tyres for the first time and put them to the test on his recent trip to Croatia for the XJR Eurofest.
The verdict? “I, for certain, won’t buy anything else now,” said Martin.

This is Martin’s first-hand experience, from a meeting with one of our representatives at the Stafford Show to the end of his Croatian adventure:
“A chance meeting with Gary Bretherton of Avon Tyres at the Stafford Show changed my tyre preference for good.Having been a die-hard Bridgestone user for many years and, before that, Michelins in the days of MAC90’s and MAC100’s, change doesn’t come easy.
Until about six years ago, I used to average 25,000 – 30,000 miles a year; now it is a more modest 12,000 – 15,000. A Yamaha XJR being my weapon of choice since the year 2000, at a rough calculation, it works out at over 250,000 miles in the last 14 years (not on the same bike I might add).

Being used to 4,500 – 5,000 miles on a set of MAC90/100’s, I was like a dog with two tails running Bridgestones and getting 9,000 miles out of a rear tyre. I therefore took a bit of convincing over the claims made for the Avon Storm 3D X-M.
As I was due for a set of new tyres for a planned trip to Croatia for the XJR Eurofest earlier this year, I was in two minds as to whether to stick with what I knew – BT023’s - or take a chance and set off on a set of 3D X-Ms. The statement from Gary was: “You won’t buy anything else once you have tried the Avons.” That made my mind up, as I was eager to prove him wrong.
With the tyres fitted, I set off for Dover in just about the worst weather conditions for brand new tyres – RAIN, and lots of it! Opting for the most direct route from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, it was a motorway dash to Dover where, after an overnight stop and a short ferry crossing, I met up with some of the XJROC (Yamaha XJR Owners Club) members in Calais for the trip to Biograd, Croatia.

I have learnt (after many trips to mainland Europe) that not planning a route, but having just a destination and a general direction is a lot less stressful, especially when you are leading a group of six riders. So I set off from Calais on an overcast Thursday morning with the others in tow on what, for them, was a magical mystery tour.
First stop was Le Tommy Café in Pozieres which is, as far as I know, the only place in France where you can get a proper bacon sarnie and a cup of tea. Next stop was the old race circuit at Reims for a leg stretch and a wheel balance check – down the straight, past the grandstand and pits. Up to this point, there had not been an opportunity to see what the Avons would be like when pushed. The 275 miles from Yorkshire to Dover via M1, M25 & M20 in heavy rain were trouble-free and even standing water didn’t affect the 3D X-Ms in the slightest. The dry roads to Reims allowed me to scrub them in, ready for the journey ahead.

After an overnight stop in Bar-le-Duc, Friday saw us head off for Grenoble at the foot of the French Alps. The ride took us via the D436 and D991. We ended the day at a XJROC member’s house for a BBQ and a few beers, before bed and an early start on the N85 Route Napoleon. The world and his wife head for the N85. I had used it many times before with 023s, so this was showdown time for the Avons.
Saturday morning, I briefed my group to stay on the N85 regardless, as I was off for a ‘play’ and would pick a nice spot for coffee and regroup. Now, the XJR 1300 is a bit heavy at 230kg dry. Add a tank of fuel, 20k of luggage and 100kg of rider (me!) that’s around 370kg – which isn’t exactly R1 Crutch Rocket territory but more your Sporting Scania area. Ten miles or so to warm up and get a feel of how the tyres behaved, then let the fun begin.

First impression was that the front needed a bit more effort on the turn in, but stayed planted at all times. The rear felt like it moved about a bit under hard acceleration out of corners, I think due to the slightly softer sidewall and deeper tread pattern than that on the Bridgestone 023s. The Avons began to inspire confidence, no matter how hard they were pushed; things were looking good so far.

Sunday after an overnight stop in Cuneo, Italy, meant a day riding on Italian motorways to make up for lost time, as we were scheduled to arrive in Croatia the next day. By this time, the temperatures were 36°C and the prospect of 400 miles of motorway was not appealing, but had to be done. Seven hours and 410 miles later, we arrived in Pesek on the Slovenian border, for food, a few beers and bed.

On Monday morning, I checked the tyres, fearing the inevitable squaring off after a day on motorways. There was not even the slightest trace, even though the tyres had been hot and sticky when we had pulled in. I was beginning to like these Storm 3D X-Ms a lot.

We left Pesek on the E61 and entered Slovenia, then onto the D8 and E65, which hugs the Adriatic all the way down to our destination, Biograd. Those 194 miles were some of the most enjoyable I have ever done. Stunning views - I’m convinced the person who built that road must surely have been a biker.

By now, confidence was at an all-time high and going into some of the right-handers, trailing a bit of rear brake, I was at times at such an angle of lean that the road was pushing my boot up off the brake pedal. Still the Avons stayed planted.

We arrived in Biograd six hours and nearly 200 miles later. There, we met up with 160 XJR owners and 140 XJR bikes from eight different countries. It was a great week, catching up with old friends and attending the odd party or two.

The journey home took in Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France, before crossing the channel and the long slog back up to Meltham in West Yorkshire. Door-to-door, the trip comprised a total of 3,424 miles in 13 days.

To date, the Avon 3D X-Ms have covered 5,486 miles in 10 weeks and still show no signs of squaring off. The Bridgestone 023s I used to favour would be half way to the end of their life by now, but the Avon 3D X-Ms still have over 6mm of tread left on the rear tyre.

This is just my real-world account of Avon’s new tyre for sports tourers. For those of you who like to read the technical stuff, here’s what Avon has to say about the tyres:

Storm 3D X-M

* High performance plus extended mileage
* The X-M version will deliver 15%-20% extra mileage
   compared to the Storm 2 Ultra
* Interlocking three dimensional points hidden in the
   sipes to improve stability and grip, limit tread flex and
   allow the tyre to warm up quickly (3D Sipes)
* High performance single and multi-compound super
    rich silica tread enhances wet grip (SRS)
* Superb handling and stability characteristics
* Tri-compound Extrusion (TE) on rear tyres
* Covered by Road Hazard Warranty (only available in
    UK and North America)

I have another bike, also an XJR and that too will be getting a new pair of Storm 3D X-Ms next. The man from Avon tyres was right. At roughly £210 a pair and with an impressive wet/dry/mileage performance, I for certain won’t buy anything else now. For me, they do exactly what they say on the tin.”