Moto Guzzi V11 Ballabio

Tires for Moto Guzzi California

I made it past 10,800 miles on the original Metzeler Lasertec tires that came on Moto Guzzi California Vintage .  The center tread has worn thin, so new tires are the topic of discussion.  I’m considering which new motorcycle tires to try next, and where to get them.

Because it is now a 2 hour ride to my nearest Moto Guzzi dealer, I am not too sure about riding all the way out there just for tires.

Metzeler has long been one of my favorite brands of motorcycle tires. That all started when I rode dirt bikes as a teen.  The Guzzi factory equipped Lasertec tires have been very good overall in my opinion.  I don’t really ride hard, I don’t do “track days”, and I admit that I don’t attack twisty roads like some guys I know.

  The great majority of my riding is simply commuting to work.  At the end of the day, these Metzeler Lasertecs have suited me very well, with only a few minor complaints.

One minor complaint about the Metzeler Lasertec comes from when my California Vintage was still relatively new.  The front tire would grab very hard onto any minor deviation on the road surface.  Motorcycles do this anyway, but mine did it so strongly that it was hard to fight against.  Since the front center tread has worn down, it no longer seems to grab and follow cracks as aggressively as it used to.  I can easily counter that action, whereas before I had a difficult time countering it.

  Could just be me, but maybe the straight center groove on the Lasertec front tire design contributes to this effect.

Not so much a complaint as it is an observation is that my Lasertec rear tire has some wear that seems odd to me.  The tread towards the sides (the so-called chicken strips) has a saw-tooth wear pattern to it.  The saw tooth wear pattern runs front to back between the side tread blocks. The leading edges of the tread blocks have worn lower than the trailing edges.

  I’m vigilant about maintaining tire pressures (32 psi front / 42 psi rear), so I don’t think this was caused by low pressure.  If anyone knows what caused this wear (or if it is considered “normal”), please leave a comment at the end of this article.

The Bridgestone BT-45V tire has generated some buzz among Guzzi enthusiasts.  This tire seems very comparable to the Lasertec, but some believe the Bridgestones have a better ride and more grip.  Remember how your new sneakers made you feel like you could run faster when you were little?  I’m sure the same effect happens when you give your motorcycle new pair of “sneakers” too, and why shouldn’t they?

  I was unable to find any Moto Guzzi motorcycles in their guide online which is mostly Japanese.

The Moto Guzzi California Vintage has spoked wheels that require tubes.  The tire sizes are 110/90 18 front and 140/80 17 rear .  Bridgestone BT45V tires are available in those sizes at similar or lower prices than the Metzeler Lasertec tires.  Users of the BT45V are saying they get a pretty similar life out of them too.  So, this all sounds pretty good so far to me for giving these a try next.

  Obviously, I don’t need V-rated high speed tires on my Vintage, but that’s ok since the price is still ok.  Bridgestone doesn’t offer the H-rated BT45 in the size needed.

I checked the 2011 Michelin motorcycle tires fitment guide to see what they offer.  They list several models of Moto Guzzi motorcycles, but the only California they list is the 1985-1986 V65 California.   Michelin has tires listed for the v7, Bellagio, Breva, Centauro, Norge, Stelvio, Griso, Quota and V11, but none listed for the modern era Moto Guzzi California .  I did find the Michelin Pilot Activ available in 110/90 18 front, but not in 140/80 17 rear.

Pirelli motorcycle tires web site has a “suggested fitment” menu.  So, I typed in Moto Guzzi, selected California Vintage, and the results were “Unfortunatly no tyre available”.  Oh well.

  I also checked the rest of the California series including EV, Stone, Aluminum, 1100i, etc.  and got the same results.

The Metzeler 880 is always a popular choice for a really long lasting tire with a proven reputation.  These are available in sizes to fit the Moto Guzzi California, including the Vintage.  They do cost a little more than some others, but since they last so long and ride decently, then the cost is pretty well justified.

Moto Guzzi V11 Ballabio

  They’re considered a touring tire, not a sport-touring tire, so expect a little harder tread and perhaps not quite the grip that soft compound or dual compound tires typically provide.

Since there are no Moto Guzzi dealers in my area anymore, I’m weighing my options about where to have my Cal Vin tires changed.  I could take it to a non-Guzzi dealer locally, or I suppose I could ride to the nearest Guzzi dealer a few hours away.  Removing the wheels and carrying them in somewhere for the mounting and balancing is something I am also considering doing as a cost-savings measure.

The costs I have seen for mounting new tires on a shaft drive motorcycle are higher than for chain or belt drive bikes.  Quotes I have for a full service tire change (ride in on old tires and ride out on new) are close to $400 by the time I get done with tax and everything.  That is the same as it costs to have a new set of tires mounted and balanced on my car.

  As Murphy’s law dictates, my car is also due for new tires now. Ouch.

I’m a low-budget rider with a young family. These new tires will be a significant expense for us.  Several online stores offer really good prices for motorcycle tires, but so far, I have found that Motorcycle Superstore is about the best for cost, customer service, and free shipping.

  So, ordering my new tires online is what I will probably do, but stay tuned and I’ll share what I did.

By the way, which brand and model of tires do you have on your Moto Guzzi California?  Would you get the same ones again next time?

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotoGuzziCalifornia.Com. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding and maintaining his Moto Guzzi California Vintage.

John participates in local charity rides and also serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for one of the largest annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

Moto Guzzi V11 Ballabio
Moto Guzzi V11 Ballabio

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