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Discussion Starter #1
I want to do the Tail of the Dragon this June or July and I'm wondering whether to replace my stock tires now, even though they've got plenty of tread left, or just use the stock ones for the trip. I've got about 5,800 miles on them now with just a hint of a flat spot on the rear from all the commuting. Looks like the rear could go to 8-9,000 miles easy, even longer for the front.
I like twisties but I'm not one to push it right to the limit; I don't feel like throwing away my investment and being stranded and/or injured far from home. Just looking for a little fun. But I did plan on getting a set of Pirelli Sport Demons once the original tires wore out. Opinions? (Especially from anyone who's done that ride.)
 

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Make sure the tires are in good condition. Flat spots make for heavier turning. Because it happens gradually you adjust to it but when you then get a new set of tires there's a whole new instant nimbleness that appears.

Being a newer rider and going to one of the intense twisties areas of all time, just remember one thing. DO NOT ride too aggressively. Enter every corner at a speed you KNOW is OK and once settled in the bend, smoothly start to apply throttle, as you are comfortable with, to accellerate on through to the exit.

More important than your tires at this point is to look DEEP through the corner, and to look in before to turn in. You ABSOLUTELY go where you look. It's hard to turn in with any accuracy if you don't know where your turn in is supposed to take you. Practice this around home. You'll see that it works and is NOT optional.

At least upper body leaned to the inside of the corner helps too. Leaned forward such that your forearms are AT LEAST level with the horizon, balls of the feet up on the pegs and loaded (not heels hooked) carrying some of your weight so you're NOT leaning on the bars, then seek a position with your upper body leaned to the inside that allows you to be totally light on the bars, such that you could virtually let go of them and the bike would continue on that cornering line. That's another cornering BIGGIE! 8)

Good luck, keep your cool, stay in your comfort zone, and you won't have to become one of that road's statistics. It will be FUN! :)
 

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I made my first trip to Deals Gap last summer on my CBR 1100xx and I was great. I am going back in June and I am taking my Ninja since it weighs about 150lbs less ;D. I still have the stock tires on too but I think they will do just fine. Just ride a comfortable speed for you and dont get let yourself get pushed by faster riders behind you. Find a place safe to let them pass you. I was about the slowest one there and I still had the time of my life.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the input. Funny thing, I heard about Deals Gap from my brother after he drove through there on vacation- he came upon it accidentally, and went through after dark, in his Suburban! He said after the first couple hundred turns it wasn't so much fun anymore!!!
 
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If you're coming to TN via I-75 there is a place you can stop and try Dragon-like conditions before you get there. "Dragon-like" in there are tight twists but lots of breathing space between sets of curves, good for getting used to the conditions you'll be handling at the Gap. Stop at exit 122 in Tennessee, highway 61. Ride Hwy 61 towards Big Ridge State Park, you'll enter curvy parts before and after the park. Continue until you get to Hwy 33, turn around and head back. There, you've experienced everything you'll see on the Dragon just not as many or as closely grouped! Exit 122 is about 1 1/2 hour's drive from the Dragon BTW. PM me and I'll ride it with you, I live nearby.
 

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I have stock tires on my 2003 Ex-500 and went to Deal's Gap 3 weeks ago. The bike and tires did great, however, I will not ride the "Dragon" on the weekend again. (too many crazy riders out there trying to prove themselves) This is my 7th trip (first on the ninja) and loved the bike's performance.
Take it easy and ride at your own pace! Focus on the road and do not be distracted by those who are riding recklessly.
 

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Guys do the Gap on Gold Wings. A stock tired EX is a bit more nimble than that...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ha! You are so right, have you seen any of Killboy's pics? Some pretty crazy stuff ridin' through there.
 

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If your tires are a concern (beyond the normal tire considerations), then you're pushing it too hard. Deal's Gap is a public road, with a posted speed limit of 35mph (or less? It seems it's different every time I go there.). The amount of traffic is high (especially on the weekends), and you never know if you're coming around a corner into a car way over the line, a bike leaned far over, a wide boat/trailer, or even a semi (which can closeline the entire road in many of the turns).

If you really want to ride that hard, take it to the track. If you want to ride responsibly (yes, aggressively) on a fun stretch of road, then stock tires and brakes are perfectly fine.

If you really want to enjoy the trip down, break out a map and find some other roads. Getting away from the traffic will be worth it. Just don't speed too much in the national parks or on the Blue Ridge Parkway - the park police don't like it, and the ticket's a lot more annoying to fight than if the highway/country cops catch you...
 

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RedEX said:
Ha! You are so right, have you seen any of Killboy's pics? Some pretty crazy stuff ridin' through there.
Yeah, and a lot of riders making a really bad name for the whole community. Passing cars on blind curves, cutting corners, leaning far into the other lane. It's gotten bad enough that I don't even bother going on the dragon itself anymore - except in early morning or at night - unless I need to get over to Knoxville. There are hundreds of miles of fun roads in the area that are not so damn crowded.
 

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I hate to wake up a 3 week old thread, but here goes. I've seen this happen on EX250 forums, EX500 forums, GS500 and GT250 forums, etc., and I have to get this off my chest.
[rant]
It starts with people that actually race the bike, on a track. (Wolf, Fog, etc.) In order to compete with the SVs, I did X to my suspention, and switched to X tires, and it works great.

Then guys like me. I gave up racing 20 years (and 40lbs) ago, but I still do track days, and enjoy a spirited ride on a mountain road. I ride what I ride, because it's more challenging and fun to ride a slow bike fast, than it is to ride a fast bike slow. We try the mods that the above guys did, and report back "you guys were riight about those mods and tires, I can safely push the bike harder than I could before. I recommend it."

Then you get the guys with a few thousand miles, and are quickly improving report the same thing.

Before you know it, you've got kids that are actualy years from being able to legally even ride a street bike, but claim to be older and more experienced, convincing new owners/riders with the "common knowlege" that the bike is unrideable or even unsafe as delivered.

Well, the bike is a fine, balanced package as delivered. Do yourself a favor, and learn to ride it the way it is, before you start "fixing it". When you wear out your tires, by all means, replace them with better ones. Not overnight, but eventually as you progress, you'll find that the better tires have "unbalanced" the package, and you're limited by your suspension. Then your brakes, then your frame, then it starts over with the tires again......
[/rant]

Again, sorry about that, I just had to get it off my chest. RedEx, have fun at the Gap!
 

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Just to correct you, FOG (note the caps, it's an accronym) and Wolf66 offer plenty of knowledge and warnings with it.

Besides, FOG advices for 'round black' tires when he's asked and Wolf rolls on re-threads.

These 2 guys aren't racing anymore.

Glad you got this off your chest, you just happened to point your finger at guys that don't have this attitude ;)
 

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I didn't realize that FOG and Wolf66 had quit racing, but PLEASE don't get me wrong. I'm not pointing fingers. I'm not saying that the racers are saying anything wrong. I'm not saying the trackday guys are saying anything wrong. Or the experienced street riders. All I'm saying is that somehow, the inexperienced that come here (or ninja250.org, or GStwins.com, etc.) looking for the strainght dope on these bikes, are somehow getting the idea that you have to upgrade it to even ride it on the street. No, from the perspective of this old guy, FOG and Wolf66 seem to be the voices of reason around here. I appologize to both of them. I meant to use them as examples of people that actually can ride the bike past it's stock limits, and so would have good reason to modify it. The info then trickles down to people like me, that are grateful for it, because now we have answers, and don't have to go through the time and expence consuming process of trial and error ourselves. This is wonderful. It's what the forum is for. The info then goes to those that really have no business riding the bike at it's limits yet, but the soon will be that good, so they do them too. Then on to those who never will get that good, but think they already are. All I'm saying is that somehow, through no fault of any of the above mentioned people, the bike's perceived flaws eventually get exaggerated to the point where newer riders innocently ask if their new bike is safe to ride at the Gap as delivered. (no offence, RedEX. Sorry I hijacked your thread) It makes me crazy hearing people that haven't even been on a bike yet, bad mouthing Kawasaki for the stock tires and suspension on this bike. I'm ranting again, aren't I. Sorry all.
 

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ah, that's a proper disclamer ;)

I see where you are coming from but rest assured, we have members that have tons of experience and most of us (if not all) try to set peoples right to the best of our common knowledge. Haven't seen much of that attitude you described here but I've seen plenty elsewhere...

Basically get dissed because I ride such a small girly bike. Then peeps ask me if it's a 1000cc bike at the light when they see how great it goes and handles.. As if handling had anything to do with how big the block is.. The kind of attitude you describe is really bad for the sport/image and ultimately the riders but the thing that I find so great about here is that the big majority of peoples here have a levelled head. (at least that's my opinion ;))
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hey Java, Ydant, Frog, et al,
I guess on the face of it that may have sounded like a silly post...thanks for your earnest responses. Part of the deal was that my stockers had a long way to go before replacement (not true now!) and I didn't want to spend $$ unnecessarily- after all part of this bike's overall appeal to me was that it was economical.
Actually I'm not into squidly behavior but nowadays lean toward sport touring. I got all my crashing out of the way back in my 20's when I was single and had no children. I don't even come close to testing the limits of this bike and I doubt I ever will. Here's an example for ya: I was at a buddy's house and he was looking at my footpegs. He said, "What are those things sticking off the bottom of the pegs?" I told him if you leaned way over those were supposedly the first thing to scrape. He looked at them again and said, "Hhmm, these don't have a single mark on them." ;D
Anyway, I may not make it to Deal's Gap after all. However I am aware that speed limits are low (30-35?) there, which appeals more to me anyway. High-speed corners are that much more scary and dangerous (alright so don't rip on me for THAT comment, I can hear it now-"well if it's so scary why are you doing it?" I'M NOT!!!), and I'm not much of a risk-taker. (My brother inherited THAT, many scars to prove it.)
So, sorry I opened a can of worms earlier, but thanks again guys for your comments.
 

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Hey RedEX. The thing about the Dragon is, it's just a road. The three big things to remember up there are;
As long as you ride your own ride, and don't try to keep up with people that are faster than you, you'll have fun.
One corner after another after another, and you start to get a rhythm going, and it sort of "hypnotizes" you into speeding up. Pay attention to what you're doing.
The number one reason for crashing on the dragon is; You see up ahead that your buddies have pulled over to wait for you. You slow and pull off to meet them, and you've got so much adrenaline going, you forget you're now on a gravel shoulder, and lock your brakes. Honest to goodness, that's the number one reason.
If you keep your wits about you, and take it easy, it's just a road. ;D
 
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