Radial Tires on a Budget

The least expensive way to the best handling modification you can perform on your Max

by Jerry Ferguson - October 2003


 

Kosman's rear wheel modification on a 97 V-Max black stock wheel

(the original center hub portion remains black, the new outer portion is added)

It's universally accepted that the most dramatic handling improvement you can make on your bias-ply shod V-Max is converting to radial tires.  Owner after owner, year after year, rave about the astounding difference in handling after conversion.  Radials offer improved traction and cornering, increased high speed stability, better tracking over highway rain grooves and various road  imperfections, and a wide assortment of modern tires to fit riding styles to mention a few of the benefits.  Historically the transformation to radials has meant big bucks for the V-Max owner, but it doesn't have to...  Late in 2001 Kosman Racing in Northern California, a long time motorcycle racing parts supplier, began offering it's 17" V-Max wheel conversion for about half the cost of purchasing aftermarket wheels.  The wheels were an instant hit with V-Max owners wanting to convert to radial tires and Sandy Kosman's business has been busy keeping up with the demand ever since.  Here is Kosman's description of the conversion:

Wide 17" wheels enhance both the appearance and performance of your V-Max. You send us your wheel, we use the hub and re-machine to fit our rims. V-Max wheels are a true bolt-on solution using stock discs, speedo drive, and final drive gear. New rim is high polish alloy.

How to add radials - The budget route

For $550.00 through Kosman you can convert your rear wheel to a 5.5" X 17" size permitting the use of a 180/55 R17 size radial rear tire.  The stock V-Max front wheel size of 2.15" X 18" will permit the use of a 110/80 R18 radial up front.  Several tire manufacturers make the 110/80 R18 size radial tire for the stock front V-Max wheel which allows the budget-conscience owner to convert only the rear wheel to add radials.  Below are a few of the recommended tire types/sizes for this wheel size combination:

Metzler:

  • Roadtec Z6 - Metzler's new high performance sport touring radial tire

    • 110/80ZR18 Front (stock V-Max front wheel)

    • 180/55ZR17 Rear (Kosman converted 5.5' X 17" rear wheel)

  • MEZ4 - Metzler's classic sport touring radial tire

    • 110/80ZR18 Front (stock V-Max front wheel)

    • 180/55ZR17 Rear (Kosman converted 5.5' X 17" rear wheel)

Avon:

  • Araro ST - Avon's sport-touring radial

    • AV45 100/80 R18 TL (stock V-Max front wheel)

    • AV46 180/55 R17 TL (Kosman converted 5.5' X 17" rear wheel)

Bridgestone:

  • BT020 sport-touring radial

    • 110/80ZR18 (stock V-Max front wheel)

    • 180/55ZRZR17M/C (Kosman converted 5.5' X 17" rear wheel)

NOTE: Checking a few internet motorcycle tire dealers the above tires can be purchased for about $200.00 a set + shipping as of this writing (10/03).

Adding Radials - The next step

If desired, the front wheel can be converted to a 3.5" X 17" size at a later time for an additional $550.00 (US).  Front wheel conversion to 17" permits a wider choice of tires due to the common 120/70 R18 radial front tire size used on most modern sport bikes.  It's certainly not necessary

Kosman's front wheel modification on a 97 V-Max black stock wheel

(the original center hub portion remains black, the new outer portion is added)

 

If your budget allows, both wheels can be converted at once for $1000.00 (US), which saves $100.00 over the individual conversion price.

 


 

Suppliers:

 

Wheel conversions:

Radial tires: