by James Parchman[This Shinko Tour Master 230 Tires review was originally published in the August 2011 issue of Rider magazine]
If you own a motorcycle manufactured in the 21st Century, there’s probably a wide variety of replacement tires for your machine. But for those rides referred to as “classics,” tire selection can be a bit more challenging.
Stock tires for classic motorcycles sometimes appear ancient; lots of straight tread grooves coupled with a small amount of slash/squiggle for rain. Their market availability continues because the manufacturer long ago amortized the cost of tooling, but cannot justify fully re-engineering the tire to 2011 technology due to the declining population of the discontinued motorcycle model it fits. Irritating, for certain, but it makes perfect business sense.
That provides an opportunity for a company willing to gamble, which is the path Shinko Tires seems to be taking. In updating tire designs for classic models, Shinko is finding success in the competitive American motorcycle tire market by collaborating with an experienced distributor, Western Power Sports. Lower prices don’t hurt, either.
Shinko Tires is a Japanese company that began manufacturing bicycle tires in 1946. In 1998 Shinko purchased Yokohama Tire’s motorcycle tire business. Shinko designs and engineers their tires in Japan, but has them manufactured in lower wage countries (e.g. Korea or China). Shinko is no small operator; company data indicates a monthly production of 200,000 motorcycle tires in Korea (mainly export) and an additional 300,000 per month in China.
Shinko’s 230 Tour Master is a 4-ply, belted construction tire available in V and H ratings, and in 17 different sizes. These fit modern and classic motorcycles such as models of the Honda Shadow and VTX, Suzuki Volusia, Yamaha Virago, Kawasaki Vulcan and more. To see how the Shinko deals with torque, we installed a set on a 2001 Yamaha V-Max, a classic motorcycle for which tire selection is a challenge.
The Shinko’s installed easily, and took no excess weight to balance. The street reputation of the Tour Master and most Shinko tires is of a soft compound that provides stickiness but adversely affects tire longevity. Drag racers seem to love a Shinko for this grippy quality. Our experience is similar. After a bit over 1,000 miles on all types of roads and at speeds into triple digits, approximately 87 percent of the original tread depth remains on the front tire and 77 percent on the rear. The motorcycle holds a line without wiggle. The Tour Master’s tread design is more modern than the OEM tire, helpful in the wet and on grooved pavement. The ride quality is also as good as any previous tire, and thus far without noise or whine. The tested set of Tour Master’s have experienced only a minimal amount of air leakage since installation, too. This tire on a normal cruiser should experience a longer life than on the torquey ’Max.
MSRP for Shinko’s 230 Tour Master in Max size (110/90-V18, 1150/90-V15) is $76.95 and $99.95. During a search we found them cheaper, with some dealers offering a special on a full set. Shinko sells more than 60 different models of sport, street, cruiser, dual-sport and scooter tires to the American market. A bargain worth investigating, especially if you own a Classic.
For more information: See your dealer or visit www.shinkotiresusa.com for dealer locator