Perhaps I spoke too soon about being ready for the winter onslaught – things have not gone to plan recently. First of all the weather changed from the mild and wet pre-Christmas climate to a much colder, icier outlook and then, on a Friday evening ride home from work, I picked up a screw in the rear tyre.
I didn’t actually notice when I ran over the large piece of metal but just two miles from home the bike started handling oddly so I stopped to check it over. Even in the pitch-black of a January evening the guilty piece of metal was glinting at me. I limped home and watched the bike slowly empty the air out of its rear Michelin.
It was no problem, I thought, as I hunted around my garage for the emergency kit to plug the hole and let me gently ride the 30 miles to work so the tyre could be changed on Monday. Except I couldn’t find the repair kit so the bike had to be recovered to work in the back of a van for our tyre fitter to sort out.
The idea had been to replace the excellent Michelin Pilot Road 4s with a set of Metzeler’s brand-new Roadtec 01s. We had the front Roadtec 01, but there were no rears in the country so the plan had to be revised. The solution was for the Tracer to go onto Metzeler’s current Roadtec Z8 rubber while waiting for the rear Roadtec 01.
The new model has been around for a few years now, but the Z8s are still very good and suit the Tracer well. They have so far not seen a single dry mile so it’s just as well they are reassuring in the wet. So the Tracer is back on the road and it’s been lashing down ever since but I still enjoy riding the bike so much I have barely noticed the gruesome weather.
Fighting off corrosion
Winter commuting is fine by me, but there is one significant drawback – road salt. It’s something I’m tackling with a relatively new anti-corrosion product that aims to take on established rivals like ACF50, Scottoiler FS365 and sDoc100. It’s called XCP Rust Blocker and after a complete clean of the bike I applied it over the Christmas break. It leaves a little residue (yellowish/brown in colour) when applied too thickly but is easy to apply from the spray can.
The XCP residue is a lot tackier than ACF50, and it appears the grit and grime of winter does stick a little more than I am used to with ACF50. The anti-corrosion properties, however, seem to be first-rate and everything I’ve coated remains in excellent condition, but I have yet to try and wash the bike properly to see how it cleans up afterwards.
The Tracer continues to weather well and perform admirably in all conditions.