New tyre review: Avon Spirit ST
Avon’s new range-topping sports touring tyre comes with improved all-weather performance, durability...and a new name.
The Spirit ST is an evolution of the current Storm 3D X-M, which will stay in the British firm’s line-up as a budget option. The new rubber comes in a variety of sizes to suit everything from middleweight nakeds, through to retros, sports tourers, superbikes and adventure bikes. Unlike many of Avon’s rivals, who produce a dual ply rear version for heavier touring bikes, the Spirit ST comes in just one version to covers the whole spectrum of machines.
Available in dealers now and costing around £212 a set (for 120/70 x 17, 180/55 x 17), the Spirit ST has a new carcass, front and rear profile and a silca-rich tread with a dual compound rear – soft on the edges for grip, hard in the middle for increased mileage. There’s also a new tread pattern, including ‘3D Sipes’ (small slotted tread cuts) to assist warm-up.
We tested the new Avons on the road on a Yamaha XSR900 and Kawasaki Z1000SX. We also tried them on a Suzuki Bandit 650, fitted with outriggers, on a wet test strip, braking to a stop from 35mph in second gear.
Out on the road the Avons warm-up fast and are reassuringly good to go from the off. They're light-steering and take little effort to get the bike quickly from upright to full lean and back again. All the time you’re banking over you can feel the tyres consistently biting the tarmac.
There’s little drama on the wet test strip. The Spirit STs bring the Suzuki to a halt with very little intervention from the ABS, demonstrating a high level of grip.
Sports touring tyres have come a long way in the past few years and it’s no longer out of the question to use them on track. In fact the Honda Ron Haslam Race School use them (Dunlop Roadsmart III) to great success on their school bikes in all kinds of weather.
To find out how much ultimate grip the new Avons have, we tried them at a hot and sunny Portimao circuit in Portugal on the same Kawasaki and Yamaha, as well as a Suzuki GSX-S750 and Triumph Street Triple 675.
The Spirit ST performs well on the lighter, less powerful bikes on track. As on the road, they warm-up fast, have light steering and the front tyre has particularly impressive grip. But it’s easy to unstick the rear at full lean when you touch the throttle. The grip returns when you lift the bike up and accelerate on the fatter part of the tyre.
On the heavier, more powerful Z1000SX it’s even easier to unstick the rear. The front also locks up under extreme braking and overall the tyres don’t seem to like the extra weight of a bike like this, giving the slightly unsettling feeling of riding on racing wets in the dry. But of course, when would you really subject a sports touring tyres to this kind of abuse on a southern European racetrack?
The new Avon Spirit ST is a credible alternative to the big hitters from Pirelli, Metzeler, Dunlop, Continental, Bridgestone and Michelin. It’s competent on all types of bike and riding on the road and suits smaller, less powerful machines when pushed hard on the road and track.
Check out our forthcoming sports touring tyre comparison test to see how they stack up against the competition.
Available tyre sizes:
Full range of 17”, 18”, 19” fronts and 16”, 17”, 18” rears to fit sports, naked, retro and adventure bikes.
Three benefits of the Avon Spirit ST
- Like all modern sports touring rubber the Avons are a one-tyre-fits-all solution and can be ridden all year round on just about every kind of mid-to larger capacity motorcycle.
- Zero degree steel wires are bunched tightly together in the tyre crown for stability and increased wear. They’re spaced further apart in the tyre shoulder for feel and grip (similar to Metzler’s Interact technology).
- Silica is the thing tyre companies add to their compound mixes for superior wet and cold weather grip. The new Spirit ST is packed with it.
Avon tyre rival - Metzeler Roadtec 01 (£245/pair)
Launched last year, replacing the Metzeler Roadtec Z8, these are the sports touring tyre benchmark. The easy winner of MCN’s 2016 Sports Touring Tyre comparison test the Roadtec 01s have excellent grip, wet or dry, transforms the ride quality of every bike we’ve fitted them to and are long-lasting.