Avril and her new shoes

Avril was due for her second service @ 25000kms. She was going to be pampered this time. Fully synethic oil and new filters, she had all the promises of good long drives in the days to come. Raghav ( Ignite Garage) and I took her for a short spin when the first sinker came in. In the first 10 seconds, he knew that Avril’s tires were giving up and told me the same. The odo read 25000 and the tires was supposed to last for another 10k kms at least. However, this was not the case.

The brake shoes needed to be changed as well. They had about 3k worth of life in them and I would be skimming the rotors if I pushed my luck. Semi pampered, Avril and I left the garage feeling bittersweet. December was soon approaching and there were assured road trips and not having good tires or brakes was not much of a good idea.

Fast forward into a quick road trip the next day and the tires and the brakes behaved, until Monday arrived. The first flat tyre. The left rear wheel had given up and driving closeby to the nearest puncture shop, the guy was not able to find a nail or anything sharp that caused the flat. He just said in tamil that the tyre was hurt( damaged). The thought of picking up new tyres was becoming reality now.

Completed 2200 Kms and I was back at Ignite. I had an upcoming road trip and I was not going to zip along the highways with a brake shoe that was living its last leg. New brake pads, bedding done and Avril was ready to go. Raghav and I spoke about the tires again and he was convinced that the tires were shot. I was still skeptical.

It was time to go shopping, and there was no other place other than Deepak’s tyrestore. Deepak is a biker, old friend and a professional when it comes to wheels. We have interacted many times in the past and his word is known to be the last in many cases. I had reached him to check if I should align and balance the tire so to prolong the life of the tire a bit, but after one look, he looked at me and said – waste of time and money. Might as well change the tires and gave me an estimate for the Primacy 3ST and highly recommended them as well.

Damm.. the reality of picking up new tires before my road trip was becoming certain now and it was a choice I had to make If i wanted to have a good peaceful drive and holiday. My aunt was going to be travelling along with me and it was time to make a decision.

Doing a bit of research even after Deepak had recommended the tires, I had then pinged Michelin on Twitter to find their views. I was still a cat on the wall until I went down to my parking lot Wednesday mid afternoon. The left rear tire was flattening again. This was not good at all. All my hopes of the stock “Good Year” tires having any life left in them diminished. My odo had not crossed 26500 kms. This was not good.

It was time to get to action. Michelin replied as well which was very surprising. The brand was listening to their customers and felt good to be connected. Their recommendation was to get the Primacy 3ST as well and as the day progressed, Deepak and I had worked out the schedule and timings.

Avril was going to get pampered! Period. Incidentally Lil Birdie( Thunderbird 350) runs Michelin Sirac. Looks like Michelin is my automobile’s choice of rubber.

Friday morning became friday afternoon, but nonetheless, we were on the ramp getting the new tires fit in. Wheel balancing, nitrogen and tire alignment were all on the house and in about an hour, a new Avril rolled out.

While waiting for the tires to be fit, Deepak took the time to explain the technology adopted by Michelin in their carbon black tires and silica based tires and it was a lot of insight gained. All those technology explained on his desk, I got to experience them on the road.

ST stands for “Silence Tuned” and this was the 3rd generation that was perfect for Avril. Generation 4 was for 18″ wheels, so this was perfect.

From the word Go, the tires are a world of difference. They move free without any rolling resistance, are extremely silent on the roads and you can hear the hum of the diesel as you step on the throttle. Navigating through the city, I could feel the steering wheel light as a feather. Earlier it was hard to turn the wheel, but now it was finger tip effort. I was enjoying and smiling and thanking God that I made the decision to change the tires before my drive.

I had done about 100 kms that day and I could not stop smiling and reached out to Michelin with my thoughts as well.

Next morning, I had to be up pretty early. Empty roads and nice corners had Avril enjoying herself in her new shoes. The tires truly live up to what Michelin had mentioned. I could feel the engine behave better, smoother gear shifts and sharp cornering without any wobble or shake.

In about a few hours, I was soon on the highway. I had 400 kms to explore how the tires would perform. Bad roads and heavy traffic saw us taking it easy till about Mulbagal in Karnataka. Once the 4 lane opened up, it was ready set go ! Avril and the tires were raring to go and the drive felt amazing. I have been on this stretch earlier and have experienced tire noise in the cabin and I’ve had to increase the music to drown the noise. Now, we were able to have a conversation in the car and it felt like we were cruising at 40kmph when in reality we were cruising at 90-100kmph. Again – a huge smile !

Reached Bangalore and again, navigating through tightly packed roads were a total breeze. The ease of being able to turn using minimal effort on the steering was transformational after driving Avril through 26000 kms on those stock tires.

Time was passing by and as the sun rose the next day, it was time to head back to Chennai. This visit was a very quick drive for us, but we did visit quite a few relatives in that short span. In all the happiness, we had a deadline to meet.

My aunt’s train was departing from Katpadi at 5PM, and we were just leaving Bannerghatta road via the nice road ! Google maps showed us about 220 odd kms which we had to cover in about 180 minutes to be able to make the train. The nice road is a brilliant road to test out your engine, tires and get a adrenaline rush and that is exactly what we did.

Avril saw speeds north of 120kmph and it felt beautiful having smooth rubbers that were rolling along effortlessly. While I was still nervous about making the time, I was enjoying every bit of the drive.

Toll gates saw us being delayed by a few minutes here and there, but other than that, we were able to keep a constant 120kmph all through the way. The tires very smooth, extremely responsive to braking and quick to react. Avril is a heavy car at about 1.3 tons, but these tires never showed that weight. I did feel them on the earlier stock tires though.

Reached Katpadi at 445PM, 15 minutes before the arrival time and both my aunt and I had smiles of relief, happiness and broke out in laughter as we thanked God for the safe journey mercies.

I would recommend Michelin anyday and if you feel the cost is premium, it is worth investing in technology when you hear and know what goes into your tires from the right people. On hindsight, if I had decided to get my tires from any other Michelin dealer, I doubt if they would have taken the time or effort to share insights into the tire compound, its material strength and what makes the tires special.

I have many more miles on these new tires and I look forward to many more adventures and road trips.

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