Bye Bye Azaros!
The Avon Azaros have now been removed from the ST3 and as of yesterday I’m sporting some new Continental Road Attacks, which means it’s time to review the Azaros that I’ve been riding on since end of August of 2006.
The tires lasted 10,300 miles and actually they still “look” like they have some life left in them. Unfortunately as good as they look, they stopped “feeling” good a long time ago but I wasn’t going to get rid of tires prematurely and waste money so I’ve been riding on them until the tread wear indicator showed that they were done. Well that didn’t happen yet but I have a long trip coming up so I need to get new rubber mounted on the ST3.
A small crack and bulge in the front
What I’ve done in the past with tires was just replace the back tire and the second time around get a new back and front. I was thinking this time around to get to get a new Avon Storm for the back since the Storm replaced the Azaro. But on the last three rides I’ve been experiencing some minor front wheel wobble and some shaking of the handlebars, mostly at speeds over 50MPH.
I checked the tire, but couldn't really see anything wrong with it. When the day arrived to place the order for a new tire, I ended up getting a new set, front and back.
Once the wheels were removed I inspected the front tire again and there was a crack in the rubber, and if you ran your finger across it, there was definitely a bulge in the rubber at the same location.
New Road Attack rear tire on the left, old Azaro rear tire on the right
New Road Attack front tire on the left, old Azaro front tire on the right with the crack and bulge circled
And of course, there is no shaking or wobble now that I’m running the new Road Attack tires, so that’s what it was.
My Azaro experience
Last year, same time, I had removed the tires the ST3 came with and had the Azaros mounted. Then I packed up the bike and took off for a 10 day - 4,000 mile ride out west.
I have to admit it was a weird feeling first time riding on the Azaros. I pulled out of the garage the first day of my trip, the bike all loaded up and heavy and I was experiencing the slow-speed front wheel wobble of a new Azaro tire that some people claim to experience. It only lasted for the first 200 miles or so and knowing what it was since I read about it, it wasn’t a big deal.
I fell in love with the tires instantly. First, I’m short and the Azaros made the bike sit lower. Second, they gripped really well too and I rode them hard though some parts of Utah and Colorado (I love the roads out there). On day 8 of the trip I had noticed some minor “cheese grating” on the rubber. I’ve only seen that before on my tires after I’ve done a track day, and on sport tires, not touring tires. And finally, the Azaros also handled very well in the rain, and we had a lot of rain to ride though towards the end of the trip and many twisty roads were ridden in a downpour.
After those first 4,500 - 5,000 miles of riding unfortunately the tires never felt as good as when they were new, they deteriorated very quickly. They were still OK on dry pavement for the reminder of the rides but slid around a bit on wet pavement and I just never had too much confidence with them.
Seemed like they were a really great tire in the beginning and they lasted a long time, but they lost their grippiness after only 5,000 miles, kind of disappointing.
I’d like to try the Avon Storms one day, but I’ll wait until the tire has been around for a while.