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“Tyres should be black, and only black” . . . well maybe not?

Tomahawk Coloured Tyres review by Jocke Selin

Once in a while, along comes something that we refer to as a paradigm shift. Usually it’s something simple, something that we all thought wasn't “on the menu”, but then someone comes along, with the clarity of a child, and smacks us with this simple solution, a solution that's just “impossible” in our heads, until now.

To me the coloured Tomahawk tyres are one of these paradigm shifts. The strange thing is that we've seen coloured tyres on kids’ pushbikes, on BMX bikes etc, but not on motorbikes or on cars. Why is that? Should a tyre be a “limited” statement; that's not allowed to have colours just because, hold on, they have to be black?
Is there something that says that a tyre can't be part of the bikes overall design? Excuse me, but the rims are, and, in fact, the tyres tread pattern is a design statement. Let's put all those narrow-minded prejudices aside for a moment, let's try to forget those stereotypes and try to tell ourselves that a tyre can, is, and should be part of a motorbikes design.

To me, these tyres are great, they add this one more dimension of annoyance, sorry, personalisation of my motorbike. Usually when thinking of tyres, you're limited to talking about stability, wet/dry grip and wear. These tyres do that too, but the test isn't limited to only technical aspects. These tyres have to be judged on another level to – peoples reactions.

“And in the right corner we have....”

The test bike, in this case, is a Husqvarna SM570R SuperMotard bike. This bike is bright yellow and blue – it's not a bike you'll be able to hide from the crowd by parking it on the side of the car park - no, this is a bike that wants, and needs, to be parked in front of the pub-entrance. It's a statement; just by it's presence.
When we first heard of these coloured tyres we thought, perhaps like you, that it's a completely silly idea. Why would anyone with a blue bike put blue tyres on it? Or a Kawasaki-green Kawasaki, with Kawasaki-green tyres. Isn't that a bit much?

Then our test subject came along, and as many bright (literally) ideas, this one was sparked off as a complete joke. A joke made to annoy those of you who are serious about your anodised rear sprocket, those of you who have carbon-fibre-imitation-mini-indicators on your bike, those of you who have rigorously unscrewed every engine casing bolt and replaced it with colour matched ones. This was a joke. The bike in itself is a bike that doesn't make sense, but still it does. The bike is “low” on power, but still it goes well. This is a bike that by its existence annoys the establishment - our joke started with “imagine putting those coloured tyres on this bike”, “imagine how many people it would annoy”, etc. This joke kept reoccurring down our local watering hole, and one day I said; “Imagine putting two different colours on the Husqvarna, one yellow at the front and one blue at the back?!” Silence swept across the saloon like when Clint Eastwood, chewing on his stub of cigar, enters... You could just hear Enrico Morricone's lonesome, chilling tunes play... and then suddenly, laughter! The plan was set; that would really annoy people.

We happened to mention the idea to the gentlemen at Club-Moto, and they were delighted, and said that it's definitely something that we should do. More action than words – suddenly our test subject had one bright yellow front tyre, and a Smurfish-blue rear tyre.

“You have, what, tyres..?”

The colours aren't exact colour matches to the rest of the bike (that would have been complete “poseur” wouldn't it?), but it's near enough.

The question that we were all very anxious to get an answer to was; how do the general public react to the tyres? We also wanted a few of our biker friends to take the “Pepsi-challenge” - what would they think?

To get the answer to our first question, we've simply been riding the bike around, and you would not believe how people stare. These tyres are better than a chrome-dipped Harley with a naked person on it. Mothers with pushchairs and kids stop and point. Fathers lift up their sons to get a better view. People in cars have near accidents, and I'm sure some of them have sustained neck-injuries. At the petrol station people first look like they want to put a stake through my cylinder head, but then they have to satisfy their curiosity and come and talk to me. Simply put; people can't stop looking.

Our biker friends seemed like a tougher audience. They were subjected to either the bike in person, or “have a look at this, you unsuspecting person”-pictures of it.
The ones who only got the picture were the more verbal ones. The reactions included:

“JESUS”, “CHRIST” and “My GOD!”
– “OH MY G.O.D ..What have u done!?”
– “My eyes hurt!!”
– “My retina, help, my retina!”
– “It's strangely reminiscent of my old Raleigh Burner BMX bike...”
– “Nurse, he's out of bed again”
– “Tasteful......”
– “Goddamnit, I knew a motard could be turned into a Pimpmobile!!! I want some now!”
– “Makes me want to puke”
– “Those tyres are as loud as your exhaust”
– “That's an assault on my ocular senses”

As you can see, they all sparked a reaction – some could even see beyond the stereotypical black tyres, and thought they looked good. The (poor) ones who saw the bike in person seemed a bit more sensible as most of them, after a while, seemed to admit that it looked better once they got over the initial shock (and after they had been breathing into a brown paper bag for 5 minutes). Comments such as “It looks much better than I thought”, and “After getting used to them, I kind of like them”. Surprisingly, nobody that's been near the bike has actually said they look bad (maybe they're just trying to be nice).

In my own opinion, I think the tyres are much better than I ever hoped for. I do think that the bike looks pretty cool with them on. I expected the tyres to clash horribly, and I expected them to push the bikes colour-scheme way over the top. Kind of an all-pink-Barbie-house-and-car-thing. But, they don't. In fact, I think that they should put these on as standard tyres.

“But I'm more than just good looks...”

Looks aren’t everything I hear you say. How true, these tyres also have another function, besides annoying the establishment; they have to grip the road. Tomahawk makes three different compounds of the black tyres. These compounds are (in order of softness); sprint, street and touring. The coloured ones land somewhere in between the sprint and street compounds. That means that they're quite grippy, but should last a bit longer than the sprint compound, which is intended for trackdays.

My first impressions are that they are very slow steering. Just like Dick reported on his ZX-6R. But just as Dick did, I've found that this feeling has gone. I'm not sure if it's the fact that I've got used to the profile or that the tyres, once inflated for a period of time, have adapted to a more “normal” profile. Whichever, they feel fine now.

The second thing that I've noticed is the immense wet grip, for a tyre that's biased towards dry conditions (i.e. not a “full-wet” tyre). Even in rain, salt and grime they are not willing to let go, even under provocation. Sure they will let go, but that really takes some effort.

In the dry, they've proven to be stable and confidence inspiring. They do feel a bit “heavy”, especially in a, theoretical, situation where one would land a 5th gear wheelie and the front would spin up, it could feel a bit like the front wheel is so heavy that the wheel wants to hide under the engine. Of course, we would not pull wheelies, especially on the Queen’s road as that would be totally immoral, unsafe and, not to mention, illegal.

The same goes with our curiosity of doing a blue-burnout; in the highly unlikely situation where one would do a burnout with a blue tyre, it, in theory, would leave a dark-blue smear on the tarmac, as it's mixed with tar and blue rubber. We would of course not do such a thing. Blah blah blah.
The tyre wear so far, ca 700 miles has been almost nonexistent; the mould-marks are still visible across almost the whole section of the tyre. They are still as new.

Unfortunately for you, dear reader, it will take a while before I can unfold the whole story of the tyres. I will update the review as I put more mileage on the coloured-doughnuts.


The critics in you ask if there isn't anything negative to say about them. Yes, there is. There always is. The thing I hate most about these tyres is not the fact that they get dirty. You see, with a yellow tyre in UK winter, it's bound to get dirty. It gets brown, and, it gets all salty-white. It gets black stains from the tarmac, etc. In short, it gets horrible. But this isn't the worst thing about them. No, not at all. The worst thing with these tyres is that I clean them. Yes, I am that sad. When I wash the bike, I've found myself scrubbing the tyres, just to keep that nice blue and yellow colour alive. How pathetic is that? I mean, I'm not the person who cleans every detail to minute perfection – but dirty tyres, ooh, how I hate that. But I must say that they look nice when they're clean.

“And the verdict is...”

So far I can conclude that the tyres spark a lot of attention and many comments. They are a very bold statement. A statement that is not out of the ordinary. As a “fashion-statement” they are brilliant, and they seem to perform brilliantly, as a, well, tyre too. If you dare to be a bit different, do try a set – you won't be disappointed with the performance of the tyre, and you will get a lot of interesting comments.

And, last, and definitely least, the price for a set is about the price for your normal rear tyre – go on, you know you want to! Listen to the voices, you know it makes sense!


Buy these tyres on-line now - click on the link below - also available in BLACK!

Read a review of the first test on standard Tomahawk tyres from 2003

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