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@nursejo81 avatar
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I bought my first scooter last week. I was hoping to use it for commuting as soon as I got comfortable on the freeway. Well, I've been on the freeway a couple times and I feel like I'm going to blow away. The scooter feels like it's shifting all over. I've gotten it up to 60+ mph on surface streets and felt fine, but the freeway is just unstable.

I took it in yesterday to have the top box installed, and I asked the service guy about it. He thinks it's because I got the white-wall tires. I guess they are more of a street tire and don't do well on San Diego freeways because of the rain grooves on the road.

I'm glad to hear it's not just me being a big chicken, but now I'm debating whether to swap out my tires now so I can conquer the freeway, or just wait till the tires wear out and the bike is a little more broken in.

Anyone have any advice for good freeway tires, or over-coming new rider freeway anxiety?
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UTC quote
In my opinion, it's the nature of the beast of the grooved pavement surface. Even your four wheeler will feel squirly on it.
There's better knowledge around here however, I would also check tire pressure.
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UTC quote
Welcome to MV!!

Highway riding is a fun beast to conquer. Try to relax your grip on your handle bars when riding on grooved surfaces, the bike wants to stay up, don't fight it.

Or, your tires suck on grooved pavement and should be replaced.

I'm sure someone with better tire knowledge will chime in.

Good luck and have fun.
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UTC quote
What make are the white-walls?
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UTC quote
Aloha and welcome to the forum from Hawaii. Jim's question is a valid one. White wall tires are notoriously not so good. How many years have you ridden before this? If not much i'd say your not used to the grooved roads and riding. They take a while to get used to the scooter on secondary roads. Grooved roads will make your bike feel unstable. If you relax and go with it you'll be fine. Tense up and it does get scarey. Can you go another route until you get some mileage under your belt (if your a new rider)? Sounds like you have a new scooter your getting to know,might be riding on not so good tires and your trying to master grooved roads all at once. Try doing them separate for a while and see if that helps. Do you have the correct tire pressure in your tires, right? Should be what's in the manual not what's on the tire. If you over/under inflate it can affect the way the bike handles. Good luck and have fun.
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UTC quote
It's not tires. It's the design. I know the San Diego freeways very well because I lived there in various locations for more than a decade. Having a full faring, longer wheelbase, full size motorcycle wheels, adjustable suspension, more weight and power are what help stability. Sure, you can ride a GTS on San Diego freeways, but I think you'll never feel comfortable doing so because the dangers are real. Scooters do have a disadvantage of the unsprung heavy weight of the swing arm. At certain speeds you can get a dangerous resonance going where the rain grooves get magnified. That might be what you're feeling on the GTS. If I was going to commute in San Diego, I would pick a CTX700 or VFR1200F if I wanted a DCT automatic. But I would probably go with an ST1300, FJR1300ES, GSX1250F, or BMW sport tourer since I don't need an automatic. Some of the maxiscooters might be OK, but the swingarm could always be problem on those rain grooves at certain speeds.

Your specific route does matter. You may be able to avoid those sections with rain grooves. Another problem is that some of the freeways have very high average speeds when clear, and pretty crazy drivers when congested. It's not unusual to be going 85mph and still have many vehicles passing you at much higher speeds. I would completely avoid riding on any of the few rainy days. San Diego has some of the worst drivers when it rains. They pretty much drive as if the rain doesn't exist until they lose control and hit somebody.
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UTC quote
I have to disagree somewhat with some of the previous posts. Your tires are the last link between the scooter and the road. Proper tire pressure and type of tire make a huge difference in the way the bike handles and feels. My gts came with Sava tires which thankfully didn't last very long. I replaced them with a set of Pure Powers, and it immediately felt like a completely different bike. Straight line stability was enhanced as was cornering confidence. Installing white walls on the scooter is more of a visual enhancement, not performance. Just my $$.02
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Thank you all for the replies. I'll have to check the make of the tires and research them. I like the look of white-wall, but honestly I only got them because they were already on the bike and I wanted to take it home. I'm impatient like that

And I am doing a lot of practicing on roads where I can test higher speeds without the grooves or traffic. Maybe once me and the bike are ready, new tires will be the final touch. Otherwise I settle for a motorcycle... Probably not, though.
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How are the tire pressures?
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Tire pressure is what it should be. They checked everything when I bought it (last Tuesday) and again yesterday when I was at the shop.

Should I under or over inflate them depending on terrain?
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It is almost certainly the interaction of poor, cheap tires and the road grooves. The tires probably have circumferential grooves, that is where the grooves run around the tire. I found that tires with curving grooves that run more or less across the tires were much more stable. They also tended to be better tires all around.

Ditch the whitewalls, get some good tires. The difference will be night and day. Your 300 will be a rock at 75mph on the freeway.
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I rode various motorcycles for years, and noticed distinct differences in the riding effects of different tires.

I put City Grips on my GT 200 shortly after buying it, and the first highway trip just amazed me. The scoot felt like a little train, just as stable and smooth as the best set-up motorcycle I'd ever ridden.

Coming into Tucson from the South on I-19, the pavement changes to rain grooves and I watched carefully for any negative effects, absolutely none, like riding on glass.

Not sure of your level of high speed experience or confidence, but with good tires as a basis, your confidence level will increase and soon you'll feel just great entering the 'on' ramp.

Good Luck!
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I can't help but notice that many people posting to this thread do not live in Southern California and probably have never ridden extensively in San Diego. I do and I have. In the past, I've lived and worked in San Diego for more than 10 years in different locations, including Oceanside, San Marcos, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Mission Valley and downtown. I've ridden on every interstate and nearly every state route in the area.

Freeway/highway construction varies widely by location and what you think you know about your local road surfaces may not apply very well at all to another area. San Diego freeways make extensive use of jointed concrete with expansion joints at regular intervals that are not entirely level, and the surface has longitudinal grooves that are cut with diamond blades. This has a substantial effect on all vehicles, but particularly motorcycles and scooters. These grooves and expansion joints can be much more challenging for scooters, particularly lighter ones with short wheel bases and smaller wheels. The wheels tend to follow the grooves. The expansion joints cause a very regular vertical bounce and vibration that can turn the dampening of shocks into bounce amplifiers. It's very much like riding on a bridge all the time, except on concrete instead of metal or asphalt, and at 75 mph just to keep up with the flow.

The local traffic conditions are also substantially different than elsewhere. San Diego has some of the highest average speeds when traffic is clear, combined with very slow bumper-to-bumper congestion for miles with no alternate routes. The geography plays a role here because the I-5 borders the ocean and crosses lagoons that are bottlenecks. The I-15 also has bottlenecks due to lakes, canyons and hills. The result is that traffic flow can be well over 75 mph with many people passing you at 85+, and you can suddenly hit bumper-to-bumper traffic at a stand still that isn't visible until you're right on top of it.

You can be parked on the shoulder in a car more than 15 feet away from the nearest lane of traffic and the whole vehicle shakes hard due to the air pressure of large vehicles traveling faster than 80 mph. Smaller scooters can be very unstable when hit by these pressure waves.

So yes, it's important to have good tires. But that isn't necessarily going to make a GTS feel stable and safe on these freeways. You might be able to get used to it, but that's pretty hard to do when you have all these factors working against you. Most scooter riders do not brave the freeways unless they have a maxiscooter capable of doing 85+mph, and even then they are rare for commuting compared to motorcycles of the sport and sport-touring class. San Diego has lots of individual communities where smaller scooters work well inside that limited area, but commuting from one area to another on the freeway is a very different challenge.

As I write this, there are 15 sensors on I-15 that are recording average speeds above 70mph and many of those are pegged at 75mph, the max that is reported, meaning that the average could be substantially higher than that. You can see the real-time traffic speeds for yourself. Would you feel safe on a GTS with an 80mph average flow of traffic with people passing you constantly at 85-95mph in SUV's? Now add grooves and expansion joints to that.
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UTC quote
I lived in Pacific Beach and La Jolla for a combined period of four and a half years. I agree that there is a considerate amount of traffic and the vehicles travel at high rates of speed. If a rider has the confidence and experience, riding in that sort of scenario should't be an issue. It's no different than riding into New York City or into any large metropolitan area during peak traffic hours. I don't think I would venture onto that sort of road on a Ruckus, but a 250 or 300 gts should't have a problem keeping up on grooved or bouncy concrete highways if the rider is confident enough to do so. I ride my gts to Louisville and Cincinnati all the time on 64 and 75 with no issues.
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UTC quote
I ride the freeways for short distances in the Bay Area. It's often windy and that contributes to some instability. Strong gusts can move you and the scooter quite a bit.
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I lived in Imperial beach, Chula Vista and Kearny Mesa. I road motorcycles there from 1977 to 1985. From what multiscootguy said, the only thing that has changed is the speed limit. It's like the song goes, "If you can ride there, you can ride anywhere". The only thing that comes close to the challenge of San Diego IMHO is the on ramps in OKC. Yeah I've ridden in Chicago 8)
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Okay, so new tires and maybe relocating... Haha Laughing emoticon
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Based on 8 years of watching tire threads, I'd put odds on the tires. There isn't a decent WW tire available in the US. Shame on the dealers for selling the crap that is available. GTS originally came with shit tires. Changing then made the world of difference for nearly every rider. Except for snakesomething. I'd mention the name but I think he uses google watch to troll.
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UTC quote
NurseJO81 wrote:
Okay, so new tires and maybe relocating... Haha Laughing emoticon
NOT! If I could afford it and mom didn't need me, I'd move back yesterday Crying or Very sad emoticon
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NurseJO81 wrote:
Okay, so new tires and maybe relocating... Haha Laughing emoticon
Or a get BV 350/500, X9, Scarabeo 500, Majesty, TMAX, MP3 500, Burgman 400/650, BMW C 600/650, Xciting 500i/700i, Silverwing, CTX700DCT, VFR1200FA DCT, etc. Maxiscooters exist for good reason. There's a $700 rebate on 2013 BV 350's right now. Maybe you can do a test ride at Vespa Motorsport of a BV350 just to get a feel for the difference, and that Scarabeo 500 that's local too. You might want one of the larger maxiscooters or sport tourers at some point if you do mostly commuting.

I didn't even mention the millions of tourists in rental cars that you have to avoid as they do things like cross over 4 lanes of traffic to get off on the Sea World Drive exit, or see the sights without watching the road.
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Multiscootguy- you sure know a lot of different scooter and bike models... Are you a dealer?

I test drove a couple bigger ones, but I'm a small chick, so I stuck to what I could handle. No need to impress anyone but myself
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Nope, I'm not a dealer. Maybe a wheeler and dealer, but I only purchase for myself, family and friends. I've helped a lot of people buy motorcycles and scooters for themselves.

There are quite a few scooters and motorcycles that seem big at first, but are great for smaller girls and guys. The seat height, riding position, and weight distribution of the bike are actually more important features than the size for easy control. One of the fun aspects of scooters is to explore the differences to see how they work for various purposes. That's why I own many different kinds of 2 wheelers at one time, and I've owned many others over the years. They all serve different roles for me.

So I actively monitor the market for new and used scooters to know what's available in case I find good deals for myself or others.
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UTC quote
highway jitters.
My 250 has spent a lot of time on the interstate. The windscreen fixed that.
Not 100%. Even the car gets some buffeting too. I like the mid- size wide. Covers hands without being too tall. Tall screen seems to be "in", for those with a windshield.
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UTC quote
Re: highway jitters.
cmmrda43 wrote:
My 250 has spent a lot of time on the interstate. The windscreen fixed that.
Not 100%. Even the car gets some buffeting too. I like the mid- size wide. Covers hands without being too tall. Tall screen seems to be "in", for those with a windshield.
MY GTS 250 came with a tall windscreen. I've been thinking about getting a smaller one, but I'm not sure what the benefit would be, if any.

I know this isn't the thread for it, so I'll search for it.

NurseJo81.... did you have riding experience before you got the 300? It has taken me quite some time to get used to the higher speeds, but slowly, I am getting there. I did a 200 mile trip on Saturday and got up around 60 mph a couple of times, but I'm really more comfy at 50 or 55.

It seams that after 55, every 5 mph makes a big difference in buffeting and wind noise.... at least to me it does.
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UTC quote
I had no riding experience at all. That's why I was wondering how much was technical, and how much was driver malfunction :/

I have been taking longer drives on what qualifies as country roads in San Diego. I am getting more comfortable at higher speeds, but still feel the difference between 60 on normal asphalt and 60 on the freeway grooves.

I'm pretty much set that at my 600+ mile service I'm going to get the tires swapped. I'm too stubborn to let this go.
@davetcg avatar
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UTC quote
I had mine switched from the original Savas to the Michelin City Grips and they made a big difference to me in ride quality. For what that's worth.
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UTC quote
Those seem to be the most common tire that people are trading up to. Probably will end up going with those. [/quote]
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UTC quote
NurseJO81 wrote:
Those seem to be the most common tire that people are trading up to. Probably will end up going with those.
Good choice! The MCG's are great. On my 4th set; they're a great all-around tire and readily available.
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