I recently replaced my stocks on the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 (#Vantage) with a pair of dual purpose Tyres.

Just a few more on the MRF, I promise!

It’s been around 4000 + kilometres on them to date and I have received innumerable question about how have they been behaving. Here’s my take on them –

My first impressions were – they looked so much better than the MRF Zappers that Vantage came with. Upon riding them for the first few hundreds they even felt so much more capable than the former pair.

If there is one thing more dangerous than the MRF Zappers, it is getting used to them.

The MRF tyres are not ones you can rely on. They suck in sand and loose gravel. They spin out on broken tarmac and slush. And they’re oh-so skid friendly. One thing they do well is respond to wet tarmac. The Zappers disperse water very efficiently. I rode them for long enough until they showed me initial signs of wear.

It was time for a replacement, a Tyre that could do all of the above and not burn a hole in my pocket. After extensive research, (read – Blatantly asking around for recommendation); I seemed to have found a few that worked for me.

My choices were between the Ceat Vertigo Series, The Michelin Sirac, The Ralco Speed Blaster and a Ceat Gripp XL.

For this swap I chose the Ralco Speed Blaster 120/18 – R18 for the rear and the Ceat Gripp XL 90/90 – R90.

The Ralco Speed Blaster and The Ceat Gripp XL feel at home on Gravel

The Sirac was dropped, we’ll call it a rider’s intuition of not synergizing, as did the iffy (read personal choice) thread patterns of the Ceat Vertigo. I was left with the unmatched pairs of the Ralco Speed Blaster and the Ceat Gripp XL – a death wish for OCD champions.

Unfortunately, most of these shoes were out of stock. But I convinced Metro Tyres to find me a pair and hold them. A corner street at Grant Road found me with both tyres off.

Vantage now shares a front with the Royal Enfield Himalayan and the Hero Impulse with the Ceat rubber. Tried and tested, it lived up to expectations, even burning in really quick. After 3 days on it I experienced the steadiness on corners and how the front anchored itself on the tarmac.

The Ralco for the rear was a recommendation by a ‘Raid De Himalaya’ 500 CC Class winner with a pimped-up TB500 and rear Speed Blasters. Yes, they were rally-rated tyres, but adjusting to them took a month as I would never find a grounded rear even on straights, let alone corners. Though ever so gradually the Ralco burnt in and I got to experience the performance it promises.

I have tyres that can now feel at home on the shit excuse for what Bombay calls – Roads. Potholes, puddles, speed breakers, wet road, dry roads, corners (That one long right-hander from the WEH to SV Road at Bandra Reclamation), The Ralco and the Ceat together can do it all and with ease.

Both Tyres set me back INR 6400/- a new CEAT Tyre and Tube, and a new Ralco Tyre. A new tube had to be bought for the Ralco as the Tyre is sold as a Tubeless component and the wheels on the Vantage are Spoked. The 6.4K also included wheel truing for the front and rear and installation.

I cannot stress enough how important Wheel Truing is for new tyres and in general for the perfect alignment of a motorcycle.

Chotu at it trying to get that rear wheel off Vantage.

Metro Tyres directed me to a Chotu in the back lanes of Grant Road to get my truing done. He spent about 30-45mins on each wheel perfecting the alignment on the Gyro Stand.

And just like that two and a half hours later I had a brand new set of rubbers.

Excuse me while I go about exploiting my steady companion for the next 20-25000 kilometers. Yep, Durable Hard Compounds for the win.

PS –

  1. Chotu is not a minor. Most boys at the Mechanics in Bombay ends up being called “Chotu”. I have 4 in my phone book. I ride a Royal Enfield, what did you expect. It’s only Chotu who comes to your rescue. Not the RSA RE provides.
  2. Metro Tyres at Grant Road is the corner shop at the crossroad on Ali Bhai Premji Road and Lamington Road. Next to Ali Bhai Premji Tyrewale.

All pictures courtesy of Sigmund Q.

Links by – CarDekho.com & Amazon.in

Immense help on Prose by – Karen C

  • Sigmund Q

Written by Sigmund Q



Next time try Ceat Secura sport at front and for truing go to Tardeo , lane next to RTO , one cycle wala is best in his job ! I won’t comment on costing but you could have saved some bucks for sure both in tyre and truing !

Sigmund Q

Hi Akshay!
I did check out the Secura, but for some reason I stuck with the Gripp XL, Biker intuition I suppose.
And the Chotu who did my Truing was fantastic too, though I shall definitely keep this resource in mind for my next time. Thank You for the Info.

And hope to see You on the blog more often. Cheers!

Punit Singh

Nice write up from a bikers point of view. Just got Gripp XL on my TB 500 rear. Two questions I want to ask,
1- How about getting a Ralco Speed Blaster 90/90 r19 with tube on the front.
2- I missed trying getting done while rear tyre change. What to do. Wait till the front tyre change and get both wheel’s truing done?

Sigmund Q

Punit Singh
1. The Ralco Speed Blaster for the front is something I’ve never used, but I’m extremely happy with the way the Ralco behaves in the rear, so I’d assume they’re a great set.
2. Damn, you should Aligned your wheels when You took it off to replace the tyres. It’s just a good practice. I’d recommend you wait until your next swap unless your tyres are wearing out unevenly and the bike is not balanced right, in that case do it on urgent basis.


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