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From Venice to Istanbul with the Pirelli Night Dragon Tour

Pirelli tyres decided to celebrate the launch of their new range of Night Dragon custom-touring tyres in style – by riding from Venice to Istanbul on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The trip, which consisted of over 3,000km and spanned six countries, was a true test of not only the tyres, but also the riders and the motorcycles involved.

Departing from Venice, the tour crossed through Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria before finishing in Turkey. To celebrate the fact that Pirelli now construct the Night Dragon tyre in sizes to suit every model of Harley-Davidson, every one of the bikes on the tour was built by the legendary Milwaukee manufacturer.

UK Pirelli tyre supplier Bike Tyrestore was invited to join the tour for its Romanian leg. Sales Manager Adam Rous, who has tested and evaluated many of Pirelli’s road tyres, was more than happy to take up the challenge of crossing the wild and rugged Romanian countryside. Although he wasn’t expecting to visit Dracula’s home…

“Touching down in Timisaora, Romania, I got a real sense of how far this country is from the Europe I know pretty well. The coach driver’s windscreen had a crack in it the width of the coach making it look like a huge bi-focal spectacle lens, but he didn’t seem remotely bothered…  The town itself looked as though it had seen better days and most of the buildings were in a pretty bad state of repair. The food was good though, as was the local beer!

“The tour was due to start at 8am the following day and we’d heard the forecast predicted rain. The forecast was right – it started raining 90 seconds before we started and it got steadily harder as we wound our way out of the busy industrial traffic. I’d picked a HD 1200 Sportster and it felt quite lively on the greasy cold tarmac and tramlines. It took a good 40 minutes to get out of the town and once in the ‘sticks’ the pace increased, as did the rain, which meant for interesting riding. The tyres felt good though, never being troubled bumping through the challenging road surface with its many potholes – you think the UK roads are bad!

“After 480 kilometres on day one, we finally wound our way up a series of mountain ranges and found our hotel in Romania’s most impressive ski resort. The Pirelli’s had coped really well with all that had been thrown at them and not surprisingly for a cruiser tyre, looked like they hadn’t been run. I think Pirelli realise what a tight grip some of the other manufacturers have with the cruiser market, but they feel that if they are to be seen as an all-encompassing tyre brand, they have to have products in all sectors, including cruiser. Sure they don’t suffer as much abuse as some other tyre sectors, but people who ride cruisers do happen to spend a lot of time on their bikes and thus they demand just as much from a tyre as they need comfort, stability and all weather performance, which is just what we’ve experienced today.

“The second day’s tour would see us head for the capital, Bucharest and we were pleased to wake up to clear skies. This would certainly make for an easier day and coupled with a less arduous request of 280 Kilometres, we all looked forward to the day’s riding. On our agenda today we were going to the town of Bran, which is home to Dracula’s castle and we were lucky enough to have a tour round. It was a nice touch after a few hour’s riding and we were happy to soak up the history of the place, even though the locals seem a little bit ashamed to elaborate on their past. This country does seem to have had a bad time with rulers down the ages.

“I’d taken a fully loaded HD Electra glide for the second day and this was not only physically bigger, it was also heavier. After visiting the castle, we had to cross a mountain range and this is where the tyres would be put to a tougher test. I’m the first to admit that I’m happier on a sports bike and I did rather feel that the weight and set up of the Harley might make the twisty roads a bit of a handful but the bike wound its way nicely through the narrow roads and really surprised me how easily it dealt with the sharp drops and rises. I’m sure the bike could have gone a lot quicker but as always, the rider is probably the limiting factor…

“After the mountain pass it was down into warm sunshine and dry roads and the pace increased quickly and the roads were a joy to ride, with groups of children running out to the roadside to wave at us. As the temperature increased, we arrived into the metropolis of Bucharest and I have been impressed how the bike and tyre has behaved. I don’t think I’ll be looking to buy a cruiser in the near future but it’s good to know that major tyre manufacturers are taking this sector seriously as it is one of the few sectors that are actually on the increase. It is nice to see that a manufacturer has looked at other areas of performance as opposed to just long life, which for the most part, is what the American market has demanded. This tyre is certainly worth considering as a sporty option using the latest materials for handling and all weather capability. I’m sorry to say but I won’t be buying the ‘chaps and waistcoat’ just yet, although one of the tour party swore by them!”

More information regarding Pirelli’s entire range of racing and road tyres can be found at www.pirelli.com.

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