metzler lazertechs or avon venoms. As for size it depends on how wide you can go on a 550 in the rear (120? 130?) for the front should be same as stock (100?). What is wrong with the size you have now?
i was in a big rush for a set of tires last summer...to get the CB400F i pieced together from MikeO and JnotD on the street. all i could find in my sizes at local dealers were Cheng Shins. i ended up with the Metzler clones, not even the sporty barracudas. i left the shop kinda let down 'cause i wanted the B-stoneBT45s. well, i gotta tell you, they hook up pretty well. i've pushed 'em pretty hard along with some striaght line commuting. i've already got over 5K and there's not crazy wear, and they'll hold a corner pretty well.
i'm not saying they should be anybody's first choice...i'm sure the construction and profile don't match up to good rubber, but i really can't complain about them on the old 400.
yup, the 120/80x18 will work on the rear. I have the BT45s on my Seca550 race bike. I ran them at Grattan last summer. The front worked good and the rea was a little funny. I think it is because I have a 130x18 on a WM-3 rim and it makes the profile funny. I am putting a wider rear wheel on this year and try the 130 again. The font stuck and the rear ould slide in turn 2 and 3 and 4. I also had some ground clearance issues and bad shocks so I am not willing to blame it on the tire. Gordon Hamilton runs them on his SR500 and he can win races.
yes, there is definitely a difference in grip as far as i've been able to feel while putting the tires onto rims; the real difference is probably in the construction of the tire's carcass. anybody really know offhand without resorting to a google search? also pirelli makes the sport demons--my brother has those on his '77 CB750 and he sez they're pretty sticky (but he doesn't ride that hard anymore, or that often).
if at first you don't succeed, use a bigger hammer
I really like the BT45s - 100/90/19 front and 110/90/18 rear.
I do get a little funkiness from the front tire on fast constant-radius turns when I accelerate out of them but I think it's more of a bike thing since my bike's geometry is all screwy compared to stock.
I would think with bikes this old the tires will hold on long after the chassis will give up. As long as I can scrape the sidestand I'm golden.
I was looking around at tires and I saw those Cheng Shins too - I was wondering about them. They're really inexpensive, but I held off buying them since I wasn't sure I wanted to trust my life with them...
The only bike tires I ever bought were dirtbike tires, and I always bought Metzlers.
I had cheng shins on my 79 cb750F. They were fairly new and on the bike when I bought it. Personally I did not have a good expirence with them. In fact I think I would have gotten better traction if I took a massive greasy shit and then wrapped it around the bare rim. At least I never had to worry about highsiding, there was never enough traction in them to throw my large ass over the other side.
the problems I had were:
1) they were out of round, not bad but the the crown of the tire was off center a little.
2)Every hard corner was like a lesson in flattrack racing. I had the rear step out on me a couple of times when I was leaned over, once even at 30 mph.
3) they were no better in the wet. They had a decent tread pattern but seemed to get worse in the wet.
I put avon venoms on that same bike and I swear I could use the bike to do a heart transplant because it carves like a scapel.
I understand not every tire is perfect and I understand I could have easily had a defective set or the PO could have super cheaped out and bought demos or leftovers but I just don't like them.
Incidently, when I was in law school, one of the cases we studied regaurding products liabilty involved a DOHC cb750, a horrendous accident in california caused by tire failure, and a set of Cheng Shin tires installed by a honda dealer. I'll see if I can look up the case when I get a moment. One more reason I stay away.