I rode 1500km on a Bajaj Dominar fitted with Apollo Alpha H1 Steel Radial Tyres. This is my post-ride review.
WHERE IT BEGAN
A few weeks ago, I received a set of spanking new Apollo Alpha H1 steel radial tyres to test and review. So, I installed the tyres onto a friend’s Bajaj Dominar 400 (2017 model) and set off on a nearly 1500 kilometre long road trip to experience the tyres in action. I figured that there was no better way to put them to work than by belting the bike down some beautiful fast highways and a few hundred kilometres of narrow winding roads in the Nilgiri Hills. This is my post-ride review of the performance of the Apollo Alpha H1 tyres.
THE SPEC TALK
Before we get into the performance feedback, there are a few thing I want to highlight, in terms of specs, that, in my opinion, are relevant to be aware of. The Alpha H1s I used were a 110/70 R 17 (front) and a 150/60 R 17 (rear), both tubeless. These were a straight fit on the Dominar 400 and should also work for most KTM bikes. They might also be suitable for some other motorcycles in a similar category, but I’d recommend checking compatibility, especially of the rear.
Zero Degree Steel Radial
All the Alpha H1 tyres are zero degree steel radials bearing a W speed rating. What does that mean? As you may already know, there are different types of tyres within the “radial” classification, primarily based on the materials used for belt construction. While lower priced radial tyres usually use belts made of fibre within the radial tyres (for e.g. nylon), the belts in the Apollo Alpha H1 are made of steel. “Zero degree” is a reference to the fact that the belts are wound around circumferentially within the carcass of the tyre in the direction of tyre movement (hence zero degree angle to tyre movement angle), which is said to help make the tyres lighter and also enable better heat dissipation allowing the tyres to run cooler. The W speed rating implies that these tyres are rated for speeds in excess of 200 kmph, which effectively means that the tyres have a speed rating considerably higher than the top speeds you’re likely to hit on a KTM or a Dominar. These specs are an indication that the Indian brand Apollo, has the confidence to take on the Michelins and Metzellers of the world.
Per the brand, the Alpha H1 tyres have been designed bearing in mind the need for good grip and performance while also focussing on enhanced tyre mileage (i.e. life of the tyre). A significant amount of R&D has gone into trying to create the balance where users are offered technologically superior product with improved performance while simultaneously focusing on the fact that the tyres need to be more durable. I think that thought process aligns with the thinking and needs of the average highway tourer, and on that note I will now dive into my feedback on these tyres after use.
THE USE EXPERIENCE
Grip, for me, is where it all begins. And the Alpha H1s impressed easily on this front. The improvement in grip is noticeable from the get go and only gets better after the tyres have been run in a bit. On open stretches of highway, the Dominar felt firmly planted even at speeds around 150 kmph. What was particularly enjoyable was that the grip and stability was just as good through turns as well. It was easy to maintain good speeds through the sweeping highway curves and when I finally found the twisties the bike continued to feel stuck to the road even with increased lean angles. The tread pattern on the tyres is said to be disjoined with a specific intent of offering better grip in wet conditions. While I didn’t get to ride in the rain, I did encounter some wet patches along the way, which did not cause any trouble.
Ride comfort on the Alpha H1s is good and the improved grip translates to better braking performance as well. The good news is that the improved grip and braking has been achieved without a noticeable increase to rolling resistance, which is a good sign that deserves mention.
The performance of the tyres was consistent whether on a short ride in the city, when covering over 500 kilometres a day in the blazing summer heat as well as in cooler temperatures in the hills.
Now, if you look at the tyres you will know that they’re primarily tarmac focussed and they do that job very well. They don’t seem to be affected when the roads get a bit rough, but I wouldn’t use these for hardcore off-road jaunts. I did try the tyres out on a few trails which they got through without incident. But, simple logic says that if you primarily ride on dirt, snow, etc, you should be looking at a more purpose-built type of tyre for that kind of use.
I, obviously, was not able to test the life of the tyre (that would take months), but the good news is that after 1500+ km there were no visible signs of wear or strain on the tyres. Getting at least 15,000 kilometres out of these tyres should likely be quite possible. It could well be higher based on your use.
Overall, I was left impressed by the performance of the Apollo Alpha H1 steel radial tyres.
Simply put, these tyres made the bike more fun to ride whilst ensuring that you felt confident and in control. In my opinion, these are well suited for city use as well as touring on highways, which aligns with the usage pattern of most KTM and Dominar owners. Better performance, technology and ride comfort should be reason enough to want to shell out a little bit more money in order to be able to enjoy your machine in a safer way. The mileage life will be an added bonus that makes the economics of it all more attractive.
If any of you have used the Apollo Alpha H1s (or use them after reading this post) do share your thoughts and feedback as a comment below. I hope you find my user experience useful, I look forward to hearing about yours too.