Wanted to replace tyres on my RR310, and the stock Michelin Pilot Steet Radials (150/60 R17 rear and 110/70 R17 front) were discontinued. The replacement Pilot Street 2 were non-radials so became a strict no-no for me. Finally came down to Apollo Alpha H1 and Michelin Pilot Road 5 (stock tyres on the new 310's). The former was about 11k a pair and the latter was around 20k a pair. Briefly considered the TVS Pro Grip too but the feedback wasn't encouraging. A senior at work recommended the Alpha H1 over all others, and having used 2 sets before suggesting, I was sold on the proposition.
Checked with Diwan Auto Care, Premji Tyres, and a few authorised dealers. The prices hovered between 11 and 12k. With both the aforementioned brands having proper installation and balancing facilities, decided to go ahead with either of the two.
Day 1 I went to Diwan to get the Creta's alignment and balancing, and also checked the Alpha H1 prices, which were 11,900 for the set and 250 for balancing. Premji quoted 11,500 for the tyres and 600 for the balancing. With both figures being more or less the same, decided to go with Diwan since they are closer to my residence. Called up and asked for the advisor Vivek to confirm the prices and availability of tyres after reaching home post the Creta's job, but he was "busy with another customer" and I was hence promised a call back soon. Waited till the next afternoon but received no response whatsoever.
Weird that their numbers are either unavailable or they dont pick up most of the time.
Anyway, I decided to head to Premji straightaway.
Landed at 3.45pm and they were changing the tyres of a Benelli and informed me that would take another 20 mins, followed by an hour for my bike alone (Time wasn't an issue as far as the job is done well for me).
Checked out the tyres and they were just 2 months old (the most recent out of all the tyres I checked at multiple dealers). Asked about payment and was told card payment attracts an extra charge of 3-3.5%. This is really crazy considering the fact that not even my local grocery store where I buy stuff worth less than 100 bucks accepts my card payment in today's modern age.
Told the advisor I wasn't interested and I'd get the tyres elsewhere. He requested me to come in and speak to Mark Premji, the owner, who (a little hesitantly) agreed to waive those charges. Balancing would be 600 if I agreed to make payment via Gpay, else card payment would attract 18% GST.
Went ahead with the deal and was out in the quoted time. Workmanship is clean and the folks working are dedicated and the no-nonsense kind. Went inside for billing and was told to wait as Mark was busy with other people. Looked around the shop for other tyre brands, accessories etc and stumbled upon a water dispenser. Had options for hot, cold, and regular water, though there were only steel glasses. I'd really appreciate paper glasses or the likes in that regard. Washroom facility was there too but didnt need to use it. Tea/coffee/water was offered at the fag end when I was about to leave, so refused.
For bike tyre swaps, they also have a paddock stand so that's a good (and uncommon) thing.
Had gone the previous day to check how old the tyres were, and parking was a challenge due to the crowd and haphazard parking. Since I had a 2 minute job, parked towards the corner of the facility and was immediately requested by a guard to move to a proper slot. 2 minutes later when I had to leave, a truck parked at the same spot and started unloading, leaving me stuck in between. And this is when the same guard was nowhere to be found. Luckily there wasn't much to unload and I was out after a polite request to the driver.
One thing, not specific to Mark or his outlet, is the premium dealers charge over the company prices. Apollo was ready to ship the tyres to me or have it installed at one of their authorised dealers for 11k (including installation) flat! Its another thing I don't really trust smaller shops due to the lack of equipment and experience (speaking from experience) and the bigger Apollo shops refused to entertain since they wanted to sell their own stock (like the Dahisar/Borivali outlet).
That way, the Apollo website is pretty glitchy too, it randomly showed and hid shop locations, no clear details of the shop (only region or city/district) but no clear building, street, or locality details. Called up the customer care number but it was equally useless.
Coming back to Premji tyres, TLDR; it's worth going if one doesn't mind paying a premium. Didn't have the time to take photos, so here's the sole pic from today: