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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Darkside


You don't know the power of the dark side!

Oops. This isn't about any characters who do supernatural things by pointing their hands anywhere, or about stellar starfighters taking down the villainous overpowered evil empire.

This is about what the motorcycle community has dubbed "going to the darkside", a term for a motorcycle owner that has put a car tire on the rear wheel of their ride instead of a standard one. Not exciting? Then you probably don't ride.

I have heard and seen a couple bikers put car tires on their motorcycles. They love it. They said it takes a bit of time to get used to but they have not had problems. So I figured once I was due for a new rear tire on my motorcycle I would give the conversion a try.
Got every mile out of this one!

I own a 2005 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 and I got the full 10,000 miles out of the tire. I was informed that motorcycle maintenance shops will not take in your motorcycle and change the tire to a car tire. Safety, legalities, liability, etc. etc., but this topic is being discussed by many riders so they know it can be done, so I think they are doing what's best for their business. That is understandable.

If you pull your wheel off and take it and the tire you want to a shop, some will still do the swap, because the liability falls on the owner because if anything goes wrong, faulty wheel (not tire) installation can be argued.

The Kawasaki runs on a 170/70R16 and the closest tire I could find to this size was Goodyear's 175/60R16 tire. I did the math and noted it was 5mm wider and 5mm more shallow. What that meant is that the motorcycle tire has a round profile and this one had a round/flat profile. IF you do this, try your best to keep your x/y tire numbers as close as possible to your original tires. Also make sure you have the tires in hand before starting your tire change. My tire size is rare so it took 3 days to get it shipped for me to pick up.

I found someone to install the tire and here it is!

On the second pic I use the left bracket to show that this tire is perfect for my needs. I didn't want a tire with a square edge because cornering becomes extremely difficult. The right arrow is just to show how, for a car tire, this tire has a nice radius on it. So I installed it with difficulty and here's how it looks:


Looks great! I took it for a ride and got to 70mph+. It gets there smoothly and I didn't feel anything that leads me to believe there are installation problems. Now on to the numbers and facts.

1. This tire cost $131 and will get 30,000-40,000 miles. The OEM tire costs $165 and gets 10,000 miles tops.
2. If you have a hitch installed on your ride, MAKE SURE the tire doesn't rub on it.
3. Pay close attention to how the motorcycle moves. With this tire I noticed that on roads with a grade towards the shoulder (many of them are like this) it will really want to pull you to the shoulder.
4. Your bike seems more wobbly. IT WANTS TO STAND UP. Don't let this panic you, get used to it and your riding will be back to fun very quickly.

Have fun riding and may the LORD keep you upright and bless your days.