Touring Essentials Blog: Car tires on a street bike? The dark side beckons...

Touring Essentials Blog: Car tires on a street bike? The dark side beckons...

Written by  on Friday, 27 November 2015 16:27

Every rider knows they should not leave home without some duct tape. Like The Force in the Star Wars galaxy, duct tape has a light side and a dark side and appears to hold our universe together.

For a number of years now a subset of contemporary motorcycle riders have been putting tires intended for automobiles onto their motorcycles. These riders call themselves Darksiders. They aren’t particularly evil, but they have chosen a different path to follow.

In the last couple of years two of my riding buddies have gone to The Dark Side. Mostly, they feel it costs too much for motorcycle tires and that the tires don’t last as long as they would like. On a 700-plus lb. sport touring motorcycle, I can’t say I disagree. However, tire life is getting better than it was a few years ago. Using the dual-compound tires and making sure I buy the GT versions (for heavier bikes), I have put over 30,000 km on a front tire and more than 22,000 km on a rear. I think this is pretty good distance out of a high-speed, Z-rated M/C tire, but I have paid the shop roughly the same to install two tires on my motorcycle as I have paid for four tires on my Honda Civic. And the car tires have a 130,000 km warranty.

I’m not convinced that going to The Dark Side is something I want to do in order to save some money. What I have done is bought a lift table, tire changer, and static balancer. Now I can change my tires easily whenever I want and even save them to put back on in the future if I haven’t run them right down. The lift table also makes it far easier to change oil and do other work on the bike, so this aging body of mine appreciates it.

But back to the car tires. How do they perform? I’ve ridden street bikes with big, fat tires on and they have been a bitch to get leaned over and to keep them leaned over while riding. Surprisingly, the same can’t be said for car tires on a bike. Both my buddies say the worst is slow speed parking lot-type manoeuvres. There it takes a bit of effort to turn the bike. Anything above that and they say they have no issues. I’m not sure what stance the insurance industry would take on this practice if, say, a rider were to lose control in a corner and crash.

I’ve ridden behind both of my buddies on some seriously twisty roads and they handle corners just fine; both slowly and at speed. It is very interesting to watch the rear tire lift and lean and flex on the contact patch. They have confidence in the tires and expect nearly 50,000 km out of a rear. Kind of tempting for those big epic rides on the interstates.

But just the same, I think I’ll keep my inner Sith Lord in check and stick with the traditional donuts.

Ride responsibly and enjoy your travels.

R. Bruce Thomas


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Last modified on Friday, 27 November 2015 16:49

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