Friday, May 14, 2010

Lee Moves to the Dark Side

Moving through the underground is a group of motorcyclists who defy convention, reject well intended advice, and question authority. They find ways to circumvent tradition and find ways to use conventional wisdom in unconventional ways. They test the limits of their own skills, seek like minded souls, and point each other in directions that would cause others to quake in their motorcycle boots. Individuals with these characteristics are known to live on “the dark side.”

Last year Andy and I overheard a few whispers about those who had migrated to the dark side. I stepped away, fearful. Andy moved in to hear more. Men are more fearless after all. At home he is proclaiming his wish to move to the dark side. I ignore him for the time being, because I can see he is not yet ready. I bide my time planning ways to discourage him. Not that I am unwilling to challenge my fears. I just don’t know enough. I didn’t know Lee was considering this very thing. He heard the same rumors. In fact, he was investigating the possibilities. Then it happened. The rubber vanished from his rear tire in what he considered an inappropriately short amount of time. He’d had enough. Lee became a rebel!

In motorcycle terms, going to the “dark side” means putting a car tire instead of a motorcycle tire on the rear of your cruiser or touring bike. There are whole websites and subculture devoted to this very subject. You can research your own model; discover what car tire works best, how much air pressure you should use and volumes of other tips to help you defy the statistics promulgated by the motorcycle tire manufacturers.

Any motorcyclist knows that those rear tires do not last long enough! Most of them get 11,000 to 18,000 if you’re lucky! My stock Bridgestone lasted 6,000 if you can believe that! I was disgusted. So you can see how I would be interested in watching Lee. Gravitating to the dark side is not for everyone, and you have to do your homework and consider the warnings if you decide this is something you want to try for yourself. Read the literature, understand the challenges, talk with those who’ve been to the dark side. While you’re doing that consider some of Lee’s statistics below.

In Lee’s lifetime he has owned 7 motorcycles. (Motorcycle rider since 1992.)
Average number of rear tires purchased: 15
Total motorcycle miles: Approximately 212K.
Average motorcycle rear tire life: 14K
Average cost of a new tire: $185.
Amount spent on rear tires: $2775
Total cost of labor over time; $750. ($50 per tire x 15=$750)
The price of a new motorcycle tire this year had Lee selected that is $230. (Metzler 880)

Instead, he purchased a car tire; a Dunlop SP 5000 for $138. Lee purchased his tire locally. A tire purchased on-line would be less than this, and possibly as low as $80 to $100.
The tire life is expected to be 40K. With the Nomad already at 62K, Lee says this is the last rear tire he will ever buy for the Nomad. My cell phone is buzzing frequently these days. He keeps me posted on how things are going.

“I rode 20 miles this morning and I don’t see any wear!”

I’m glad he’s keeping me informed; now if only I can tolerate the blow by blows….or Lee may be seeing my dark side!


Anonymous said...

I have a 2003 Suzuki 1500LC with 120,000 kms on it. I am on my 2nd Darkside tire and knew after the 1st 150 kms that I had bought my last rear motorcycle tire (never say never!), I am runnin the General Evertrek HP in a 195/65X15 size and all is good. The rear tire reference above? Well I did buy a rear motorcycle tire.....and run it on the front (stock front tire size, just in a "rear" tire) reverse rotation! I have 25,000 kms on this Darkside tire and it'll go at LEAST another 20,000 kms, I have 15,000 kms on my (rear) front tire and it has more tread left than a brand new front tire! It'll go at LEAST another 20,000 kms too. Very pleased with the whole package. I researched for approx a year before I made the plunge, but everything was exactly as I had read about, even the psi to seat the tire! Do some research and if you think it'll work for you, go for it, you might be pleasantly surprised. Lots of information on the Delphi forum "Riding the Darkside", check it out!
Darkside member # 101

Baron's Life said...

This is very dumb as it may know it never even occured to me that a car tire could be used on a motorcycle... Seriousle I would not even have thpought about it...thanks for sharing...I might be going dark side too..I have to investigate this venue/altenative

Deedot said...

Thanks for the info Pat! I'll be keeping my eye on this blog, as I've read all the info I can get on DS and I'm convinced it's the right thing for me. I ride a Road Star and will be swapping out my Metz 880 for a Vredestein Comtrac when it's worn out - should be this riding season...

mq01 said...

hmmm, interesting. i know about running car tires. and i know most are fat rear tires. but i never thought of it as a regular tire size source. hmmm... great stuff pat, thank you.

Tim said...

Luke, you do not know the power of the dark side!!!