The dark side

Back fender well

There’s not much room in the back fender well of my Victory.
I just put a back tire on my Victory. I went with a popular brand of motorcycle tire, and the same size as the one that came with the bike. But I did seriously consider going to the dark side. In the motorcycle world, going to the dark side means running a car tire.
The reason most dark siders give for their decision is tire life. Most motorcycle tires are good for about 10,000 to 15,000 miles, yet cost the same or more than a comparable car tire good for 50,000 miles. The reasons given for this discrepancy depend largely on who you speak to. Tire manufacturers insist that a motorcycle tire is different from a car tire and engineering constraints limit tire life. Motorcycle tires are round to keep an even contact patch on the ground when the bike leans into a turn. They are also designed to be “sticky.” The tire must grip the road, even in a lean, with sufficient force to keep the wheels from sliding out from under the bike. Those who oppose dark siding say it’s a safety issue.
Dark siders don’t buy it. While the argument sounds logical, many of these folks have run car tires for tens of thousands of miles and say the empirical data don’t support that assertion. I’ve read many forum threads and articles about motorcycle tires. The most convincing one to me was by a Valkyrie rider I know from a forum I belong to. Dark side thread on MOOT Of the arguments I’ve heard, those in favor of running car tires seemed more well thought out and less biased. The manufacturers obviously have a vested interest in selling you a new $120 tire every10,000 miles rather than every 50,000 miles. While many riders claim that there is a safety issue involved, most of them simply parrot the tire industry statements. I haven’t found a good, unbiased study or trial showing real danger. Most of those claims have been either anecdotal, or calculated without a legitimate data set. Dark siders also point out that a tire less likely to blow out on you is a safer tire.
So, why did I stay with an MC tire? There were two reasons. First, I couldn’t fire a car tire with a profile that I know I could get on my bike without modifying it. There’s not a lot of room up in the fender well of my bike so any tire I use will have to fit a specific profile. I just couldn’t find a car tire I was sure would fit.
The second reason has nothing to do with safety. It was strictly a legal issue. I’m not sure a car tire is legal on a motorcycle. But I know for sure that if I’m ever in an accident, counsel for the opposition will insist that my car tire was at fault. And fortunately for him there is a wealth of industry data-propaganda to back him up. A car tire might be safe on a motorcycle, but is isn’t safe in a courtroom.

Another good dark side article.

— Guy Wheatley

3 Responses

  1. Willie T. Kana Says:

    First,in your research, did you find out why its called Dark Side?
    You and I know a couple, who have ridden into every state except Alaska, and Hawaii of the union. With those credentials in mind,I recall him saying ”he’d never put a car tire back on his Goldwing, I forgot why, but I consider his resoneing to be top knotch!!!
    To me, I’d rather have a sticky, round tire on the back of my 2-wheeler, there’s just something about the idea, of running a motorcycle tire on a motorcycle. The money is not that much of an object, for me atleast…If I have to put a new tire on the back every 3 or 4 years, I count that as part of the deal, of being in the sport of Riding.

  2. Quicksilver Says:

    Well I have tried the Darkside and as with anything like that there is a trade-off. 1st I used a Continental car tire that has the run-flat feature, as it sounds (no air and it still holds up the bike or a car for 50 miles) I’m told. The big rub to me is the bike takes more work to operate, you have to push it into the curves and on a really curvy road it is more tiring. Now on grooved pavement it is a dream and gives greater braking because even leaning more tread touches the road.

    I am not through with the darkside yet, just taking a while to decide which tire and exactly what size and tire pressure to use. The main reason for me to try the car tire at first was the money, a bike tire only last me 8 to 12 thousand miles and on the Wing they are nearly $200 plus mounting and balancing. The car tire I tried was about $140 and I’m thinking it will go about 20,000 miles. But after the money issue is the safety issue and having a tire that will stay up even flat has its plus side when you are 2000 plus miles from home. Look on the GL1800 forum darkside and many other forums, there is a lot of info to make you think.

  3. bree Says:

    I have been a dark side rider for 2 years here in alaska the only flaw i have found is here our roads ruts worn it them because we have studded tire in winter on cars and trucks and few trikes i ride a 04 Yamaha warrior and after building it up found that a bike tire lasted no more than a 1000 miles and that was pushing it i run a bfg gforce super force with 30 lbs in the tire it grips in all aspect inculding cornering have not had a issue in it and yes i ride very hard even on so really twisty wiendy roads chasing down crotch rockets and pissing them off when i go by them with my knee on the ground in a sharp corner doing 70+ i know i am 40 but i am still a kid at heart i have even road in the winter here i love to ride been doin it for 30 years so yes i have the ride time o back me up

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