Last Post on the Dark-side

Car tire on the bike.

Car tire waiting to be installed.
It will prove to be a great tire for the bike.

Short of some monumental event, this will be my last post about the dark-side car tire. I figure I’ve gotten just about all of the mileage I reasonably can out of that subject. (Pun? What pun?)
I’ve put a couple of hundred miles on it now, and I can’t imagine ever going back. There are two areas where it is less desirable than a regular motorcycle tire. The first one I’ll mention is that I do have to push a little harder through a long, sweeping turn. Oddly enough, it’s not as noticeable on sharper turns. I was warned of this before I purchased the car tire. It’s not much of a problem. As I put more miles on it, I notice it less and less.
The other weak area is when I stop the bike on an inclined surface, the bike wants to lean with the incline more. I don’t expect that to improve. I just have to be aware of it and adjust my habits. It’s inconvenient, but nothing I can’t live with.
The first few miles I put on the tire, I noticed a strange tendency for the back end to wobble in a quick S-turn. That tendency is gone. I don’t understand any mechanism that would explain why the tire would start handling differently, but it seems to have. There are those who will insist that I’ve just gotten used to it, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Even feeling for it, I can’t detect it. Some of the people on the bike forums say that “of course a new tire is stiffer and will loosen up as I ride it.” Others claim that, “there can’t be that much of a change in the physical tire.” Put me in the camp with the first group.
But with time, the things that gave me pause are diminishing. And the gain of comfort and stability on the highway more than off sets any of the deficiencies. I was prepared to experiment with pressure. I started out at 45 pounds/psi. As the tire began to handle differently I checked to see if it lost pressure. I thought that maybe a loss of pressure was the reason for the difference in handling. That is not the case. I checked this morning and it’s still at 45 pounds.
The real test was when my wife had the opportunity to ride with me and I was able to see how well it handled with us 2 up. It was an absolute dream. The ride was so much smoother than I’ve felt before on the Valkyrie, or any other of my bikes. The whole back end just feels more stable. My wife commented that to her, the bike felt more steady. The tire feels like it’s got a bite on the road, and that makes everything better. I simply don’t worry about the back end coming out from under me, which allows me to relax more while riding.
Like any change, there is a learning curve. In this case, it was worth the effort. The tire on my Magna only has a couple of thousand miles on it, but when it’s time to replace it, I will most likely go with a dark-side tire on it as well.

- Guy Wheatley

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