By on August 28, 2014

To some very large degree, the automotive world as we know it today was fashioned by two major advances. The first was the implementation of effective and reliable engine control computers, which handle everything from emissions compliance to knock control silently and competently. We take it for granted now that cars start immediately, run perfectly from sea level to the top of Mount Evans, never smoke, stumble, or ping, and return real-world fuel mileage that is often triple that of their Seventies predecessors.

The second advance started around 1992 and it’s known as the “silica miracle”. Replacing some percentage of the carbon black in automotive tires with silica dramatically increases grip and tire life while reducing rolling resistance significantly. The Prius wouldn’t be nearly as amazing without low-rolling-resistance tires, and those tires couldn’t happen without silica. But it’s not just the eco-Mouseketeers who are benefiting from it. Today’s performance tires are so much better than their 1990-and-before predecessors it’s difficult for younger enthusiasts to truly understand the gap in capabilities. It was once taken for granted that performance cars like the Acura NSX or Porsche 911 ate their tires every five thousand miles and handled like they were on greased roller skates the minute the road became shiny with rain. Without silica tires, the enduro series like the 24 Hours of Lemons, ChumpCar, and AER would still have tire changes every two hours.

In fact, today’s automotive tires are so good, it’s possible to use them in ways that were never intended.

They call themselves “Darksiders” but a better word for them might be heretics. They mostly ride the big eight-hundred-pound touring bikes, the six-cylinder Gold Wings and cross-continental Beemers, and they put hundreds of thousands of miles beneath their saddles as they ride “Iron Butts” and swallow states one after another. Many of them have experienced blowouts and major problems from their touring motorcycle tires, particularly when two plus-sized people and a lot of gear are pushing the total load up to the three-quarter-ton mark. All of them are sick and tired, pun intended, of replacing rubber that costs $400 a set on what seems like a seasonal basis.

The Darksiders weren’t the first people to put automotive tires on a motorcycle. That’s been done again and again, most amusingly by the “Big Dog” choppers that had 250mm-width Goodyears on the back wheel. But they were the first people to do it because they expected, and in many cases received, tangible benefits from doing so. One Darksider puts it like so:

If you ride two up, you’ll find that the available moto tire load capacity can easily be exceeded even while remaining within the GVWR. 60-65% rear bias loading isn’t unusual with a passenger and luggage. If you add up the numbers you’ll see what I mean.

I blame this and the resulting heat on my moto tire (MT) failures. The CTs have a much higher load rating and run (in my own experience) about 40% cooler than the moto tires in similar conditions.

So for me, the safety provided by a more capable tire (cooler running/higher load capacity) and the additional safety of Run Flat (RF) capability are the two clear advantages of running a RF CT on a GL1800.

Other advantages are the smoothing/softer ride which is significantly appreciated by my wife. I have noticed marginally improved mileage but not significantly enough to make it an advantage. The biggest improvement on wear is that my CTs are replaced when the tread wears out versus when the tire deforms after failure like with the MT.

With many GoldWing tires lasting just 10,000 miles compared to the 30,000 or more from automotive tires that cost half as much to begin with, plus some additional fuel mileage, the economics of it make obvious sense. Wet-weather traction is also greatly improved, according to the reports of many Darksiders. I want to focus on that for a moment because I think it’s important, and, um, it also explains why you can’t buy any Motorola PowerPC computers or rotary-engined cars anymore.

Hee hee.

You see, while those of us who fancy ourselves scientists or engineers like to believe in the romance of the “aha” moment and the entirely new idea, the dirty truth of it is that the steady progress made by dedicated effort in a field is usually more important, and more effective, than any single inspiration. Take the rotary engine. It’s a hell of an idea and it has a lot to recommend it. The problem was that only one manufacturer kept developing it after the initial excitement faded, and that manufacturer — Mazda, obvi — couldn’t hope to match the sheer volume of engineering prowess being thrown at the piston engine over the same period of time. Thus the piston-engine tortoise catches the rotary hare.

Same goes for the PowerPC chip, which smoked the pins off the x86 architecture when it arrived but couldn’t be sold in enough volume to justify the kind of development that x86 received. In the end, the compromised and thoroughly annoying x86 architecture beat no fewer than three other major processor designs, including Intel’s own Itanium clean-sheet design. The reason was simple: it sold in such numbers, and was so profitable, that there was more money available to improve it by degrees.

Now back to car tires. The market for automotive tires that are effective in the rain is an order of magnitude greater than the market for touring motorcycle tires that are effective in the rain. Don’t be fooled by the large motorcycle markets in other countries; what they consider to be a “motorcycle” has nothing to do with a Gold Wing. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent developing, testing, and perfecting the wet-weather automotive tire. The touring motorcycle tire, on the other hand, is like the Renesis engine in the RX-8; it has some good ideas, but it can’t hold its own against a fully developed, high-volume competitor.

It stands to reason, therefore, that a car tire would of course be better in the rain than a bike tire. Particularly when used in applications where the weight load is basically automotive; a GoldWing with heavy passengers weighs as much as a 1976 Civic and has a performance envelope that is considerably greater.

Naturally, not everyone is thrilled about this Darkside business and compelling arguments against it have been made. But some of these arguments fail to take into account the development gap between car and bike tires. Sure, the cornering loads are way different on a bike tire than a car tire — but what if a car tire is just so much better that it has enough reserve performance in that situation anyway? Remember when Grassroots Motorsports ran a Honda Odyssey against an E-Type around an autocross and the van won? That is the power of continuous development.

The war between the Darkside and the, um, Light Side is getting more heated. Some group rides are excluding Darksiders. Police are ticketing them. Harsh words are being exchanged and the size of various genitalia is being questioned on all sides. This will get worse before it gets better. At some point, one of the tire OEMs is going to “certify” a car tire for bike use, raise the price twenty percent, and clean up. Depend on it.

For those of you who don’t give a damn about motorcycle tires — well, you’re not reading, are you? But if you are, here’s the payoff to the car guys. Like it or not, much of the development money and effort in this business is now being thrown at things we find repugnant. SUVs. CUVs. Three-cylinder turbos, CVTs, DSGs, sliding-caliper brakes, tall wagons, battery packs, who knows what. Many of our cherished technologies and designs will fall by the wayside. The only consolation is that things will get better and there will be room for romance, excitement, enthusiasm in there somewhere.

In the end, though, the money and the market will determine what the cars of the future look like. We’ll just have to hope that we can misuse them to our own disreputable ends. You know what I’m saying, right? In the finish, we will all wind up on the dark side.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

97 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: The dark side of unintended consequences....”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I am not sure about motorcycle tire development being behind the mark. The loads MotoGP bikes see are pretty mind blowing.

    But if these weirdos get better riding out of car tires, so be it. Someone who enjoys riding a 1000lb behemoth with a passenger and all kinds of luggage over thousands of miles a trip is already… “special”. Me personally, if I’m going somewhere far with my wife, I will ride on car tires too… in one of my cars. When I’m on my bike I want freedom and confidence when I am leaned over.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      On one hand, I don’t want to disparage a culture that hasn’t done anything to offend me – long distance bagger riders tend to have very good road manners, and they certainly aren’t invading my hobbies and spaces.

      On the other, every time I see a post-middle aged guy polishing the chrome on his Dekotora-bike, I shudder. The best thing you can do to a bagger is to strip off the bags, and if your significant other is riding bitch instead of on a bike next to you… I get long-distance riding, and I get that when you get older, you want something more comfortable, but when you bike has motorized stands to help hold it up at lights, GTFO please. I guess the only good news is that I don’t know anyone under 40 who rides with this crowd, and the average Gold Wing buyer’s age is higher than ever. Maybe in another decade this will follow ape hangers and tail pipe risers as just another 2-wheeled fad.

      • 0 avatar
        DeeDub

        I’m with you, I don’t see the point of a two-wheeled RV, though I reserve the right to change my mind when I get that old myself. When I was a young whippersnapper I mocked anyone with a windshield on their bike. Now that I’m in my 40’s, putting a windshield on my commuter bike really made my back happier.

        • 0 avatar
          revrunt

          My Wing-abago carried my beautiful bride and me over 1800 miles in the last four days. Over three hours of this trip found us riding in hard rain o0n a very sure footed back tire. Wanna follow me on your bike? LETS GO!

          My other bikes are for fun, this one is for seeing the country and eating miles. It does love eating twisties also, for a fat girl.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          You need to ride a Goldwing before you diss it. It’s too big for hacking though crowded city streets and the tightest of canyons. But anywhere with anything resembling open spaces, it is absolutely astounding how well behaved it is for such an ungainly looking thing.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        At least they’re riding. I was in Rockingham, NC a number of years ago for a car race and passed by a bike rally. I saw lots of trailers filled with late model Harleys that were being towed to the event, and this on a nice summer day. The trailerbike phenomenon, I don’t get. If you have some precious old classic or a custom that’s not too pleasant to ride, I understand, but why someone would tow a nearly new touring bike to a riding event I just don’t get.

        • 0 avatar
          HydrogenOnion

          That’s because if they all rode their older and newer Harleys there, half of them would never show up because they would be broken down at the side of the road… LOL.

          Those rough engines shake all the nuts and bolts loose. I’ve read more than a couple of stories from people who gave up on Harleys because they got sick and tired of having to constantly retighten everything… not to mention the overpriced parts/service.

          Yes… even the newer ones aren’t that reliable/durable when you compare them to cars/trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @sportyaccordy – how much lean can you actually get out of a luxobarge like a leadWing? or most Harley’s for that matter?

      That is the whole point, you might as well have a trike as far as lean angles go.

      I do agree that bike tires are a rip off. I didn’t mind getting 10,000 km out of my bike tires because I wanted tires that would keep me from road surfing at 200kph through corners.

      Most guys on sport bikes tend stay “straight up” and drag your knees lean angles are usually reached only on track days or by hardcore skilled riders or nut-jobs.

      If you look at the “chicken strips” (or hero strips depending on your point of view) on sport bike tires most have a good inch left before getting to the edge of a tire. Some guys will get to 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch and I never saw a street guy get to the edge of the tire.
      I’ve done it but the margin for error is slim to none.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        FWIW I have got out to about a 1/4″ inch of the edge of my tires on my Ninja 650R on all street riding. But a lot of my riding was on very tight back roads until I started commuting on it. Now it’s starting to square off.

        Different strokes for different folks I guess, but turning a motorcycle into a car seems pretty silly to me. When these bikes go I will bid them good riddance

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          It is pretty tough to get to the edge of a tire if it is a 180 or 190.

          Tire sizes for sport bikes are more a case of marketing hype as opposed to need. Most would do just fine with a 170.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        It’s actually fun to see how far over people can go on Harley’s – check out some of the Cop-bike competitions. Because they have so much torque, you can do some pretty absurd things at very low speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Just push your sport bike down supermoto style in a few corners and, voila!, no chicken strips…… Don’t even have to lean much at all. Perennial type A’s at sport bike hangouts have taken to look for melted edge thread to determine pecking order for that reason……

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @stuki – supermoto style tends to be more dirt bike in nature.

          I knew guys who deliberately set their bikes up “soft” so they would squat more in corners to make it easier to drag pegs.

          Same idea I guess.

          I hated the whole lets ride to the coffee shop to stare at our bikes mentality.

          I bought the thing to ride not look at.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Supermoto style works on dirtbikes because they are so tall and narrow that you can get effective (contact patch to COG) lean angle steep enough to get to the tire’s traction limit, while sitting upright and simply pushing the bike down under you.

            On lower, wider bikes, to get enough effective lean to use all traction of modern tires, you much hang off on the inside, minimizing how much the bike itself needs to lean.

            Once tracks get tight enough, the time and effort required to move from hanging off on one side to the other, slows you down more than the increased static corner speed a sportbike kept more upright allows for. While simply sitting upright and yanking the bars back and forth letting the bike move under you, SuMo style, is quicker.

            Once the road/track opens up a tiny bit, all the other dynamic downsides to a tall dirtbike contribute to make them slower, though. But not necessarily any less fun :)

          • 0 avatar
            HydrogenOnion

            “I hated the whole lets ride to the coffee shop to stare at our bikes mentality.”

            LOL… in my area, that describes most of the Harley riders…

    • 0 avatar
      revrunt

      “special””weirdo” here…. I have over a quarter of a million miles logged on car tires between two GL1500’s and my current GL1800. (that is a little over 286,000 miles to be exact) I have personally lost two friends from crashes caused by delaminating Motorcycle tires on GL 1800’s. My personal experience includes riding two delaminated tires to heart stopping conclusions on the side of the road. Until you have done that personally on a 1250# loaded machine pulling a trailer, you really dont understand why someone would want to ride the safest tire available for a machine like this. The run-flat technology is priceless.

      Now as to those of you who have never ridden a motorcycle with a car tire on it, let me say that it goes around curves with every bit of sure-footedness of any motorcycle tire and MORE. If you had ever, as I have , hit sand or spilled corn in the corner of a hard curve, you would know the car tire far out performs the motorcycle tire hands down. As for it wanting to go straight, there are some tires that do not like turning, but my personal current favorite, the Michelin PA3 winter tire (with extra siping for bite) at 36# of pressure has a very rounded profile and falls into corners quite well. The profile of the tire also lifts the bike in a corner and has the effect of increasing the lean angle so the bike can actually be ridden harder through the curves. Believe me when I say the groups I ride with have been known to stay up with some fairly quick riders on some very challenging roads.

      My wife rides with me and is the most precious thing in my life. I will not risk her life and limb on an unsafe motorcycle tire when there is a safer alternative. We put on over 35k miles last year (on one car tire)and had a blast together. Anybody else want to try to match that? Yep, I’m old, but I aint dead yet and I want to see a bunch of this country and squeeze as much adrenaline out of these bones as possible before I move on. You do it your way, I’ll do it on a car tire. By the way, sparks and hard parts hitting pavement are a common part of the above goals in my life. We do it often.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @revrunt – appreciate the input.

        In the case of a big touring rig the lean angles are never going to be the same as a sport bike, sport touring or adventure bike.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          That depends on who’s riding the bikes. Any sport bike since at least the 90s is way more capable than 90% of riders are. My VFR VTEC was considered “a pig” by sport bike standards, but I’ll be damned if I managed to touch down the peg feelers more than once in the time I owned it (well, twice if you count the time I tucked the front wheel and totalled it). And from what I saw of most riders on the street, I was more aggressive than average.

          Searching Youtube will show you that even a Goldwing can do things on a twisty road that most riders can’t even do on a sport bike.

          My brother went to a track day school earlier this year, and said there was a girl on a beat up old Ninja lapping a guy on a $40k Ducati. An instructor told him that he has no idea why bikes like the R1 exist; there are probably 10 people in the world who know how to ride one properly.

          The whole “I need to buy the best performance bike/tires/suspension for safe handling” mentality is way overblown on motorcycles. I’ll happily defer to revrunt on what’s actually needed on a loaded touring bike. That guy sounds like the real deal.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Awesome writeup!

        35K on ONE rear? On a 1250lb Wing! That is pretty darned impressive. Only sad part is, those kind of numbers probably wont inspire any tire maker to invest in the research required to optimize the car tire design even further for bikes.

        So, riders will probably forever be stuck choosing between the less than optimal shape of a car tire, and the less than optimal construction of a bike tire… And I guess experienced riders prefer learning to ride around the former, rather than trusting their life to the latter…. At least on the biggest of bikes.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    From the linked Rider Magazine article:

    “Can the rider with a car tire mounted on his motorcycle have complete confidence that, in the event of a crash, he will be covered by his insurance? Or that others injured in a crash won’t target him with a costly lawsuit because he fit his motorcycle with tires that were not designed or intended for motorcycle use and may have contributed to the crash? Are the few dollars saved by turning to a car tire outweighed by the potential loss of a house and whatever dollars may be squirreled away for retirement?”

    I don’t own a motorcycle, but this alone would convince me to stick with standard motorcycle tires.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Well, you could check the fine print of your policy or speak with your insurance company to clear that up…

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      As danio says, that should be an easy question to answer by checking your policy. That said, I haven’t heard of auto insurance companies in the US denying coverage for people that crash in winter conditions using bald summer/all-season rubber, so I’m not sure why they would care about tires on motorcycles.

    • 0 avatar

      One could say the same about custom or restomodded cars. By that standard most rat rods are rolling liabilities.

    • 0 avatar
      CapVandal

      Motorcycle drivers worrying about the fine points of insurance coverages?

      I would be concerned primarily with being alive. Then not being seriously maimed or crippled. &c.

      It is highly unlikely that using a car rather than a bike tire would be a problem, but if you absolutely have to know, you have to ask your agent. And then make sure your agent puts it in writing. And that he has decent E&O coverage. &c.

      If a tire dealer sells it and installs it, and if the tire is the cause of a serious accident — they are sitting on some serious liability.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      I highly doubt most insurance adjusters would know the difference, honestly. When I see a big cruiser or tourer rocking a car tire, it stands out to me because I ride and maintain my own bikes (including changing tires), but the average person probably doesn’t give it a second thought.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    …Motorola PowerPC computers…

    IBM will happily sell you a POWER8-based system. Not quite the same as PPC, but close enough. The downside is that you have to pay IBM prices. Think a Xeon MP is expensive? Think again.

    I don’t think I’d say that it “smoked the pins” off an x86; the two were pretty close for most of their lives, with PPC usually better at integer work and x86 at FP. The death knell was Intel giving up on NetBurst and it’s clock-cycles-at-any-cost architecture and rethinking x86 with Yonah and Core. I suppose that’s Intel’s silica-tire/come-to-Jesus moment.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      NERD!

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        vi is still better than EMACS.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        There’s a very good chance that your engine control computer is sporting a PowerPC processor, especially if it’s less than a decade old. All your computer networking gear is probably also running PowerPC.

        But your actual argument is perfectly correct – neither Apple, IBM or Motorola could/would spend the money to keep PowerPC competitive for consumer computer products. Although part of that inability/unwillingness stems from Motorola having major problems in the late 1990s getting decent fabrication yields for high-clock processors. If Intel, TMSC or Samsung was running the chip fab things would have probably been way different. Despite all that, PowerPC is extraordinarily good in embedded applications. Better than ARM for a lot of things, despite ARM getting far more development dollars (then again, those development dollars are focused on smartphone-specific chips).

        I also noticed, Jack, that your linked article showed various camber angles that motorcycle tires encounter as proof that car tires are not a good idea. But on the types of motorcycles you are talking about, I highly doubt that the high camber angles are physically possible – the bikes are too fat and the footpegs and whatnot would get in the way. But I don’t really know much of anything about motorcycles. I could be way off.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Jack – these darksiders weren’t Hispanic looking types in Carharts?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I always liked PPC but it never seemed to take off outside of Macs and some high end server hardware. What are your views on SPARC in this day and age?

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Same as POWER. If you have apps that really need it (eg, you’ve plunked a load on Oracle on Solaris) then by all means.

        I haven’t seen a UltraSPARC box since Sun first released the Niagara chips, so I really can’t say.

        ETA: took a look at the new T5. That’s a nice chip for MT-friendly workloads. I don’t think Oracle has changed its stance on benchmarking, though, so you wont see how well it lines up against a Xeon E7 anywhere.

        • 0 avatar
          chuckrs

          For my work, its been hard to beat a PC at the low to medium end for at least a decade. A few years ago, a company in the same business put together a 48core Athlon system with 192GB Ram, striped and mirrored Raid with 15K drives and redundant power supplies. (CPU processing is big for our programs – 90% average for hours at a time). Cost – $15K plus a whole bunch of time tracking down and experimenting with/integrating the goodies. All possible thanks to market size and continuous improvement. I’m old enough to remember a 200Mb drum drive about 18″ in diameter and 4-5 feet long – a big cylinder – so the improvements are to me just short of magic. That $15K system is so much more capable than anything I used back when I still had hair on my head.

      • 0 avatar
        KrohmDohm

        Between the built in enterprise grade features of Solaris and the Muti-Threading capabilities of the T5 line Sparc is still a great way to go for certain applications. Used to be a Solaris admin till my shop went to VMware and RHEL.

    • 0 avatar
      mitchw

      And now x86 is having to compete with the ARM hordes. Competition from embedded, through phones, tablets, and all the way up to servers.

      So long Intel, it’s been nice payin’ ya.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        ARM is very interesting but I must confess I have had little exposure to it from a professional standpoint.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        If I was going to bet on the outcome (and I am not), I would say it’s going to be the other way around. Intel’s manufacturing process is so far ahead of the rest of the industry it’s not even funny. The x86 has more potential for power saving features on the chip than ARM does (thanks to all that prior incremental development). There are already good smartphones out there running x86, you just can’t buy them in the US. Yet.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      The PowerPC was a good architecture. The iMac G4 was being produced in 2003, as was the Intel Pentium 4HT (Northwood).

      The G4 chip was ranged from 700MHz-1.42 GHz. The Pentium 4HT could be had in a 3.0GHz configuration.

      I run Linux on most of my machines. I tried to use an old iMac G4. I could get Ubuntu to run on it, but the repository support was terrible. Most packages couldn’t be installed, and my 2007 version of Ubuntu ran like a snail stuck in molasses. A Pentium 4 can handle Linux just fine. I personally prefer AMD, though. Half the cost… as much speed and quality.

      My personal laptop is a Dell Latitude D510. It has the Pentium M, 1.25 GB RAM, and a 60 GB IDE hard drive. I run Xubuntu 14.04 on it. It’s a 2005 laptop. Xubuntu runs like a man trying to evade the police.

      The Pentium M had parts basing back to the old Pentium III. It runs an operating system that will have full support through 2019. If there is a Linux distribution by then that doesn’t require a PAE kernal, it could go even longer!

      I’m not the first owner of the laptop, but according to this, when I retire it, the machine will be 14 years old… at least.

      Beat that with a PowerPC!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @matador

        I still have a mint G3 Lombard in the closet and I need to find the time and patience to get whatever the last build of PPC Linux was on it.

        Funny you mention Xubuntu, I had that running on a D610 for my buddys shop but the interface confused them so I switched to Lubuntu. This particular box was spec’d well (2GB DDR2, Dual Core Merom 2.2?) and it flies with Linux.

        • 0 avatar
          matador

          When his D610 bites the big one, take a look on eBay for the CPU. If he has a D610 with a dual core, that’s a unicorn configuration. I didn’t know that it even existed!

          I’ve never used Lubuntu, but I can agree that Xubuntu has a non-friendly interface for most. It reminds me of something I’d expect in NT 4.0

          Xubuntu flies on mine, and I only have 1280MB DDR2. I can even watch Netflix on it- without any buffering issues usually. Netflix on Linux is a pain to set up and configure, but well worth it.

          For a 9 year old machine, I’m very impressed.

          ———–

          The last version of Ubuntu to support the PPC architecture was around 2007- I want to say 7.10 off memory???

          You may want to look at Mint, though- I know there was/is a version for the PPC.

          Best of luck with your project. I haven’t seen a Lombard G3 in ages!

          • 0 avatar

            Maybe one of you computer gurus can tell me why swapping out a SATA DVD drive screwed up the master boot record on my dual boot Ubuntu/WinXP box, giving me non-system disk errors. Most of my work is on the XP side of things but a while back I had to reinstall Win to solve a problem and a friend suggested that I make it a dual boot to have a second way of accessing my files.

            What’s interesting is that while I was troubleshooting things, though the Ubuntu Live Disk booted just fine and I could mount both of my hard drives, when I tried to boot from the WinXP CD, it wouldn’t boot, saying there were no hard drives.

            Running Boot Repair fixed things, but my main computer, with all of my car photos, was out of commission for about 4 hours. That delayed the Elio story by a day.

            Having done IT support I’m not a novice and I have to wonder what do regular folks do when their computer screws up?

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            I hit mine with a big hammer ;-)

            I work with pre-owned stuff a lot. I refurbish and do electronics recycling, so my stuff isn’t “mint”. All I can say is to pull the DVD drive out. I don’t know how that could foul an MBR, but…

            Since I work with stuff that’s already lived a long life, I have real short tolerances for parts. If a stick or RAM fails or a DVD drive won’t work, it’s gone.

            —————–

            When I do upgrades, I always clone my hard drive. Clonezilla is free, and does well. Plus, I was able to upgrade my old 80GB drive at work to a 320GB!

            Now, I need to go find more pictures of the 1995 Buick Riviera to fill that extra space!

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “Having done IT support I’m not a novice and I have to wonder what do regular folks do when their computer screws up?”

            Pray or pay.

            “Maybe one of you computer gurus can tell me why swapping out a SATA DVD drive screwed up the master boot record on my dual boot Ubuntu/WinXP box”

            It sounds like you have AHCI set up (which is why Windows wouldn’t see the disk; you need to load AHCI mass-storage drivers, which the Windows CD doesn’t have) and your drives are enumerated by bus location (/dev/hda1, /dev/hdb1) instead of UUID in the boot manager (GRUB, probably) that you use to dual-boot.

            Unplugging the drive changed the order on the SATA bus, so that GRUB couldn’t find your drive.

            A good plan is to not use a bootloader to dual-boot, and instead use BIOS to switch boot drives. That way you keep a clean bootloader config for each OS. You’ll need another drive for either Windows or Linux.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            “…I have to wonder what do regular folks do when their computer screws up?’

            I hold my nose and embrace the cloud. Pics/Music/Movies and a few documents are the only thing I care about that I can’t just download again, and the cloud backs them up well enough. Software will have to be reinstalled over time.

            I figure the odds of a failure are low enough that learning how to use a complete backup tool is not worth the effort.

    • 0 avatar
      HydrogenOnion

      “I don’t think I’d say that it “smoked the pins” off an x86;”

      Correct. It was the DEC Alpha that smoked the pins off an x86.

      When Intel was stuck at 200mhz with 32 bits in 1996, the DEC Alpha was already at 300mhz with 64 bits… and an architecture that could scale up as well or better than anybody.

      Then Compaq bought DEC and let the operation rot on the vine. Then HP bought Compaq and actively undermined the old DEC pieces that competed with HP’s crappier high end stuff and that was the end of that.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    A question for TTAC GoldWing/Big Rig owners (I assume there has to be at least one) —

    I have never ridden one of the groundpounders and can understand that they aren’t designed to handle like my 916. However, I also have a 82 CB750, and while I don’t touch hardparts it will lean when necessary.

    Given the CT’s non rounded shoulders (even the biggest bikes I have seen are rounded off) wouldn’t that dramatically impact turn-in, particularly under load? Given that runflats have even stronger sidewalls, wouldn’t that make it even worse?

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      If you take a look at the video it doesn’t look bad. I’m sure there are specific tires that qualify, badyear Eagles are not going to cut it, but those Kumhos certainly weren’t square shouldered.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        You get that skinny a tire, it’s not going to be all that square-shouldered. the biggest issue I see is that there is no tread on the sidewall, so when doing extreme turns, it’s basically a slick and wet conditions would be iffy.

        But it’s a *tourer*. Very little of that is “canyon carving” for many obvious reasons, and little of it is done intentionally in the rain. If those tires wear better, last longer (even occasionally riding on the sidewall), and even *perform* (for the mission profile) better for less money; why not?

    • 0 avatar
      revrunt

      My Wing-abago carried my beautiful bride and me over 1800 miles in the last four days. Over three hours of this trip found us riding in hard rain on a very sure footed back tire. Wanna follow me on your bike? LETS GO!

      My other bikes are for fun, this one is for seeing the country and eating miles. It does love eating twisties also, for a fat girl.

      I touch hard parts often, and the bike falls into corners very well. there are different profiles of car tires, we run the most rounded one we can find and it turns just fine..

    • 0 avatar
      revrunt

      the car tire requires a slight bit more input (~5% in my opinion). the profile of the tire and the pressure determine the input required to initiate turns. Run flats are not that much different. After the first twenty miles, you dont even know the difference.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    Thanks for the article for motorcycle riders.
    There is beginning to be a lot of talk on motorcycle sites about “darksiding”. How can you argue with longer life at a cheaper price? Many of the Darksiders claim handling is just as good. The larger bikes are not handling machines and can probably use the car tires with little risk. They aren’t canyon carvers and really are just interested in going and stopping straight and are the high mileage vehicles of choice when you just have to get there on two wheels. Sport bikes are not going to be interested in darksiding in any way, but they are typically your lower mileage vehicles anyway.

    Most riders are taking a wait and see attitude as there is a much smaller margin of error on motorcycles than with cagers (cars). The inconvenience of changing tires at 10,000 miles and a higher price is offset by peace of mind of using the best/safest equipment (no air bags on motorcycles!).
    Agree that once a car tire certifies it for motorcycle use that will open the door for acceptance. Competition will benefit the motorcycle rider and force the motorcycle tire manufacturers to create longer life and cheaper tires.

    Article also reminds me that I need new tires at the end of this riding season. After all I have almost 8,000 miles on my tires.

  • avatar
    kkop

    A set of tires for my bike (just priced it) is $273, with free shipping. I mount and balance them (or not) myself. Rear tire lasts 6000-10000 miles (depending on throttle abuse), front twice that. Not a high price to pay for what I get IMO.

    Motorcycle tires use different rubber compounds on different parts of the tire: harder on the middle part of the tread, softer on the curved sides that come into contact with road surface when cornering. None of that is present on the car tire.

    BTW: the real cost difference is in the mounting: car tires are mounted for free, motorcycle tires can cost $20-$60 per tire!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      How do you mount them? Is it similar to mounting a bicycle tire?

      • 0 avatar
        bosozoku

        It’s just like mounting a car tire, and can be done the easy way (using a spinning mount and special tools) or the hard way (brute force and lots of cursing). Balancing varies by wheel type, but is generally pretty straightforward, involving a mount and slight spinning of the tire/wheel to determine its heaviest point.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        I’ve always done it on the floor of the garage. However someone sent me this video and those have tried it say it works

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI01yB8clSM

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I am something of a tire nerd, and we live in very exciting times.

    I will be buying Nokian Hakkapellita R2 winter tires for the Verano, and reading about the advancements engineered into both the rubber composition as well as the geometry of the treadblock, its pretty cool. Michelin X-Ice tires are another fun one to read about.

    One innovation Nokian touts is using canola oil in their winter rubber compound. Apparently it maintains the rubber strength but aids in the rubber being softer.

    Truly a golden era in automotive technology.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Dave – off topic but just to confirm: Krown is da shiznitz correct?

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I’ll be getting the Blue Buick krowned soon, in advance of winter.

        This will be my first time using it, but I have never heard a negative word regarding it.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        I didn’t realize Krown is finally in Alberta. Alas, not Edmonton yet.

        I continue to use Rust Check, seeing how I’ll likely keep my LS430 another 8 years or so. My Camry has a wax based aftermarket rustproofing, and it basically failed after 10 years. Annual penetrating oil seems to be the way to go.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Yup! The ESSO truckstop in the industrial area I work has a Krown bay. So handy!

          My research has led me to believe that wax or rubber based sealants suck. Petroleum based is the way to go, both in undercoat and rust proof.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Hakkas R2 are made in Russia. Just an FYI.

      I use them on my 550i. Excellent tires. Last winter was brutal and I was glad to have them.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Dave-

      We do live in an exciting time for tires. Although I have no experience with Nokians, I have been very impressed with the OEM tire choices on my recent Fords. Michelin and Continental, among others, make some excellent tires currently.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> Apparently it maintains the rubber strength but aids in the rubber being softer.
      And has zero transfat!

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Very interesting analogy between bike tires, microprocessors, and engines, in a way that James Burke of “Connections” fame would envy.

    Come to think of it, similar analogies may apply to almost anything in modern life

    edit: just googled “silica miracle” and got a lot of hits on health supplements

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    For heavy, two-up riding (with baggage included), I can sort of see the rear tire swap as 99 percent of your travel is straight anyway. Doing the front tire however, no- I would not do that. Bike tires def wear out quickly in comparison but the handling characteristics between two track and single trackers are very different. Interesting take but I wouldn’t do it. I am reminded of a ride we did some time ago. We ran into a guy with a Chevy 350 between his legs and something like a 225/70/14 on the back. He joined us for a bit and I was behind him. On corners, the tread would lift right off the ground. Hardly safe. No thanks.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    On the face of it, I would say that you’d be stupid to use a tire engineered for a car when ones engineered for motorcycles exist, especially knowing that motorcycle tires have advanced similarly over the last two decades. It’s hard to argue, though, with the first-hand reports of people who’ve gone dark side successfully with tangible benefits. It’s even harder to argue with that video; dude was getting really jiggy with that 900 lbs Goldwing. If a car tire can do that, it becomes difficult to argue that the claims of dangerous handling are real.

    This does beg the question: why aren’t the tire manufacturers adapting their car tire tech for use on motorcycles?

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Profit motive may have something to do with it. Motorcycle tyres are incredibly expensive compared to car tyres, and I find it hard to believe that the manufacturing costs between the two are proportional.

      Part of it is distribution. Everybody and their brother sells car tyres. Motorcycle tyres? For the most part, you either go to a local motorcycle shop, or mail order. Period. There are no other retail alternatives.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        I tend to discount the profit motive. I think its really an issue of low volume with the same fixed cost (both on the manufacturing and the distribution side).

        I buy mail order and mount an balance them myself. Getting rid of the old ones is a problem. Can’t throw them in the trash. Landfill does not accept them (or charges a high fee for doing so).

        • 0 avatar
          econobiker

          Cycle tires are better for kid’s tree tire swings versus heavy modern car tires. Otherwise I tend to find an out of the way new tire retailer, used tire shop, or car wrecking/tow business that have a small accessible tire grave yards and might roll an used up orphan cycle tire over the fence, on ocassion..

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      A motorcycle tire is more complex than a car tire -the compound changes from the center to the rim, to take into account the different forces coming into play with lean angles. It is a much more technical device than a car tire.

      That, coupled with lower volume , probably accounts for the price difference.

  • avatar
    matador

    I’ve only been on a motorcycle once, so I’ll defer to those who frequently ride them.

    But, I’ve run many pickup tires on farm equipment. The farm tires are “specialized”. My old Uniroyal Liberator… isn’t.

    I’ll run them on some things. I mounted one to our small square baler a couple of weeks ago. It works great! Would I run them on the front of my tractor? No. The turning abilities of a three-rib or four-rib are far superior.

    I think the same is true with motorcycles. My baler doesn’t need performance. My front tractor spots do. If you’re riding a motorcycle cross-country, without much aggressive turning, why not? If you want to drive aggressively and make sharp turns in canyons, then this may not be the best choice.

    For some people, though, I could see the advantages. I’d be curious to see how an aggressive car tire would work, like a Michelin X-Ice or something like that. For light off-road/dirt use, it might be the ticket!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Matador – Michelin X-ice would be too soft for offroad dirt use and it would get plugged with mud too quickly.

      Dirt bikes tend to spend most of their time leaned over so the square profile would be killer

    • 0 avatar
      revrunt

      Michelin PA3 is the current tire of choice for many darksiders. they stick like glue and have a very rounded profile, especially at 36# which is what they get aired up to when riding twisties (aggressively)and they are amazingly smooth on the slab at 30#.

      they are load rated at over 1400# where the motorcycle tire they replace is rated at 900#. No comparison when you add in the run flat technology and safety.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @revrunt – I just looked at the specs on the PA3. It is a V rated tire which allows for speeds of 149 mph (240kph) which is a higher speed than most bikes can hit.

        How many miles you get out of one?

        and what do you run on the front?

        • 0 avatar
          revrunt

          Lou, We currently run two tires, interchanging depending on what kind of riding we will be doing. I have mounted a 205/60/16 Goodyear Triple Tred which is a GREAT slab tire, but it is a bit more square, so not so good in the mountains. it will however last for around 40k miles I have worn out three, (39k,41k,42k) it also is a bit taller and will drop the rpms a bit at interstate speeds which improves gas mileage by 1-2mpg.

          The Alpin is good for twisties and varied riding, but has a bit softer compound and lasts between 20 and 30K. as to the front, it really doesn’t matter, any good motorcyle tire will work, but I personally run a BT45 bias ply tire which is made for the rear of a cruiser, which we use on the front. they are good for 16-20k miles. (this makes me a double darksider) If I am just going to the mountains, I put on my spare rim which has a bridgestone g709, very sticky and nimble, but only gets about 8-10k for more money than the BT45. These are my preferences, others can run what the wish.

          My motto, be happy and run safe.

  • avatar
    1967mgb

    Jack, the brains are strong in this one.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    In addition to suffering from a somewhat limited amount of development, the Wankel rotary design has a less than wonderful combustion chamber shape. It has too much surface area and lots of corners, neither of which is good for fuel economy or emissions. I suspect no matter how much development was done, that particular rotary design was going to lose out to the reciprocating engine with cylinders.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    What’s the matter with sliding-caliper brakes?

  • avatar
    don1967

    As a motorcyclist, I just can’t get my head around the idea of leaning into corners on square-edged tires. Especially when the experts agree so unanimously that the sidewalls were never designed for this.

    As cheapskate, however, I wonder if there is a single documented case of tire failure caused by this practice. It wouldn’t be the first time (cough cough global warming cough cough) that expert opinion was suspect due to financial interests or political pressure.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I’m sure that ninety-nine percent of the time the car tire will work just as well, but if you have an emergency situation that required you to make a violent lane change maneuver then I’d rather have a motorcycle tire.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    @mike1dog – any lane change is violent on a 1-1.5K bike.

  • avatar
    probert

    This is a bad thing to do – even in the vid he’s on a tiny percentage of the tread when cornering, while asking the tire to do something it’s not designed for. Why? for a few bucks?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      In the article a Darksider said that he routinely experienced tire failures when running motorcycle tires on his heavily loaded tourer. Another non-financial reason provided was superior ride quality. I don’t think cornering is such a priority on a bike that is pushing 1,500 lbs loaded. Personally, I would rather ride a bike that’s closer to 600 lbs with me on it. The type of riding involved would necessitate appropriate motorcycle tires. I don’t see how this is any worse than compromises in performance accepted by people that ride custom choppers though.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Even on a sport motorcycle with aggressive tires, experts say that the contact patch when leaned over is about the size of a postage stamp. That’s just part of the physics of motorcycle cornering.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    Sidecar riders have been using car tires for years, since 3 wheel vehicles have chassis dynamics that are more like a car anyway. Using car tires on solo motorcycle strikes me as a bad idea since the dynamics and tire loadings are so different.

  • avatar
    jdiaz34

    If you take a look at the old Dunlop 491 or Metzeler ME880’s that Wings, K1200LT’s, and Harleys have run for decades, you’d notice that they don’t really look that different than the car tire from a tread profile perspective. Those mc tires all had thick deep tread and a very mild curvature across the profile, and with the brick-hard rubber those manufacturers used, they would freakin last forever. I think the first ME880 front tire on my K1200LT lasted almost 30k miles, and actually got better as it wore, because the deep tread finally got worn away and the tire stopped squirming under the weight of the bike.

    Riding those big fat bikes was damn fun. I miss my LT every time I absolutely have to burn some highway miles.

  • avatar
    nashcat

    Looks like we’re mostly getting comments from the vast majority that have never heard of Darkside, much less tried them on their bike. The comments from those that don’t ride a bike……well, I ignore them completely. I ride 2 bikes, a ’08 Goldwing and a ’06 Honda ST1300, which is a 700lb sport touring bike. I’m running Darkside on both. On the Wing is a Michelin Alpin runflat and on the ST is a Falken. Although not my usual riding style, either one will drag pegs whenever I choose to. As I said on one of the motorcycle forums, I’ve ridden wet, dry, slab, twisty, and even some gravel and dirt roads, and I’ve never felt compromised. Let’s see, less expensive, triple the life, added puncture resistance, smoother ride, good handling, runflat capability. Have I missed anything. The only downside is having to defend myself from opinions of those who have never ridden a bike, but have declared themselves experts on the subject.

    Ride Safe

  • avatar
    chaparral

    At work today, I drove a car with an electric power steering system that wasn’t videogame awful. There’s not much other than ignorance and penny pinching that makes the average EPS system suck. Spend a little more, think a little longer, get something that’s as good as a Ford hydro system.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The break even mileage on a typical EPS is 49,500 miles. They net as much as .7 MPG for about $180 over the cost of a system with the potential for excellent feel. EPS isn’t put on cars for operators’ benefits. Its there for to help manufacturers meet arbitrary goals set by legislators who don’t even know better than to meddle with markets. Lost steering feel is a form of an idiot tax. What’s an extra $48 a year on gasoline to have a car that drives as well as the cars that were made in West Germany? Nothing, when you consider what you’d save up front. I’d happily pay $4 a month for steering feel instead of $20 for XM. That’s the sort of thing that a real luxury car should provide.

  • avatar
    econobiker

    Question:
    Haven’t some hot rods run motorcycle tires on the front axle wheels even under comically small front fenders?

  • avatar
    rpn453

    It’s a similar story with trailer tires. They’re typically poorly designed and constructed and you simply expect them to fail occasionally, yet it’s a media disaster if a passenger vehicle tire ever fails while carrying the same weight at the same speed. A reliable, name-brand passenger vehicle tire with the same load rating is usually cheaper than the no-name Chinese trailer tire alternative anyway.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States