By on November 3, 2016

Darksiding, Image: jojovols/Photobucket

Here’s the problem with writing for public consumption: you never know when you’re going to accidentally touch someone’s third rail, so to speak.

Two years ago, I wrote about the practice of “darksiding” for Road & Track. I doubt most of you have heard that term; it refers to the practice of putting a passenger-car tire on the back of a heavy touring motorcycle like a Honda GoldWing. When I wrote the piece, I had no particular opinion about the merits of “darksiding”; rather, I was focused on the idea that exhaustive, high-budget development often makes it possible for a bad product (or a bad idea) to triumph over better products/ideas that don’t get that same amount of development.

My failure to hysterically excoriate the “darksiders” led a couple of wannabe motorcycle writers to mount a spectacularly ineffective harassment campaign against me, trying to get me fired from my job and/or removed from various media outlets. The sum total of it was that I got kicked off Facebook, which in the long run has done me more good than harm. I haven’t given “darksiding” much thought since then; none of the seven motorcycles my son and I collectively own would benefit from a passenger-car tire. Furthermore, I only ride eight or nine thousand miles a year, not really enough to make an economic case for darksiding even if I had a proper touring bike.

If a recent thread on Reddit is any guide, however, darksiding hasn’t disappeared just because I forgot about it. To the contrary; it’s stronger than ever. And while there are sound scientific reasons why it’s a terrible idea, considering those reasons in depth exposes one of my favorite flaws in what I (sympathetically) think of as “the Asperger’s mindset.”

Here’s the problem: Motorcycle tires are garbage. All of them. There isn’t a single bike tire out there that even comes close to matching the standards for durability, wear, and quality set by passenger-car rubber. The most hilarious example of this is the fact that Carl Reese’s 38-hour “motorcycle Cannonball” last year had to include a stop to replace the rear tire just three hundred miles from the finish. That’s right: you can’t ride a bike 2,600 miles at speed without killing your rear tire.

The bigger the bike in question, the more unsatisfactory the tires are. GoldWing riders complain that they can’t get 10,000 miles out of anything. Think about that. It’s been more than 25 years since any passenger car had those kind of issues — I’m thinking specifically about the first-generation Acura NSX and the Porsche 993, both of which were notorious for murdering back tires in 5,000 miles or so. But those problems have been comprehensively solved by tire manufacturers. I currently have eight years and about 20,000 miles on the Goodyears fitted to my 993. They look fine.

The same kind of engineering effort, applied to touring-motorcycle tires, would probably yield the same results. But although motorcycles and scooters combined outsell four-wheeled cars on this planet, the iceberg bulk of that is low-power commuter machinery for developing countries. The “full-sized” motorcycle business is utterly tiny compared to even the sports-car segment around the world. I’m no Tim Cain, but no matter how I shake, rattle, and roll the numbers, I can’t account for more than maybe 500,000 big-bore motorcycles sold globally last year. (By “big-bore”, I mean 750 cc or above.) The tire-eating GoldWing has rarely sold more than 10,000 copies in any given year, worldwide. That’s the same kind of non-volume that doomed the Mazda RX-8 to extinction, you know. No wonder there hasn’t been a new ‘Wing since the days of the 385-horsepower C5 Z06 — and no wonder nobody’s knocking themselves out trying to make a perfect tire for it.

So the darksiders use car tires, and they get five times the highway mileage out of them, and if there have been any safety consequences to anybody, they’ve been lost in the statistical noise that surrounds motorcycle injury statistics. Given the frequency with which riders are injured or killed by inattentive drivers, worrying about rear-tire-related fatalities while you’re riding a ‘Wing seems a lot like BASE-jumping with one of those Japanese-touring allergy masks on. Yet people worry, and some of them really worry, and one of them has gone through the trouble of producing an absurdly comprehensive argument against darksiding, using everything from equations to actual cut-away rims and tire sections. When I read said argument, I was utterly flabbergasted — and completely convinced that automotive tires have no place whatsoever on a motorcycle.

The anti-darkside argument is flawless. Automotive tires are not built for the pressures and stress of motorcycle use. The bead shape is all wrong, and the mechanism of cornering works to further weaken the already indifferent air seal formed by the mis-junction of tire and rim. The casings are not sufficient enough to narrow pressure zones. The heat concentration at the shoulders is overwhelming. The very squareness of the tire prevents the motorcycle from steering correctly. All of this is proven in the most comprehensive, detailed, equation-laden manner possible …

… but there’s just one problem.

Eppur si muove, motha-‘uckas. Car tires shouldn’t work, but they do work. And they work fine. Which either means that we live in a world of magic or the Bumblebee Argument applies: to wit, the existing calculations and measurements are insufficient to truly describe reality as it exists. This is the kind of thing that trips the Aspies of the car and motorcycle world up a bit. I’m not being critical here; anybody who used to commit entire 500-line AtariBASIC programs to memory the way I did as a child is certainly a member of the autism spectrum himself. I’m just observing. And what I observe is that Internet scientists are very good at clinging to certain facts, figures, or results, but they are very bad at stepping back a bit and making a conscious observation of those cherished facts, figures, or results.

The detail-obsessed Aspie can tell you that the motorcycle rim is incompatible with the car tire; the conscious thinker observes that it seems to work just fine for millions of miles on GoldWings. The obsessive physicist can quote chapter and verse about car tires and the way their ply-wrappings are incompatible with motorcycle-induced stress; the self-aware rider operates the bike just fine. The Internet expert can use equations to show that a motorcycle can’t corner correctly on a square tire; the man by the side of the road on Route 129 has photos of bikes dragging their pegs on $69 Chinese passenger-car tires. It’s the duty of any genuine intellectual to admit defeat when the real world contradicts his beliefs. To behave any other way would be to sink to the same level of the cardinals who persecuted Galileo.

I’m reminded of the debate that raged when I was younger between the proponents of the Motorola 68000 series of processors and the defenders of the Intel 286 and its successors. I was a Motorola/Mac/PowerPC bigot and I remember lecturing people in computer labs about the superiority of the instruction set and the purity of the architecture and whatnot. I was absolutely right. But what I couldn’t have predicted was that Intel and AMD would throw so much money and effort at the x86 architecture that eventually even Apple would give up and come on board. The computer-hobbyist reader might protest that the modern Intel processor has about as much in common with the 386DX as it does with the 6502; I’d reply that the modern car tire has about as much in common with a ’70s bias-ply passenger-car radial as it does with the tires used on the Mars rover.

Like it or not, darksiding is here to stay. The only way to stop it would be to design and produce motorcycle tires that meet the same durability and price standards as the darkside automotive rubber. But since that’s real science, and real science is hard, expect the anti-darkside crew to continue doing battle on the Internet instead of in the laboratory. And don’t be surprised when the technologies that win the day in our automotive future wind up being the technologies that sell in enough volume to make their refinement and expansion both practical and profitable. That is the real Dark Side: accepting that reality doesn’t care about your cherished opinions, no matter how much fuss you raise.

[Image: jojovols/Photobucket]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

125 Comments on “Return To The Darkside...”


  • avatar

    A combination of both? A tire that’s not quite round or square, that has the flexibility and tread pattern to have the motorcycle maintain sufficient road contact during cornering, albeit not as good as with standard motorcycle tires. I know one type of vehicle that would sure benefit from such a tire: the tilting kind.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I am reminded of a physics paper I read once talking about some new model within astrophysics.

    At the end, they had a note that went something like: “Carried to its logical end, our model concludes that the universe collapsed a fraction of a second after its creation. This does tend to contradict basic empirical evidence like We. Are. Still. Here.”

    (They go on to explain how they nevertheless think it might have useful attributes for further study even if it is (obviously) not the last word on the subject.)

  • avatar
    ajla

    First, “darksiding” is way too interesting of a name for “a big motorcycle using a car tire”.

    Second, why do the anti-darkside people give two sh*ts about what other people use on their bikes in the first place?

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Agreed to point #1. I thought it was going to be something like riding while wearing a Darth Vader mask….too bad!

      I’m a sportbike guy, so I like cornering…I can’t imagine putting a square profile car tire on the back of my bike to save a few bucks….seems silly. But so does riding helmetless and many riders will argue to the death about the benefits of doing so. Meh….squids can do what ever they want…like riding in jean jackets and Nikes. When they inevitably wipe out, they’ll figure it out….after the skin grafts.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “I can’t imagine putting a square profile car tire on the back of my bike to save a few bucks”

        why would you? this is pretty much a thing only among 800-1000 lb touring bikes.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          I would suspect that the reason why car tires work is that it is pretty hard to lean over a LeadWing or big cruiser. Your going to be grinding off floorboards, exhaust, saddlebags etc. before you come close to really stressing a car tire.

          All one has to do is go check out a row of parked cruisers or parked touring bikes. The chicken strips tend to consume 1/2 the tire.

          The picture of that orange bike sums up what I am trying to say.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Perhaps they are reacting to “pro darksliders”, who I would suspect have more than a few of: “Look how awesome it is that I have this big-ass tire on my bike! It works for me, and is therefore great for everybody under all circumstances! Anybody who keeps using ‘motorcycle’ tires is an idiot and just part of a herd of Sheeple led on by their corporate masters!”

      That said, I have no idea why they would completely lose their $hit over Jack’s piece; it was utterly benign. “Hey some people are doing this new thing that seems to work for them. It sounds like a bad idea, but I can understand why folks would want to give it a try.”

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      This is the internet, where every argument is SRS BSNS and if you disagree with me you’re a horrible person who deserves to die.

      /s

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        I think the information about darksiding is fascinating. As a car fan who’s ignorant about bikes, I’ve never seen it elsewhere.

        I do think it’s unfortunate to conflate Asperger’s with Internet Bozo Syndrome. Speaking as a parent, what Aspy is and isn’t has been widely misunderstood. I’ve known Aspys who are perfectly capable of grasping this kind of logic. OTOH, I have virtual encounters every day with Web posters whose online anonymity gives them overdoses of courage and moral outrage against people they’ll never have to face in person.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          “I do think it’s unfortunate to conflate Asperger’s with Internet Bozo Syndrome. ”

          I’m speaking more here about the inability to look at the whole picture; that’s common with Aspies. People on the spectrum are often emotionally disturbed when something doesn’t fit their model of reality.

          • 0 avatar
            Compaq Deskpro

            Do you think you could write a non car or at least marginally car related article about Asperger’s sometime? I would like to hear your thoughts about it, why its now prevelant all of a sudden, how (big assumption here) you overcame it by successfully overcompensating, the underlying narrative that all of the attention to detail and orgnizing means nothing if one’s mind is too rigid to create something new. You seem to bring it up alot.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            I write about it quite a bit because, as has been noted by other commenters on this thread, Aspies tend to be drawn to hobbies that focus on mechanical objects, and the Internet has given voice to a lot of people who would have been silent in previous years.

            I never met another Aspie during my years as a BMX racer, never met one playing basketball or in my university softball league. Or perhaps they just didn’t have the chance to come out of the closet, so to speak.

            More than anything else, the Internet offers a fractal profusion of endless details, rabbit holes in all directions. Which reminds me of the time that my business partner decided to learn how to count cards — but that’s a story for my site, not TTAC in its current iteration.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Bark can count cards?!

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            @Compaq, look up Wired’s Geek Syndrome article (or if you’ve got more time, the same author, Steve Silberman, wrote a book, Neurotribes). Basically, Hans Asperger’s research was lost as a result of WWII, for decades parents tried to avoid an autism spectrum diagnosis for their children (as it was blamed on cold, distant parents), and a greater understanding and awareness of autism starting in the 80s (thanks at least in part due to Rain Man) lead to greater rates of diagnosis.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “Second, why do the anti-darkside people give two sh*ts about what other people use on their bikes in the first place?”

      Because everybody on the internet wants to tell everybody else on the internet that he or she is WRONG. And not just WRONG, but also malevolent.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      First worry is legal liability. I work at a Honda/Yamaha/Can-Am dealership. We’ve had a couple of Gold Wing owners come in with car tyres requesting their mounting on the Gold Wing wheels. At first, they were turned down on the owner’s orders, which caused a lot of friction with the Gold Wing owners.

      (We’re not a Gold Wing heavy dealership, maybe selling two or three a year. Most of our customers have bought their bikes at the dealerships in South Boston, VA or other regional dealers who put a lot of time and money into these bikes.)

      I believe we now will do the installation, although there’s a long boilerplate on the customer’s service receipt about not being responsible how it works, liability if it fails, etc., etc., etc.

      Having just put a 1983 Yamaha Venture Royale (Yamaha’s answer to the old four cylinder Gold Wing) back on the road, I can only look on in envy. The Dunlop D505’s I’ll put on the rear wheel will maybe give me 3000-4000 miles on a 900lb bike with wheels to narrow to consider darksiding.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    As a French economist was purported to say when discontinuing a program, “Yes it works in practice, but does it work in theory?”

    Jack wrote “currently have eight years and about 20,000 miles on the Goodyears fitted to my 993. They look fine.” Well tire manufacturers and ‘experts’ in the field would tell him to throw those tires out, regardless of the miles. After 6 to 7 years the rubber compound in the tires allegedly ‘dries out’ and loses its adhesive qualities. And how they look is not indicative of their actual capabilities.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I was just about to post this same thing. Paul Walker and his friend paid the ultimate price for driving a Porsche with ~10-year-old but unworn tires. They looked fine, but didn’t have as much grip as the driver expected. If you’re driving at (what you think is) 8/10ths, a 25% drop in grip could put you into a lamp post.

      Change your tires, Jack. Some of the phrases you turn may make me want to say “die in a fire”, but I don’t actually want you to die in a fire.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        I mean, Walker and his buddy paid the price for driving at unsafe speeds, on roads not appropriate for that behavior, and their poor decisions were likely compounded by the compound, as it were.

        Is there anything inherently dangerous about consuming alcohol and driving? Well, theoretically no, but it certainly increases every other risk exponentially.

        In the end, speed doesn’t kill. Rapid deceleration does. And so, to mitigate the risk, it’s a good idea to avoid speed. It’s just that humans are really, really bad (and for good reason) at assessing theoretical vs. real risk. For example, Darksiding is probably fine, unless it isn’t. Whereas Stancing is probably not fine.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        If you’re driving to the limit on public streets based on some idea of how much tire grip you think should be available, rather than conservatively feeling out the available grip and expecting that there might even be occasional sand, debris, or oil on the road, then you’re doomed regardless of what tires you’re using. More grip is only going to make the inevitable outcome worse.

        I’ve driven on plenty of garage-kept ten-year-old tires that have never seen high speeds or temperatures. I’ll take those any day over a nearly-new tire that has sat in direct sunlight in Arizona for a couple months with daily high speed runs mixed in.

        If a lower but still consistent level of grip were a problem, then I wouldn’t be able to drive the way I do on my studded winters.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Yes, it’s dry rot, and six years is the rule, at least here in the US. But, if the car is garaged, and not usually exposed to really hot weather, I would think that’s mitigated.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        I would suspect, but can’t back up, that the fall-off is probably worse with soft, high-performance tires than it is with regular stuff. And you’re a lot more likely to push your 993 to 8/10ths than you are to do the same thing to your vanilla Focus. I can’t imagine it’s worth the risk to avoid spending fifteen hundred bucks every ten years.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          The car is garaged and I don’t drive it hard; in my mind it already belongs to my son and I’m simply the custodian.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            And that makes it less dangerous, Jack?

            And if your garage has a cement floor that exacerbates the drying out/leaching problem. Tires should be stored out of sunlight and raised off of concrete floors.

            With all the money spent on your grasshopper lifestyle, perhaps you should spend some on what is obviously a safety hazard for you and your family.

      • 0 avatar
        John

        Ultraviolet light and ozone are big contributors to dry rot. A garage eliminate the UV, but depending on if, and what type of electric motors run in a garage, ozone levels may be higher than those outdoors.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I was also surprised to learn that the 993 has 8 year-old tires. When I replaced the 7 year-old S-Drives, which still had good tread, on my car with new, comparable rubber the difference in grip was astounding. I went from holding up other drivers at beginner track days while I struggled to put down 140 hp coming out of the hairpin to being solidly midpack in the group (not to mention the increase in cornering speeds), so I know it’s not just confirmation bias.

      When you get into performance rubber, the recommended age to replace goes down from 6, to about 2-4, depending on how serious a performance tire it is.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Yep. 8-year-old tires are going to lose grip and are going to be at sharply increased risk of failure. I replaced the tires on my former G8 GXP at just under six years because they were wearing out, but when I looked at the old tires carefully I saw dry rot at the shoulders and between tread blocks. The car had been garaged for all but 18 months of its life.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        It’s at this point that I want to point out that I have matched NASA Time Trial records with my Boxster, using Hoosiers date-stamped seven years ago, but the fact is that old tires should be replaced and I don’t want to argue against that very sensible point.

  • avatar
    319583076

    I think George Box famously said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

    Empiricism trumps all, but people are extraordinarily talented at ignoring reality in favor of their personal fantasies.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I remember when this first happened, Jack. The article wasn’t even about darksiding, and didn’t really take a side in the argument. People flipped their lids. I’m curious to see what the reaction is to this article.

  • avatar
    Feds

    What we’re seeing here is a discussion of margins, or perhaps reserve capacity.

    Goes like this: in controlled, steady state conditions, a motorcycle tire will absolutely out perform a car tire. Valentino Rossi will get around a race track faster on a motorcycle tire than he will on a car tire. These are facts.

    On a big touring bike ridden by a middle aged professional, the difference in at-the-limit performace between the 2 tire types does not matter.

    Driving straight down a road the differences in the tire performance do not matter. Let’s just take that as obvious.

    In a corner, the average dark sider is getting what? 50%-60% of the limit cornering capacity out of the bike? In that case, a tire’s absolute limit of performance STILL doesn’t matter. You may be closer to the car tire’s limit than the bike tire’s limit, but you’re not AT or BEYOND the limit. You are just riding with less reserve capacity.

    Same with heat build up: On what public road can you sustain high speed cornering for more than 10 minutes out of every hour? Here again, heat build up does not matter. You may be closer to the car tire’s temperature limit, but you’re not exceeding it, so who cares.

    Finally, “What about an emergency manoever?!?!?! If the car tire has lower limits, you’re less likely to avoid an obstacle in an emergency!” Short answer here is that for an average, or even excellent on-road rider, you’re going to fuck something else up before you reach the limit of traction in your rear tire. Your rear tire isn’t going to save you if you target lock, or over brake, or hit some gravel on the road, or fail to get the bars cranked over, or whatever.

    And then let’s say you do get everything else right, and you reach the limit of cornering traction on your rear tire. You low side. No crash is desirable, but as far as motorcycle crashes go, you want to low side: separate yourself from your bike’s momentum, and let it go hit whatever you were trying to avoid.

    And ultimately, the incremental increase in risk that comes from riding a dark side tire vs. a standard bike tire is so minuscule relative to the risk incurred as a result of stepping on the bike to begin with. It’s equivalent to being in a ship wreck and wishing you were wearing a speedo shark suit instead of your regular swim trunks. Yes you can swim better in the shark suit, but that kinda misses the point.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Also, keep in mind that the motorcycles using this technique are anything but nimble. Dressers are designed to moderate to moderately-high speeds on interstates/autobahns, their primary directive is comfort and stamina on 800-1000 mile days on those kinds of highways.

      While a modern 1800 Gold Wing is a lot more maneuverable than my 1200 Venture, neither can hold a candle to my ’98 Honda 996 Super Hawk. Which, conversely, is a miserable bike to ride at about the 50 mile mark.

      It’s all about what the bike is built for, and how it is ridden. And I’m fairly comfortable in assuming that the average dresser rider is probably the most laid-back, conservative, motorcycle rider of all. Distance is exhausting enough by itself. You don’t need to amp up your riding style to shave a couple of seconds and tire yourself out quicker.

  • avatar
    Paul Alexander

    Jack, you’re wasting your talent on this automotive writing, I’m sure the fortune cookie makers of the world would pay a pretty penny for your bon mots: ‘It’s the duty of any genuine intellectual to admit defeat when the real world contradicts his beliefs.’

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      ‘It’s the duty of any genuine intellectual to admit defeat when the real world contradicts his beliefs.’

      Never stopped anybody in politics or climate science. I grant the former is not a scientific pursuit and I’ve got my doubts about the latter as practiced.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    I think a big part of the problem with motorcycle tires is that a lot of them are still bias-ply. cars stopped using bias-ply because they have an enormous amount of stress in the sidewall as the crossed plies “scissor” across each other. “Blowouts” used to be common back then, but are incredibly rare in properly-inflated radials.

    I know there are radial bike tires now, but no experience with them to know if they’re any better lived.

    as for darksiding, on a brand-specific motorcycle forum I hang around I asked how bikes handle in turns with a rear car tire. the common answer I got was “it feels different, but it’s not unpredictable and you get used to it fast.”

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    I’m reminded of the fatal accident reports involving 50 somethings, motorcycles, winding roads with the reports closing “appearantly failed to negotiate curve”.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I don’t know if you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle, but it’s pretty rare that that failure was due to a lack of traction at the rear tire. Usually it’s a result of target fixation, where the rider just plain locks up, looks at the outside of the curve, and ends up there. Shortly after I got my license, I wound up in a ditch doing the posted limit of a curve on a brand new CBR600RR. The bike could have handled double the speed I was doing, but it’s useless when the rider doesn’t steer.

      Even some seasoned riders don’t know that in order to go through a curve at speed on a bike, you turn the handlebars in the opposite direction of the curve. It’ll mess people up, especially if they’re inexperienced and nervous about their entry speed.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I think your biggest mistake was getting a CBR600RR right after getting your license. but I know, you were 18 years old and invincible, right?

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          Well, 21, and it was a dealer demo ride. I was after something milder, and they offered me that. My feelings were, “Hey, it’s not my bike.” It wasn’t my $7,000 repair bill, either.

          They did tighten up who they let ride those bikes after my accident, though.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I’m sure you think we’re all supposed to be impressed.

            n.b. what you experienced wasn’t an “accident,” it was inevitable.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        In three weekends apart I was behind 3 different sport bikes that blew off a corner. Non had anything to do with loosing traction. The first guy panicked when he dragged a peg and stood the bike up and went straight off. The 2nd was going slow and looked back to see where we were and got into the marbles at the pavement edge. He panicked and locked the rear wheel. He then realized he locked the rear wheel and then made it worse by releasing the brake. Instant highside. Luckily he landed in a pool of water. The third guy was a fellow I kept outriding and was closing in on him on a set of twisties. He looked back to see where I was and lost focus on what he was doing. You NEVER look back in racing or hard riding.

        I have lost grip at the rear wheel and powerslided out of it a few times. Dirt biking 101 applied to the street.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I don’t know why, but motorcycles seem to attract detail-obsessed Aspies more than any other type of vehicle.

    They’re all convinced that they are uniquely intelligent or possess special knowledge; and then proceed to use their “gifts” to complicate simple things to an insane degree – often to the point of contravening actual widely-accepted technical practices that are proven with decades of successful field use in conditions that are way more demanding than some goofball’s hobby Beemer.

    Any discussion of wire soldering and crimping on a motorcycle forum will provide many good examples of this behavior. I’ve seen multiple people with zero technical training or background claim that the entirety of the aerospace and manufacturing industries are wrong, and that the only correct way to join a wire is the byzantine one they invented in their basement.

    I’ve also seen people who custom blend their own oil for use in a modern low-output Japanese bike that would happily run forever on Wal-Mart Rotella.

    I love motorcycles, but largely hate “motorcycle people”. Between the 1%ers and associated wannabees, kamikaze teenagers, and autism goons it’s rare that I’ll meet another rider worth hanging out with.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I love motorcycles, but largely hate “motorcycle people”.”

      this. I haven’t seen this kind of cliquish, “you suck for liking something I don’t” behavior since middle school. There are days I don’t even want to get on the bike because of this stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        I don’t care what somebody rides, but I do care about their approach to riding.

        The small group I sometimes ride with on nice weekends includes standards, sportbikes, and cruisers; but nobody identifies with the the type of bike they are on.

        We’re there to go riding, the machines are just a tool. As long as you can keep up and be safe anybody is welcome.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Agreed. I’ve found ‘cliques” based upon what you ride is stupid. My brother and our buddies have all gone to Harley’s. I have never owned one but have ridden as much as them and all of a sudden my opinion about riding or my own stories about road-trips no longer matter.
          I never saw this mentality among motocross or off-road racers. I have noticed it to a degree with sledders.
          Harley guys never seemed to have an issue with my big KTM 620 dual sport because it wasn’t “Jap scrap” and it was a thumper.

          Maybe they thought the “white power” stickers on my forks were racial ideology as opposed to a brand of forks. LOL

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        One of the most interesting freedoms I’ve ever notice is that, now that I no longer wear a club patch on my back, I’m free to ride whatever tickles my fancy at the moment. Which is why my current garage is a Harley, a Honda sportbike, a Yamaha dresser, and a Yamaha (motorcycle class)scooter.

        Ten years ago it would have been Harley’s and Triumphs. Period.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          What would have happened if you had bought a Honda ten years ago?

          • 0 avatar
            Syke

            I wouldn’t have ridden it anytime I had my colors on. During a twenty year period with three different M/C’s I had a collection of vintage and near vintage bikes, mostly Triumphs but quite a few Japanese. And a screaming blue Ducati.

            The brothers in the club all knew this about me, and I even would ride one of them to Friday night church if I knew we weren’t going anywhere after the meeting. But my colors were in the saddlebags or strapped to the pillion seat while I was on the road.

            Contrary to the image, hardcore bikers (and I rode in local hardcore clubs and 1%er support clubs, but never an actual 1%er club) actually find bikes that aren’t Harley’s somewhat interesting. You just don’t ride them as an active club member in public.

            It’s a combination of tradition and (often) club rules.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The more fanatical the enthusiast community, the bigger the egos.

      On the Ferrari forums, you will routinely see statements like “I wouldn’t buy a car that has not been 100% dealer-maintained,” then something like “Doing my own major service, wish me luck!!”

      The hypocrisy in hobby communities never fails to amaze.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    SNORE…The only “DARKSIDE” here is the length of this verbal laxative. Gads Jackass, take a breath and give us all a break. Well at least you dropped the “NO FIXED ADOBE” nonsense.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I don’t always darkside, but when I do – I defy the odds.

    Stay thirsty my friends.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Is the Goldwing the most luxurious motorcycle?

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I had no idea you were such a 68k/PowerPC fan, Jack!

    Of course, sadly, the 486DX2 clobbered the 68040 and the new Core series made the PowerPC 970(aka G5) obsolete overnight. I still love my 68k Macs and my Power Mac G3 and G5 though.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I knewwwww you were gonna come and say a bunch of computer component names I’d not heard of before.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        If you had a computer in the early to mid 90s running Windows or DOS, you had an Intel 486 processor. 486 = 4th generation of x86 architecture. The DX2 ran at 66MHz, while the Motorola 68040 maxed out at 40MHz.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I love lamp.

          Lol, I was off using my grandpa’s computer with Internet, because my parents were not yet buying into this “computer and internet stuff.”

          Had my own OLD OLD PC in my room for a while. You had to start it up with a boot sequence of codes, and it only had a word processor – and required two like 8″ floppy disks to start it. Green screen with color adjusting knobs. That thing generated so much heat.

          I think it was an IBM.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Sounds like the good old IBM PC XT.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The pics I’m finding look like they all have 5.5″ floppy drives. This took the bigger floppies, which were vertically oriented I recall.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Floppy_disk_2009_G1.jpg/1280px-Floppy_disk_2009_G1.jpg

            It took the giant black one.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I found it!

            http://cdn-1.obsoletecomputermuseum.org/displayw/scott01.jpg

            It was this, I remember the orange switch.

            IBM Displaywriter?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            we had an XT as our first PC. there was no “sequence” of codes to boot it, just flip the switch and have the DOS diskette in drive A:

            I kind of miss the repetitive “erk-chk-chk-chk-errrrrrk” of the drive(s) loading a program.

            I dimly remember when we were at ComputerLand buying it. The XT was a mildly revised IBM PC but originally with a single full-height floppy and a hard drive. we optioned it with the then-new dual half-height floppy drives and no hard drive because we “didn’t need to get into megabytes right now.”

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Holy SH*T that’s old, Corey!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol I told you it was old! Wiki says they cost over $7000 in 1980, holy crap. I don’t know that it counts as a PC if it can’t do anything besides word processing.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My family’s first machine was this:

            http://oldcomputers.net/attache.html

            We dragged it along on vacations and wasted endless time playing what passed for “games” on CP/M.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Becomes portable with handle and strong adult!

            Lol, I was excited for a moment when I thought it had wood tone on it.

          • 0 avatar
            cbrworm

            Wow, a DisplayWriter. I haven’t seen one of those in a long time. You just need a few of those connected to a huge daisy wheel printer and you’d be set!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I remember if I left it on at night, the nice whirring sound it made would put me to sleep.

        • 0 avatar
          carl0s

          And the 2 meant it used 2x multiplier of the PCI bus, so you set the jumpers accordingly, and DX meant the FPU hadn’t been disabled on the chip. I don’t think there was an sx2 anyway actually?
          Dx4-100 next was it, can’t remember of and had a dx5-133.
          Ahh and Cyrix. We never liked them in our shop :-)
          Those were the days!
          Thrn came PcChips motherboards with Ali chipsets.. those were the super shit days.

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          Not only that, but the whole architecture of the 68020 (the first full “32bit” chip) pretty much kept later chips from getting much better (a 68060 hit 75MHz. The Pentium (next chip after 486) hit 200MHz (and reasonably good instructions per clock, and the chip after that eventually hit 1GHz, and helped kill PowerPC off for good).

          Actually anything from Intel/AMD from the 386 was as good or better than anything from Motorola 68k series (although as an x86 assembler programmer I would have loved to deal with the 68k instead). The catch was that DOS and Windows 3.x (and earlier) kept them acting like the earlier “brain damaged” Intel chips (and it was Intel itself calling them “brain damaged”). Using OS/2 had other issues (although it did DOS programs *great*) and it would take awhile for Linux to mature (never did get that first SLS edition to run X).

          Can’t help at all about motorcycle tires.

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      ATI
      TRS-80 MODEM II
      ATDT 206-330-0202
      YOU BE QUIET WITH YOUR 16 BIT PROC
      ESSORS. DARN KIDS.
      ^^ATH

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        No way a Trash 80 could go online!

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          It’s not really difficult at all. Anything with a RS-232 port can get online through dialing anything with a terminal function.

          E-mail is doable. Web-surfing might be problematic; all depends on if you can cram a crude browser into the RAM of your system.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            “Web-surfing might be problematic”

            Not if you just TTY to a more powerful machine running Lynx.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            My Mac SE/30 has an ancient Ethernet card (it doesn’t even have the phone cord style jack!) but apparently it can talk to my Performa and my Power Macs through that port. I don’t know how, but it can.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            With a hacked ROM the SE/30 can run Mac OS 8.1. That will let you run iCab, which will allow you to browse anything on the internet that meets standards current in 2008. Which is to say, almost none of it as it exists today. But it’s still pretty remarkable that the computer had a current browser available 17 years after it was first made. In the early ’90s they were great little machines.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Yeah, I found a really cool product called the ROMinator that adds support for full 32bit addressing and accessing an insane (for a compact Mac) 128MB of RAM.

            8.1 would probably run pretty slow on a 16MHz processor though, and you can’t overclock a SE/30 because the crystal controls the timing for EVERYTHING.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          It absolutely could.

          I knew a lot of people who used TRS-80 Model IIIs and early Color Computers as terminals for their VAX or mainframe connects.

          • 0 avatar
            psarhjinian

            I’ll back Jack up on this: the TRS was a great choice as a cheap dumb terminal, especially considering what a real DEC VT cost at the time.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          Hell, I had a Sinclair ZX81 online back in 1982; and had my first email account (77405,[email protected]). Granted, it was no longer in the original case and had a real keyboard soldered on, but it worked.

      • 0 avatar
        pb35

        My email sig on my phone is “Sent from my Amiga”

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I wouldn’t use a car tire if I rode my motorcycle like the picture. But on one of our bike trips we ran across a guy on a valkyrie cruiser who used one and for his riding style it made a lot of sense. He pulled a trailer and spent 90% of his time on an interstate. In that scenario I doubt the physics he’s inflicting on his tire differs much from the car it was originally designed for.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I only get 10-12k miles on my S2000 rears, running with Direzzas or RE-11s or whatever the latest equivalent is. Factory alignment.

  • avatar
    Sam Hell Jr

    Is reality conflicting with our collective preference for the dynamics of traditional cars over CUVs yet, Jack, as you predicted it might in R&T? How long until you can run down a Camry with a RAV4?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      You touched on this a little in that X5M piece as I recall.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Already you can buy a Macan that will beat a Boxster around the Burgerkingring.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Speaking of Burgerkingring, is there any road course in the US that is similar to the Nurburgring?
          If not, would there be an economic case to build one? It could be rented out to automakers for testing, and the hordes of tourists and drivers who want to try it for themselves.
          It could surround a few small towns with dying economies and really perk things up a bit. Just the increased land values near the track could pay for the whole thing.

  • avatar
    DirtRoads

    I always sorta thought of it as a badge of honor to replace my rear tires two or three times faster than the fronts. The fronts do a lot of braking, but the rear is always working, and when you brake too hard (on older bikes without ABS I’m talking), you can leave a nice long skid mark on the sidewalk. Er, street.

    Now, I thought maybe an old Model T tire might work on a bike. It would (theoretically) last longer than a bike tire and still have that rounder profile you need for actually cornering.

    Thing is, though, if you’re riding a big, heavy cruiser you aren’t on the bike because you like to scrape the pegs on corners. You like straight lines and straight line acceleration. And sometimes you scare yourself (or possibly impress yourself) when you actually do scrape a peg. ‘Cause, you’re like, all Rossi and shit then…

  • avatar
    Jeff Zekas

    Darksiding seems like an ingenious fix to an expensive problem. Motorcyclists and car owners have been doing this for years: finding cheaper alternatives to the manufacturer’s crazy prices. I remember my neighbor, who installed a Delco alternator in his MG: it cost 1/5 the price of the BLMC unit, and was a hundred times more reliable. We used to call this Yankee ingenuity.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      I put a Hitachi alternator in my 1966 Jag to replace the original generator. Had to use one for a diesel car and build an adapter plate, since the original has the power steering pump siamiesed on the the back of the generator.

      The car even had the optional “heavy duty” generator – 35 amps!

  • avatar
    Reuleaux

    A bit over a decade ago guys started putting trials tires on the back of their enduro motorcycles. Trials bikes weigh about 150#, have no seats and are designed to facilitate acrobatic magic on short obstacle courses. Enduro bikes are around 250# and are basically motocross bikes designed to cover hundreds of miles of any terrain from sand to mud and rock or even pavement.

    A trials tire is very soft with sticky rubber and (IIRC) runs around 3-4psi, an enduro tire is thick and knobby and run around 10-15psi (although competitive racers run foam inserts that can’t go flat). Importantly, trials tires are totally square and have no knobs or tread on their delicate sidewalls.

    So, the internet wars began… Trials tires don’t work, they’re dangerous, etc.

    I’ve ridden bikes with trials tires, they will get you up things effortlessly that few people can get up with a knobby. They corner better than they have any right to. But, they feel funny, they don’t corner well on unbanked turns and they’re easy to get a flat. But there’s a lot of guys that don’t care, they’re out there to have fun and it’s a lot more fun to make it up the hill than to have to go around; just like some would rather ride 10k miles than ride 1000 fast. This isn’t a perfect analogy because if your dirtbike tire blows out it’s exceedingly unlikely that anyone other than yourself could get hurt.

    The epilogue is that, here a decade later, some tire companies have responded and started making hybrid tires; knobby designs with trials rubber compounds. They market for these tires has to much smaller than the heavy touring bikes so maybe there’s hope.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Reuleaux – all depends on rubber compound of the dirt bike tire. There are soft, intermediate and hard ground tire compounds. In actual fact, a tire designed for softer terrain is going to have stiffer less flexible “nobbs” than those on a hard terrain tire. I’ve always tended to run soft terrain tires since that is what I usually encountered. They didn’t work as well in rocks and lots of roots. My street legal dual sport tires worked better in rocks and roots. In the winter I ran “sand-cross” tires with carbide steel ice racing screws with 2 cut down street tires inside the tire to hold the screws in. I could climb a wall of ice with that set up.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Interesting concept .

    I’ll never try this because I ride in the rain at speed (since I began using Radial Moto tires) but I see why the ” Road Sofa ” (TM) Riders will do it as even my (relatively) light weigh Air head Boxer Twins chew up rear tires every so often.

    FWIW, in the 1970’s the Vintage VW crowd was using 16″ Bias Ply Harley tires on their split window Beetles because they were far cheaper to buy .

    Old VW’s have swing axles that ride any tire up on it’s shoulder in hard corners so I always thought it foolhardy to run Moto tires (think of early Corvairs flipping over) but it turns out I was the only one out there running a Split Window as fast/hard as it’d go so no worries I guess .

    Aspies can be fun ! =8-) .

    I find it humorous that anyone would take the time to carefully read and digest Jack’s articles then have the temerity to complain they’re too long and detailed .

    Look in the mirror you boob .

    I await the Gold Wing report ~ a Buddy of mine rides his two up at serious speed ~ I get the willies watching him but never crashed in close to thirty years of thrashing ‘Wings so it’s fine and dandy .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    don1967

    I don’t darkside on my Yamaha 1300, but given the growing mountain of evidence it’s clear that the risks have been overstated.

    Unfortunately there are sanctimonious all-the-gear-all-the-time types who crap all over any idea that eliminates the need for $500 tires or $2,000 Kevlar body suits. For them, a motorcycle is an excuse to strap on all sorts of exotic gear and feel “intelligent” as they go hurtling down the highway on two wheels.

    For the rest of us, motorcycling is all about taking calculated risks in the pursuit of pleasure and/or economy. If that means going bare-arms on a warm summer day, or installing a car tire to save money, then you should do it. Otherwise you should find a more rational hobby.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Motorola/Apple/IBM never had a fifth of the volume of x86. It was obvious from the start they never had a chance, because Intel could easily outspend them on R&D into oblivion.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      At the time they had promise because Intel made some impractical design decisions with the NetBurst Pentium-4. During the P4 era it really did look like Intel had hit a ceiling with x86. Heck, even Intel hedged their bets with a new ISA.

      Then they scrapped Netburst, revisited the P6 and Pentium-M designs and used them for the Core and Core 2, the latter of which sealed the fate of POWER on the desktop, and likely AMD as well.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Intel’s true competitive advantage was its ability to manufacture at scale with precision no one could match. Design really doesn’t matter if you can’t build it (see also DEC).

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Jack keep it coming. I learn so much from reading your stuff. I can’t tell you how enjoyable it is to read you here and on road and track. And your brother. Great stuff

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Shout-out on the Motorola 68k. DEC’s 21164 Alpha procs same thing different story vis-a-vis x86.

  • avatar
    prj3ctm4yh3m

    “Unfortunately there are sanctimonious all-the-gear-all-the-time types who crap all over any idea that eliminates the need for $500 tires or $2,000 Kevlar body suits. For them, a motorcycle is an excuse to strap on all sorts of exotic gear and feel “intelligent” as they go hurtling down the highway on two wheels.”

    if by “intelligent” you mean functionally optimal, then yes. (spergy, i know)

    car tires turn your hog into a two-wheeled trike. for some, that’s okay. if you’re towing stuff and get enjoyment simply outta cruising down the interstate, then more power to you. you’re lifehacking buddy! tell me more about the papertowels you use for coffee filters!

    there’s nothing more maddening than getting stuck behind the local hog crew on a twisty road. Pig’s trail pretty much ruined by it.

    • 0 avatar
      AKADriver

      Putting a leg over a motorcycle without going crazy acquiring every piece of the latest safety gear is one of those things that seems completely reasonable because of how familiar the sight of a guy in a thin leather jacket, jeans, and work boots on a bike is, but is completely insane in terms of cold logic.

      Imagine trying to sell a car where the base model would literally tear the flesh from your body in a mild fender bender but a $2000 option would save you from that. Then make fun of the $2000 armored bike gear.

  • avatar
    Bocock

    Now I get this if you have a big heavy bike with a side car. The auto wheels last longer. They have a bigger contact patch also. More importantly on a sidecar they don’t have to worry about sidewall problems because there is no lean to deal with.

  • avatar
    Norman Yarvin

    That’s not actually a comprehensive argument; it’s a random dump of information about tires, most of it entirely irrelevant to the question at hand. I even see hints of plagiarism: “In this chapter…” Chapter? He doesn’t have chapters. So what book did he copy and paste that one from? Hmm, I bet Google has the answer to that… and here we go: it’s not from a book but from W.D. Versteden’s 2005 master’s thesis for the Eindhoven University of Technology, freely downloadable from

    http://www.mate.tue.nl/mate/pdfs/5496.pdf

    And to continue that sentence (both in the original and the copy), it’s “In this chapter the weak points and error sources of the MF-MCTire model are revealed and possible solutions are mentioned.” Needless to say, the original thesis actually does go on to reveal weak points and so forth, while the copy omits that part. There and generally throughout, it has the same resemblance to a real argument that a sausage has to a pig. The bit about bead differences is a hint at an argument, but it would need to be continued to say what the failure mode is supposed to be and why the bead difference is significant enough to allow that failure.

    When he’s not copying, the author descends even to a bit of unconscious humor: “since the motorcycle MUST lean to turn so it creates some new equitation’s and omits the slip angle”. That’s right: motorcycle tires don’t slip, but they do ride horses.

  • avatar
    kaypee330

    I’ve used a non-motorcycle specific tire (or a car tire for you PC folks) for over 5 years on my Valkyrie (same cycle as shown at the top of the article) and couldn’t care less what anyone has to say about it. I doubt it would be a good choice for a sport bike, but for my 900ish pound touring cycle it’s effective.

    Also an interesting note, I have ridden with the guy in that first picture. He’s from Tennessee and goes by Smokin Joe. I’m curious where you got the pic of him.

  • avatar
    hurls

    This reminds me of Formula 1 aero, which we all “know” makes a huge difference between the manufacturers.

    Then, mid-race, someone loses an end plane and their lap times don’t suffer one bit.

  • avatar

    before reading this article, i’d no idea motorcycle tyres were crap.

    i’m a cyclist so i do know that bicycle tyres are crap. i get 4,000km if i’m lucky on a rear tyre and double that on the front. a tyre (and tube) costs about $40 so i go through at least $240 worth of tyres (and tubes) in a year – if i’m lucky.

    by comparison, a new set of tyres for my sainted focus (r.i.p.) cost $800 after three years of cornering on the door handles.

  • avatar

    A portion of Jack’s point reminds me of a recent paper on climate science (http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/resource-1891-2005.49.pdf) which points to those who use models being too close to the model to make a valid conclusion since they do not recognize the models flaws. Good article, Jack. It was something I was not aware of and now I know more than I did.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • rpn453: The Micra is still available in Canada at an MSRP of CDN$10500 (US$7900). I’d be interested in test...
  • thegamper: Pure speculation on my part, but I would think as more luxury automakers get EV’s to market with...
  • Rocket: I don’t see it. For one, it’s a lot of money to spend. But more important, Toyota is all about...
  • Giskard: Unlike other cars an electric car is likely to “know” it’s plugged in. My i3s, for...
  • Lie2me: I agree, or at least greatly reduce the amount of salt used. Here in southern Wisconsin I appreciate that...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States