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My first 1000 miles on the darkside

27827 Views 107 Replies 40 Participants Last post by  Vic Ioina
Two weeks ago I decided to change over to the darkside following in the footsteps of some other Stromtroopers. My tire of choice was the trusty General Exclaim UHP 205-55 R17 as I tend to do a good amount of slab commuting and plan to have it increase greatly in a few months.

My positive observations:

Freeway and highway stability is amazing. My Wee simply wants to go straight, flat, and it feels so stable I could let go of the grips and let it drive itself.

I have not had any decrease in my ability to lean it over or take fast, tight corners. In fact, strangely (perhaps it was the old flattened MC tire) but it feels even more stable in corners.

It looks pretty badass.

I've taken my Wee out on some dirt/gravel trails since changing the tire and I am amazed at my traction and stability offroad. (That and following some tips from other threads about offroad riding)

The (slight) increase in gearing is definitely welcome, makes the slab a bit more comfortable.

My negative observations:

Low speed stability is definitely increased on flat surfaces, but because of the much wider contact patch I have some issues on uneven surfaces causing the entire bike to wobble.

On some of the freeways here, the road surface is so uneven and terrible that I get high speed wobble due to the same reasons as the low speed wobble. At one point I almost had a tankslapper on the freeway but I was able to stabilize it.

Everyone (The guys at Discount Tire and the guys at the motorcycle shop who mounted it) thought I was completely insane.

The increased height (Only around 1/2 inch or less) helped contribute to my laying the Wee down for the first time. That's what I get for being 5'7"!


Overall I'm extremely happy with the choice. I'm still experimenting with pressures (I started at the 32 it came from the shop, now running it at 36) to get my ideal handling. The wobble issue has made a steering stabilizer jump from low on my list of needed farkles to very high on my list.




Ow, my turnsignal.

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Same tire

I run the same tire. My observations are about the same. But I have not had the wobble issue. I did lower the forks in the triple tree 1/2 inch. Don't know if that would help. I did mine at the same time I did the tire. My first tank of gas I got 47 MPG, I thought it was a fluke, but the second and now third tank is also 47. I live at 5,000' and ride in the high country most of the time, and some of the passes are up to 10,000' or more. What is odd is the mileage belies the feeling that I had, I thought the tire increased the drag, the engine had to overcome. I normally got 40 to 42 MPG all the time, didn't seem to matter how hard I drove it. Let us know what your experience is with gas mileage.:thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I run the same tire. My observations are about the same. But I have not had the wobble issue. I did lower the forks in the triple tree 1/2 inch. Don't know if that would help. I did mine at the same time I did the tire. My first tank of gas I got 47 MPG, I thought it was a fluke, but the second and now third tank is also 47. I live at 5,000' and ride in the high country most of the time, and some of the passes are up to 10,000' or more. What is odd is the mileage belies the feeling that I had, I thought the tire increased the drag, the engine had to overcome. I normally got 40 to 42 MPG all the time, didn't seem to matter how hard I drove it. Let us know what your experience is with gas mileage.:thumbup:
My mileage used to be around 45-48 MPG, and now I'm getting around 48-55 depending. I think the tire change, increased gearing, and handling changes made me a little more careful on the throttle though.

My stability is great on well surfaced roads, but here in San Diego there are some parts of the freeway that are poorly surfaced, uneven, and cracked. Most of the time it doesn't really seem like an issue but it's a little disconcerting and it definitely makes me see the possible benefits of getting a stabilizer.

The other thing I'm concerned about is the rear suspension with such a weight increase on the rear tire. I don't have much of a problem, but maybe a new rear shock would see greater benefit with a darkside tire?


Do your friends ask "is that a car tire"? I then say boy sure looks like it doesn't it? :green_lol:
I've only had a couple people ask about it, both of them seemingly very concerned for my safety. One guy even asked me to put a motorcycle tire back on. :mrgreen:
 

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Fork brace?

Before I made the switch to the car tire, I had installed a Richland Ricks fork brace. This made a big difference in stability even with the motorcycle tire. Do you have one? If not make that your first change, even if you go back to the motorcycle tire, it will be worth it. I also had a very experienced rider behind me watching the tire while riding in the mountains, he remarked that I was on the very edge of the tire in tight turns. To be very careful, especially if its wet. The thing is I don't feel as if the tire is on the verge of sliding, in turns. It feels very planted to me. Non the less, so far I have been very cautious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Before I made the switch to the car tire, I had installed a Richland Ricks fork brace. This made a big difference in stability even with the motorcycle tire. Do you have one? If not make that your first change, even if you go back to the motorcycle tire, it will be worth it. I also had a very experienced rider behind me watching the tire while riding in the mountains, he remarked that I was on the very edge of the tire in tight turns. To be very careful, especially if its wet. The thing is I don't feel as if the tire is on the verge of sliding, in turns. It feels very planted to me. Non the less, so far I have been very cautious.
Before I swapped I also got Rick's fork brace (And mirror extenders, they're great). It made a huge difference in stability yes, and also after I swapped tires but it doesn't seem to help when I ride over some super bumpy pavement. What pressure are you running your tire at? There was a notable decrease (but it's still there) in the instability after going from 32 PSI to 36 PSI.
 

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36 PSI

When I intalled the tire I put 36 PSI in and have not changed it. Don't know about you, but a wobble was my biggest fear. I don't think the benefits outweigh the possibility of a wobble.:thumbdown:
 

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Years ago - I had a bike with odd 'wobble' issues... at around 40MPH, it would 'wander' from side-to-side.

I spoke to several experienced bikers and was told that this was because the 'profile' of the rear tire did not match that of the front tire. Sure enough, my front and rear tires were of different brands and the profiles were different.

I would expect that by installing this rear tire, you have created a similar situation.

Perhaps you should consider adding one of these to the front :green_lol:
 

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I get high speed wobble due to the same reasons as the low speed wobble. At one point I almost had a tankslapper on the freeway but I was able to stabilize it.
I STRONGLY encourage you to check, and most likely tighten your steering head bearings. There are MANY riders with this issue. Do this first and test the ride out BEFORE purchasing a steering dampener.

Nice Report!

B.L.
 

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There are a lot of nay-sayers and omg you're gonna die people out there when it comes to running dark side tires. I don't run 'em, but that's just me. I've got a friend on a 2001 Concours that has 30k+ on his latest rendition, and I guarantee anybody here would have to be working very hard to keep up with him in the twisties. He's a helluva rider, and with that tire and others he's got the mileage to prove it works.

I say ride what works for ya. Nice report. :thumbup:
 

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Front tire?

Maybe it is the front tire that is making the difference. I am currently running a Metzler Tourance, it is on its last 1500 to 2000 miles. I have a Michelin Pilot 3 already in the garage to go on in its place. I want to make sure I get all of the use from the Tourance. What tire is on the front of yours?
 

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Mileage

A hot motorcycle tire is actually sticky like tape. It has literal adhesion and therefore takes energy to peel it off of the pavement. Regular passenger tires are NOT sticky and return almost all the energy.

Postulating that this may help speak to others mileage differences.

Stock head bearings are a joke they will be replaced by tapered rollers over the winter.


Antique race cars use 4.5 x 19 inch tires.... just sayin'
 

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I am considering going to the darkside, but I am hearing from the original post the following issues: a low speed wobble, a high speed wobble, a near tank slapper and a dropped bike.

Seems like a lot of pain on the darkside. Is it really worth it?
 

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I am considering going to the darkside, but I am hearing from the original post the following issues: a low speed wobble, a high speed wobble, a near tank slapper and a dropped bike.

Seems like a lot of pain on the darkside. Is it really worth it?
Among other issues, that's what I was thinking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I am considering going to the darkside, but I am hearing from the original post the following issues: a low speed wobble, a high speed wobble, a near tank slapper and a dropped bike.

Seems like a lot of pain on the darkside. Is it really worth it?
To be honest, I dropped my bike only because the tire made it taller and I have short legs. I went to put my foot down at an intersection where the pavement had a steep dropoff at the edge, and there was nothing there. The entire bike proceeded to fall over because I was unable to place my foot down. Lesson learned and problem easily solved by being more mindful of where I stop at an intersection.

The low speed wobble isn't really that much of a wobble. It was the best I could describe it. I believe the other darksiders described it as increased steering input from the rear tire, and it is just that caused by lopsided and bumpy pavement. Hasn't caused me a real problem yet, and now that I've ridden it for a while it doesn't even bother me.

The high speed wobble only occurs to me on a few very specific pieces of terribly surfaced freeway, and the area where I almost had the tankslapper I was testing my top end acceleration with the tire (I was nearing 100 MPH) and it stopped when I let off the throttle. I'm going to be looking at my steering head bearings as Blacklab suggests, and then see how this handles.

Overall I feel the positives outweigh these three negatives.

Maybe it is the front tire that is making the difference. I am currently running a Metzler Tourance, it is on its last 1500 to 2000 miles. I have a Michelin Pilot 3 already in the garage to go on in its place. I want to make sure I get all of the use from the Tourance. What tire is on the front of yours?
I've got a Bridgestone Battlewing. It doesn't look like it's cupped or overly worn, it actually looks like it's in pretty good shape.
 

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glad ta hear yer going to keep it on longer

takes a while, prolly the biggest noticable difference, not really positive or negative it that you can feel road surface imperfections better(or worse depending on your perspective)

for me, I can actually corner faster if I really want, I'm not the most physically fit rider and have a hard time hangin off without upsetting the suspension, with the CT, the stability lets me hang off without upsetting the suspension.

that's not the type of riding I generally do though

hardest thing for me to get used to is single trac with a CT, it gives way better traction & grip on everything, sometimes too good when ya'd rather get a little wheelspin, but again, the wider footprint of the contact patch lets you feel all the unevenness

its really hard to compare thought, I wanna get an extra set of wheels so I can run a bike/knobby bike tire in back and a front wheel so that I have a choice of street/knobby in front as well

longevety was not a consideration when I went darkside, but I'll take it as a bonus



 

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I'm always intrigued with the 'darkside' posts--it seems the car tire is potentially a very good choice, the only real problem is the 'flat' tread shape which gives the bike an odd feel in slow corners. I imagine the tire would be improved if it were taken to a re-capper that has a tire lathe--if the tread surface were made slightly more rounded, the handling would be much improved with no decrease in tire life or reliability. The problem is finding the guy with the 'lathe' who'd be willing to mess with this job.
Any suggestions/comments?
 
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