Since the invention of tires for cars by John Boyd Dunlop in 1888, and in 1895 prototypes for motorcycles, the tire has been a source of pleasure and pain for car and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. Most readers will undoubtedly understand the ‘pleasure’ of driving a car around mountain curves to hear a little squeal from the tires. Or riding a motorcycle in the mountains, pushing the tires to their limits to maintain traction going through the turn. But I’m here to talk about my love/hate relationship with the motorcycle tire!
First of all, my love/hate relationship with tires, in general, goes way back. From my first Huffy bicycle to my current Fatboy Lo, they have been the source of pain and joy!
The joy of leaning into a turn on twisting mountain roads knowing the power from the engine is being transferred to the highway by the contact of rubber the size of a credit card. Hmmm. Sounds ominous and exciting at the same time. Having the confidence of knowing the Michelin Commander II will provide the grip, handle the load of the motorcycle, and respond to the slightest movements of my body to impress my friends during one o f my ‘stoppies’! (needle scratching across a record) Do you think I’m nuts?! On a Fatboy? Seriously?! Last but not least, creating a ‘bucket list’ item to take my bike and bald tire to Suck Bang Blow in Myrtle Beach to the ‘Burnout Room.’ Oh wait, will Alexa be there?
Secondly, my hate relationship has developed since I started riding street bikes. Gone are the dirt bike days when I could change a tire by sitting my motorcycle on a plastic crate!
So, I’m riding down one of my favorite back roads with some riding buddies. As customary, we stop at a convenience store to rest our behinds, chat and get something to drink. While standing around, one of my friends notices my rear tire. ‘Hey, dude! Your rear tire is balder than your head!’ Now I’m no stranger to being follicly challenged, but to compare it to a motorcycle tire caused me to place my hat on my head immediately. ‘Yeah yeah, I know. I went by the Harley dealership a couple of weeks ago to buy a tire. Ask the parts guy what the going rate was to have a Michelin Commander II rear tire installed on my bike.’ So, the parts guy flips through his little catalog stopping on a page of tires. He pulls out a little calculator and starts banging on the keys like a ‘bookie’ on an adding machine. Looking up he says, ‘Tire, labor, and tax will round around three-hundred and eighty dollars.’ I don’t know if he saw on my face the emotions I was feeling inside, but if he could, I’m sure it was yelling louder than a contestant in a hog calling competition. Standing there a minute searching for a little quip to get the point across, I took a step back and snapped a ‘selfie’ of him and me. ‘What was the selfie for?’ he said. ‘So I won’t forget what you look like because I won’t be back for a while.’ I replied as I turned to leave.
What have I done?! I’ve never removed the rear tire of Harley Davidson! My skill set is more adapt to my Schwinn bicycle!
Well, it can’t be that bad. Can it? I mean I did teach myself to remove the front wheel to have a tire replaced. Wasn’t too difficult. The difference here is the addition of a belt instead of a chain, disc brakes, and the capability of traveling down the road one hundred miles an hour or more. Oh, not to forget the alignment of the rear tire. Yeah, I got this! NOT! After several unsatisfactory calls to some local bike shops, my last call of the day was to Cycle Gear. Remembering my previous experience with them, I reminded them about the ‘We’ve lost your tire and will need to reorder it.’ Followed by the wrong size tire being sent as the lost tire replacement. ‘How much?’ I said. ‘One-hundred eighty-nine dollars. With taxes, two-hundred two dollars and ninety-five cents.’ he said. ‘What about labor to get it installed?’ I asked. ‘No problem, we got a guy up the street that does our tires for about seventy-five dollars.’ he replied. Figuring out that my ‘all in’ expense would be two-hundred seventy-seven dollars. My mind’s ear could hear Willy Nelson singing ‘On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again…’I just saved one-hundred dollars on a tire and installed! My love/hate relationship with motorcycles had just improved!
Find a shop for tires on our Find A Shop page. According to Rick, you may not want to try this at home!