First Time Darksider -- Unbiased Initial Opinion/Perspective
I know this can be a heated topic for some. There are those who swear for it and those who swear against it. I wanted to put down my own personal experience for everone to read because who knows... it may be helpful to someone else and may help them make their own personal decision.
I needed a new rear tire on my 2009 Vulcan 900 Custom SE. I went to the local Kawasaki dealership where I had purchased the bike new and got a price. I was astounded to find that it was going to cost me over $200 to get a tire and have it put on. I decided to hold off so I could try and find a tire from somewhere else with a price tag that wasn't as painful. This is when I learned about the darkside. I did some research and decided it might be worth the time and money to try it for myself. If I didn't like it I could just throw a MC tire back on.
I found a General AltiMAX HP 195/65R15 online but the shipping was going to up the price by almost $15. I found the same tire on the Walmart website and used the Site-to-Store so the shipping didn't cost me a dime. The tire tire came to a grand total of $82.32 after state and federal tax. I opted to use DynaBeads to balance the tire. These brought the total price to $106.32 -- less than half the price of the other tire installed from the dealership.
I went to Northern Tool and bought some tire spoons and wrapped them really well in duct tape to proctect my wheel when removing/installing the tires. I removed the old tire and the clip on wheel weight. Then, I used a small abount of Meguires polish around the bead areas. I lightly hit them and didn't put much effort into this step. I put the new tire on, threw in 3 ounces of DynaBeads, and sprayed the wheel and tire bead area with Windex. First time I put air into the tire I went to 65psi and let the pressure off. The second time I went up to 80psi. I got a rubber mallet out of the tool box and beat the dog crap out of the tire where the bead was not yet set. This helped some but it still did not set all the way. The thrid time I was going to take the tire to 100psi, but the bead set at 94psi. I took the pressure down to 36 psi and I put the wheel and tire back on the bike, spending a total of 1hr and 20 mins for the whole process.
On my first ride I was really surprised at how the CT felt going down the road -- wonderful. It is smooth and balcanced with no vibration what-so-ever. I have read about how some people encountered the CT making the bike follow grooves in the road. This did not happen at all. I tried to get the bike to do so and it went exactly where I was pointing it, not following the grooves. I took the bike over to my brother's house and he took it for a spin without me telling him what I thought about the tire. He came back just as amazed as I was at the tire performance, on straight stretches and curves both. He says he will definately be going darkside when he is due a tire change.
Next challenge, how will the tire perform 2 up? Like a champ. My wife and I went for a ride and she said the ride was way smoother for her on the back with the CT. The bike also handled great with her on the back. I didn't have to get used to the new tire and there was no time spent on trying to learn how to ride with a CT on the back. No issues at all.
In summary, I have nothing but praises for the darkside. I have only put around 100 miles on it and the ride continues to get better. As of right now I will never put another MT on the back of my bike. We will see what happens with time. I didn't expect anything out of the tire when I put it on, I just wanted to see how it would perform and see what all the hype about the darkside was about. My brother, wife, and myself are all very pleasantly surprised. If you are dead set against the idea of putting a CT on the back of your bike then continue to use MC tires. But, if you are even remotely pondering the idea give it a try. I really think you will be as pleased as I am. If anyone is interested I will post updates as time goes on.
09 Vulcan Custon SE-Road Burner Pipes
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