In June of 2006 I had the time and money to take a
month long ride. I have written about the trip west and
the trip north previously. (See "No Gas" parts 1 & 2
on the Front Page Story Index) With any luck, I
might even get around to part 3 one of these days. This is a
brief story about joining the "darkside." In other
words, putting a car tire on my VTX 1800R, why I
did it, how I did it and what I think after joining the "darkside."
My plan was to camp as much as possible. I have a senior
pass that gets me into any National Park for free. So I
started knowing I'd be going to Yosemite and
Yellowstone on this trip. I mapped it out with
lots of flexibility to turn whichever way the mood
Beginning around the first of May I started converting
my stripped down VTX to a Tourer. I had a windshield
and was still riding on the stock seat so I knew my
first purchase would be the Ultimate X seat, a
Mustang back rest and sissybar with luggage rack and
the Leatherlyke saddle bags. I found these items used,
for sale on various websites including this one. By the
end of May I was almost ready to go.
There was a
Range Rider's group
ride that year dubbed The Spring Fling that brought a whole
bunch of the VTX Riders to Farmington NM. I live
in Durango, CO, so I met up with the group at the La
Quinta hotel. There I saw my first "Darkside" VTX and it
immediately got me to thinking. Dennis
(Fleet-Mech) offered to let
me take his bike for a ride to see how the big car tire
felt. Honestly I thought it was a little bit weird. (No offense Dennis, you and I have talked about tire
I was planning to ride 5,000 or more miles so the idea
of a car tire began to sink in. It made sense to me. I
had read numerous accounts of Valkyrie riders going to
the "darkside". Dennis assured me that he had no trouble
whatsoever. Why not? Well it is interesting how many
people will tell you why not but then those are people
who have never done it or tried riding a bike with a car
A couple of days after the Spring Fling I made up my
mind to give it a go only to find that none of the
internet tire dealers like Discount tire would sell me a
single tire to put on my motorcycle. My mistake was
telling them that that was my intention. So I went to my
local Wal Mart and purchased a Goodyear American Eagle
all season tire. The local Honda shop would not
remove my old tire and replace it with the car tire.
They claimed their tire machines were not capable. So I
went to Sears and purchased a $65 jack and removed the
rear wheel and tire.
I took the rear wheel and the car tire to a small BMW
repair shop. Harry the owner was happy to mount the new
tire on the VTX rim. When I saw the Goodyear mounted on
the rim I thought holy crap that is never gonna fit. But with a little bit of luck and some yankee ingenuity
the tire did slip into place and every thing bolted up
just fine. If you do this yourself or even if you just
remove your rear wheel for any reason remember to get
the special moly grease for re-assembly.
This is not a difficult process. It was only slightly
different than just changing a Metzler or any other
tire in that the car tire is so wide it just
squeaks by. I didn't have to file anything or remove
anything. The photos pretty much tell the story.
The inexpensive Sears jack came in handy in the mounting
process -- as I got the tire lined up and just
beginning to squeeze past the frame I lowered the
bike a little at a time and kept pushing and lowering
and wiggling until it was home free.
I rode more than 6,000 miles on that long June ride.
Over the rest of the year I probably put another
6,000 miles on the tire. The last picture (below
left) you can see that there is no detectable tread
I sold the bike early this year. The guy who purchased
it was offered a brand new Metzler 880 but he said no
thanks I really like this tire. You know I think you
might too if you gave the darkside a try.
As for the VTX 1800 as a touring bike I can only compare
it to a few of other bikes I have owned including a
BMW K1200LT a Valkyrie and a Honda Goldwing trike --
the VTX is a fantastic touring bike. I now ride the Goldwing because I can only afford one bike in this
economic morass but I would ride a VTX 1800 to the tip of
Argentina if I had the time and money. It
is a fantastic touring bike.