What Is The Skinny on Fat Tires?

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October 13, 2010 | By: Jake Herring

Is the fat tire craze over? I think not — but it’s definitely showing signs of slowing down. I’d be the first to admit that fat tires look cool on some bikes, but for the most part those bikes are only displayed in shows where they’re taken off the trailer and put back on after the show.

I remember back before this tire craze started that if you had a 150mm tire on your bike, it was considered fat.  Did you know there are manufacturers out there today making tires for motorcycles that measure more than 330mm? Unbelievable! My personal opinion is anything over 200mm is overkill — especially if it’s on a daily driver. With a tire that big, you can pretty much kiss a motorcycle’s handling characteristics goodbye.

In today’s world of motorcycle customization, more and more people are building skinny bobbers using stock frames. Maybe it’s the fact money is tight and people have limited cash reserves under their mattresses to build a bike from scratch. Or it could be the cost of motorcycle tires, which average about $1 per millimeter of width. Purchasing just one replacement fat tire can be pretty expensive — especially since the average tire only lasts about 5,000 miles, give or take a burnout or two.It’s my opinion that a wide tire is built for going straight. A fat tire works great on a drag bike, which needs all of its rubber-to-road contact in order for the bike to hook up and not just sit and spin. But whe

In it comes to practicality and daily use, I just don’t see the advantages of a wide tire. Laziness, I can understand. Maybe you want to get off your bike and not use the kickstand. And I suppose some tires or so wide the bike stands on its own. But like I said, other than that, I can’t see it.

My personal motorcycles are quick and agile.  It’s much easier to lane split or shoot down the breakdown lane with a skinny tire, especially when you’re late to work. Unfortunately, I find myself doing both more times than not. Like I said before, the wider the tire, the more you sacrifice handling. Oh, it can be done, but you’re going to spend most of your time just fighting the bike from lane to lane. Someone might argue that point, but I ride my bike 60 miles to and from work each day, and I can assure you it’s much easier to dip in and out of traffic on a bike that is agile and streamlined.

I’m not saying go out there and buy yourself a plastic crotch rocket, but for a commuter bike or something on which you want to have fun tearing up the road, you’ll need to tone down the tire size a little.

I’m a firm believer in “to each his own,” so by all means, do whatever floats your boat. Who knows? Some day I might have a fat tire monster in my lineup, but it will be a show bike or a very local bar hopper. For now I’m sticking to my 150mm, and I’ll be waving at you as I shoot down the sidewalk on my way to work. Later…..

Comments: 16 Comments | Categorized Under: Tech Tips

Comments (16)

I went to myrtle beach bike week this year with a diverse bunch of riders. There were 5 crotch rockets in the bunch. There were two Harleys that kept up with them in the twists and hard turns in NC down to the event. My Harley was one of them. My bike and the other Harley both had 130mm rear tires. In the pecking order of the guys that got there on the cruisers, the skinniest tires rolled in first, stock 150mm~ tired rides came in the middle and obese custom mod rear tired cruisers came in last. Comments from the fat tire guys were the bike fought them in every twist for 200 miles of back roads. We did a a 90 mile stretch where I never got below 94mph. The fat tired cruisers were relegated to sniffing flowers, not because they were senior citizens or total noobs, the bike wouldnt let them carve like they had to to stay up.

Its like carving thanksgiving dinner with a dull knife on one turkey and a sharp one on another turkey. Even the most experienced carver will come in last with the dull knife.

Besides, them fat tires are like looking at a fat chick two up with a thoung and booty shorts on. Just plain ugly, bit I guess some folks are into that.

I Love my bike! it is amazing! That’s what a bike should be. If you want to keep up with crotch rockets then go buy one and leave the cruisin to the cruisers! Riding on the sidewalk IS what crotch rockets do, and weaving in and out of traffic IS what crotch rockets do…. they shouldn’t have a bike. You guys sound like crotch rockets envies riding Harleys that give all of us a bad name

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300 on the chop I built with 40 degree rake and I’ll admit it took about 500 miles to get used to the handling, and it is by no means a bike built for the road race circuit but I dig it and so do all my fans. Oh, and James the only guys who make comments like that are unsecure with their own manhood! Smoke a fatty!!!

Ride your skinny, I’ll ride my 230 on my pan-shovel chopper. You can watch all the girls stare at my chopper, and by me a drink while we wonder why NO ONE cares about your stock skinny everybodies got that bike. Your opinion is one of many. Stock, with few acc’s.

Fat tires are for riders with little peckers

im building a bobber / rocket and anything over 180 is a waste of my time in rear tires with 148 ci and 6spd od is just what the doctor ordered

I believe the listed reasons why a “Fat Tire” is bad is envy or something. I ride a 2000 Night Train Screaming Eagle 105 hp with a 300 mm rear tire (Fat). Been to Sturgis, Denver, Yellowstone Galveston, Key West all from Tampa, Fl. No trailer queen; 52,000 mi and 22,000 on the last Avon 300.
No, I don’t do burnouts, but at age 65, just beat a 2009 Corvette 0-80 mph (I let off-county road)

Ran Devils Gap draggin the frame (wide tire gave me more grnd clearance in the lean). Re agile? 300 Tire no wider than the pegs. Why run a 300? few have it and the ladies like it.

60 miles to go to work every day and I can assure you it is much easier to dive in and out of traffic on a bike that is flexible and simplified.

I do not tend to ride a bike when you are in a hurry. I want to relax on my bike.

It's much easier to divide a street or down the shoulder with a thin rim, especially when you are late to work. Unfortunately, I find myself doing double the contrary.

Some of the tires make a bike look like it is going to a sand drag or dune raceing

Harley-Davidson found good middle ground with the Forty-Eight. The fat tire is eye-catching, imparts a commanding presence and the motorcycle can still weave in urban traffic. Sure, you can’t weave like you can on a sportbike, but I don’t tend to ride a motorcycle when I have to be somewhere in a hurry. I like to relax on my motorbike.

Exactly! If you’re late or in a rush, take your car. You’re more likely to do something stupid and get yourself hurt or worse if you take a bike when you’re in a hurry. Sure you can fit in between cars and save time, and get crushed when one of those cars moves a bit to avoid a bump…

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