What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.


Technical information and Q&A applicable to all years and models of Goldwings
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patbrandon1
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What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by patbrandon1 »



Looking for the people more smartified than I am :idea: to clear up the term "Cupping".

This past Summer I noticed that a friend of mine had some wear on his rear tire that looked uneven. He said his brother told him that his tire was cupping. It just looked like uneven wear to me.

But I've heared this term several other times. So I did an internet search for "cupping" and didn't find any real answer as to what is actually means. I'm a bit of a literalist, so when I heard the word cupping, I expected to see something that may have the shape of a cup. But that wasn't the case as far as what I found.

Can anyone chime in to clear this up for me?

Also, I am changing my tires this Winter, and would like some suggestions. :?: What is your favorite tire, and why?
I ride a 1987 Honda Goldwing 1200 Interstate.



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Rednaxs60
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by Rednaxs60 »

I'll chime in. I'm a believer that the only part/system on our motorcycles that keep the tires firmly planted on the road is the suspension. The first issue is the proper spring rate for our weight and riding style - front and rear, the second is the rebound and compression rate of the springs, and the bike sag. The OEM has to do a cost benefit scenario regarding all new motorcycles and the industry consensus is that the industry has settled on the 180 lb 5'10" rider as the middle of the road. Other industries do the same. With this in mind, when the motorcycle is new, most suspensions will work well for a certain amount of time and distance, and how the motorcycle is used, and if you purchase the motorcycle new, you adjust to the way the car rides and everything appears to work well over the years. I just changed the shocks/struts on my 2011 KIA Soul after some 120K Kms - made a significant difference. Discussion with various tire shops and parts suppliers indicated that after this many Kms, the shocks/struts are worn out and should be replaced. For my money, say some 50K miles on a motorcycle, just saying.

Checked the auto industry for this issue of scallopped/cupping of tires is predominantly because of worn out suspension. Tire shops generally have postures in the lobby explaining what is happening to tires depending on what the issue is, motorcycle shops do not. Here are a couple of pics regarding this for the auto industry:




Under inflation combined with a soft/worn out suspension are, IMO, two of the main culprits regarding this issue.

I understand the reluctance to renew/upgrade a motorcycle suspension because of expense, and there are not that many shops out there that specialize in suspensions, especially not in Canada.

The cost to renew can be prohibitive for a lot of people. I have done the suspension on four bikes I have and do own. Did the Traxion "full monty" on the 1800 I had, specifically because of the research I did into issues with the 1800. Have installed Race Tech suspension in the front forks and Progressive non-air rear shocks on my '85 Limited Edition, Progressive air shocks and fork springs in my 1500, and now doing Andreani fork cartridges (preload, rebound and spring compression/rebound adjustment) and Nitron rear shock (remote preload and spring rebound/compression adjustments) on my 2012 DL100 V-Strom. I am keeping the 1500/1200 and V-Strom so the suspension upgrade is worth it. I have some additional work to do with the 1500 regarding fork spring rate. I always do this work up front so I can enjoy what I have done or do.

There are articles on the internet that dispute what I am saying; however, when I research this issue regarding the auto industry the information is very clear on this issue.

Back to your question, and IMO, suspension and tire pressure are key to tire longevity, performance and wear. I would submit that replacing with OEM product(s) replacement may be the lowest cost and first alternative, second is Progressive and Race Tech components, then the most expensive and possibly the best is Traxion. Traxion has front fork cartridges for the 1200. There are Sonic straight rate fork springs available. rear shock possibilities are Progressive, Ohlin, and such. For the rear of my 1200 have been toying with replacing the Progressive shocks with a pair of Nitron R2 series shock - future possibility.

A good read is the Race Tech Suspension Bible.

Just my thoughts on the issue. Good luck
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by patbrandon1 »

Fantastic info Rednaxs60. Thank you for taking the time to inform me (us) with your experience and research. It gives me a lot to chew on before I buy new tires.

What kind of tire do you like to run on your motorcycles? :?: :?: :?:
My 1200 has 29,000 miles on it and has the original suspension that I will improve this Winter.
Rednaxs60 wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:32 pm
Back to your question, and IMO, suspension and tire pressure are key to tire longevity, performance and wear. I would submit that replacing with OEM product(s) replacement may be the lowest cost and first alternative, second is Progressive and Race Tech components, then the most expensive and possibly the best is Traxion. Traxion has front fork cartridges for the 1200. There are Sonic straight rate fork springs available. rear shock possibilities are Progressive, Ohlin, and such. For the rear of my 1200 have been toying with replacing the Progressive shocks with a pair of Nitron R2 series shock - future possibility.

A good read is the Race Tech Suspension Bible.

Just my thoughts on the issue. Good luck

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by Rednaxs60 »

I have used Michelin Commander II front/rear and renewed after some 30K Kms (almost 20K miles) . Kept at 40 PSI front/rear. Have Shinko Tourmasters on the 1200 now, expect lower mileage out of these but have 2 other bikes to ride as well.

Had Tourmasters on a second '85 Limited Edition and found them to be quite good. Put some 8K Kms on these tires before I sold it, no appreciable wear showing.

With 29K miles, not a lot of miles but the age of the bike is not in your favour. Time takes a toll on parts/systems as well.

A good upgrade for your bike would be Sonic straight rate springs at 1.1 kg/mm and Race Tech Gold Valves or equivalent. The gold valves allow you to change the oil flow rate to dial in the front suspension. Only issue is you have to take the front forks apart every time you want to tweek the valves. There are cartridge systems available, Traxion has one - "tres chere".

Rear air shocks can be rebuilt or renewed. You can use aftermarket non-air shocks such as Progressive series 412 shock and spring sets. Only issue here is that you will gain about 1 " in height in the rear. Mine has these shocks and I find no change in performance, handles just fine. I keep these shock set at the highest preload for solo and two up riding/touring.

Good luck. Cheers
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by 2003Cobra »

Rednaxs60 did a very good job explaining cupping so I won't rehash that. My front tire on the trike is cupped and I'll be replacing it this next week. I had Avon tires on my Dyna and Sportster and loved them. So I'm putting an Avon Chrome tire made for the Trike on and will probably use Dyna-beads (Since I have them on hand) to balance it.
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by dingdong »

Interesting write up on tire wear.
http://www.rattlebars.com/tirewear/

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by Rednaxs60 »

dingdong wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:42 pm
Interesting write up on tire wear.
http://www.rattlebars.com/tirewear/
Read this a while back. Interesting read. Agree a bit with the write up on cupping; however, since this is not a universal issue there's more to the story, just my opinion.

Like the balance beads, but prefer the Ride-On Motorcycle Tire Balancer and Sealant.
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by Viking »

The term most used in the industry for cupping, is actually "SCALLOPING". You will find tons of info on this on the internet. This term was hidden in plain site in Rednax's fantastic write up.
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by newday777 »

As to what is cupping??? Cupping is the scallop or divot that happens in the treads, mostly on the sides. Run you hand on the tire forward and backward. The tire comes new smooth. Cupped tires will have low spots and high spots you can feel and see.
Last edited by newday777 on Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by newday777 »

As to Rednaxs60 post of car suspension, the word 'suspension' on cars, refers to more than shocks, there is ball joints, tie rods, tie rod ends, lots of pivot points where the "suspension' flex and movement happens as the car moves around on down the road. Totally unlike a motorcycle 'suspension'. To bring in car 'suspension' into a motorcycle discussion is like is like talking hamburger into a sushi discussion.
Sorry but the physics are totally different.

The one thing you have stated that is correct is most wing riders don't spend the proper money to upkeep their bike suspension properly and yes it does effect the tire wear. I too was one of those that tried to cheap out to try to fix it, to the point that I read through thousands of the threads(posts) of tire wear fixes, as I have done most all of my own work on all my vehicles I've owned since a wee tot, having learned to work with my hands long ago. And again yes, I too bought into the find the cheap way out to 'fix it'. (Ugh! Where's the 2x4!!!)
There's lots of snake oil out there in 'the web' on motorcycle tire wear causes to say the least. I tried lots of the fixes to no avail to be rid of the cupping on my wings. Tire balance, wheel bearings, swing arm bushings, fork bushings, fork tube wear, fork sliders(lower legs) wear out(egg shape internal wear), shocks....all play into the tire wear yes.
And as a note on tires, there are huge differences in each model change and tires, sizes, weight capacity and how they wear and what tires will fit and wear on a particular model.
I'm on my 4th wing now in the past 10 years and have put on lots of different tires in the past 10 years, with 215,000 miles total on the 4.

About 4 years ago, I met a guy who has become a good friend now, that I was told of by a forum friend(of another wing forum). I helped him fit up a goldwing shop in a new location as he had been working out of his home garage for years and needed more space. He is a guru on motorcycle suspension and I've garnered a lot of his insights. He is trained in Traxxion and Racetech and has done literally thousands of goldwing suspension upgrades in the past 15 years. I can say the biggest factor I learned from him, that I had never done on my wings, was to replace the steering bearings. They take a beating on all goldwings(all bikes!) and effectively are The cause of tire cupping on bikes. Yes The cause. Bear with me. Read on.
Lift the front wheel off the ground so you can swing the handlebars back and forth(bike on center stand). At the straight ahead position, lightly move the bars slightly back and forth just past the straight ahead position. When the steering bearings are worn there will be a dent that becomes a loose spot in the bearing race and you will feel it in the movement(known as notchyness). That dent, which is in only that straight ahead position on a motorcycle, which is where the bars are when riding, (unless you are physically turning the bars in low speed maneuvering), that is where the force of the hard bumps we hit while riding is transferred to when the fork action doesn't take up all the weight of the bike hitting those jarring bumps and thus the dent in the race happens. With the exception of the gl1500, Honda put in round ball bearings in the steering head, those round bearings easily dent the race with that small surface of the ball on the race, that dent is the cause of the wobble most riders complain about of the low speed wobble(mostly when you take your hands off the bars and the bike is decelerating below 45 mph). That wobble of the bars actually still happens with your hands on the bars as you ride (but don't feel it unless you get into certain conditions of riding) but that slight wobble effects the geometry as you travel down the road and it starts the wear of the tire to cup rather than be an even wear of the tread. (And yes it will happen on most all brands of tires.)
The fix... Change the steering bearings when that notch/dent happens. Check the bearings yearly with the front end off the ground test above. If the notch is felt, when you take the triple tree apart you can see the dent in the race. The only fix is to replace the steering bearings as a set. Allballs offers a tapered roller bearing set that outlasts the stock round ball bearings, yes they will dent also(I replaced the first Allballs set after 40,000 miles on them). They have to be properly torqued with the castle nut socket and torque wrench!(one area many 'backyard mechanics' neglect to do, again being too cheap to get the proper tools to do the job to do it correctly)
(Tapered Allballs Bearings are part of the Traxxion Full Monty upgrade)
My first upgrade was not the Traxxion, but I just did the steering bearings and Racetech Gold Valve with their single rate springs (along with a Traxxion rear shock a month later). This made a huge difference over stock suspension of my 08 1800 handling and the tire cupping went away for over 40,000 miles and no more low speed wobble.

So, start by getting new tapered steering bearings installed. Spend the money. Yes it will cost you.
Then, work on the rest of your suspension.(sorry but Traxxion doesn't make cartridges for wings older than gl1800)

Happy riding can happen. But it will cost you some outlay. Quit being a knucklehead that needs a 2x4 on your head.

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by dingdong »

I am on the 5th set of tires on my 1500. The first 3 sets were Dunlop E3s. The next was Avon Cobras. All four sets cupped severely and I keep my bike serviced including the suspension on a regular basis. I now have a set of Dunlop E4s with appx. 8k miles. There is no cupping at all, none that I can see or feel. No change in riding habits. Just saying that perhaps the problem of cupping may not be a problem with the bike but the design of tires. ???

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by newday777 »

dingdong wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:03 am
I am on the 5th set of tires on my 1500. The first 3 sets were Dunlop E3s. The next was Avon Cobras. All four sets cupped severely and I keep my bike serviced including the suspension on a regular basis. I now have a set of Dunlop E4s with appx. 8k miles. There is no cupping at all, none that I can see or feel. No change in riding habits. Just saying that perhaps the problem of cupping may not be a problem with the bike but the design of tires. ???
Good luck on your thinking.....
Until you change your steering bearings, you'll get the same results...

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by Rednaxs60 »

newday777 wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:22 am
dingdong wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:03 am
I am on the 5th set of tires on my 1500. The first 3 sets were Dunlop E3s. The next was Avon Cobras. All four sets cupped severely and I keep my bike serviced including the suspension on a regular basis. I now have a set of Dunlop E4s with appx. 8k miles. There is no cupping at all, none that I can see or feel. No change in riding habits. Just saying that perhaps the problem of cupping may not be a problem with the bike but the design of tires. ???
Good luck on your thinking.....
Until you change your steering bearings, you'll get the same results...
Agree with the premise regarding the motorcycle suspension, that it is a combination of items that affect how the tire wears. Tire compounds, tire air pressure, steering stem bearings, front suspension, tire balance, rear suspension - all interrelated. I used the auto industry as an example because there is more information to guide people to a solution for tire issues, not so much in the motorcycle industry.

Your assertion regarding the steering stem bearings is problematic is a case in point, based on your experience and good advice from a friend who you trust and has worked on various Goldwing issues. The auto industry is very mature and when there is an issue with tire wear, it doesn't matter what tire shop you go to, you will probably get the same answer to your questions. The motorcycle industry is not the same.

I upgraded my '08 1800 with the Traxion suspension and was surprised when I saw a bicycle style steering stem bearing being used, wouldn't have thought that would be the case. I have done the steering stem bearings on my 1200 as well.

Here's the rub so to speak, because there is no definitive answer to this question, where to start?

A 30 plus year old motorcycle suspension is going to be soft or worn out, nothing lasts forever. I would first address the front fork suspension and renew it to as close to factory as possible. Replace all fork components with OEM is better than riding with a soft/worn out suspension. Do an upgrade to Progressive, Race Tech or even Traxion (I talked to Traxion and was told that it had a cartridge system for the 1200). This is not done very often because a suspension upgrade can be expensive. Do the steering stem bearings as a matter of course because bearings do wear even if the rider cannot discern that the bearing(s) are wearing and past its best before date. After having done the front, the rear will probably not feel very good and will need the same care and attention because as has been mentioned, the suspension is a system that is designed front and rear, not as separate systems.

Having mentioned the above, there are some choices. Accept the tire wear pattern and go out and enjoy your ride doing nothing else. Come up with a maintenance plane and renew/upgrade one item at a time so that you can ascertain if the change works.

Never easy coming to consensus. Good luck.
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by patbrandon1 »

Rednaxs60 wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 1:36 pm
Having mentioned the above, there are some choices. Accept the tire wear pattern and go out and enjoy your ride doing nothing else. Come up with a maintenance plane and renew/upgrade one item at a time so that you can ascertain if the change works.

Never easy coming to consensus. Good luck.
Thanks to everyone for the great information and suggestions. I have a bit to chew on before I go forward. I will be looking at changing bearings and upgrading front and rear suspensions.

I'll have a bunch of stuff taken off as I am going to put on new tires, and fix the stator situation. (It failed mid Summer). I'm still not sure if I am going to put on a Poor Boy conversion, of just put in a new stator and regulator/rectifier. I will ask that question in the 1200 forum.

As Rednaxs60 said "Never easy coming to consensus". But my thought at this time is to put Progressive springs in the front first, and new bearings, then ride it, see how it feels, then do the rear to progressive springs. As far as the ride feel now... it rides pretty smooth and I don't have any cupping going on yet.

So if anybody wants to share experiences with poor boy vs stator replacement, I'll be posting that question soon in the 1200 forum.

Thanks again for taking the time to help a fellow winger.

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by dingdong »

newday777 wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:22 am
dingdong wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:03 am
I am on the 5th set of tires on my 1500. The first 3 sets were Dunlop E3s. The next was Avon Cobras. All four sets cupped severely and I keep my bike serviced including the suspension on a regular basis. I now have a set of Dunlop E4s with appx. 8k miles. There is no cupping at all, none that I can see or feel. No change in riding habits. Just saying that perhaps the problem of cupping may not be a problem with the bike but the design of tires. ???
Good luck on your thinking.....
Until you change your steering bearings, you'll get the same results...
I think I stated that I keep my bike serviced (anally) regurally. I replaced the already replaced roller bearings with new roller bearings. There was no change what so ever. These E4s, like I stated, have absolutely no cupping after 8000 miles. All of the other tires showed slight signs of cupping after about 1000 miles. The last set of E3s I pulled after 10k miles, even though they could have gone another 8k or so miles. I couldn't stand the vibration and singing in the curves any longer. Even in reverse I could feel the vibration.

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by julimike54 »

dingdong wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 5:49 pm
newday777 wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:22 am
dingdong wrote:
Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:03 am
I am on the 5th set of tires on my 1500. The first 3 sets were Dunlop E3s. The next was Avon Cobras. All four sets cupped severely and I keep my bike serviced including the suspension on a regular basis. I now have a set of Dunlop E4s with appx. 8k miles. There is no cupping at all, none that I can see or feel. No change in riding habits. Just saying that perhaps the problem of cupping may not be a problem with the bike but the design of tires. ???
Good luck on your thinking.....
Until you change your steering bearings, you'll get the same results...
I think I stated that I keep my bike serviced (anally) regurally. I replaced the already replaced roller bearings with new roller bearings. There was no change what so ever. These E4s, like I stated, have absolutely no cupping after 8000 miles. All of the other tires showed slight signs of cupping after about 1000 miles. The last set of E3s I pulled after 10k miles, even though they could have gone another 8k or so miles. I couldn't stand the vibration and singing in the curves any longer. Even in reverse I could feel the vibration.
Can you tell us if the E3 and E4 tires have a different load rating? Seems like I remember on mine I noticed a difference in tire wear when I went from OEM tire to the Elite II tire and I'd noticed the load rating was higher on the Elite II. I've been running E3s and use the upper end of the Max pressure rating of the tire, this is actually max load at max tire pressure on the tire. I tend to be at max load so I use that pressure as my guide. I've noticed less cupping since (I've used this method). Your results may vary :D
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by newday777 »

Here are the E4 ratings for the gl1200
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pocketchange
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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by pocketchange »

FWIW; when I rent a car, I adjust the seat position, steering wheel position, etc., etc., in effort meet my needs to control/drive the automobile (comfortably and safely.)
As a rider; only a few new owners go to the trouble of fitting the bike to meet their riding style, position, comfort, etc.. Fewer riders go to the trouble to adjust suspension (or for that matter.. understand suspension) to meet the weight/balance of their new ride.
If you do not adjust your new Goldwing to fit, trouble IS coming your way.
This includes properly sized fork springs, shock oil, suspension geometry or Air Pressure, etc., etc..
I was past average size in the 8th grade 6 plus decades ago.
Better springs, heavier fork oil, higher tire pressure's, etc..
Goldwings are the semi's of the MC world and not designed (like any new ride) to just be driven away,
without a little adjustment.
flame away pc

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by minimac »

Another point being ignored is the fact that what is going on at the back of the bike can also effect the front. Worn bearings, bushings, shocks, etc., can and do have a bearing on front end handling. Whether anyone agrees or not, since I went to ceramic beads for balancing my tires, I have not had an issue with the front(left side) tire cupping. Coincidence? I think not.

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Re: What is Cupping? Tire Recommendations.

Post by newday777 »

minimac wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 1:11 pm
Another point being ignored is the fact that what is going on at the back of the bike can also effect the front. Worn bearings, bushings, shocks, etc., can and do have a bearing on front end handling. Whether anyone agrees or not, since I went to ceramic beads for balancing my tires, I have not had an issue with the front(left side) tire cupping. Coincidence? I think not.
To an extent yes..... But too many focus on just those points.. Those back end tightening fixes will not fix the tire cupping on a bike though, they will fix the wallowing effects of your ride. Until the steering bearings are replaced and properly torqued, the cupping of the tires will continue to show its ugly head after 3,000-6,000 miles of tire wear.

Even tapered steering bearings will dent the races eventually, though not as fast as the stock round ball bearings Honda put in. This is the one area most motorcycle riders fail to maintain. They are a wear item that have to be replaced as sets. Poor suspension will accelerate the dent happening of the steering bearings.
That dent starts an oscillation of the bars, forks and front wheel back and forth as it hits the good surface of the race surface where the proper torque is correct of the bearings, especially when leaning in the corners(in which your steering is still pointed straight ahead or as you give a bit of 'counter steer' pressure) as we just lean into corners, not steer as a car does, to navigate corners above parking lot speeds, and we are still in the notch/dent location of the bearing race when they wear. That oscillation is the cupping cause on motorcycle tires, both front and rear tires. Any bike.
I'm not trying to beat the bush. It is a science most don't learn or comprehend but it is still the only fix to cupped motorcycle tires.



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