Dark side Nokian 185/75-15 on 96 SE


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oldmopars
Posts: 224
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Dark side Nokian 185/75-15 on 96 SE

Post by oldmopars »



So, for years I have been interested in going to the dark side with a bike. I had a GL1100, no tire options for that, a KLR650, no reason to on that one even if tires were out there. A CB500X, again no tire options, and a BMW K1200lt. The BMW had a swing arm design that would not allow the wide profile of a car tire.
So, The GL1500 is my first opportunity to give the dark side a try.
I ordered a Nokian 185/75-16 C-Line for cargo vans. It is a 6 ply tire and looks good. I wanted to have a tire that was narrow and tall. I did not want to give up any height as I am tall with long legs. The Austone would have been my first choice, but they are not making them anymore and there are only a few left to be had. I did not want to get a tire that was discontinued, seemed like a bad idea.
So, I mounted the tire on the rim, no issues there. It went on easy with just a little elbow grease and tire lube.
Getting it into the bike was another story. It took several tries to get the tire to fit in the space and not rub anything (So I thought). I had to use my heat gun and work a few things out to make room. I also had to remove the Acorn nut and bolt that holds the tool box bungee as it would have hit the tire.
Once installed everything seemed OK. At the same time I also installed a set of Progressive 416's.
So, for the test ride. I live on a gravel road and I found no issues dealing with the gravel. It seemed a little more stable and planted. I had read many accounts of dark siding that the tire seems to lift the bike as it transitions from the flat tread to the sides, and that the tire want to resist turn in and then will drop in. I found none of that at all.
I was very surprised that the tire felt like a normal Motorcycle tire. No resistance to turn in, no transition at all as I hit the corners. I have also heard of issues with tread squirm at high speeds, I also felt none of that. If you did not know the tire was for a cargo van, you would swear it was a regular MC tire.
Now, I only have about 50 miles on it and I have not adjusted the tire pressure yet, it's at about 42 right now. So far, so good, except....
Because this tire is tall, and has a slightly more square profile than the MC tire that came off, I have some rubbing. It is at the edge of the tread and not horrible, but annoying. At this point I am not sure if I am going to let it "work itself out" or go back in, remove it again and try to clearance things a bit more. I might be able to pull the fender forward and zip tie/wire it forward to give the require space. I do know that most that run the Austone have to do the same thing, so this is not a real big deal
The only other issue I have found that could be a slight negative is I have found that from a stop, if you are leaning as you take off and give it power from the stop into a lean, like from a stop sign then turn right, you get a little bit of "wiggle" out of the tread. It is kind of like the tread is flexing under the load and you feel it in the seat of your pants. It did not slip or loose traction, but I could feel the flex of the tread. I know that I will get used to it and so far the only "negative" I have found other than the rub that I need to fix.
So, all in all I am very happy with the tire and how it performs. I hope to get some more miles on this tire soon, but I have a very small coolant leak I need to track down and fix. Then I hope to do an Iron Butt ride in June and I will be doing at least 2000 miles this summer out to Montana, to Yellowstone and back. By the end of the summer I should be able to give a full report on the performance of the Nokian tire.



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GlimWas
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Re: Dark side Nokian 185/75-15 on 96 SE

Post by GlimWas »

So far so good. Interested for your experiences with the Nokian.....
Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle

GL1100 '80
GL1200 '87
GL1500 '94

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minimac
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Re: Dark side Nokian 185/75-15 on 96 SE

Post by minimac »

One of the nice things about running that tire is not having to worry about heat build up, while running at highway speed while touring out there. It can get ̶p̶r̶e̶t̶t̶y̶ ̶w̶a̶r̶m̶ down right hot and that's a bad combination for thread life. You might want to try bumping that pressure up to 46#., reason being a CT tread can actually become slightly concave if run at too low of a pressure. Let us know how you liked it when you get back and be safe!

oldmopars
Posts: 224
Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:25 am
Location: Selah, Washington
Motorcycle: 1996 GL1500 SE
1989 GL1500 parts bike
1984 GL1200 Aspencade FOR SALE

Re: Dark side Nokian 185/75-15 on 96 SE

Post by oldmopars »

I wanted to update everyone on this tire. I now have about 800-900 miles on it and I just ordered a Motorcycle tire to replace it. Here is why.
The tire is a 185/75-16, this is a bit taller than the original tire. I had to do a lot of trimming and pulling back of plastic to get it to fit. It still rubs a little on bumps, but not horrible.
I had to raise the back of the bike, air shocks up a lot because of the first issue of rubbing.
These two things combined I think have raised the back of the bike up enough to have an effect on the fork angle changing the trail.
Also, this tire is a radial and my front tire is a K177 bias. This is another contributor.
All of this has caused a really bad wobble at high speeds. At 50mph it is very nice, stable smooth ride. At 60mph it is OK, but you can feel a little wiggle from the rear if you are in windy conditions. At 70pmh is is almost constant, and at 80+ is is terrifying.
I can best describe it as the tail wagging the dog. The rear of the bike swings side to side, anything from slight to violent.
I was on I82 and passed a car going down hill, the bike was swinging so bad it was hard to keep going in a straight line. From that point on I kept it to below 70mph.

In the end, I am still open to going dark side and think it can work, but not this combination. I think if I had put a radial on the front and chose a tire with a lower side profile it may have worked better, but I did not want to lower the bike any more, I have long legs and even as it is with it raised up at least 2in at the seat, I can still stand up flat foot with space between me and the bike at a stop. Lowering the bike with a smaller tire was going to make the bike too short and put my legs at a bad angle at stops.
I am also going to sell this bike when I get back from my trip. It is not a good fit for me and I need to sell it instead of sinking more money into it to try to make it something it can never be.

If you have any questions about this tire, I would be happy to answer them. However at this time, unless you are running a radial in front and want the rasied seat, I would not use this tire. It is going to become a spare tire for my old 65 Chevy truck.



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