Who likes “fat” things?
Wide tires, narrow tires, large or small silts?
There are said to customizers who specialize in conversions with wide tires. One thing should be mentioned at this point: save yourself any comments about stands, which you can save yourself, or any comments about the drivability and cornering capability of such a bike with XXL rubber.
From my own experience I can say that if the conversion was done correctly, the scrubber will drive, even in curves and at an incline. But it has to be said that a 360 tire is not comparable to a 180.
If you want to go up and down mountain passes with your knees dragging alternately, wide tires would actually be a particularly bad recommendation. At the next Moto GP broadcast, pay attention to which widths will be at the start.
They're not stupid and they know what they're doing. It is the case that the tire dimensions are primarily responsible for the subsequent driving characteristics.
It's clear to me that a knee slider doesn't understand why Harley riders in particular place increased value on fat tires. Most irons from Milwaukee are not designed for such sporting escapades.
The average Harley rider's knees only touch the ground when he's cleaning his bike on a Saturday. Don't get me wrong, the same applies to most Japanese sportbike riders. Just because your bikes could theoretically drive in such lean angles doesn't mean that the "pilot"'s driving skills are sufficient to make such maneuvers possible.
For my part, I only meet such experts extremely rarely, at least on German roads.
The Japanese rider can at least pretend that he is while standing, while the Harley rider will be completely incomprehensible as to why such driving behavior should even be aimed for. Be that as it may, “every animal has its own pleasure”.
So why the hell do you deviate as much as possible from the optimal width of a tire? The answer is very simple, because you can do it and because there are still enough people who find it beautiful. I don't expect everyone out there to share my taste, I personally don't care who thinks my bike is nice and who doesn't.
If you were to build a bike that meets the supposed taste of as many motorcyclists as possible, is super rideable and offers the whole thing at a reasonable price, then you would end up with something like a Yamaha XJN 600. A great thing, highly recommended for beginner drivers, but an emotional experience is much different.
It's not that we're misunderstanding each other here, you can say that you don't like the Softail with 360. Personally, I wouldn't want to own a bike like that either. I and every customizer would be very happy if you would focus more on the technical implementation instead of stupid comments.
Without moving the bike even a meter, you can see at first glance whether and how well the mill can circle around the corner. Just look at the tire from behind, is the tire in the middle of the frame? Or was he transferred?
Was an offset kit installed to place the drive belt on the outside so that it can be guided past the tire? In this case, the tire would run almost in the middle, but the weight would be shifted too far to the left and the driver would have to counteract it by shifting his body.
Only very few bike builders can offer a technically perfect solution.
To be honest, I can only think of one person who has managed this perfectly. Rick's Motorcycles has developed its own swingarm kit for this purpose. The single drive belt is replaced by two shorter belts.
At approximately the height of the swing arm axis, the second belt is guided outwards past the tire via an additional shaft. In this way, the wider tire can easily be guided in the middle of the frame. Of course, that was just a simplified description of the principle, which is much more complicated to implement.
The fact is that there is only one provider in the world (probably because of the patent) who has found a really perfect solution for this and it also has the blessing of the strict TÜV authorities.
But it is also a fact that every change to the bike has some consequences. And these do not necessarily have to have a positive effect on the driving characteristics. Anyone who knows their craft can often assess these consequences and counteract them.
For example, oversized front wheels are currently popular on tourers. Similar to wide tires, you should pay attention to the technical implementation here as well, according to stupid comments. Just using a larger wheel is definitely not the best idea. The bike would be raised at the front and the caster would be influenced.
Once you reach a certain size, a fork bridge that is supposed to work against it with a different inclination is no longer sufficient. The customizer from Baden-Baden mentioned shortly before adapts the entire frame, including the steering head angle, to the larger front wheel.
In this way, tourers with front wheels up to 32 inches are created, all of which are very easy to drive. But only because they were implemented consistently and expertly.
Finally, however, it must be pointed out that extreme wheel dimensions always influence driving behavior. It must be admitted that some bikes were created simply for the purpose of being beautiful or to demonstrate the technical skills of the builder.
They are bought by people who like the design and are into these high levels of craftsmanship.
The fact that you could even drive it is almost secondary for this clientele. There are simply different motorcycle and custom bike fans and just as often different tastes.
Personally, I am happy about the diversity of this colorful scene, even if I don't like a lot of what I see. But why should it? If all the bikes out there were built in such a way that I liked them, then it would be boring at the latest.
With this in mind, sincerely,
Text and photos: Peter Schulz
Column: Guest author Peter Schulz / motorcycle editor, book author, photo and filmmaker