Going to the Dark Side

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I've discovered on my Pilot A/S Plus, if I run 32psi, it's absolutely perfect for my needs, UNLESS my needs include speeds >110mph. Then I get a rear-end sway similar to what Euro-po-pos experienced on their ST1300s just prior to passing through the Pearly Gates. Bumped up to 36ps and FJR-nominal is a twist-of-the-wrist away. Never thought 4psi would make THAT much difference. Tried 28 to 30psi when new, almost 5 years ago, and it felt mushy and very truck-like.

So, I'm liking the Yokohama AVID Envigor. Almost feels like a motorcycle tire compared to the G019 Grid. More of a "roll" feeling through turns rather than an abrupt lift off. Feels like it has a tiny bit more "tread feel" than the Grid, or it could be my imagination. Traction seems good. I have not been able to get it to slip in peg scraping turns or hard braking.

Since having my surgery to deal with that 6th toe that has been forming on the inside of my left foot, I've been kind of idle lately. With not much to do during the day when others are spending their time being gainfully employed, and since daytime television sucks, I ended up occupying my time reading here on the forum (damn, I must really be a basket case). While perusing the latest postings, investigating a replacement for my bike's rear tire seemed to be a worthwhile thing to do. It's been 4 1/2 years since I first mounted that Bridgestone 019 grid on my (then) bike of many colors. Because darksiding fits my riding style, I haven't even considered going back to a motorcycle tire.

My first foray to the darkside was cut short when my bike became a hood ornament to a '2000 Chevy Silverado some 9k odd miles into that tire. Within that 6th month time period my buddy Brian (FJRONAMISSION) had a chance to try out my bike on one of our little back roads here in the San Jose Bay Area. Like me, he is a daily/year round commuter who also enjoys what our backyard has to offer in the way of brisk 2 wheel entertainment. He was aware of the darkside thread and was intrigued with the thought of extended tire life with no handling performance penalty. I was more than happy to let him try out my bike.

We started out heading east into the hills behind Milpitas on a narrow one lane road snaking along the edge of Calavaras Reservoir. That road is very tight, winding it's way with many elevation changes and blind turns, and rewards the rider who pays attention and runs a quick smooth pace. I took the lead so he could study the tire. This road had been my commute route northbound in the afternoons for several years and I know every bump and turn on it. After a few brisk miles we stopped for a chat at the road's summit just past the Dam. He liked what he saw, and said that the tire did indeed lift a corner with every turn, but it wasn't abrupt, more like a spatula flexing in a frying pan. The sidewall just flexed and kept a good contact patch no matter how hard I leaned it over. We traded bikes for the rest of the road. It was my first time studying how a car tire performed on the back of my bike. Hypnotizing is how I describe it. I found it hard to pay attention to the road while looking at that triangle wedge of daylight appear, hang, then disappear as we made our turns The last few miles are long high speed sweepers skirting along the edges of the Sunol Valley until connecting back up with Interstate 680. We got up on the freeway and headed back into the Bay area. Getting off in Milpitas, we wound up between the cars in heavy rush hour traffic filtering up to the front for the next green light. After several miles of this nonsense Brian and I switch back and went our separate ways. I think he had a pretty good feel for the darkside. He wasn't quite satisfied with that Bridgestone back there - too harsh and stiff, but he was hooked. It was another week or two (IIRC) before I saw him again, but this time he had a car tire on the back of his FJR. In his research Brian found the Michelin Pilot Exalto AS - and the rest is history.

Since then, My first bike was wrecked, and I got knocked sideways for a number of months. That November I bought another'06 AE with just 10% of the miles my first bike had at the point of impact. I got a good deal, unfortunately the previous owner had just replaced the rear tire with another POS Metezler OEM tire. It took another 7 weeks to wear that thing out before I darksided the new bike. By then the Exalto was beginning to take off in this FJR community, so that's what I put on.

Nearly two years and 35k later, I still had a few miles left on that 1st Exalto. I decided to replace it in preparation for a long trip with one my other buddies, Russ Perry. The tire still had tread, though the wear bars were approaching. I'm glad I changed it because we had a lot of heavy rain and flash flooding; I appreciated having deep sipes back there when making a high speed deceleration into that flooded section of Nevada roadway.

Today my 2nd Exalto looks like the first one that I took off early. I probably have another 5k to go before the wear bars show, however I hear that this tire is now out of production and is becoming hard to get. With the demise of the much favored Michelin Pilot Exalto AS, I'm wondering what the next favorite 'WonderTire' will be. It seems that a good portion of the converts in this 185 page Dark Side thread have gone this route, many who are approaching the wear bars as I type.

I have a dilemma...

1. Have my local tire dealer hunt down a New-Old-Stock, out of production Exalto, buy it and store it for another 2 months


2. Look for another current tire that will (hopefully) take it's place as the next great tire.

If I choose option 1, I will have another 2 years of proven performance. Hopefully by then the next great tire will be identified. If I choose option 2, the risk will be that I may be disappointed with my best guess and miss getting one of the last Exaltos to be had. I hear that after a year or so the out of production tires still in stock get destroyed.

It will be a few more weeks before I get back on my bike again, my foot is still in a steel sole bootie to give the bone enough time to stitch itself back together before I start walking normally again. In the mean time I'm still looking.



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I have been quite pleased with the Pilot Sport A/S PLUS. However, I have no other darkside experience as a reference point.

After about 10k miles of interstate use commuting and trips this weekend is my first chance to play in the mountains with it. Yesterday I slayed the Dragon in a heavy rain. The tires (PR4 on front) stuck like glue and did everything I asked of them.

While I might be faster thru the turns with a mc tire, I would also be faster thru them with a different bike. Over 90% of my mileage is interstate, so this tire and bike work well for me.


Although I only had about 20k miles on my Exalto, I had to replace it after patching it for the 4th time due to another nail. I ended up with a Dunlop Direzza DZ101 XL and have been happy with it. We ride a lot of 2-up in the north GA mountains and I use the bike as my primary commute vehicle back and forth to work. Don't know how the mileage will hold up, but I have been real happy the feel and traction. It has a good symmetrical tread pattern with a solid center rib. I have about 8k on this tire and would buy another one.

I have a dilemma...1. Have my local tire dealer hunt down a New-Old-Stock, out of production Exalto, buy it and store it for another 2 months


You can buy one and have it shipped from Tire Kingdom in Hudson Florida. I just bought one on the 9th of June. They have about 20 of them left. They sold it to me for 165. See my last post on page 184 for the phone number here CLICKY

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Since having my surgery to deal with that 6th toe that has been forming on the inside of my left foot
Does that mean you are a cute polydactyl kitty? With extra wide tread on the ground?


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I have not run an Exalto, so can't compare to that. But, I am really liking the AVID Envigor. Even more so now that I just put a fresh front on. The transitions during turning are much less abrupt than the Grid was, and it hardly requires any pressure to roll through turns.

+1 on the Yokohama Avid Envigor.

I don't have any experience with the Exhalto so I can't tell you how it compares. (In the world of Wingabagos, where most use a runflat, the Yoko has begun to be the "next great tire" - claimed by many to be noticeably "better" than the previous favorite, the Michelin Alpin PA3 ZPS)

Road test report:

When I first put the Yoko on, I had it at 35-36psi. I did NOT like it. At all. Period.

After a couple of miles I dropped it to 34 psi and carefully scrubbed it in.

For yesterday's RTE I used 33psi (thanks, Justin!) and gave it a good test. You can read the RR ("Big Sur from the South") if you are interested in the route.

730+ miles, everything from SoCal freeways, 2-lane highways through mountains, scenic (and sometimes rough) coast roads and the famous Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo to Big Sur. Speeds from 15 mph on tight curves with a bit of loose gravel (not a squirm) to ... Let's just say "allegedly 90+" as I dealt with some dickhead in a Maserati.

The short version is this: it felt so "normal", well planted and easy to maneuver, that I actually never even thought about it?

Couldn't be more pleased.

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For yesterday's RTE I used 33psi (thanks, Justin!) and gave it a good test. You can read the RR ("Big Sur from the South") if you are interested in the route.
Did 33 work better for you? I've not played around with the pressure yet, since it felt good at 33.

For yesterday's RTE I used 33psi (thanks, Justin!) and gave it a good test. You can read the RR ("Big Sur from the South") if you are interested in the route.
Did 33 work better for you? I've not played around with the pressure yet, since it felt good at 33.
Yes it did, thanks!

Since I can't imagine how it could be better, 33 is where I'll leave it.

For yesterday's RTE I used 33psi (thanks, Justin!) and gave it a good test. You can read the RR ("Big Sur from the South") if you are interested in the route.
Did 33 work better for you? I've not played around with the pressure yet, since it felt good at 33.
Yes it did, thanks!

Since I can't imagine how it could be better, 33 is where I'll leave it.
No need to thank me :lol: That was the first pressure I tried and it felt great, so I left it that way.

I'll certainly thank you Justin.

I'm new to the darkside. Yokohama Avid Envigor at 33 psi as recommended by Justin. Less than 100 miles on it at this point, but pleased. It's a little self correcting in light leans like lane changes, but when you push it into a turn it goes without question.



Thank you for the input you gave me these past 3 weeks since my last post on this dark side thread. I see several happy people enjoying their choice in tires for the back of our favorite ride. The great thing about this forum is that it is populated by a group of people with no ax to grind, nothing to prove, but who are more than willing to share their experience and knowledge for anyone who will listen. This truly is a free exchange of information among the masses - the foundation that this interweb was built on. We can thank the management for providing such a great place for us to spend some of our valuable time. However, it's the people here that make this FJRForum so special.

Since having posted my dilemma I decided to do a bit of research. I spent some time in the Darkside area of the Gold Wing forum to see what they look for. I've read a bit at mcdarksiders.forumotion.com and saw quite a number of heavy cruisers and Goldwing types. Our FJRs are a bit different in having steeper lean angles and more HP to the ground while wrapped in a sporty chassis. Eric did it right when he broke new ground back in 2008, and we've been building on that ever since.

I ended up going back and re-reading all 185 pages of this thread,
yup, a whopping 3693 posts. There's a lot of good information here - if you go search it out.

Here are the things I was looking for in my next tire...

1. Symmetrical tread pattern.

Probably not as important as you might think. A lot of people run the asymetrical patterns with good results.

2. Soft flexible sidewall.

The heavy cruisers and Gold wings favor run flat tires. This has proven way too stiff for our lighter weight bike. With our steeper lean angles and power we need the sidwall to flex enough to keep that contact patch in good shape.

3. Tread sipes that wrap around the edge of the tire.

We don't ride on the corner of the tire, however, when on the gas in a hard lean the siping will still need to channel water in all directions out of the contact patch.

4. A somewhat rounded profile at lower fill pressure.

The heavier bikes are running in the upper 40's for stability. We like to run our tires around the low 30's for more grip and better turn in performance.

5. Handling

This is where it really gets subjective. Paul Thede from RaceTec suspension has said "The best you've ridden is the best you know. Until you've ridden something better, the best you've ridden is the best you can compare it to." That's true for suspension, and also true for most anything else.

On that last point - Handling. We are still in the learning curve when it comes to running a Car Tire on our beloved FJR motorcycle. Several of us high mileage guys are running our third tire, or getting close to finishing the second one. It all started out with a used Cooper Summer Sport Tire that had a slow leak when Eric installed it. The sidewalls were stiff and was harsh in it's handling. What it did prove was that a car tire fits within the confines of the swing arm and rear inner fender with just one modification (the brake strut) for clearance. Once Eric established that milestone, he did his research and successfully mounted a Bridgestone 019 Grid all season tire. That was a good starting point. Several early converts also used that tire, myself included.

The Grid was a good tire, I ran mine for almost 10k until the accident which I noted in my previous post (#3682). Also noted above, when I recovered , my next (used) '06 AE soon wore an Exalto after it's replacement OEM tire quickly went away. Through the years the Exalto has become a well favored tire by a good number of Darksiders, it works well - even better when pushed. That's not the only tire out there that works well though, and I've been looking for one that improves upon it.

I think I've found it...


It's the General Tire G-Max AS-03 205/50 ZR17 93W

You've seen it before if you have followed this thread for a while. By my count 4 other Darksiders are running it. They are quite happy with it. I mounted mine about two weeks ago while wearing my steel sole bootie supplied by my Podiatrist. My left foot needed protection for the bone to mend following it's

. I posted my manual tire change in the Darkside FAQ.
Today I rode my bike for the first time in 6 weeks. I've spent 70K miles running two Exaltos on this bike, You'd think I would know how it should handle by now. When I made that first right turn pulling out of my driveway I almost lost it! I usually gas it while firmly pushing the right handlebar, I did that this time and the bike scared me how quickly it fell into the turn. The Exalto is good from the beginning, and stays pretty consistent throughout the life of the tire. This thing Surprised me. I'd swear it was a motorcycle tire if I didn't know any better. I did a few swerves down the street, checked the TPMS to make sure it was aired up (31 psi), even stopped for a good look (sidewall deflection) while I bounced on the seat. Everything checked out fine, the bike felt nice and firm - nothing loose.

Needless to say I headed straight for my favorite little winding road in the hills behind my house, Calavaras Road. I took it easy, it had been a while. I found I need to flush and bleed my rear brake line, It faded to nothing before I got half way through the quick ride.

I Like this tire !!!

I can tell that I'm gonna have a blast this next week at the Western FJR Riders Roundup in Sparks Nevada. Granted, I'm no sport bike rider, I don't do track days, cant keep up with the forum fast guys, but I can hold my own pretty well. This tire satisfied my list in spades - Symmetrical tread pattern - Soft flexible sidewall - Tread sipes that wrap around the edge of the tire - A somewhat rounded profile at lower fill pressure - and most important of all… Handling - Superior Handling. I can't wait to get more miles on the thing.

Is this the next big Darkside favorite tire for the FJR ???

Time will tell as more long term darksiders hit their wear bars and try different tires.

Hope this helps in the search.



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Nice post Brodie!

It makes me want to try one. Please update as it breaks in, It can only get better.

Whats with the rear facing LED's?

Nice post Brodie!It makes me want to try one. Please update as it breaks in, It can only get better.

Whats with the rear facing LED's?
Decent price too ... $105 on eBay with free shipping.

Brodie told me when I asked that those lights are rear facing Clearwater Krista, with red filters. Remind me to ride well behind him :D

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I dunno if I was the first to try the G-Max last year but after having put about 7500 miles on it I can say this:

- handling has not deteriorated.

- tread still looks new.

I like mine at 32-33 psi, YMMV. The tread is great in the wet. I still get lots of interesting comments about it.

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