They don’t look like much now, cast aside and tossed on the ground outside Wild Bill’s motorcycle shop in Largo. Soon they will join the pile of worn-out tires outside the shop’s wide door. Eventually, they will end up in the back of Bill Billings’ red pickup truck, carted off to some landfill with all the others.
But it wasn’t too long ago that these two motorcycle tires were snazzy new wide whitewalls, bought to add some pizzazz to my brand-new Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited. I loved the look of my new bike, but the original equipment blackwall Dunlops didn’t do much to set off the Harley’s black paint. Before the bike had gone 100 miles, I was down at Wild Bill’s, looking for a set of wide whites.
This was more of a challenge than I expected. I had wide whitewalls on my 2004 Harley, and also on my 2006. But the new Harleys have wider tires, and the tire manufacturers hadn’t caught up with the change. Plenty of blackwalls available, but virtually no wide whites. The only manufacturer that was making wide whites for the new H-D touring bikes was Continental.
I had always put Metzelers on my Harleys, and they had supplied the whitewalls on my previous bikes. But they hadn’t got around to making whitewalls in the new, bigger size. Dunlop didn’t make them, either. So, we ordered a set of Continentals. I had reservations about them, but I WANTED WHITEWALLS!
UPS dropped the new tires off in a couple of days at Wild Bill’s, and I was in business.
They turned out to be pretty good tires. They made a bit of road noise at highway speeds, but they tracked and cornered well, and they didn’t mind the rain grooves that had made the older-model Dunlops wiggle right and left.
Most important, they made the Harley look like a million bucks. There are a lot of black Harleys out there, but I think mine stood out because of those wide whites.
My Continentals carried me all over the place for a year and a half – all over the state of Florida, over to Daytona for Bike Week and Biketoberfest, on uncountable lunch and dinner rides with my Harley Owners Group friends, on about a million trips up to Crystal River and home again to Tarpon Springs, and even on a trip up to Pennsylvania for a tour of Gettysburg.
All told, they carried me nearly 17,000 miles, and they looked good doing it. They kept me safe, and eventually gave their lives in support of my favorite pastime.
One interesting sidelight (at least to me) is that the front tire wore out at exactly the same time as the rear tire. On motorcycles, the rear tires do most of the heavy work, and they usually wear out first, but that wasn’t true with these Continentals. Don’t know why; maybe Harley’s new linked braking system had something to do with that.
Meanwhile, sometime in the past year-and-a-half, Metzeler got its act together and started making wide whitewalls for the newer-model Harley-Davidsons, and that’s what is on my Harley now. Sorry, Continental; it wasn’t anything you did wrong. Honest.