View Full Version : Tires, classic look or modern performance for hardtail chopper

06-20-2017, 1:24 PM
Hi again everyone, I thought I would throw a poll out here on tires. I am collecting all the bits and pieces for my '56 Panhead project and I have to make a decision on tires.

Right now I have the classic combo on there ( dry rotted to hell and back as they may be ). That is the 16" Avon Safety Mileage on the rear and the 21" Avon Speed Master on the front. I like the look and plan to keep the overall dimensions, but after experiencing the ride on modern tires ( 2008 Ultra ) I am torn.

The last car I restored I put a set of reissue factory stock bias ply tires on it and it was a NIGHTMARE on the road. It has been a long time and I had forgotten how road snakes and rain grooves pull those old tires around.

So what is everyone's thoughts on the subject. Help an old guy out with some suggestions.


06-20-2017, 1:46 PM
personally I like a good sticky modern tyre for a bike,....something that sticks to the road and handles well ...
if ya want the old look fair enough but for riding I'd go for Avon Roadrider or Cobras...........$00.02

06-20-2017, 1:50 PM
After riding commanders it's hard to use anything else, that said they look like shit and I'm broke down more than I ride so if it don't look good I may just leave it on the side of the road and walk on.

You can't beat a classic looking tire, unless you want one the grips like a son of a bitch...

06-20-2017, 2:55 PM
Couple of things. Is it going to be just a Sunday rider or more of a daily rider. Only ask because you mentioned your Ultra. Personally, I hated the old rib tread tires like the Speedmaster for the very reason you mentioned. If there is any groove in the road, it will find it and follow it. Also a matter of how hard you ride it. I know on an old panhead you aren't going to be beating the shit out of it, but if you are somewhere with a lot of twists and turns in the roads, go with the more modern tires. Don't know if this was helpful or not, but thought I would give you my two cents.

06-20-2017, 4:32 PM
Parade tires are okay for putting but if you gonna jam on it , go with recently designed rubber

06-20-2017, 4:38 PM
That said I do got a couple pirrelli route 66 tires waiting til I wear out the Metzeler /Dunlop combo (I know,right) I'm running now and they look kinda old timy a bit ...cheapest tires today are better then the best brand tires alot of us older cats rode on back 30 years ago tho,so whatever ya do get recent rubber

06-20-2017, 7:48 PM
I run Dunlap Road master TT100 on my Scout and for a vintage looking tire they are great. They don't make them in your size but they make if memory serves a K581 that is similar.
http://i657.photobucket.com/albums/uu299/dustydave/0331111411.jpg (http://s657.photobucket.com/user/dustydave/media/0331111411.jpg.html)
They look vintage and ride modern. I'm not real impressed with the rear tire wear but I am a little hard on it.
Heres slightly less than 1500 miles
http://i657.photobucket.com/albums/uu299/dustydave/IMG_20170620_1922492521_zpskelfysvi.jpg (http://s657.photobucket.com/user/dustydave/media/IMG_20170620_1922492521_zpskelfysvi.jpg.html)

06-20-2017, 8:32 PM
I run modern Metzelers on my softail but the shovel has the Avons front and rear. The Avon tires aren't my shovelhead's weak spots....the tires will out handle the marginal brakes and the shitty 35mm front end.

06-21-2017, 5:54 AM
Thanks for the input so far. This will be more than a Sunday cruiser but will not be doing many trips over 100 miles each way. We are planning to move to the mountains in two years so that is where this bike will spend most of the time.

FooDog, sounds like we are running similar front ends, and of course I am running the stock mechanical rear drum.


06-21-2017, 7:28 AM
I have vintage Firestone 16/21 combo on my rigid Shovel, rides great have done thousands of miles in all weather (rain blows regardless of tires) and will replace with the same when these wear out.

http://i292.photobucket.com/albums/mm39/bbqbiker69/FCBBFFB3-0112-4F0D-9724-DC10CF2F7331_zpsroo2epuk.jpg (http://s292.photobucket.com/user/bbqbiker69/media/FCBBFFB3-0112-4F0D-9724-DC10CF2F7331_zpsroo2epuk.jpg.html)

Chunky 5.00x16 rear
http://i292.photobucket.com/albums/mm39/bbqbiker69/C469E90E-C893-440C-9580-16B7C58110D6_zpscsy8nr7p.jpg (http://s292.photobucket.com/user/bbqbiker69/media/C469E90E-C893-440C-9580-16B7C58110D6_zpscsy8nr7p.jpg.html)

To me old bike=old style tires....if it really rode bad then may I'd consider modern but that is not the case.

My buddy's 47 Knuck has modern HD Dunlops and it just look wrong to me.....my 2cents.....

06-21-2017, 8:17 AM
To me old bike=old style tires....
My buddy's 47 Knuck has modern HD Dunlops and it just look wrong to me.....

^^^^^^^^ Yep^^^^^^^^^^

06-21-2017, 11:08 AM
Thanks guys, I put a coast to coast trip on a set of Avons with my last panhead but that was 30 years ago (edit: it was almost 40 years ago, damn I AM getting old ) and I figured I should at least know what the options are.

BBQ, I will have to check those out, the profiles look right. Now how about getting the house mouse to clean up those spokes! ;-)

06-21-2017, 11:37 AM
I prefer the look of the old tires. I didn't have a bike back then (70s) but the bikes around town really burned a desire in me. Maybe I'm just eager for the old days. But it's just a tread design. On the inside, radials ride better than bias, but I think the real difference is the rubber. If you collapses the edge of the tread with your thumbnail it's a soft tire that is going to stick even when it's wet. They wear out faster. I hate buying tires every year.

Long life tires tend to be hard. The tread will resist thumbnail compression. They'll slip on anything but a clean dry road surface. I had an old Yamaha with such a stiff tire in the front I couldn't tell when it was flat, even when squeezing it.

Was a time I took risks. Anything but a new radial might have been suicide. But I'm an old school chopper mentality. To feel those old days, the look of the tread is just as important as the rest. If you only ride casually on Sundays does the tire matter? If your bike is transportation, or you push the cornering, safety first. Give it a thumbnail test. Soft is best.

06-21-2017, 12:16 PM
The thing the kids today seem to think, is that we all fitted Avon SM's or firestone's & cookers because they were Cool,....
no we didn't....
we fitted them because that's all that were available in a 500x16 ,....
as soon as a better tyre came along we saved & bought them....
first was the Avon Roadrunner, then came Pirelli Phantoms followed by Venoms and cobras and everything in between,....
yes if ya have an old vintage bike a vintage style tyre looks the part for shows etc,....
but if you want to do what we did in the day and ride the shit outa ya build, ya then buy the best modern tyre available that you can afford or steal.....