|Gotta admit, looks pretty cool|
For the sake of familiarity, we'll use Paint Shaker (my 2006 Harley FLHRCI) as a reference point (from '09 FLH's have 17" fronts). The '06 Road King slid off the factory line sporting Dunlop 402's; specifically an MT90B16 up front, and an MU85B16 bringing up the rear. As for maximum load, the rear is rated at 908lbs at 40lbs of pressure, while the front is rated at 783lbs at 40lbs of pressure. So far, so good. Until you begin to look for your 21" replacement for that MT90B16 that is. Now is when things really get dicey, staying with Dunlop (and why not, they make the best tires on the planet, and are OE fitment on most Harley's, so they know what's up) we'll search for our 21" inch front.
|Can you imagine cleaning that wheel?|
Here's the deal, all of the manufacturers are paranoid beyond belief; we already know the 21's aren't load rated for the baggers they're getting thrown on, but that's not all. Check out any Harley forum, say http://www.cvoharley.com/ or http://www.hdforums.com/ and search around and you'll find horror stories of ill-handling bikes, owners one step away from a 5150 holding order, all because they fitted up a 21" tire, and they can't get their bikes to smooth out at anything above a walking pace. Think we might have screwed up the steering geometry Ace!? The cold hard facts are, Harley-Davidson and the tire companies (mostly Dunlop) spend countless hours and boat loads of dough ensuring that your bagger handles like Valentino was at the helm no matter what. Huge downpour? No big deal. Massive crosswind? Hardly even notice it. Rain grooves? Who cares. Board scraping cornering antics? Bring it on! In all but the most extreme situations, your badass bagger will be as well behaved as church deacon. That is if you leave it as God and the Motor Company intended. And yeah, the Motor Company wouldn't talk to me either.
|Not gonna stop like a stock rig, no way|
So what's the deal, should we bag the idea of 21's on our baggers? And if so, what about customizing in general? It's our position at Chrome Asylum that you should be free to do whatever the hell you want to when it comes to modifying/customizing your ride. Period. My bucket list ride is a Sucker Punch Sally's bobber with no front brake, suicide shifter, and an open primary belt, hardly a model of NHTSA restraint and propriety. And I don't want some nanny fascist to tell me I can't have it. Just do your homework and keep your eyes open. But remember, with that freedom comes the responsibility to live with whatever consequences rear their homely heads because of the idiocy you inspired. In short, live with it. Own it, and don't sue! Don't sue anyone, they didn't hold a gun to your puppy's head and demand you fit up that 21. It was your call, if you get screwed up because of it, oh well, better luck after rehab. But sadly, that ain't the world we live in.
The fact is; the tire guys, HD (if I may be so bold), wheel manufacturers, OE dealers, independent shops and everyone else that could be bundled into a lawsuit are probably dealing with the fallout from 21" conversions as you read this. Do you really think they're aren't pending suits, please. Something tells me that ongoing litigation is the primary reason for the lack of conversation coming from the industry on this issue.
So if you still wanna slap that 21 incher under your bagger, it's totally up to you. Just know that you've surely compromised the handling, maximum load capacity and the braking performance of your motorcycle. A machine, it might be worth noting that's more likely to be overloaded and ridden two-up than its smaller, less touring oriented cousins. Your call, your risk. And if things turn to doo-doo, just remember who's idea it was. As for me? I think I'll chill and see what the Motor Company comes up with, at least I know it'll work.