19" vs 17" rims on the road

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Colorado_Rider, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Colorado_Rider

    Colorado_Rider Banned

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    I don't care about performance in the dirt. What I do care about is my teeth chattering on our miserable Colorado roads so I'm nearly ready to start looking at longer travel bikes that nearly always come with a 19"er.

    So my basic question is, how does a 19" compare when entering a corner? I'm not really talking about how easily it turns in, or how quickly, or even how much feel you lose. I'm wondering if you can feel the front of the bike load up and feel the front tire dig into those glorious canyon bands the way you can on a bike with a 17".

    Also does anyone make a really good street tire in a 19?
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  2. randyo

    randyo Long timer

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  3. ShaftEd

    ShaftEd Long timer

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    In my experience, the answer to your question would be no. You can't match the corner entry feel of a 17' front with a 19" front. Mostly due to not being able to find sport compounds in 19. None of the tire mfg's make a real sport tire in 19. You can get Sport Touring compounds, such as Conti Road Attack or Michelin Pilot Road, but that's about as sporting as you can get. Also, the 19" wheel will be narrower than the 17" changing the feel on entry too (and not for the better). Doesn't mean you can't go close to sportbike speeds with a 19 front. You can, but it's just not the same as a nice race/sport compoud 17" tire.

    There are plenty of longish travel bikes out there with 17's though. Wouldn't something like a KTM 990 SMT, or a Duc Multi-Strada work for your needs?
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  4. Colorado_Rider

    Colorado_Rider Banned

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    On the street, any sport touring compound provides plenty of that feeling I wouldn't want to give up. So it sounds like if a 19" is in the same ballpark, and I should definitely stop limiting myself to bikes with the 17"

    STM and Multi both get my blood boiling but cost is an issue and I'd like to consider smaller cc bikes that handle better. Tiger 800 is on top of my list, today anyway :rofl
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  5. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    I've got bikes with both 17's and 19's. 17>19.
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  6. Colorado_Rider

    Colorado_Rider Banned

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    Of course, but with equal rubber is the difference worth shying away from if you only ride on the street?
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  7. CopaMundial

    CopaMundial Wow, that broke easy

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    If this is the key issue, and it's not just a case of wanting something new, have you considered suspension work for your current bike?
    Your profile lists two 919's. Is this what you're referring to?
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  8. James Adams

    James Adams non impediti ratione cogitationis

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    This is a good point. Long travel doesn't necessarily mean that it takes the edge off, nor does short "standard" travel mean that it can't.
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  9. neepuk

    neepuk Such a drag...

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    I think it really depends on your style and aggression level. I used to road race on the track and ride hard on the street as well, but I've mellowed out since becoming a husband and father. I still ride at what many would describe as a spirited pace. Personally I find that bikes with larger front wheels are the perfect choice for Colorado riding. There are so many great roads around here that also happen to be dirt covered, and dirt passes that link some incredible twisty roads. There are plenty of tire choices out there that will stick at most any speed, even quite a few dual purpose tires that will also perform well on dirt passes if you decide that's the type of riding your like to do from time to time. IMO the need for 17" fronts with uber sticky rubber is way over rated.
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  10. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    I think you will lose more handling because of the style of bikes that 19s come on, more than the difference in wheel sizes. Most are adventure bikes, which aren't going to handle like a sport bike regardless of wheel size.

    Just for some anecdotal information, I switched from a 21" to 18" front on my '83 Honda XL600. The difference was definately noticeable, though much of that was likely due to the 1.5" drop in the front end. On the street, the bike went from feeling like a boat, to feeling like a BMX bike. It still worked fine off road, but then again I am no Baja racer.

    So here are a couple ideas:

    1. If you get a bike with a 19" front, lower the front end a bit to sharpen the steering.
    2. If you get a bike with a 17" front, get spoke wheels to take away some of the harshness of solid wheels.
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  11. Idle

    Idle Been here awhile

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    17" wheels are perfect for the roads you speak of.


    [​IMG]
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  12. Colorado_Rider

    Colorado_Rider Banned

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    I almost always re-build but mostly for performance so the plush ride get lost in the mix. Every Penske I've bought has been way better at speed but not necessarily more comfortable, but that's a different thread.

    Tiger 800 is what I'm going to look at, from what I understand it handles and goes not like a pure sportbike, but a damn fine turning/handling bike, which is what I'm after. Anyone confirm?
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  13. Other Bob

    Other Bob Been here awhile

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    Brief hijack -

    Idle, is that a turbo on the end Yamaha? Dang .. bet that takes some prudent throttle control at the apex!

    Bob
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  14. farmerstu

    farmerstu Been here awhile

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    just a thought ,a little off topic, concerning sportbike handling. I've watched u tube vids of motards on a track with sportbikes. in the corners the motards are going around the sportbikes at will. then on the straight the sportbikes outrun them like they are glued to the ground.
    my point is this. does a sportbike actually corner better then a motard?
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  15. Colorado_Rider

    Colorado_Rider Banned

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    I don't think anything corners better than a motard...they make you feel like superman. They just don't have the power to catch anything on a straights.
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  16. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Why?

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    But they sure are fun!
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  17. randyo

    randyo Long timer

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    How does one define better handling ?

    I find that 17" wheels are "twitchy" compared to a 19" sure, its quicker turn in with a 17", and a 19" requires lightly more effort

    I personally don't think that is any better handling, but worse, its much easier to be smooth with the larger wheel IMHO
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  18. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    wonder why almost all really sporty bikes have 17 inch front wheels then.
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  19. Other Bob

    Other Bob Been here awhile

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    1. Motorcycle magazine "shootouts" and the need to avoid the motojournalists' perception of slow steering vs. competitors, no matter how slight. I've never seen "stability" emphasized over "flickability" in the sportbike class.

    2. Space/height/CG: The available frontal area above and behind the forks of a faired, liquid cooled spotebike is minumal. The bike must retain full lock-to-lock steering range even at full fork compression. 17" fits easier. It also helps bring CG/height down to improve the "specs" published in the above shootouts (and performance, so doubt).

    3. The 17" is just better - but DURING actual use in the narrowly focused mission of the "really sporty" bikes. Broader-use machines are better served by more generalized 19" wheels/rubber. [??]

    4. Hellifiknow!

    My '85 R80 (hardly a sportbike) turns in and swaps directions very nicely with light imputs wearing a 17" Bridgestone Battlax on a dual-disk OEM cast alum rim. Delightful combo, but that tire/rim sucks on dirt roads. I'd like to wrap a 19" dual-disk spoke rim with a more dirt oriented tread (plus something spoked/larger/"dirtier" for the rear) and just swap wheels depending on my ride destinations for the day. A two-in-one bike, convertible to the appropriate mission for the day in about 15 minutes.

    some 19" rims would also raise the bike a little, but affect on-road traction and steering speed/flickability/stability. But not so badly as to make me take them off when i KNOW I'm headed for dirt. Compromises!

    Bob
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  20. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Pretty interesting review over here:

    http://www.tiger800.co.uk/index.php/page,tiger_800_road_test.html

    One thing I thought was interesting was the lack of front end dive they noted. I bet most bikes with 19" fronts have longer travel suspension, and the fork dive that usually comes with it. Since Triumph seems to have worked that out, it may go a long way toward improved handling with a 19.
    #20