There’s a current trend toward plus sizing tires and wheels on cars and trucks, and SUVs, and now even motorcycles. Well they look great, but there may be some down sides to this plus sizing. And here to give us some pointers about motorcycles in particular, is Lyndon Abel from Patriot Harley Davidson in Fairfax, Virginia. Lyndon, welcome back to Goss’ Garage.

LYNDON: Thanks for having me, Pat.

PAT: Alright. So what are you seeing in plus sizing on motorcycles.

Lyndon: So one of the hottest licks that we’re seeing today is that people like to take their Harley Davidson baggers, which traditional has come with a 16 inch front wheel, and put a 21 or greater on there. So this got fairly popular a few years ago, and we’ve seen a lot of this, where people are taking it to taller and taller wheels. The problem with that…I think most people are smart enough to check out clearance…for instance, if you go to a 21, you can use different spacings, and not create a clearance problem…but what you end up with is a completely different load capacity. And that’s something that most people do not pay attention to. And they should. So the load capacity of that stock 16 is over 780 pounds. Load capacity for the 21? About 450.

Pat: Oh, that’s half!

Lyndon: you’re giving up 50 percent of your load capacity. And you don’t really have it to give. This is a heavyweight motorcycle that was designed to carry two people and some luggage. And if you put all that stuff on there, you’re going to have really overloaded what that tire was designed to carry. Bad idea.

Pat: Yea, we see this. Especially on SUVs, where they plus size them and lose so much of the load rating; it’s ridiculous.

Lyndon: Right. Sports car wheels on SUVs. So similarly, that…the tire is really part of the suspension. The first thing to hit a bump; the first thing to take up that pothole and whatnot in the roadway. When you see the sidewall here, on this 21 and compare to that 16, you can imagine what that’s doing to your motorcycle’s suspension, right?

Pat: Right. This compresses. It’s got a lot more to compress.

Lyndon: So this is not to say that you can’t change wheels or that you can’t change sizes. You can. But do a little more than just a surface, cursory check of clearance. Go a little deeper into the load capacity and other things, to make sure that you’re doing it right. And you have a rideable motorcycle.

Pat Goss: Okay. Lyndon, Thank you. And remember, this applies to all vehicles, not just motorcycles.  And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.