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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Solid Disc Wheels—A Big Deal?

I’ve had several comments over the months regarding the solid disc wheels on my Fatboy. Most of the questions and comments I receive are due to the rumor that the solid discs will act like sails if there is a heavy crosswind.

I can say with certainty that I have not been sailing on my Fatboy….ever. I’ve ridden in some pretty poor conditions—cold temps, rain, sleet, snow, hail and heavy winds—and I have never had a situation that felt like sailing.

As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to get out and ride this past Sunday afternoon and had pretty heavy wind gusts. I was out on my V-Star and did some in town riding then got out on the highway. I discovered that sitting at a traffic light was more of a challenge to stay upright than riding down the highway. I did experience occurrences of being blown around the lane, but I found the wind to be more problematic at a stop. My V-Star has spoked wheels so there’s plenty of opportunity for flow through.

The weather had turned for the worse, so I ended my short ride and headed home. As typical Colorado weather is the sky cleared a few hours later so I decided to get out again; this time on my Fatboy.

It had cleared and warmed up, but was still quite windy. Sitting still was still a challenge, but I didn’t have as much issue with the bike wanting to go over. I was more comfortable rolling down the highway as well. I felt I had better control and actually stayed in my lane better than I did with my V-Star.

The weight difference is only about 60 pounds between the two bikes. I do feel that the additional weight of the Fatboy did help, but at the same time, if the issue with the solid discs were truly there, it would have been harder to control the bike in a crosswind. However, I didn’t find it to be a problem.

If you are in the market to purchase a new bike, then please take all suggestions with a grain of salt. When I took my motorcycle safety course, my instructor (who is a lifetime rider) even commented on the problem I “might” have with the solid disc wheels. He couldn’t speak from experience since he had never ridden a Fatboy. You need to find what fits you and what you are comfortable with. Certainly, your riding buddies will have suggestions and recommendations but you alone know what fits you the best.

If it doesn’t fit you well, then you won’t be happy riding. I have a friend who purchased a motorcycle on the recommendation from her friends. She hates her bike and is afraid of riding it. It’s not a big motorcycle, but it does not fit her well. She was almost lost to the sport of motorcycling because of this.

One of the reasons I wanted a Fatboy is because of the solid disc wheels. It fits me fine and I still love the bike. It’s a good day in Christine’s motorcycle world!

Keep the Shiny Side Up!

~The Rainbow Wahine


The Snark said...

I have a 1994 FLSTF which I keep on an island. Never had a problem riding it along the coastal roads in strong winds. The weight of the Fatboy helps, as does the low center of gravity.

I do admit to thinking that she would be a handful to handle in a crosswind when I first picked her up, but, as per your experience, I have been proven wrong.

Big Ben said...

I've always been puzzled by the idea that solid discs will make a noticeable difference. There's just not enough surface area there to make much of a difference compared to, say, a windshield or fairing, or for that matter, the rider herself. (No, I'm not calling you fat ;-) Only the rear wheel on my softail is solid, but I've never had any problems.

OT, but I was really amused by the random text the spam-prevention thingy made me type to enter this comment: "wootf"
Sounds like a confused but happy hacker.

David said...

Thanks for helping to dispel this long running rumour of solid wheels catching the wind. I've never read anything as informative on the subject and your comments carry alot of weight as I've read of your riding in less than ideal conditions. Your description of riding a spoked bike and the Fatboy on the same day lends even more insight but makes me feel just a bit jelous.

Christine said...

I'm NOT fat, I'm NOT fat!! LOL....really....

Yes, riding both always gives me reason to compare the two and I do love them for very different reasons!! Sigh.....

Christine said...

Snark, my V-Star has a lower center of gravity than the Fatboy. The center of gravity (or at least for me it seems) on my V-Star is lower and further back. On the Fatboy it is a bit higher and forward.

I can really ride my Star around some corners and it's a really fun to whip around. I can say all I want about the Fatboy, it is a joy to ride, but the ride is totally different.

Those of you who have never ridden anything but Harleys have no clue to what I'm talking about. Those of you who have ridden different bikes know *smile*.

The Snark said...

Christine, considering that every other bike in my stable is a sports or superbike, the Fatboy's CoG feels *way* low to me :)

Christine said...

No, I've never had the pleasure of riding a sport or a superbike, I'd do it if I had the opportunity!! Unfortunately, once I get on one, I suspect I'd have to have a third bike!!