Strips, that is.  And let alone the fact that I tend to prefer Popeye’s over KFC, what I’m specifically getting at is motorcycle tires and those tell-tale identifiers that most people use to determine just how big (or small) your testicles are.

The reason I bring this up is that the Sprint and I are really beginning to groove together.  On my way into work this morning, I dragged the toe of my boot on the ground going around a curve, not even intending to.  This was something that occurred with relative normalcy on the S3T due to the much lower peg position, but the Sprint’s pegs, while not superbike high, are perched far above where the Buell’s mounted.  As such, I was a little surprised that it even happened.

When I got into the office, I decided to take a look at the rear tire and I was a bit surprised at what I saw:
For street riding, this is about as close to the edge as I’d like to get.  At this point, I can clearly see that I get the bike leaned over to this point on a regular basis, and given that I don’t like to run at more than 7 or 8/10ths on the street, it leaves plenty of room for emergency maneuvers.  I see some street bike tires that are consistently to the edge and wonder what they will do when a squirrel jumps out and they’re out of lean angle, tire or both.  I’d rather have my tire look like that and be able to remember the exact time and place I did it, as it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence on the street.

Now, the track is an entirely different story.
None of this is to say that I don’t like wearing a tire right to the edge now and then.  The photo above was taken at my very first track day, and as you can see, the tire had been properly shagged most of the day.  But, this was at a track – where there are no squirrels, pot holes, tar snakes, minivans or trucks creeping over the double yellow into your lane.  You get to ride the same route over and over again to make sure you’re taking the most perfect line with the most perfect speed and most perfect braking your ability allows for.  In this environment, taking it to the edge of the tire, and even touching a peg down (which I have yet to do) is more than acceptable and something every track rider should aim for.

Now, before some of the super-heroes out there run out to the garage to check out how non-existent their chicken strips are, keep in mind that they only tell part of the story.  It’s well within the realm of possibility to lean the bike over at an extreme angle while the rider is sitting mostly upright.  At the same time, it’s also possible to drag your knee (or even hand) on the ground and barely be leaning the bike at all.  Because you can’t see your own form from the behind the handlebars (or that of the rider of a bike parked on the street), it’s best to reserve judgment until you can see photos or videos.  Chicken strips, alone or paired with other aspects, are not a good indicator of rider skill.

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