Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Chicken Strips Nonsense

Blog Date - 01 September 2012

You find yourself stood there at your local biker's hangout looking at other folks bikes with your mates. Someone's arrived on the latest greatest super duper sports bike wearing one piece leathers and scraped knee sliders. Then you look at his tyres. There's a good inch of unused tread, aka chicken strips. You all laugh and come to the conclusion that the knee sliders are borrowed or been attacked with an angle grinder and that's he's a poser.

fazer rear tyre showing the whole of the tread is used
My Fazer tyre's got no chickin strips ;-)

 But is there any science in the chicken strip conclusion? It is fair to say that someone who's got a good inch is probably not really asking much from the bike in the bends. But then those who's tyres are "fully employed" claim they are heroes and real men. Thing is...I'm no hero and I can get right off the edge of the tyres on my Fazer, but I've no chance at all of getting to the edge of the treads on the 125. What's going on?

Tyre profiles. As far as I can work out it's all to do with the shape of the tyre itself. Some tyres, like the Fazer's Maxxis, have a relatively shallow angle across the tread area whereas the 125's tyres are impossibly curved. I can probably get the Fazer to the edge of the tread at maybe 40 degrees but I'd need to be almost horizontal before the 125 shaved off it's moulding bobbles at the edge.

2 motorcycle tyres in cut through, showing shallow and steep profiles
If you notice the profile of a tyre, as above, you can see it's far easier to reach the edge of the tyre on the left

So before you laugh at someone else's chicken strips, and proudly display your own, just take a moment to look at the amount of curve on the tread itself. There are a few other things that might potentially increase or reduce the size of a chicken strip. If you let the tyres down that would flatten the tread allowing access to the edges, but this would be quite dangerous. Some bikes run out of ground clearance before the tyre runs out of tread. Then there are some people who are just goddam fast and don't seem to need to tip the bike into a bend so hard. The point is, it's not quite as simple as it first seems.

cbf 125 rear tyre showing a lot of chicken strip
The 125...on the other almost all chicken strip...:-(


Steve Latchford sent me the following image of the tyre on his Aprilia Shiver for my delectation.  He claims this is as far as he can get over that's scraping his boot around the amazing bends on the road up to the Hartside Cafe.  If you ask me...there's still just a leeeeeeeetle bit left...must try harder Steve.

aprilia shiver rear tyre with the thinnest strips of unused rubber on the edges
Not bad, not bad at all...I reckon there's another couple of mils left there Steve...

Now, if any of you other posers, racers and all round wimps like myself wish to send me  I'll put them on here if you tell me the story behind the picutre.

Reader's Comments

Steve Latchford said :-
So your tyre is like the one one the left? Regards
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
HA! Cheeky sod...yes the Fazer tyre is the shallow profile on the left...I can reach the edge...the 125 tyre is the one on the right...I can't reach the edge...
1/1//2000 UTC
Tom McQ said :-
Makes me bloody laugh this obsession with chicken-strips. You can see people walking around bike-meets looking at the rear tyre of each bike and making judgements about the owners, sniggering with their mates at wide chicken-strips and swooning in awe at a tyre that's been through hell on a track day.

I can see the funny side of someone dressed like a power-ranger on a bike which has only been leaned over to go on its sidestand, but I can't understand people's mockery of other bikers who's aim in life does not include getting their knee down.

Funny thing is, most of the chicken-watchers are people who ride to Rivington Barn in the morning on their pristine, polished bikes and sit there all day long talking bollocks, half happy because they're "out" on their bike and half worried in case that nasty rain man comes and gets them.

Just this weekend while sat outside a pub in Cartmel minding my own business, someone said "You need to get rid of those chicken-strips mate". And I found myself explaining that they're brand new tyres and the weather's been shit and the roads are covered in stones and gravel. WTF??? Feck off "mate"!

1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
TOM...HAHAHA!! That's exactly the point isn't it.
1/1//2000 UTC

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