Ahhh, the time-honored tradition of the urban motorcycle myth. Some time ago, we did the Myth Busters' routine with regard to the so-called Harley Death Wobble. Based on our research, we were not able to bust that one.
This weekend, another popular "urban myth" came up in conversation: The good old "Death by Amor-All" debate. It's a common argument, and invariably, one biker sitting at the bar will say this:
"It's not a myth. My [cousin]'s best friend was restoring a [1976 Triumph Bonneville]. He had been working on it for two years, and finally had it road ready. The last thing he did was Armor-All the tires to get them all nice and shiny. He fired up the old bike, took it out on the road, and at the first serious bend, he ate pavement. 'Cause the old Armor-All made the tires all slippery."
Another biker will jump in, claiming the story is nonsense: "I use that stuff every weekend, and I've never had a problem."
The retort: "Yeah, well you also have ape-hangers, and you've never leaned that big old beast around a turn."
And on and on. This weekend, I heard the story again at a biker hangout in Long Beach. Only this time, it wasn't a Bonneville in the story, it was a Norton. Deja vu, anyone?
So I decided to research the issue. My brother, a seasoned mechanic and motorcycle restorer, swears that the stuff is not only dangerous, but poison. According to him, putting it on your tires will cause them to crack in the sun, but only if the stuff doesn't cause you to crash first. My uncle disagrees.
Similar debates are all over internet discussion forums. With similarly confused answers.
So where does this leave us? Based on the debate, and my lack of personal experience, I will err on the side of safety. I will never ever put the stuff on my tires. Then again, although I ride a Harley Dyna, I love the twisties. While most cruiser-riders are lowering their bikes, I put on shocks that are a full two-inches longer than stock (not to mention much higher performance) so that I can take the old girl around more serious turns. So perhaps, if my bike couldn't lean without scraping the boards and/or the pipes, I would not be so cautious about my tires.
in short, I say that anything oily or slippery shouldn't go on a tire. This, to me, just makes good old sense. But as always, we welcome your input. Share your story, and if it's informative or entertaining enough, we might just share it with our readers.
Oh, and one more thing. Being paranoid motorcycle accident lawyer, I will give the caveat that this blog post is intended for entertainment purposes only. We have no first-hand knowledge as to whether Armor-All has ever caused a motorcycle accident or motorcycle death, or whether it will cause rubber to crack if left in the sun. But it sure does make things shiny!