Opinions are like...well, you've heard the expression, and everyone seems to have an opinion on rear tire size. While a select few may feel it's best to "rock with stock," for the past several years the majority has felt a strong inclination toward "wide pride."
Here in the HOT BIKE office, we seem to have a case of more opinions than...well, you know. So when it came to picking a new set of wheels for our '96 Softail Springer, an argument as to whether we should stick with the stock rear tire or bump up to a 240/250mm or even a 300mm-plus rear tire erupted. In the end (no pun intended), we decided to split the difference, but not exactly down the center. We bumped up in width and diameter to a 180x18-inch.
Making the leap up in tire size wasn't just a matter of slapping a 180mm tire on an 18x5-1/2-inch rim and calling it a day. There were important things to consider, such as clearance issues with the rear beltdrive and the fender. If you read our article on Ride Wright in the Vol. 38, No.11 (November) issue, then you know we were already planning on running a set of the company's Fat Daddy 50-spoke wheels. After talking with Sam Wakim of Ride Wright, he informed us that he supplies the spoke wheels for Heartland's Two-Five-O and 180 kits. Given that piece of information, it just made sense to give Heartland a call about installing one of the company's 180 kits.
After a brief discussion with Chris Backs, Heartland's lead sales director/tech support, he informed us that the stock Evo rear beltdrive and pulley would not provide clearance for the wider tire. Twin Cams, however, have a narrower belt/pulley, eliminating the concern for clearance. Chris offered up two options: We could either run the narrower 70-tooth Twin Cam rear pulley and 1-1/8 inch belt combo, or go with a sprocket-and-chain final drive. Once again the various opinions in the office resurfaced with the chain versus belt debate. We took Chris' advice and went with the cleaner and somewhat easier to install narrower beltdrive setup. Heartland sells the kit (struts, rear wheel/tire with necessary offset, fender, and seat) as a package for $2,500. The basic kit comes with a 40-spoke 18x5-1/2-inch steel rim with steel spokes and will work with your stock spacers. You can also upgrade to any of Ride Wright's spoked wheels for an extra charge. We chose to upgrade to a set of Fat Daddy Wheels. Then all we had to do was pick up the narrower belt and necessary gaskets for the primary.