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Pipeburn Poll: Firestone Deluxe Champions – are we over them yet?

Posted on August 23, 2012 by Scott in Other. 107 comments

As much as we all hate to admit it, custom bikes are as much about fashion as they are “timeless design” and “classic style.” Even something as seemingly set in stone and sorted as cafe racers have their own little trends and fads that mat just prove to be long-lasting and classic as the latest Justin Bieber record in a few year’s time. Now I admit I may be swaying the vote a little using a cool-as-fark picture like the one above to open the piece, but I think it’s a great visual representation of the issues at hand. You gotta admit that they do look great, but does a tire designed in the 1950s really belong on bikes being built in 2012? You wouldn’t put oil made to 1950s standards in your engine, or wear a helmet from the Eisenhower era, would you? Or maybe you would…

  • GuitarSlinger

    Well well . I beat that Tony Stark fellow to the punch . Hee Hee . I’d say ( and voted ) a definite maybe on this one . On some custom bikes no other tire would do . On others they are simply a Fashion Statement for the Terminally Inane . Scott’s haircut though ? Errrrrrr………. hmmmmnnnn ……. maybe not . There are limits you know 😉

    • “…that Tony Stark fellow…” GS, I thought we were better friends than that.

      • vachequipis

        Look into my eyes, you will dislike & disagree with everything Gs posts on Pipeburn, when I click my fingers you will awake…………………………………….. Click

        • i w…i…l…l d…i…s…a…g…r…e…e w…i…t…h g…s…

  • arnold

    I may not like what you are saying, but for the most part I will defend your right to say it.
    I may not like what you are doing, but for the most part I will defend your freedom to do it.

    • arnold

      It’s 5 am in California, GS

      • GuitarSlinger

        Hey . You get your shots in any way you can these days when it comes to Mr Stark ( LoL ) And yes …… just in case there’s any doubt .Sarcasm was intended here .

        • arnold

          Good entertainment for the money.

          • arnold

            So we have Brian Eno to thank for the start up ditty when Windows boots up, eh, Bono?

  • Kenny

    What? Over them!!! No way it’s like taking a vote on weather food is over rated! Sometimes they are the only tyre to suit some awesome builds. Long live the deluxe champion!!!!!!

  • gamnoparts

    Like all design components, there is a place for it, the problem is rarely the design, but the people that overuse it. Not every piece belongs on every bike – that’s why things get played out. Besides, most of these cafe racers are using bikes from the 60/70’s, right?

  • Singletracker

    Love them, great to ride on except on leaf littered road, proved that today but managed to stay upright! As to the last 2 questions is anybody really doing anything else?

  • GuitarSlinger

    So why isn’t any tire manufacture for M/C’s as Coker is doing for the custom/classic automotive world .. making vintage looking tires with contemporary construction ? Or are they and I’ve just missed the boat ?

    • That’s the point, i guess they’ve missed the boat.

    • I think they aren’t being reproduced in modern construction by someone like Coker is because of such a limited market for them. Guys that want performance, want the best stuff and they aren’t the same guys building brat bikes with stock shocks, points-ignition and 40 year old carbs. The guys with the pipewrap, washboard seats, open carbs, clip-ons and stock forward pegs don’t really seem to be the guys clammering for high performance Flintstone tires. And as soon as the fad from these bikes changes(hopefully sooner than later), Coker would be sitting on a mountain of unsellable high tech, antique profile artifacts.

      • nobby

        Then again I think that they are being built with modern rubber compounds (as that is all that is available) that are much grippier than rubber from the 40’s. I don’t know much about tires but I think some modern bikes wear oem bias ply tires (which I guess the Firestones are).
        No doubt they are poor rain tires, but then I don’t race in the rain, In fact I toodle along. I don’t scrape pegs either but do love to open her up on the straights. They’re probably just fine for pleasure riders like myself. I suspect half of those who poo poo them are simply parroting what the’ve read elsewhere and have never actually ridden on them.

        I imagine all the Casey Stoner wannabes love pointing out that they’re not performance tires.

  • Sad_Dad

    “This is a snake skin jacket, a symbol my individuality and my believe in personal freedom” … replace snake skin jacket with vintage tire.

    • GuitarSlinger

      OK ! Time to be my usual contentious self for a moment here ( seeing as how once again I’m with the majority on the overall subject )

      A healthy – intelligent and self assured individual Does Not base his/her individuality on what ever he/she may own/wear/display in public spaces . Individuality can truly and only be based on the Individual him/her self and his/her inner core beliefs : as well as the willingness to stand up for them .

      To quote Brian Eno ” The hardest thing to do in life is to be yourself ; Wearing a uniform … conforming to a code etc is the cowards way out ”

      If you knew Brian back in the day in comparison to who he is today ….. you’d take his words/wisdom very very seriously

      • Singletracker


        • GuitarSlinger

          A response to Sad-Dad’s ” ….. a symbol of my individuality …. ” comment .

      • Sad_Dad

        Well, that was a bit deep for this early in the morning … but ok, if thats how you feel, cool. My tongue-in-cheek “Wild at heart” movie quote was more an allusion towards personal taste. With due respect to Brian Eno, the human need for companionship and belonging is etched into our biological make up. Even those attempting to “be themselves” eventually realize they belong to a sub-set of people attempting to be themselves in a very similar way. With regards to this thread, I’d happily be myself on a pair of firestones. Have a good morning my friend, I’m going for coffee!

        • davmo

          My favorite quote along these lines:” Just remember, YOU are unique…just like everybody else.”

  • Smokeythebear

    For the most part custom bikes are all about fashon. Most of the bikes featured on pipeburn (and other sites) are form over function. No one builds a hardtail for its superior ride or fits retro firestones to improve the bike in the twisties. When was the last time pipeburn featured a striped down track monster? Bikes favoring function over form are a rare breed.

  • Buck Harness

    I’d rather see Firestones than dirt bike tires, knobby tires on sport bikes are dumb.

  • Ancestralworm

    I’ve been running a pair on my bobber for a couple of years now and still love them. It’s just one more thing to confuse the HD zealots.

  • revdub

    I haven’t actually ridden on a pair, so I don’t feel I’m qualified to answer this. I will say this though, on the right bike (like the one above), they can really look great. What I’m not into visually are when the largest possible are used on both wheels, especially when they are matching sizes. It usually makes the bike look like some type of space rover. Hmm. A space rover-themed build anyone?

  • And why are those 50s motorcycle leather jackets still popular, because they are cool as fuck.

    • Actually those jackets evolved over time to function (not for cool fashion) and protect the rider as opposed to being cool as fuck. The zippers allowed a loose fit to put them on and then you could zip the zips to seal out the wind. When you toss the bike down the road and hit the deck, leather offers the ultimate protection. This was pre-kevlar and you’ll notice all the GP guys still utilize leather protection in combo w/Kevlar. Firestones were designed when bikes were more at home going straight than dragging pegs in corners(function). If you go slow and straight it doesn’t matter. If you are of a skill level to allow riding fast with an FS up on the edge, you probably prefer current tires anyway.

      • arnold

        Very nice reply to some one who will never know the skin saving properties of thick leathers vs asphalt.

        • Wha- I hope i’ll never have to drag my leather jacket on the street. Otherwise, i would rather trash my jacket than my bike, but usually both will be trashed in an accident. Not to mention the helmet and your body. Yup, dangerous hobby.

      • These jackets evolved originally from early 1910-1920 aviator jackets. And those protected the pilots from rain and cold temperature in higher altitude AND they come from a period of time, where design was more important than function. That is why those jackets are still icons and why a modern kangaroo-leather-racing-suit will never be an icon. And design is a function, too. I don’t want to live on a planet with nothing appealing to my eyes, that would be like a web without pipeburn!
        And yes, i am no GP guy but an ordinary leather jacket and a kevlar jeans works fine to me. And i prefer current tires, but still like the firestone too.

  • OldRacer

    The term cafe racer implies that the bike is based on the theme of racing/going fast, if that is the case then why use tyres that are clearly not intended for that purpose.. even in the 50’s there were better tyres available for those that wanted to go fast.

    • Badger

      Totally with you, motorcycles are for riding and corners are the best part. Besides, they look so contrived, they’re like hipster beards or sleave tattoos

    • Brett Wilderman

      If you’re using an air cooled, two valve, twin engine of about 650cc, are you based on the theme of going fast? How ’bout symmetry? Proportion?

  • Where’s the “Decline to state” option? As long as they are being used, they will probably continue to be made.

    “The one way we’re all the same is how we all try to be different.” – That is a quote by yours truly.

  • More importantly, I’d like to see the rest of the bike used as the example.

    • A-friggin-men Tony. Totally want to knw more about this build also!

  • Could somebody point me to more photos of this bike? I love that tail end.

    • revdub

      It is one of the black bikes that the Wrenchmonkees created for a swank night club or something. Check their website for more photos. All three bikes were seriously awesome.

      • Assholewelder

        Awesome…..? They cant move by themselves, because they are built ONLY for interior decoration. I have been to that fancypancy club in Herning DK, spend 1/2 an hour getting in( because, to get in, they need all your detail and a picture of you) and 80 dkr entrance. When i got in, there were like 20 people there, and the booze is way too pricey. If your ever in Herning go to El Toro Bar, The beer is cheap, the ladys are even cheaper and the fights are for free.

        • revdub

          Awesome in respect to style. If ever in Herning, I’ll stop by the El Toro.

        • What an awesome nickname! And i think that ONLY for interior decoration means, that they are not street legal, because of missing lights, mirrors’n’stuff. I bet it’s running. I always prefer the cheap bar with dozens of bikes outside, than a fancy one with a bike inside!

    • revdub

      Here is a shot of the full bike, from their site. Club Black #2.

  • Madis McLembrus

    They are OK i suppose.. under someone else’s bike. Would never fit them to my own bikes.

  • Jacob Speis

    No. Not over them. Not ever. I don’t care how ‘played out’ the style gets, I’ll continue to love the piss out of every firestone deluxe-having, header wrap-sporting, cookie cutter build I see.

  • EasternBlocParty

    The term cafe’ racer was originally an insult for a bike that looked fast but spent most it’s time sitting in front of a cafe’. The cafe’ style that we know now is a throwback to something that died out in the Seventies, so it really is mostly about appearances not actually going that fast. Most bikes that are turned into cafe’ style motorcycles now are decrepit junk from the Sixties and Seventies by modern standards. If you want a cafe’ bike that actually is fast and doesn’t just look the part builders need to be hacking modern super-bikes not vintage motorcycles that look beautiful.

    • dingo

      my favourite part of this post was the bit where you had no idea what you were talking about.

      • Wow, you said it. I think a little edumacation is in order.

    • John in Pollock


    • If memory serves me correctly (a big “if”) the working class brits who rode modified Triumphs, BSA’s etc and stopped for refreshments and to chat up the birds at motorway cafes (Yanks would call them diners – not the effette coffee bars one might think) called their bikes “bikes”. not cafe racers. That name was added when it was noted that these guys would race their bikes from a particular cafe to a known point and return – trying to best someone elses time and in the same ride do the “ton”.

      • I think the correct spelling is “boik” 🙂 I’m riding to the Ace Reunion in two weeks by the way.

        • nobby

          That’s funny, “oye mate, get arf my boik or i’ll give ya brain damage”

          • “Wha’ abou’ a cubbo tea? Nay, ya prefer a warm pint o’ Ale, aren’t ya??”

    • You’re wrong. Caféstyle is all about tuning and to find all the power a engine can provide.
      That goes hand in hand with loosing weight, the bike’s and the rider’s of course…ha ha

    • I think I know what you are trying to say. First, you should watch a few episodes of ‘Cafe Racer’, maybe Google it…get a bit of history. The tradition started in the 50’s in England. Kids would want to make their motorcycles faster; for kicks and to race. Why else??? When “we” (if you’re in the states) had diners and hot rods, the Brits had Kaffes (cafes) and bikes. (There was also the Mod crowd, but that is a different story.) Their habit of racing from cafe-to-cafe or, as Manxman sad, each other to some location and back again is where the term “cafe racer” came from. They actually referred to themselves as “Rockers” due to the rockabilly music that was popular at the time and was what they tended to listen to.

      My second point is in agreement with you (I think.) The “spirit” of the cafe racer is to modify a bike to make it faster. Trouble is that these days, we can basically by a 200mph bike right out the door. So, there are basically 3 reactions. 1) Buy a modern bike and ride the heck out of it. It becomes a “store bought” cafe racer. 2) Find an old bike and do what the boys used to do 60 years ago; bespoke it and try and do the ton. 3) Find a modern bike and give it that cafe style whether it likes it or not!

      You’ll notice that all sorts of bikes make it to the pages of Pipeburn. Scott and Andrew work their little booties off finding content for dudes like us to spend some time each day arguing over (aka discussing.) It’s obvious you like the modern bikes and that’s cool. But you need to understand that there is a lot more out there than just MotoGP. You wouldn’t expect a ’57 Chevy to do what a Ferrari Murcielago can do, right? So why work off the assumption that old(er) is no longer any use because we have something newer to play with?

      I thank all of those who made it to the end of my rant (I’m starting to write novellas along the lines of GS. That is troubling…)

    • nobby

      I believe you are wrong on your history dude. Cafe racers were stripped down speed machines ridden hard on the faster roads around London in the later fifties and early sixties, often to truck stop cafes like the famous Ace Cafe when it was still a truck stop cafe. They were legitimately fast bikes for the time. It was never a perjorative description, except I guess for those who didn’t know any better..

      PS I agree with Dingo’s statement right below mine.

  • Firestones look good on some builds even some of the cafe bikes. I personally would (could) never over-ride them in my neck of the woods. I’ve got trials tires on my CL350 and they get me to town and back on paved roads just fine. I’ve got modern tires on my faster bikes. We live in the golden age of motorcycle tires with more options than we’ve ever had – from DOT knobbies to slicks and everything in between with price points for every pocket book. Life’s too short – build, buy and ride whatever you like and to heck with the joy robbers, nay sayers and curmudgeons.

  • russelllowe

    I just bought a pair for a CB750 and they look great on it, that’s for sure. I’ve got them on the back of the Harley’s I have and they work well in that environment. The comparison to and Eames chair is a very good one; I’d include the Bic pen, Converse All Stars, Nikon’s F3 and the Rolex Oyster in the same category.

  • davmo

    Reminds me of so many other fashion statements. The mullet, the macarena, disco fever, lip and nose piercing, Harley bobbers. Some folks pile on, love it, slather it all over their body, cannot get enough, while others seeing the lemming response would not be caught dead in the same room with it. I like to think I am the latter (OK, I did BRIEFLY have a mullet, but I was 16 years old, and it was the seventies, I plead youthful ignorance.)

  • Oldnbroken

    It’d s good thing they still make them cause if that is the look you want it’s damn hard to make your own tires.


  • Philip Beresford

    In my opinion, Firestones look great on bobbers and choppers. They don’t fit cafe racers though, as cafe’s are meant to be about performance.

  • Jesús Learte

  • Jesús Learte

    Many important things in life are not practical, they just make us happier. I’ve never ridden with tyres like these, but they cannot be prettier. I’d ever consider to buy some ones to decorate my garage (the garage I haven’t, by the way). Being in market economy, they will remain while builders go on asking for them. Long life Firestones!

  • Zundap

    I have to admit they are ugly. ..Z

  • Dan

    I guess it’s like any Harley you could go down to the dealership TODAY and buy. It’s an old, outdated, non-performance design. People buy them like hotcakes because they love the nostalgia, sound, legend, whatever. They don’t care about ultimate performance.
    Seems like it’s the same for these tires too. -Still think they look cool though.
    If it were all about performance, all we’d see here on pipeburn would be motogp bikes every day.
    -Which personally, I would like a lot.

    • arnold

      Any body can do that…..Motogp that is. What I like here is a variety of platforms and opinions, as well as the side bars, which are hopefully are out of the way of the bulldozer opinions of the two wheeled treasures.

      • Dan

        NOT anybody can do that….MotoGP that is.
        Ask any CRT rider.
        I do also like the variety on this site. Some of the styles more than others, but we all have our opinions I ‘spose…

    • nobby

      If I see one more garish moto-gp plastic ugly, I’ll poke my eye out. If it’s being ridden by a Casey Stoner wannabe plastered with gaudy brand names and wearing those boots so favoured by Star Track characters I’ll poke the other one out. What a blight off the track.

      • Dan

        Man, if what we’re after is interesting/innovative design, MotoGP is where it’s at. No one else is pushing design and technology more. Say what you want about the garish colors… (and I agree with you about the wannabe’s on the street) but what’s inside a factory MotoGP bike is pretty incredible.

        • I agree in the sense that if you want that kind of performance in a car, you’re going to be spending 10x as much cash.

        • barney fife

          Interesting and innovative design is definitely not at MotoGP, while they do go further and further in wringing more hp of engines that look like ugly electrical machinery the look of the bikes are very generic plastic covered appliances, they all look alike with their little wheels and ridiculous looking skyward pointing seat cowls.
          The worst thing that has happened to motorcycling in the last 30 years is the over concentration on gp style racing by the “motorcycling” magazines.
          Give me a classic styled standard bike with a beautiful jewel like exposed engine any day…those are the type of bikes that have suffered with the over concentration on all things racing. I don’t need or want a 170 hp racing bike. Anyone riding these ‘sportsbikes’ off the track look ridiculous.
          If you drove around town all the time in a Maclaren you’d look like a silly twat, that’s how sportsbike riders look to me.

  • Ive always preferred old dunlop tires aesthetically, compared to firestones

  • Tyler Horne

    I would definitely have modern rubber on a British or Jap cafe racer, but these would be right at home on an American bobber

  • $20707106

    They were crap 50 years ago when I first rode on them and they’re STILL crap!
    Read these sites you’d think there were no advances made in tire technology.

    • The tread is the same but the rubber is different.

    • I, too, rode on them but they were just about the only thing we had. Not only Firestone, but Goodyear, Carlisle, Dunlop, Pirelli, Continental, Avon, etc all made similar tires. They can’t compare with modern tires but they carried bikers all over the country and wore like iron. The new ‘stones, like Tony says, are made with a different compound and probably grip better than the old ones and wear out a lot faster.

      • $20707106

        I agree, however failures were frequent, speeds were much lower than now and we weren’t clamping them on pseudo-race bikes either.
        Lucky if you got over 65 mph without speed wobble and water channeling was non-existent.
        Stopping? Next week.
        Cornering? Why do you think everyone fitted crash bars?
        Please, it hurts more every year to say it but ((((((WE WERE THERE)))))!

        • Also remember that tires are speed rated these days. I’m sure these have a low rating, probably the lowest, just because (as you say) they are designed to go on a slower, lower performance bike. With that said, you moped jockeys out there trying to do the ton with pedals should know that moped rubber is rated at about 60 mph.

        • Ditto, all of the above.

  • Lance Lau

    the Shark. It has been jumped. Let’s get back to using tires that actually work; cafe racers used to be about form following function, not a god-damned fashion show!


  • Micah

    Nothing is worse than a show bike, and these are show tires for show bikes.


    What they never tell you is how much you can save with Geico & what time investment is necessary to realize those savings.

  • simon

    Dunno….I like ’em for their old school/ hot roddish vibe…..I havent had any issues with the 2 bikes i have them fitted to…but then im not riding with them in the rain or scraping pegs either…………..theyre still made from rubber……….like all tyres……

    • Right? They couldn’t be sold if they didn’t meet at least minimum standards of performance. I think the confusion is the people thinking super bike with these tires. Might as well put white walls on a Lambo.

  • Marty

    This is a stupid poll. You shouldnt stir shite just for the sake of mostly meaningless conversation.
    This pattern tyre has been around forever. “are we over them yet”. over 40 years of history and just because theyve become ‘trendy’ these last few year we are debating if theyre cool enough. These tyres are an old design for nostalgia and to make abike look old.
    The term performance and this tyre should not be used together or should it be compared to more modern tyres as that is like comparing a 1950 BSA C10 250cc to a 1985 RM 250 and then stupidly asking why the C10 doesnt perform as good.
    it is what it is and nothing more- a great looking tyre for classic and vintage bikes.
    ps perhaps a poll asking
    “owner/builders who call their bikes cafe racers that do not function or perform like cafe racers.. Are we over them yet?”
    which there seems to be an abundance of.

  • Guest

    As a long-time reader I have always enjoyed the quality of the builds you feature. The polls are also a great way to get an overall view of the current trends and thoughts that are floating around custom-bike land. This may be the first actual time I’ve commented, (as I’m always just happy to read the articles). But now I find myself writing because I must know: What is the bike pictured here in this poll please? Its quite possible Ive missed the article at some point. Can anyone help point me towards this bike in the pic? Cheers guys 🙂

    • There’s a link in one of the older posts.

  • As a long-time reader I have always enjoyed the quality of the builds you feature. The polls are also a great way to get an overall view of the current trends and thoughts that are floating around custom-bike land. Personally I think moderation is always a good trait.. amd that includes the use of vintage firestone tyres. Its like listening to that favourite album one too many times… eventually it can be too much that you don’t look at it in the same light. So.. yes.. i Like them, but i think they should match the build and ambience of the bike. This may be the first actual time I’ve commented, (as I’m always just happy to read the articles). But now I find myself writing because I must know: What is the bike pictured here in this poll please? Its quite possible Ive missed the article at some point. Can anyone help point me towards this bike in the pic? Cheers guys 🙂

  • bryan kerswill

    Great tyres on a bobber or maybe 70,s style chopper, but please not on a cafe racer… least not if its to be ridden with purpose.

  • PikenBiken

    right tyre … right bike

  • PikenBiken

    I remember when the TT100 ‘s came out … a descendant of the racing triangle section tyre and first commercially available tyre of its type .. All the older guys who had Cafe Racer Triumphs
    and Nortons and BSA’s in my home town of Wetherby in Yorkshire England had them fitted to their bikes.. they were the dogs do-dahs and a must for any Cafe Racer

  • what size tire is that? they only make a 500 in a 16′, but i can’t find 16’s anywhere. especially in a wide.

  • what size rim and tire is shown? i want a 500, but they only come in 16’s which i can’t find.

  • Nat

    In my opinion, what ever reasons or purposes are, Those tyres look great to me. I would have had those firestones on my cafe bike too if i had one. I wouldn’t care about how fast i can make on those tyre. Because i know it’s not a racing type. and i know my “riding routine”…if i wanna race i would go for such racing tyre type. No matter style you are ,cafe racer, bobber or whatever tyre you want to put on. We have to respect those guys , their bike, most importantly their decision . It’s their happiness, isn’t it? And it’s not our money. Just try to be in the middle. Be fair.

  • Rodrigo

    Does somebody know wich size is this rear firestone deluxe?? and which is the biggest motorcycle tire in this firestone style. thanks.. regards to all

  • Pingback: Firestone Vintage Motorcycle Tires - Page 3()

  • THRobinson

    I love the looks of these for a CX500, but when I posted in a forum asking if anyone had a link to a seller here in Canada, I had a very unanimous response of don’t get them, they’re bad to drive on and not the safest. I’ve never driven a bike before, decided to build one then learn (ya, kinda did things in reverse) so I can’t really comment on them vs something modern… shame because almost done the bike and need some tires.

  • AntiSocial Cloud This video is a review on these tires.