Saturday, May 26, 2012

Embrace Your Inner Chicken

At some point during the last week or so, I saw a video clip, somewhere, that featured two guys standing next to a motorcycle discussing chicken strips. Not eating pieces of chicken, mind you. They were referring to something on the motorcycle as "chicken strips."

My word-nerd interest was piqued. I looked it up and discovered that chicken strips are the outer edges of rear motorcycle tire that don't show any wear.

If you're not too "chicken" (afraid) to ride at maximum lean, you don't have chicken strips. Or so the theory goes.

I thought that was pretty funny. I didn't give the term another thought until Sunday when we stopped to gas-up the bikes. As I waited for Hubby to finish filling the tanks, that term re-entered my brain. It came out of nowhere.

So I went over and looked at Hubby's rear tire.

"Huh," I said. "You don't have any chicken strips."

He'd never heard the term either. When I told him what it meant, he laughed. And then we examined my rear tire. I had chicken strips.

In the picture, the upper tire has uniform wear. The lower tire has an unworn swath along the edges. You have to look hard to see through the dirt.

Apparently chicken strips are something the young and foolish -- especially those that ride crock rotchets -- compare and focus on. The smaller the strip, the "better" the rider. That's one school of thought.

There's another school of thought that says maximum lean is not always an indication of speed through corners. Or skill. Some riders hang off their bikes while holding the machine in a slightly more upright position so their tires grab more.

Supposedly, the only safe place to get rid of them is on the track. Public roads are just too dangerous. There are too many unknowns and potential dangers (gravel or other debris on road, cars/trucks creeping into your lane, etc.). Or you could go into your garage and use sandpaper.

On one hand, I think the term is funny. On the other hand, I don't like it. Since it has a negative connotation, it might make people ride harder than they should, putting themselves at risk.

I ride within my limitations. Safely. Most of the time, anyway. I'll likely always have those strips along the outer edges. So I have decided to embrace my inner chicken and create my own term for that unused bit of tire. I'd much rather think of them in a positive light.

Henceforth, I will NOT think of that line as a chicken strip. Instead, I'll call it my swath of sensibility.

The bigger the swath, the more sensible the rider. Doesn't that sound much better?

Before that stretch of US-33 I told y'all about, I was a more sensible person. We all have our momentary lapses of reason, though, right? Lucky for me, my bike and I survived.


SonjaM said...

Funny that chicken strips never get discussed while riding with chicks... I wonder if this is another guy thing that we will never fathom.

Deb said...

Cute post...I needed a chuckle to slough off this HEAT!

Trobairitz said...

Swath of sensibility. I love it.

I have said swath and don't mind a bit. Like you I am sure I will always have them. If another rider would like to think of me as chicken because of them, meh, so be it. I don't ride to be part of a contest.

On a side note hubby doesn't have them either, mind you he can drag pegs, me, not bloody likely.

Shybiker said...

I heard that term years ago and reacted the same way you did. The phrase implicitly encourages young riders to ride over their head in a foolish effort to prove themselves. That's not only dumb, it's dangerous. Motorcycles are risky enough without riding beyond your skill-level.

That said, I was never able to get the words out of my head -- so thank you for replacing them with more sensible ones.

Riding on the street has numerous hazards which should deter us from taking unnecessary risks. On the track where those hazards don't exist, you can test your bike's limits more safely. During my recent trackday, I scrubbed the final bits off the sides of my tires. With the lean-angles required for curves at the track and the heat generated by sustained high speeds, you chew up tires like they were made from marshmallow.

Fuzzy said...


I will respectfully disagree with the idea that scrubbing off your strips would comes as a results of unsafe, excessively speedy or risky riding.

As you noted HOW you ride, how you approach your corners and lines, even the profile and compound of your chosen tire - those things all contribute to your comfort in scrubbing those areas of the tire.

Riding here on crappy Long Island, the strips get worn away. I like to think i am on the conservative side of being a spirited rider. My days of zipping around like a nut are long gone. Even still, a deep lean is a natural state. <3

Do people judge others on their presence or lack of chicken strips - simply put, for better or for worse - Yes. If i see a dude riding a YamaGixxer10000 with an inch wide chicken strip on either side of his tire ~ i will make the judgement that he doesn't know how to put that thing around a corner.

Could I be wrong in my judgement? Yes.

Is that more of a sportbike related judgement? Maybe.

Do I feel the same sense of judgement against a person on a WeeStrom? No, not really.

Swath of sensibility or not ~ we like you just the way you are :)

Dar said...

I never have been partial to chicken strips - lol. I am conservative and I like your Swath of sensibility. I have no desire to drag pegs or anything else for that matter. lol. I admire other riders who are proficient and use the track to practice the art of lean. When done right it is a beautiful thing, when not it can be deadly. So I prefer to putz around, not saying that I don't lean because I do, but it is a conservative lean......

ToadMama said...

Sonja, I think it is definitely a guy thing!

ToadMama said...

Deb, this heat has been a bit oppressive, hasn't it?

ToadMama said...

Trob, I don't really care either. It's just one of those things. If I do manage to get rid of them, it'll be unintentional.

ToadMama said...

ShyB, I'm happy I could share a new phrase with you. That's my way of repaying you for "spirited ride." LOL.

The more I think of your track day and see the pics, the more I think that's something I should try to do one day.

ToadMama said...

Fuzzy, you crack me up. I do think it's more of a sportbike thing, so like you would be more likely to notice said swath on a crock rotchet.