August 7th, 2012
Most of the time, riders don't think much about their tires. Tires are actually one of the most critical components of a motorcycle. They provide the traction needed for the motorcycle to maneuver and if they fail, the results can be disastrous.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the proper tire for a motorcycle. Having the proper tire for the weight of the motorcycle and the proper rubber compound for the type of riding that is done most are important decisions.
Motorcycle manufacturers usually work with one or two tire manufacturers to equip a tire that works pretty well with a certain motorcycle model. A rider can't really go wrong with using the stock tire brand and size for their motorcycle. There are often great alternatives to the stock tires in aftermarket replacements, and often bad alternatives that can adversely effect handling, tire life, and stopping distance. Care should be taken to do the proper research on potential tire replacements if switching from the original equipment.
What you need to know about tire sizes
The dimensions of the tire can be found on the tire sidewall. These are usually expressed something like this on modern tires:
180/55 x 17
The first number (180) is the width of the tire in millimeters. The second number after the slash (/55) is the tire's aspect ratio, or the tire's height compared to the width of the tire. In the above example, this means that the tire's height is 55% as tall as the width of the tire or 99 millimeters high. The last number after the “X” (17) is the diameter of the wheel rim that the tire will fit in inches.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for more useful information about your motorcycle tires.
1 comments on "What riders should know about motorcycle tires: Part 1"
Tires were always the most difficult discussion I had with customers. Invariably, they feel shop employees are just trying to steer them to the most expensive option or the one with the greatest profit margin to be had. Like it or not, price far outweighs any other consideration in the minds of most motorcycle owners. The price of a set of motorcycle tires is a shocking thing for them because they only think in terms of (2) on bike (4) on car: "Why are the "set" prices so similar?" without any regard to the differences in construction due to totally different demands and sheer production volume of auto v motorcycle numbers.
Also, milage numbers are another difficult thing to come to grips with. It is a rare occurrence to see 20K milage numbers out of a motorcycle tire where if that was the life of anything but a "soft" compound performance tire for an auto, those drivers would be screaming. Yes, I know there will be a "I routinely get (insert Mega Milage number here) out of MY tires" reply to be seen in response to my statement but I have too much time and experience in this industry to believe other than I have stated.
For most (90%) Americans, motorcycles are a luxury purchase, a recreational vehicle that is operated primarily for pleasure, not basic transportation. Tires are part of the required upkeep. It's the price we pay for that play.