August 9th, 2012
In yesterday's article, we explored the different general varieties of motorcycle tires and what those markings on the sidewall mean. Today we will go over different varieties of tires and how they are constructed, as well as how to properly take care of your tires.
There are just about as many different styles of tires as there are different styles of motorcycles. From off road tires to longer lasting cruiser tires to sticky racing tires the choices are almost endless. In general, softer tires will stick better to the road surface in high-speed circumstances but won't last nearly as long as tires made out of a harder compound.
Many tires use a combination of a harder material in the center of the tread and a softer material near the edges. These are known as dual-compound tires. This provides more traction when the motorcycle needs it most (in a turn) and longer life when the motorcycle will be riding the most (in a straight line).
Maintaining your tires
Checking the motorcycle tire pressure on a regular basis and keeping the tires properly inflated is very important. Some riders check before every ride, but it's recommended to do so at least once a week.
Changes in temperature and normal slow leakage will effect the tire pressure. An under-inflated tire will heat up abnormally while riding, and will effect the handling and braking characteristics of the motorcycle.
The proper air pressure for the tires will be listed in the motorcycle owner's manual and often on the frame near the serial number. Motorcycle tires will naturally warm up while riding and the air pressure will increase slightly. The pressures listed in the manual are the “cold pressure”, which means that the tire should be checked before the motorcycle is ridden and before the tires get warm.
Most tires are equipped with wear bars in the tread letting the owner know when the tread is at the point to change the tire. Once the tire surpasses it's wear limit, about 1/32 of an inch, it is not safe to use anymore. It will no longer shed water properly and riding beyond the recommended tread depth can cause a blow out. The tread depth should be checked when checking the tire pressure.
It is also important to make sure the tires don't become degraded over time. Rubber naturally breaks down over time and weakens. If the tire is old and showing signs of cracking or other degradation, replace it before riding. It is also a good idea to check the condition of the valve stems on a regular basis.
Tires should be cleaned with a mild soap and water. Fancy tire dressings designed for car tires should be avoided. Some of these may make the tire surface slippery and cause traction to fail at the most inopportune moment.
2 comments on "What riders should know about motorcycle tires: Part 3"
I have bought 3 rear and 2 front tires< OEM Dunlops in just over 33300 miles. I am becoming confused on tire pressure when the manual says 29psi for the front and the tire says 36psi or up to 36 when riding 2 up. The last front tire had tread left but was cracking in the tire grooves so I replaced it. My 2nd rear tire had only 8K on it but it took a nail so I replaced it but kept it, now wondering if I will ever put it back on...it has good tread. Tube tires are fussy though. Suggest that when getting a new tube tire and tube that you ask the shop to inflate the tube before installing to check for defects. I rode home on the new front last Friday night after install, got up SAturday morning to a flat, the tube had a sear/rip about 10 inches long in the middle. Ruined a planned day trip.
Originally Posted by chefonahondaIt's best to follow the pressure given by the manual. It's what has been tested for that particular motorcycle.
I am becoming confused on tire pressure when the manual says 29psi for the front and the tire says 36psi or up to 36 when riding 2 up.