Top 5 Tips for Motorcycle Tire Maintenance
Paying attention to your tires and regularly maintaining them is a crucial aspect of motorcycle riding. After all, that rubber is the only thing separating your motorcycle from the pavement. Tire failure can potentially cause serious injury or death to yourself and others you share the road with.
Inspecting and taking care of your tires will boost their performance and increase their longevity. It will also grant you more peace of mind on your two-wheel journeys.
If you’d like to stay upright on the road and avoid any blowouts or flats, continue on for our top motorcycle tire maintenance tips!
The first step in successful motorcycle tire maintenance is to inspect them regularly. This is universally agreed upon.
However, there is debate on what constitutes “routine” or “regular.”
Many tire manufacturers recommend an inspection baseline of once a week. For some riders, this may not be sufficient. If you’re a daily rider or close to it, it’s a good idea to check them before every ride. Remember that you expect much more out of your motorcycle’s tires than your car’s tires.
Motorcycle tires need to be properly inflated in order to perform correctly.
You can find the maximum tire pressure load embossed on the sidewall of the tire. You ideally want to come in a little lower than this number, but absolutely do not exceed it. You may find the exact recommendation for your tire pressure with a quick online search or in your owner’s manual.
Both under and overinflation can cause tire issues. Underinflated tires will build too much heat. This can lead to an increase in fuel usage, negatively affect cornering, and wear your tires out. In the worst case, it can cause the tire to suddenly fail and blowout, leading to a possible serious injury.
Overinflated tires can be dangerous, too. Any sudden impact against one can cause it to be punctured or cut, leading to failure.
When checking pressure, always use an accurate pressure gauge and check when the tires are cold. Gauges can be found at various auto parts stores or even some general retailers. When inflating a tire, always ensure it is secured to the motorcycle.
Adequate Tread Depth
It’s critical to have tread on your motorcycle tires for every ride. Thankfully, tire design and engineering has made it so there is a fairly simple way to accurately read the remaining tread.
Motorcycle tires have grooves all throughout the design. While these grooves may make the tire look more stylish, they also help keep your traction with the road.
New motorcycle tires start with about 6 millimeters of tread depth. Inside of the grooves are small bumps. These bumps are wear indicators. If your tire has worn down to this bump, you have approximately 1 mm of tread left. It is time for an immediate change.
If you’re not quite at the bump but are curious about your current level of tread depth, there are simple ways to check. Tread depth gauges do exist, but many people do not have one handy. Instead, use a penny.
The distance between the top of Abraham Lincoln’s hair and the top of the penny is just about 2 mms. Place the penny with Abe going headfirst into the tire groove. If you can see the top of his hairline, it’s time for a replacement.
You always want to ensure you have at least 2 mms of depth. However, numbers closer to 3 mms and over are commonly recommended.
Cleaning and Care
Cleaning your motorcycle tires does more than just make them look pretty. While it will make your ride look sharper, it also provides concrete benefits to your riding.
Clearing your tires of debris not only improves their traction with the road, it additionally extends the tire’s life. The process is relatively simple, and you may already have the necessary tools at your disposal.
You may browse the internet for special cleaners, but mild dishwashing soap works well. Grab a bucket, fill it with some warm water and mix your choice of soap in. You will need a brush, and make sure the bristles are soft. Abrasive tools may damage the tire.
With the brush and bucket of water, you are able to access all areas of the tire and rim. A sponge may work in a pinch, but the brush will give you better accuracy in hard-to-reach places.
After scrubbing the tires, sufficiently rinse them off with clean water. Do not use tire polish, even if you think it will make your motorcycle really pop. Leftover soap scum and tire polish can cause your tires to become slick, which may lead to dangerous situations. Always make sure your tires are dry before heading back out on the road.
After you’ve cleaned and rinsed the tires, keep an eye out for any blemishes on the rubber. If you notice any irregular wear or cracking along the tires, it may be time for replacements.
You may live in a region that faces harsh conditions during the winter. Even if you live in a tropical climate, you may decide to put your motorcycle away for a bit and take some time off riding. Either way, you will need to prepare your motorcycle for long-term storage.
Tires are an important part of this preparation. We discussed earlier the importance of having your tires properly inflated. You don’t want to overinflate them, but for long-term winter storage, fill them up almost all the way to the maximum pressure recommendation. Lower temperatures cause lower air density. This means the air in your tires condenses and leads to lower pressure.
If you own a motorcycle stand or lift, this is a great option for long-term storage as it takes the pressure off the tires. Many people do not, and that is OK. If possible, slip a strip of wood, carpet or cardboard under your tires. Constant contact with the concrete can cause flat spots or rubber breakdown.
If you have the ability to, check on the tires once a month in storage. If you have adequate space, roll the motorcycle during these times. This will change the area of the tire where the motorcycle is resting to prevent rubber breakdown.
Maintaining your motorcycle tires and caring for them on a consistent basis will pay off in the long run. Your rides will be smoother and you will save money by extending the life of your tires with these habits. Most importantly, it maximizes the level of safety you carry every time you roll out onto the road.
Which of these tips are the most crucial? Did we miss anything important? Leave a comment and let us know!