Maintaining your motorcycle in a good condition includes changing tires regularly. This is something every motorcycle owner knows or at least, should know. Most beginners have difficulty recognizing when the tires are due to a replacement. So, rather than just telling you to change your tires, I will explain when to change motorcycle tires.
Motorcycle tires should be replaced every 5 years. If the tires are worn-out, the age of the tires doesn’t matter. Tires have raised bars or treads that indicate the condition of the tires. If the depth of the tread is below 2/32″, the tires need to be changed.
That’s as straightforward as I can put it, a thorough guide follows.
Inspecting The Tires
The first thing you’ll be doing is checking out each tire of the motorcycle. What do you need to check for? You need to find the date that the tire is produced. You need to check the treads and measure the depth. Also, you should be check for some unusual traces of damage that are there due to wear and tear.
So, motorcycle tires are usually changed due to aging, wear, and other damages. I’ve always changed tires because of how worn-out they were. That’s just me though, I drive regularly. Still, I think that most tires reach their wear limit before they reach their age limit.
Signs Of An Old Tire
The date you bought your tires has nothing to do with the actual age of the tires. You don’t know how many months the tire was in stock before you bought it. There’s an easy way to check how old the tire is though.
Check the production date of the tire. Every motorcycle tire has the production date and the size inscribed on the surface. You can see it if you look closely. Look for four numbers, usually preceded by the acronym DOT. These four numbers tell you the production date( the week of manufacture and the year. For example, the numbers 1312 stand for the 13th week of the year 2012.
Once you find the date, figure out if it’s been 5 years since the tire was manufactured. If so, chances are, you’ll need to replace that tire. Keep in mind though, the tread of an old tire may look just fine but that doesn’t mean that you should keep the tire.
The thing is, with tires older than 5 years, you need to be on the lookout. Old tires may have deformations that are not visible to you. These deformations lead to the tire blowing out or a weaker grip. So, if you have a tire older than 5 years with a healthy tread, be on the lookout for deformations like bumps and irregular wear. Make sure to check the entire tire.
Motorcycle Tires Wear Limit
Both cars and motorcycles have parts that I call “consumables”. These parts are exposed to wear and tear, that’s why they need regular changing. Tires belong to these parts. No matter the price or the quality it will eventually go bad.
We’ve already talked about what can happen if the tread is too short. Since healthy tires mean fewer accidents, states regulate this kind of thing. Tires have something called the legal wear limit. If the depth of the tread wear indicators is below the legal wear limit, a policeman can write you a fine.
Who cares about the fine though? You want your motorcycle at its highest performance to avoid accidents. So, the legal wear limit tells you when to change the tire. Not when a policeman can fine you.
Checking the tread depth is easy to do, there’s even a neat trick. Most manufacturers inscribe wear bars to indicate where the wear limit is. These are called tread wear indicators. Usually, there are three wear bars inscribed in the treads. The lowest bar representing the wear limit, i.e the minimum tread depth. If you’re at the highest bar meaning there’s plenty of tread left.
You can find the indicators in the grooves of the center of the tire. If the rubber has reached the lowest bar, you’ve reached the wear limit which is 2/32″. You can also try using the penny trick. You’ll need an American penny. Insert the penny inside the tread. If Lincoln’s head is visible, the tire is worn-out.
Signs Of A Damaged Tire
Inspecting the tires should be a thing you practice. Even if you have brand new tires, you still need to check for any damages or tears. Did you drive over any potholes? Do you often drive through harsh terrain? These are all things to be aware of.
If you don’t want to obsess over these questions, you can just make it a routine to check each tire for damage. It’s a good habit to have, you check if everything is okay with your bike then you hit the road.
So, what to look for when checking for a damaged tire? Check for anything unusual, scratches, deformities, bumps. Look at the thread and see if it’s damaged or teared up. Any screws, pieces of glass, etc…
You’ll also want to take a look at the valve of both the front and rear tire. Carefully examine the valve stem and the valve stem core. These parts of the wheels can be damaged. If this happens, the tread patterns will be fine but the tire will slowly lose pressure.
Damaged tires are usually replaced but it’s worth it to have a tire servicer take a look at it first. If the damage isn’t that serious, most likely he can patch it up. I can’t promise that will be the case for you though.
Why Do Motorcycle Tires Wear Out So Fast
Every bike owner has noticed that motorcycle tires are not exactly durable. It’s not the same with cars though, the tire life is longer. A car tire will wear out but not as quickly. Bicycles have only 2 wheels so the tires need to provide extra grip. The bigger the level of grip, the more friction there is. That friction generates heat, hence the tire wear.
This type of tire is also made from a soft rubber compound, much softer than the one used for cars. So, it’s no wonder that the heat created from the contact of the tire and the ground destroys the tire so much. Street bikes are less likely to wear out a tire really fast but racing bikes burn out a tire in one lap.
Why Tire Maintenance Matters
Since the performance of the motorcycle depends on the tires so much, you want each tire in perfect condition. Ultimately, tire maintenance is about riding safety. Worn tires don’t provide grip. If the levels of grip are really low then it’s hard to steer and control the bike. Riding a motorcycle in this state increases the chance you’re going to have an accident. So, be responsible, read this guide, and practice riding safety.
Getting New Motorcycle Tires
Chances are, some of you will go on to changing tires after reading this guide. If so, don’t be in a hurry. I mean if you haven’t changed a tire before. Those of you that have, I think you’re familiar with the process.
You want to make sure that you get the right tire model. There are a lot of models of bikes out there, don’t be confused when the tire shop asks for the size. Tires are an investment, and you want to be prepared before going to the shop.
To find out the size of your tires, you’ll need to inspect them again. Wheels have a width, aspect ratio, and rim size. There are numbers indicating the amount of each of these inscribed in the tire. Look for something like this: “110/90-18”. The width, aspect ratio, and rim size.
When the clerk at the tire shop asks you to name the size, go with the numbers on your current damaged/old tire. Also, get a model that’s suitable for your riding style, something that will give you a comfortable ride. If you drive rarely and only in cities, you can go for the average tire. If you tend to take road trips or go through rough terrain, get something durable. Either way, you want quality tires.
Installing A New Tire
Wheels shops will usually install the brand-new tires you bought. But they will charge you extra for this service. I advise you on paying for this service if it’s your first time buying a tire. This way, if you got the wrong tires, you can easily fix the mistake.
However, I understand if you don’t want to pay for that, modern tires can be quite expensive. In that case, you can do this by yourself. We have a thorough guide on how to change a motorcycle tire and how to balance your wheels. Check it out here.
You’ll have to read the guide if you’re willing to change the tires yourself. Let me tell you what the process consists of, then you can decide. You’ll have to remove the wheel off the bike. Then, break out the tire bead and remove the old tire. Fit the new tire into the rim, and install the wheel.
Make sure you have the right materials to change the tire. This includes tire irons, tire lube, bead breakers, and an air compressor. Or, just buy the entire tire, that way you’ll only need tire irons.
Afterward, if your wheel feels kind of unbalanced, you’ll have to balance it. Unbalanced tire results in wheel alignment issues, so you’ll notice it for sure. Wheel balance requires a balancing machine, so think about that. Find out more in our guide.
Things You Want To Know
Well, that’s it for this guide. I hope I answered your questions. To end it on a good note, I’ll leave some tips that you should know.
- Rear tires are more prone to wear and tear than front tires because drivers brake more with the rear wheel. Check the tire on the side of the tire you use most.
- Never ride with a flat tire. If your tire is out, and you’re near a tire shop, don’t keep driving. You’ll damage your rim too.
- Keep the tires at the desired pressure point. Every tire has an ideal pressure point set by the tire manufacturer, don’t inflate more. Both insufficient tire pressure and a fully inflated tire are dangerous.
- Tires that have not been used for 2-3 weeks can get deflated. If you haven’t used the bike for quite some time, check the pressure.
- Always carry a tool that measures tire pressure. Or, install a tire pressure monitor. I can’t stress how many times this tool has been useful to me.
- Don’t lose the valve caps. If you don’t have any valve caps, get new ones. You can find a valve on Amazon for the exact model of tire you have.
- New tires take 2 weeks to accommodate. The first 2 weeks the new tires will feel weird, then you’ll start to feel the smooth, compliant ride.
- If you’re using your bike during the winter, it’s best inf you deflate the tires. You can easily do this with a special tool called Valve Stem Tool.
Related Questions And Other FAQS
Is It Okay To Mix Brands On A Motorcycle
No, mixing brands is not a good idea. Most manufacturers make signature tires, so it’s best to buy in pair. The tread pattern may be different, and while driving you will notice. The best thing to do is buy a pair as they come from the shop.
What Are The Best Tire Brands Of Motorcycle Tires
There’s no one best brand. There are some to stay away from, and some that are competing for the best spot. You can’t go wrong with a Michelin, Continental, or Metzeler. These are the best brands of tires.
How Much Do Motorcycle Tires Cost
The price of brand new motorcycle tires depends on the size of the tires, the type of your bike, and the quality of the tires. On average, the cost ranges somewhere from 73$-300$.
What Is Better A Tubeless Tire Or A Tube Tire
It depends on the type of bike. A tubeless tire is better for dirt bikes since they require less pressure than tubed ones. A tube tire has a wide range of uses, mostly used for street bikes, riding in the city, and in highways.