The Pros And Cons Of a Wide Back Motorcycle Tire

I. Introduction

Motorcycle riders are fond of their bikes and strive to make them stylish and comfortable by adding certain improvements to them. For an average motorcycle rider, safe handling of the motorcycle and riding comfort is priority factors.

Many riders may think of replacing their stock-back motorcycle tires with wider aftermarket back tires. However, a wide, back motorcycle tire has its pros and cons.

The pros of a wide, back motorcycle tire are better traction on the road, making the ride comfortable by absorbing shocks, making the ride safer on wet roads, etc. And the cons are the increased weight of the back tire adds stress to the suspension and braking system, may reduce fuel efficiency, needs a larger turning radius, higher cost, etc.

We will discuss the above in detail during this article.

II. Pros And Cons Of Wide, Back Motorcycle Tire

If you scan through the owner’s manual of motorcycles, you will notice that the width of the stock-back tire is normally more than the width of the stock-front tire. The examples are compiled below. The first three numeric digits in the tire size indicate the tire width in millimeters.

MotorcycleFront tireBack tire
Kawasaki Honda Vulcan S120/70×18160/60×17
Honda Rebel 300130/90-16150/80-16
Royal Enfield Meteor 350100/90-19ʺ140/70-17ʺ
Honda CRF 125 Big Wheel (off-road)70/100-1990/100-16
CB 300 R (sports bike)110/70-17150/60-17

The motorcycle engine transmits its power to the back wheel through a chain or belt drive and makes it roll and move the motorcycle. A wide back tire with its increased traction is better equipped to do this job without disturbing the stability of the motorcycle. On the other hand, a narrow front tire makes steering the motorcycle and stabilizing it (after taking the turn) easy for the rider.

Some motorcycle riders may want to replace the back stock tire with a tire of more width. Let us consider the pros and cons of doing it.
wide motorcycle tire

The pros of a wide, back motorcycle tire are:

  • Wide back motorcycle tire has more surface contact with the road and hence better traction (grip) and stability.
  • The motorcycle remains stable during turns.
  • The wide back tire absorbs the shock due to bumps and rough roads and makes the ride comfortable.
  • A wide back tire will give you better stability and minimize the slippage on wet roads.
  • The motorcycle retains its stability even after applying a hard brake in times of emergency.
  • A wide, back motorcycle tire enhances the aesthetics of the motorcycle, especially for a heavy cruiser or touring motorcycle.
  • Wide back tires work well with high-powered engine motorcycles where it has to transmit more power.

The cons of a wide, back motorcycle tire are:

  • A wide back tire is costlier than a stock back tire and the rider has to incur this additional cost at every replacement.
  • A wide back tire adds additional weight to the motorcycle and this can place additional stress on the motorcycle’s suspension and braking system and may cause their faster wear out.
  • The contact area with the road is more for a wide back tire and the motorcycle needs additional power to overcome the frictional resistance. This can increase fuel consumption.
  • Negotiating a corner with a wide back tire is difficult and you need a larger turning radius to maneuver the motorcycle (the alternative is to negotiate the corner with a smaller radius by leaning more, but this is not safe).
  • Suitable for higher CC motorcycles only.
  • Replacing the stock back tire with a wide back tire may require changing the rim and other parts also. Unless this is done by an expert, your safety will be at risk. You may also face the risk of losing the benefit of the manufacturer’s warranty since the modification does not have their approval.
  • If you are fitting a wide back tire that is not compatible with the motorcycle design, the tire surface can scrape and brush against the fender or frame when the motorcycle bumps on speed breakers. This not only wears out the tire, but it can compromise the safety of the rider.
  • Leaning the motorcycle with a wide back tire is difficult.

III. Things to keep in mind when going for a wide, back motorcycle tire

We have discussed the pros and cons of a wide, back motorcycle tire in the previous paragraphs. If you have decided to go for a wide motorcycle tire (after considering its pros and cons), there are a few things to keep in mind, before implementing it.

    wide motorcyce ltire

  • You must be aware of the capability of your motorcycle engine. Wide back tires need a higher power to drive them. If you mount a wide back tire on a low CC motorcycle, the motorcycle power may not be sufficient to overcome the frictional resistance efficiently.
  • If you are riding a street motorcycle (cruiser, touring, etc.), you can opt for a wide back tire since it enhances stability, traction, and riding comfort. Wide back tires are good for heavy motorcycles and motorcycles that travel on uneven, unstable, or wet surfaces. However, the change from a stock back tire to a much wider back tire may need a new rim and connected parts. This job can be best done by an expert and hence you should entrust this to an expert mechanic (be ready to hear a ‘no’ from the expert since all motorcycles may not be compatible with a much wider back tire).
  • Please do not attempt to replace the stock back tire with a much wider back tire on a DIY basis. Doing it wrongly can cause serious accidents and put your life at risk. Your safety is important.
  • If your motorcycle is under warranty, you may lose your right to claim since the wider back tire may not have the approval of the manufacturer. Please study your warranty terms and conditions.
  • Wide back tires are expensive and cost much more than stock back tires. Think of the additional expense you have to incur during each replacement of tires.
  • If you are riding a sports or track motorcycle, it may not be wise to replace the stock tire with a wide back tire. The stock back tires are designed for giving quick turns and good maneuverability.

IV. Frequently Asked Question

1 Why the stock back tire of a motorcycle is wider than its stock front tire?
The reasons are explained as under:

When the rider accelerates the motorcycle, the load on the back tire increases, and due to its friction with the road the tire gets heated up. However, for a tire to give a good life, the operating temperature of the tire should be maintained at an optimum level. A wider back tire helps distribute the frictional heat over a wide area and maintain it within the designed optimum temperature.

The engine drives the back wheel through a chain or belt arrangement and the back wheel provides the force to move the motorcycle. A back wheel with a wider tire is better equipped to provide safe and stable traction to the motorcycle during this process.

On the other hand, a narrow front tire makes steering the motorcycle and stabilizing it (after taking the turn) easy for the rider. A narrow front tire can handle the impact of obstacles (stones, sand, etc.) coming in its way and maintain the stability of the motorcycle.

The combination of a wider back tire and a narrow front tire provides good stability to the motorcycle and makes the ride safe.

2 Is a wide back tire good for my motorcycle?
A wide back tire gives better stability, and traction, and minimizes slippage on a wet road. However, a wide back tire has more contact area with the road, and the engine must have sufficient power to overcome the frictional resistance to move the motorcycle. Hence, a wide back tire is possible only for medium or high-powered motorcycles.

Secondly, if you are replacing a stock back tire with an aftermarket, wide back tire, it should be done by an expert and experienced mechanic. The expert can examine the compatibility and make a correct decision. This is not a simple DIY job since the rider’s safety is very important.

If you are riding a sports or track motorcycle, it may not be wise to think of a wide back tire, because replacing the stock tire with a wider back tire can make it difficult to make quick turns and affect the maneuverability.

3 Which type of motorcycle is good for wide-back tires?
Heavy cruisers and touring motorcycles are well suited for a wide back tire since they have the power to drive the back wheel with a wide tire and improve stability and riding comfort.

However, the job of replacing the stock back tire with a wider back tire should be done by an expert mechanic who considers the compatibility before executing the job.

V. Conclusion

We have discussed the pros and cons of wide, back motorcycle tires in detail in the preceding paragraphs. Hope this information was helpful to you.

YouTube Videos

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.