When Should I Change My Motorcycle Tires?

I. Introduction

The question is simple, yet, the answer is a bit complex. Your motorcycle tires give you traction on the road and make your ride safe. However, riding on worn-out tires is unsafe and can put you at great risk, especially on a wet road. Hence, maintaining your motorcycle tires and taking good care of them is very important.

This article explains how to maintain the tires and discusses the topics like: when and why should you change your motorcycle tires, how to take good care of the tires, and we’ll answer a few frequently asked questions.

II. When should you change your motorcycle tires and the reasons for changing?

If you go by the tire manufacturer’s guidelines, they will suggest you change your motorcycle tires after every fixed number of years, and the period can be different for front and rear tires. Normally, the rear tires wear out faster than the front tires. But the number of years is only one criterion and it cannot be applied blindly, simply because one rider may ride his motorcycle for 6000 or 7000 miles in a year and the other rider may ride only 3000 miles in a year. The factors to be considered are:

  • Tread depth
  • Signs of aging
  • Crossing a 5 years period
  • Any unusual damage or wear of the tire
  • Owner’s manual recommendation

Tread depth

The depth of tread on your motorcycle tires can tell you when to change the tires. Every tire, regardless of the manufacturer, has small wear bars molded into the tread grooves. These wear bars become exposed when the tread is worn out to the level of 1/32ʺ depth.

This condition demands immediate changing of the tires. Many tire manufacturers recommend changing the tire when the remaining tread is 2/32ʺ to 3/32ʺ.

Signs of aging

Your motorcycle tires may age prematurely due to different reasons like extreme weather, not maintaining proper inflation pressure, bad storing, overloading, and many other reasons. You should inspect the tires periodically, once a month and before and after every long trip.

If you notice any unusual wear, cracks on the shoulder or treads, deformations on any tire surface, it is best to consult your tire mechanic and follow his/her advice. This is a question of your safety and you should not ignore it.

Punctures

Your tire can get punctured and if you continue to ride with a punctured tire, even for a short distance, the tire can be damaged. You will be able to repair the puncture and move on, however, each puncture will take away a percentage of the tire life. It may not be safe to ride with a tire that has undergone multiple punctures.

Also puncture on the sides of the tire can be dangerous. If you find multiple puncture marks or puncture on the sides of your motorcycle, please consult your tire mechanic.

Crossing 5 years

If your tire has crossed 5 years, get the tires inspected by a qualified tire mechanic and follow his/her advice. If your tire mechanic decides that the tire is in good condition and allows you to use it, inspect the tire at frequent intervals and take the help of the tire mechanic in case of doubt.

Any unusual damage or wear on the tire

If you notice any unusual wear or damage on your motorcycle tires, take the advice of your tire mechanic. Unusual damage may happen when you hit a sharp object (a stone) or any hard object with your motorcycle.

Owner’s manual

Consider the recommendation given in the owner’s manual.

III. How to take care of your motorcycle tires?

Having good and properly inflated tires on your motorcycle is very important for your safety and you must never underestimate this aspect. A worn-out motorcycle tire does not provide a good grip on the road and worn-out tires are especially risky on a wet road. For your safety, please take a note of the guidelines below:

Tire air pressure: Always maintain the recommended air pressure in front and rear tires. The correct time to check the tire pressure is when it is cold (minimum three hours after your last ride).

Use a good gauge to check the air pressure and it is a good habit to do it at least once a week and before a long ride. There can be two sets of air pressure, for solo and with a pillion rider. Never exceed the maximum recommended pressure.

Tread depth: The depth of tread on your motorcycle tires can tell you when to replace the tires. Every tire has small wear bars molded into the tread grooves and these wear bars become exposed when the tread is worn out to the level of 1/32ʺ depth.

This condition demands immediate changing of the tires. Many tire manufacturers recommend changing the tire when the remaining tread is 2/32ʺ to 3/32ʺ. A worn-out tire with low tread depth may not be able to keep traction, especially in wet conditions.

Heat cycles: When you ride your motorcycle the tires go from the ambient temperature to their operating temperature and return to ambient temperature and this is called a heat cycle.

Each heat cycle increases the hardness of the tire and as the hardness increases, there will be a gradual loss of traction. An expert tire mechanic can measure the hardness of the tire and advise you if a change of tire is required or not.

Storing: If you are storing your motorcycle for long period, ensure that both tires are above the floor level.

Ride: Your motorcycle tires are designed to give optimum performance at their operating temperature. When you start your ride, allow some time for the tires to reach the operating temperature, and then you can go into your normal mode.

Others: Schedule wheel balancing along with your 6-monthly or annual servicing of your motorcycle. An unbalanced wheel can lead to unusual wear on the tire.

Always go for the tires recommended in your owner’s manual when you are changing the tires.

For more information, you can download Motorcycle Tire Guide compiled by U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association at https://www.msf-usa.org/downloads/MIC_Tire_Guide_2012V1.pdf or at https://www.msf-usa.org/downloads/Tire_Guide.pdf

IV. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

1How to know the manufacturing date of my motorcycle tire?
Each street legal tire purchased in the U. S. has a DOT (department of transportation) tire identification number (TIN) that starts with “DOT” and ends with four numeric digits. If the last four digits on your motorcycle tire are 3512 it indicates that the tire was manufactured in the 35th week of the year 2012.
2What is the recommended tread depth for changing the tires of a motorcycle?
Many tire manufacturers recommend changing the tire when the remaining tread depth is 2/32ʺ to 3/32ʺ. So, when the tread depth reaches a level of 2/32ʺ or less, it is time to change the tire.

However, certain physical conditions other than the tread depth may indicate changing the tires much earlier.

3What tire pressure should I maintain for my motorcycle tires?
Refer to your owner’s manual and you will find the recommended air pressure for rear and front tires. There will be two sets of air pressures, one for solo riding and the other for riding with a pillion. Strictly follow this recommendation. It is not recommended to ride your motorcycle with lower or higher than the recommended air pressure.

V. Conclusion

The tires of the motorcycle connect you with the road and give traction for your safe riding. Maintaining your motorcycle tires in a good and fit condition is important for your safety.

Small things like maintaining the correct air pressure of your motorcycle tires and inspecting the tires periodically will keep you safe on the road.

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