Choosing Tyres For Your Motorbike
Why are Tyre's Important?
Tires are perhaps the most important component on any motorcycle. They are the key to performance, comfort and safety. Without proper tires and routine inspection and maintenance, our motorcycles aren’t going anywhere. Use this tire guide to learn some of the basics about how motorcycle tires function, their construction and how to choose the right tire for your bike.
Understand The Motorbike Tyre
Construction / Make-up / Design
Make -Up of Tyre
Get familiar with the basic parts that make up a tyre.
Tread: The most obvious part of the tyre people see is the tread, this is where rubber meets the road. You’ll find a variety of tread patterns depending on the intended use for that tyre.
Carcass: This is the backbone of the tyre that lies underneath the tread. Essentially, the carcass is made of steel or fiber cords that run from bead to bead. Every tyre is either a bias ply or radial ply, which is a MAJOR distinction. Bias plies are laid at an angle (bias) in a direction, whereas radial plies are laid directly from side to side. We will discuss the benefits of each a bit later.
Bead: The bead is where the tyre mounts to the wheel. Multiple steel cords are placed in these areas to ensure a snug fit against the wheel and no leakage in a tubeless tyre.
Sidewall: This is where the vital tyre information is displayed, however the sidewall is much more important than just an indicator. Virtually all the load support and much of the handling is determined by the sidewall design.
BIAS OR RADIAL
As motorcycle engines and chassis have advanced, so have tyres. Traditionally, motorcycle tyres were bias ply, which means the carcass was made up of body cords at an angle directionally. Flash forward to the present, and you’ll see a radial design in many tyres, where plies are laid from bead to bead instead. This leads to many advantages:
• Heat dissipation: Radial tires displace heat better, which increase longevity and improved wear
• Sidewall Flexibility: By construction, radial tyres sidewalls are not stiff as bias-ply tires. This allows the sidewalls to contour to the road better, improving surface area to the section or tread.
Bias-ply tyres are still sticking around, but for good reason. Due to the stiffer sidewalls, bias-ply tyres come standard on many heavy cruisers and touring bikes. The lack of flex works well for bikes designed to carry passengers and/or luggage.
Now that we’re familiar with the tyre construction, the next step is learning how to decode the sidewall information. Most of what you need to know is molded right into the tyre’s sidewall in either metric or alphanumeric. Let’s dissect a typical metric sidewall designation example: 130/90 R 16 67 H
- The first number refers to the tyre width: 130 indicates the tire is 130mm wide at its widest point when installed and ready to ride. This is referred to as “section width.”
- The second number refers to tyre height: 90 indicates the tyre’s sidewall aspect ratio; which is 90 percent as tall as measured as it is wide, or 117mm in this example. The lower the aspect ratio, the shorter the sidewall if section width remains unchanged.
- The Letter designation refers to tyre construction: For this example, R stands for radial ply. If the carcass design was bias, it would be indicated as “B”.
- The third number is the wheel size: 16 indicates the wheel diameter in inches the tyre is designed to fit. In this case a 16-inch wheel.
- The last number refers to the load index: In this case, 67 is the load index designation. In this example 67 informs the consumer that the tire’s maximum load capacity is 661 lbs. (see chart)
- The last letter refers to the load index: In our case, H is the designated rating, which means the tyre is suitable for speeds up to 130 MPH.
Alpha Numeric- MT 90 – 16 Load Range B
Alpha numeric is very similar to metric. The first letter always is M, for “Motorcycle.” However the second letter is important which represents the width or section. Like metric, the number following the section width is the aspect ratio. Like metric again, the next number is wheel size followed by load rating.
STICK WITH OEM SIZING
With your new-found understanding on sidewall information, finding a replacement tire can be quite the undertaking. With a seemingly endless amount of options, you might be asking yourself what you’ve gotten yourself into. The best option is actually perhaps the simplest option, sticking with what came stock on your bike. Motorcycles were designed and developed with a specific tire size, so altering the ply style or load rating can be unsafe and not handle properly.
PROPER TIRE PRESSURE
Possibly the most overlooked preventative motorcycle maintenance is checking the air pressure. Not only can under or over inflation be unsafe and cause unpredictable handling, millage decreases as well. When your tires are over inflates the middles section tends to wear faster than the sides of the section. When under inflated, the inverse is true, and your sides will wear disproportionality to the middle section.
Here are a few tire pressure tricks to ensure longevity and safety out on the road:
1. Use Suggested Pressure: Always abide to suggested tire pressure indicated on the side wall for proper pressure. If you are going to carry lots of luggage or a passenger, we suggest adding a bit more pressure being sure not to exceed the tire pressure indicated on the sidewall of your tire.
2. Get yourself a good gauge: Cheap $5 gauges found at the checkout counter of a NAPA can be a decent tool to have, but a quality tire pressure gauge will be much more accurate. Tire performance is heavily tied to pressure, and even a few PSI can drastically effect handling. Always check pressure when the tire is cold (not immediately after you get off).
3. Check pressure frequently: Anywhere from daily to weekly will serve you fine. Really, the conditions and amount you ride should dictate how often you check your pressure, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
TUBE TYPE TIRES
Many bikes come with a tube type tire, and if yours does, it is important to install a fresh new tube with every tire change. Do not try and fit a tubeless tire on a tube type wheel, as the bead will not likely seal properly, which will ultimately leak. Finding the right size tube is a simple procedure if you know your tire size. In metric sizing, tube sizes are indicated as such: 110/90 (where the first number is width and the second number being the aspect). Alpha: MP85 (First letter is always M for “motorcycle”, second letter is the section width, and the number represents aspect ratio).
WHEN TO REPLACE AND HOW TO SPOT A WORN OUT TIRE
It’s tempting to look at your tread and think, “she ain’t bald, there’s tons of tread left on those bad boys.” But in reality, your tires don’t have to bald, to be out of commission. Here are a couple of things to inspect if it’s been a while between fresh hoops:
1. Tread Depth: To eliminate the guess work, manufactures incorporate wear bars that run across the tread. Once the wear bars are flush with the tread, it’s time to replace. Another easy trick is use the old penny technique. Placing a penny in the tread, if Honest Abe’s head is covered in some degree, your tires likely have some life in them. There should be at least 2/32” of tread in any area.
2. Age: As a rule of thumb, no matter the tread wear, a tire’s active life span should not exceed five years. Some people suggest a tire’s life is done five years after manufactured date, however we feel it’s safe to extend that to 10 years.
3. Cracking: Like most things, tires are not immune to sunlight, and if your tires have been exposed for long periods of time, you might experience cracking on the tread or along the sidewalls.
4. Cuts and Punctures: Frequently check for any cuts or punctures in your tire.
5. Loosing Pressure: Since you’re checking your pressure frequently, you’ll notice if a tire continues to loose pressure too rapidly. If this is happening, your bead may be worn out and leaking air.
6. Feeling Odd: Sometimes the best way to spot a worn tire is in your hands. If you notice vibrating, pushing, pulsating or any unnatural sensation when riding, it could be your tires.
7. Under-inflation or over-inflation can lead to uneven wear (mentioned above). You will find excessive wear in the center or sides of the tire if not aired up properly (shown here).
That’s it for our basic motorcycle tire buyer’s guide. Hopefully with the knowledge you’ve gained you can take the right steps towards buying the best tire for your bike and needs! The individual tire pages will have great info on intended and best usage, features and even detailed videos to help you make an informed purchase. Remember to check your tire pressure, let your tires warm up before opening her up, and as always, have fun!
Here is a speed Rating Scale for reference:
|Tire Code||Max Speed (MPH)||Max Speed (KMH)|
HOW TO CHANGE A DIRT BIKE TIRE
Changing a tire can be a frustrating, knuckle breaking endevor. JC shows the tricks to make it qucik and painless.
WATCH VIDEO CHANGE DIRT BIKE TYRES
Without meaning to make a bad pun, there's an awful lot riding on your motorcycle tyres. Poorly maintained tires compromise the bike's handling and your safety to a degree that can't be overstated, so making sure they're in good condition is one of the most important tasks associated with motorcycle maintenance. Fortunately, it's a job that's quick, easy and requires nothing more than a tire pressure gauge and a Lincoln head penny.
All tire maintenance starts with a thorough visual inspection, and yes, that usually means getting down on your knees so you can get a worm's eye view of it. The first thing you'll want to examine is the tread depth. A bald tire can toss you down the road faster than it takes to read this sentence, especially if the road is a little wet. They're also more prone to puncture, so there's no compromising here. Taking "one last" ride on a worn out tire can have dire and very expensive consequences.
Because "bald" is sometimes open to interpretation, "whadda ya mean that's bald, that things got another couple of thousand miles left in it," the tire manufactures and the DOT have come up with two ways to determine just how bald a tire is. To eliminate the guess work all current DOT approved tires incorporate wear bars that run across the tread to provide an easy to read visual indication of the tread condition. When the tire is new the bars are invisible, as it wears they become more prominent and eventually become unmistakable. As a rule, once the tread reaches the wear bar, its shot and should be replaced before the next ride.
In some instances the wear bars might not be readily apparent. If you can't find them look for a small repeating pattern on the sidewall, a small triangle perhaps, or if you're running Michelin tires a tiny representation of the Michelin Man. The symbols indicate where the wear bars are located in the tread, or better yet consult the tire manufacturer's web site.
As an alternative you can always measure the tread depth. Normally a tire is considered worn out when the tread depth is 2/32 of inch deep. This number varies slightly between the tire manufactures, and some of the motorcycle manufactures supply their own specifications as do the states, but in general the 2/32 of an inch number should keep you out of trouble. Of course reading a ruler marked in 32nds can be tough, especially when you're on your hands and knees peering at a tire.
Tire depth gauges are available, you can find them at most anywhere you can buy a tire, but an easier solution is to stick a penny in the tread. If all of Lincoln's head is visible the tire is past it's sell by date. If a portion of Abe's head is covered up you're good to go. By the way if you're wondering why I used the 2/32 of an inch instead of just saying 1/16, it's because in the US, using 32nd's to describe tread depth is a convention that goes back to the inception of the rubber tire. The rest of the world describes tread depth in millimeters or nominal fractions.
Besides inspecting the tread depth, keep an eye out for any foreign objects, primarily sharp ones that will create problems at a later date. Often a screw, nail or other road-hazard can be removed before it does any real damage, if you catch it in time. And if the tire does start leaking when you pull out that roofing nail, well at least you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that it happened in your driveway while the bike was parked, as opposed to it happening at 65mph on the interstate. Last but not least, check the sidewalls for damage, look for bulges, splits and cracking and as you'd expect, replace any tire that's questionable.
Once you're satisfied with the tire's physical condition check the tire pressure(s) and adjust them accordingly. My preference is to use an electronic digital gauge, they're inexpensive, dead accurate and easy to read, and don't forget that tire pressures are always adjusted with the tires cold.
The bottom line here is that if you take care of your tires, they'll take care of you. A little maintenance, the foregoing should take about ten minutes a week, provides an extra margin of safety and reliability. And most importantly keeps you on top of your tire wear. Because when it comes to tires, what you don't know is what hurts you.
IRT BIKE TIRE BUYER'S GUIDE
Learn what tire you need for your riding conditions and other factors that effect your bikes handling and traction
MOTORCYCLE HOW TO... AND SOME RIDING TIPS...
FEATURED HOW-TO GUIDE
HOW TO: REMOVE AND INSTALL MOTOCROSS GRIPS
With a few basic tools and a couple of tricks from JC you can remove and install motocross grips with ease. Hopefully this video will save you from throwing tools across the garage by giving you some useful insight.
How To Install Dirt Bike Graphics
Ready to install that fresh set of dirt bike graphics? Whether it is your first time installing dirt bike graphics or if you're looking for new tips you're at the right place. In this video we will show you the process of a full dirt bike graphics install from start to finish.Watch Video
5 STEPS TO STORE BIKE FOR WINTER
So, it’s time to face reality and figure out where you will store your motorcycle. But, before it can go into peaceful hibernation, there’s a few must-do’s if you want it to wake up happy in the spring. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as throwing a cover over it if you want your motorcycle to remain in top condition. READ MORE
Before you take off on your first ride of the year, give your bike a much deserved once-over to make things are in working order. We go over the key areas for you to inspect, adjust or possible replace to ensure a smooth and long season of riding! Read our Pre-Season Bike Prep & Maintenance Check
Women’s motorcycle gear has come a long way over the years. What was once low end gear with disproportional sizes is now high end protective gear that actually fits. Even though the selection of women’s motorcycle gear has dramatically increased, the most important piece of safety gear has been left out. Read more
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RIDING TIPS: BLITZING,WHOOPS - HAVE SOME FUN!
Supercross whoops, or just whoops and general are easily the trickiest section on the track. Jimmy Albertson demonstrates how to blitz your next set of whoops and how to avoid any "whoops" moments. From body positioning to selecting the proper gear, Jimmy gives you the down-low on how to stay on top of motocross whoops. Watch all team Motorcycle Superstore Racing Videos
Cleaning Your Motorcycle
We all remember the thrill of riding a shiny, new bike for the first time, so why not maintain the appearance of your ride with a regular cleaning regime? It can also help keep you safe because you’re more likely to notice potential problems such as leaks, corrosion, worn tyres and loose hoses while you’re cleaning. A well-maintained bike will often sell for a higher price when you decide to part with it too.
MotorCycle Direct has provided the following cleaning tips to help you keep your bike as good as new.
A Few Dos and Don’ts
- Allow your bike engine to cool before cleaning to avoid cracking the engine, damaging the chrome or leaving streaks and spotting on the bodywork
- Always use cleaning products recommended by your bike’s manufacturer
- Wash your bike in the shade. Quick drying in the sun can cause spotting and streaking
- Avoid pressure washers because they can damage the paintwork, electrical connections etc
- Do not use washing-up liquid because it contains salt and can cause corrosion
- Remove watches, rings, belts with metal buckles etc. before cleaning to avoid scratching the paintwork
- Start by hosing your bike down (with an ordinary garden hose) from top to bottom to loosen any dirt or bugs that have accumulated. Rinse several times if necessary to soften up any debris before cleaning
- Use your manufacturer’s recommended cleaning agent in line with the instructions. This may be a spray or you may need to add it to a bucket of water
- Wash your bike from top to bottom using a soft cloth. Sponges can pick up grit or dirt that could scratch your bike.
- Cleaning mitts or microfibre cloths may be a better option but ensure these are rinsed clean regularly so they remain free of dirt (you could utilise the 2 bucket method to avoid this (one specifically for rinsing))
- Use brushes to remove stubborn dirt and dust that gathers in wheels or other cracks and crannies. A toothbrush or bottle brush is useful for this
- Once your bike is thoroughly clean, hose down with clean water until there are no further traces of cleaning products
- Let most of the water run off your bike then dry it thoroughly with a good quality chamois leather or soft microfibre cloth, making sure water isn’t pooling in places that are hard to get to
- If the water runs off in sheets rather than beading, it could probably do with a polish and/or wax. Use a polish recommended by your manufacturer and follow their instructions for use
- Treat your saddle and leather accessories with products recommended by your bike’s manufacturer
- N.B. Keep an eye on the condition of your motorcycle chain and oil if necessary, and remember never to apply any treatment to the tread of your motorcycle tires.
Happy cleaning! We hope you get lots of pleasure and longer lifetime value from your gleaming motorcycle.
HOW TO: PROPERLY WASH A DIRT BIKE
Every wonder how the factory teams get their bikes so sparkly clean? Motorcycle Superstore Racing's crew chief Gregg Albertson walks you through the steps for achieving that factory sheen. So break out the hose and soap and get washing!
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A dab of anti-seize on your chain adjuster bolts is an easy and effective way to prevent major headaches down the road. No more worrying about seized bolts and even more worry about how you're going to safely get them out!
EMERGENCY REPAIR KIT MUST HAVES FOR EVERY RIDER
This week’s weekly Rider Hack has helped us get out of more pinches than we can even begin to count. We’re talking, of course, about a light tool bag or emergency kit with various tools and supplies necessary to get you back on the road. The goal is to pack as light as possible, but still have enough tools to remedy common road side repairs. Not sure which tools or supplies you’ll need? No worries, we’ve got a list of items we feel are the most useful for quick repairs. Read List
LIST OF ITEMS
WE FEEL ARE MOST USEFUL FOR QUICK REPAIRS
1.Multi-Tool: Whether it’s a combination tool with screw drivers, pliers, allens, etc… or a tool pack with interchangeable sockets and bits, you’ll need a solid base to start with. Before you head out, it’s always a good idea to check and see what common tools and tools sizes you’ll need and add to your kit accordingly. This is the best way to assure you’ll be able to make repairs needed in a given situation.
2.Tire Repair Kit: Tire trouble is easily the most common bike-related issue riders face. First and foremost, a decent tire pressure gauge is essential (to confirm your tire is actually loosing pressure, if not already flat). From there, there are a number of tire repair kits on the market from patches to plugs and different sizes of CO2 cartridges. Find one you feel comfortable with, and be sure you study up and learn to use it before you ride.
3.Flashlight: May seem simple, but as soon as the sun goes down, there isn’t too much light to be found on the side of the road. A small, LED light should be enough to allow you to see what you’re fixing or the map you’re trying to follow.
4.Fuses, Bulbs and Bolts: Fuses and bulbs burnout, nuts and bolts rattle off, it happens. Your best bet is to make sure you have some spares just in case you need to replace them. For bolts, try and figure out the most common size bolts on your bike and sizes of those pesky ones that always wiggle loose, and have a few ready to go.
5.Zip Ties, Duct Tape, and Pocket Knife: These are the MacGyver items that always seem to be of importance and fix things when all else fails. If we need to tell you why zip ties, duct tape and a pocket knife are useful, then you probably shouldn’t be riding motorcycles.
6.Visor Cleaner and a Microfiber Cloth: This item isn’t a repair item, but boy is it useful when you do stop for a quick break along your ride. Much like your car windshield, you never realize how much better you can see once you squeegee off those bug guts. Visor cleaner typically comes in a small spray bottle (to soften up those clingers) and should be accompanied by a microfiber cloth that is safe for your visor.
You’re probably not surprised by any of these items included on our list, but they all help get the job done. Ideally you’d want to find a small bag or case that you can fit all of these tools and supplies in for easy transportation. A few different ways we like to store our emergency kits are either under our seats, in a backpack/bag or simply in our jacket if we have big enough pockets. Like we said, the goal is to take only the essential items for every day riding. For longer rides or extra peace of mind, you can always carry more cargo as you see fit. Hope this is a good starting point for you guys, and hope you’ll never have to use any of it at all!
RIDER HACKS: LUBING THOSE STIFF FEELING CABLES
Lubing your cables with tools like the Motion Pro cable Luber is an easy and inexpensive way to return the smooth and easy lever pull that your bike had when it was new. As time goes by and more miles get ridden, your cables start to dry out and collect dirt and grime. This is what makes those clutch leavers feel like an arcade strength tester found at your local dive bar. We've tried many methods of lubing cables, but really, nothing comes close to the Motion Pro tool. READ HACK
HOW TO CHANGE A DIRT BIKE TIRE
Want to save time and money? Want to be a dirt bike badass? Then change your own freakin' tires.
Motorcycle Superstore's front man walks you through his preferred technique for changing a rear tire. JC covers the tools necessary and explains why he prefers specific ones. He demonstrates how to perform the work and talks through the reasons for each step. Watch video
Bogie and Bacall, Lennon and McCartney, bacon and eggs, appealing on their own, as combinations they’re just about unbeatable. And so it is with Rake and Trail. While most of us are conversant with the terms, obtaining a complete and coherent explanation is sometimes difficult. What follows should help you understand what they mean, how they work and why you should care. Read Article
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR BIKE FOR THE WINTER CLOSE DOWN:
For any number of reasons a lot of us park our motorcycles for the winter and there’s nothing wrong with that. The majority of us ride because it’s fun and in my experience riding through the winter isn’t especially entertaining. Read More
TOP TEN URBAN RIDING TIPS : -
AN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE!
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PROPER LANE POSITIONING: USA LEFT HAND RIDERS.
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PRE-TRACK DAY BIKE INSPECTION CHECK LIST
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STARTERS GUIDE FOR ADVENTURE TOURING RIDING
There's a good reason the adventure touring segment is one of the fastest growing genre in the sport of motorcycling. The allure of travelling off the beaten path to locations few people have ever seen is inspirational to say the least. After logging thousands of miles and meeting adventure riders from all walks of life, we feel obliged to encourage aspiring ADV riders to climb aboard and experience the adventure touring first hand.
HOW TO PREP FOR YOUR FIRST TRACK DAY?
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DESERT BIKE PREPARATION GUIDE
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Rise and shine ladies and gentlemen, riding season is upon us and your old friend in the garage could use a little TLC before you plan to hit the trail. Although there are a few regions where you can ride year-round off-road, the majority of us live in climates that require us to store our toys for a few months through the winter. Unfortunately, some bad things can happen to our beloved four-wheelers when they are left unattended. Read Complete Article
RIDER SAFETY CHECK LIST
For our first Riding Tip we are going to discuss the most important factor while riding a motorcycle and that is Riding Safety.Read Checklist
HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR MOTORCYCLE CHAIN & BELT
Getting the power to the rear wheel has been a challenge for motorcycle designers since the very first motor driven cycle rolled out of the garage back in the early 1900s. Some used shaft drives, others literally used leather belts. Of course metal chains were popular too because bicycles were often the base technology for early motorcycle designs.