We trust our life with two motorcycle tires touching the ground the size of our two hands. What happens when one goes "pop"? Here’s how to stop it!
Motorcycles with flat tires . . . roll hard! If your motorcycle is cruising along at 55 mph and your rear motorcycle tire suddenly deflates [has a blow out!] you now have a tremendously, dangerous challenge ahead of you. Avoiding other vehicles, controlling the steering, a swaying rear-end making everything unstable makes for a sizable victory when you roll off the side of the road and come to a stop. Congratulations, job well done! More riders than not end in an accident or something worse. All because of their motorcycle tires. Who knows your thoughts if it is the front tire to blow? You better be prayed up.
We all want a sharp looking bike. Once you select your make and model, your interest is on chrome, color, accessories, personal appearance, dress etc. but let us not forget about the importance of the rubber motorcycle tires that get us around. Frame, structure and engine all work together and hopefully are worry free for years. Motorcycle tires keep moving and we need to often watch for wear and safety.
There are two critical places that motorcycles need to be checked before each ride or at least once a month. Both are easy to do and both are many times overlooked. One area is brake fluid. If the pedal is mushy, bleed the lines or have someone else do it. Two, motorcycle tires need to be inspected. Why do we forget these?
Our safety depends on it. We trust our life to the two motorcycle tires under us that have at best two patches of rubber in contact with the ground the size of our two hands at any given moment. Move that along at 55 mph or even at 15 mph and each of the motorcycle tires is taking on a serious responsibility. The attention and care we offer towards our motorcycle tires can help us tremendously with our safety and enjoyment of biking.
Here are some areas where things can go wrong with your motorcycle tires:
- Tire Pressure: Under-inflation may cause uneven wear, loss of control [stability], wears the motorcycle tires out faster and increases the chances of the motorcycle tires failure. Over-inflation allows motorcycle tires to heat up, limit traction [although a slight 10% over-inflation may actually increase traction in wet conditions] and affects the wear. To correct these, use a good tire gauge and check the motorcycle tires when it is cool. Keep the motorcycle tires pressure at the recommended PSI.
- Fluids: Brake fluid, gas and lube spills need to be cleaned immediately. It deteriorates the rubber. Many of the cleaner protectants used on motorcycle tires harm the finish rubber. The best way to clean is to use old-fashioned soap and water.
- Bumps: Potholes, curbs and stones may slash or crack the tire. Look for any problem.
- Accelerated wear: Everyday use may be a potential hazard. Spinning motorcycle tires on take off or holding the brake on emergency stops need to be checked.
- Nails, screws etc.: It is better to find them before you ride than to discover these nuisances 20 minutes down the road. Motorcycle tires that use a tube may "pop" from a nail/screw or sharp object, where a tubeless tire may have the nail/screw actually plug the hole they created which gives you a little more time for repairs.
- Valve stems: Make sure the cap is on. It helps to protect the valve stem from leaking air and protects the stem valve from opening by centrifugal force and leaking air at higher speeds. When you use motorcycle tires with tubes, the valve stem should be straight out. If it is on a slant, the tire has been under-inflated and the tube has moved around the rim. Often this damages the tube and creates a leak.
- Tire weights: Weights need to be firmly fixed to the rim. If they fall off it will throw the tire out of balance and cause uneven wear.
- Rim: Cracked or dented rims are potential problems. You may want to replace wire spoke wheels when they become damaged with a cast or billet wheel that uses tubeless tires. Check with your dealer on this.
- Worn/torn: Thin tread is easier to detect. Flat wear is due to leaning very little and driving mostly in a straight line, resulting in a ridge at the edge of the flattened middle of the tire. This causes motorcycle tires to become unstable in a leaning turn. It wants to warble. The tire may have more wear but it should be replaced. [It is good to replace both front tire and rear tire at the same time.] Sidewall punctures, cracking, cord separation are an alert.
- Tread: Check the grooves called "sipes" making sure that the tread is still sufficient. The lack of having tread affects the cooling of the tire when in use, wear, stability, traction and can cause hydroplaning on wet roads.
When doing your inspection of motorcycle tires get a friend to roll the bike while you check the tread and sidewalls. You may need to get a work stand if alone. Obstacles to having a good inspection are long pipes, saddlebags, fenders etc. making it hard to see the rear tire. Front motorcycle tires are a bit easier to examine. This sounds like a lot but it goes quickly and is easy to do. Make it a habit to check your motorcycle tires frequently.
Some miscellaneous information you need to know. You will have better handling and get more out your motorcycles tires when you keep the rear tire aligned and balanced. Consider having this looked at approximately every1000 miles. Be careful when you have new motorcycle tires it takes the first couple of rides to get traction working well.
So! Happy riding and remember to check your motorcycle tires often.