Motorcycle Tires… What To Watch Out For
Tires… What to watch out for:
A sometimes over looked part of the motorcycle, a set of worn out tires can make even the most finely tuned motorcycle perform poorly. Tires are critical to bike performance as well as your safety. Riding the right tire, at the right PSI, will improve your bikes responsiveness and keep you on the road. Running a worn out tire creates a hazard for you and other riders around you. At Hot Metal Harley Davidson, we want you to always be riding with fresh rubber, which is why we offer free installation with any tire purchased from our parts department.
The basics of a motorcycle tire:
Motorcycle tires are much more complex than they appear. Made from petroleum mixed with chemicals like sulfur, black carbon and silicon, tires companies have created various blends to suite different riding conditions. The tires first are assembled with the cord and belting structure and then the rubber. This assembly is then vulcanized with extreme heat to join it all together.
There are two primary types of tires, radial and bias – subcategories of bias are regular bias and bias belted – the two types of bias tires refer to how the inner cords and belts are arranged. Radial belts go straight across at 90-degree angle from side to side, whereas bias belts run diagonally across the tread area.
Radial tires are the tire style of choice on current motorcycle models and offer stiffer construction that provides more responsiveness. They also run cooler which leads to a longer tire life.
When purchasing a new tire, it is important to never mix the two types of tires. It could adversely affect the performance and handling of your motorcycle. Similarly, mixing premium tires with discount tires is not a good idea either. Premium tires typically use steel belts rather than synthetic fabric cord. Each tire has distinctive riding and handling properties and therefor could negatively affect performance as well.
Just having the right tires on your motorcycle is half the process; the other half is making sure your tire pressure is correct. Underinflated tires can lead to the steering feeling mushy or the cornering and breaking feeling heavy. Check the sidewall of the tire and your owners manual for proper inflation or swing by our service department to have them dial in your bike to factory spec.
Time to replace your tires:
The rear tire is typically the first to go and will start to loose its rounded profile and look flat or square. Your tires have built-in wear indicators at 1/32nd inch, when you reach this it is time to get new tires. If you have gone past the indicators and any type of cord of fabric is showing the bike is dangerous to ride and tires should be replaced immediately. Any uneven wear or flat spots on your tire are also signs that it needs to be replaced right away. If there is a nail or another foreign object in your tire, this also is a sign that your tires need to be replaced or repaired as soon as possible.
Tires also need to be replaced if there are any visible signs of sidewall cracks. If you motorcycle is left in the sun, the tires will be more susceptible to cracking. Never put any type of tire shine on your tires to protect them, these products are silicone based and can cause you to slide out [crash] when riding.
If your bike has been sitting for a long time or the tires are over 6 years old you should get them replaced as well.
Breaking in and caring for your new tires:
It is an exciting time when you get fresh tires on your Harley and can be tempting to start riding hard right away. However, your tires need time to be ‘scuffed-in’ and this takes around 100 miles of cautious riding. This process not only lets you get used to the new feel and handling of the tire, it also breaks the tire in so it can achieve optimal grip level. During the break in time for your new tires you should avoid sudden acceleration, hard braking and aggressive cornering.
To keep your tires (and bike) in the best shape it is important to keep it indoors in a cool, dry place where it is protected from the sun. Avoid storing your bike next to any heat sources (hot pipes, ect.) or electric generators. These can damage your tires internal structure.
Now that you have fresh tires that are ‘scuffed-in’ and at the correct air pressure, it is time to ride!