In case it wasn’t already obvious, there’s a lot riding on your tires – and I’m not just talking about you and your motorcycle.
In this blog post, you’ll discover:
- The average lifespan of a motorcycle tire
- How to read motorcycle tire dimensions
- A risk of riding on wide tires you MUST know about
- Why tire pressure is crucial – and what happens when you under- or overinflate your tires
- What Do These Motorcycle Tire Dimensions Stand For?
- Tire Pressure – And Why It Matters So Much
What Do These Motorcycle Tire Dimensions Stand For?
If you look at your tire’s sidewall, you should see a sequence of numbers and letters that look like this:
160/70 R17 M/C 73 V
This sequence tells you everything from the size of your tire, to whether your tire is a bias-ply or radial tire.
- The first number (160) is the tire’s width in millimeters
- The second number (/70) is the tire’s aspect ratio – i.e. the height of the tire in percent
- The letter “R” indicates that the tire is a radial tire
- The third number (17) is the wheel rim’s size in inches
- “M/C” tells you that the tire is made for motorcycles
- The fourth number (73) is how heavy of a load the tire can hold. Generally, the higher the number, the higher the weight.
- The letter at the end (V) is the speed rating – i.e. how fast you may ride on the tire.
Some tires may also have a directional arrow on them, indicating that they are directional tires.
For more information about directional tires, check out the article about it here on The Dual Wheel Journey.
Wide tires – a word of caution
The wider your tires are, the greater the risk of hydroplaning will be.
Tire Pressure – And Why It Matters So Much
I’ve said it multiple times in the past, and now I’ll say it yet again – your tire pressure matters!
But as important as it is, there are many questions about tire pressure that need to be answered so you understand why other people and I keep banging the proverbial tire pressure drum.
What should my tire pressure be?
The best place for the correct tire pressure specs is in your owner’s manual.
Don’t worry if your tire pressure is slightly higher than the manual’s spec – it’s not that big of a deal.
If you ride “two up” (i.e. ride with a pillion passenger) at lot, you’re actually expected to overinflate your tires a little to compensate for the extra weight.
Inflate your tires too much however, and you might find that your ride is much more rough than it should be.
By contrast, what if the tire pressure is too low?
Low tire pressure is bad news, as it causes, among other things:
- Loss of traction
- Increased fuel consumption
- Poor handling
Generally speaking, the rear tire needs higher pressure than the front tire.
What is tire pressure measured in?
Depending on if you use the Imperial or the Metric scale, tire pressure is measured in either PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) or BAR.
Most modern tire pressure gauges will support both systems but just to be on the safe side, ensure you’ve selected the correct unit to avoid a potentially confusing reading.
How many years are motorcycle tires good for?
It’s a known fact that motorcycle tires don’t last as long as car tires.
Because of this, a typical motorcycle tire lasts between 8,000-9,000 kilometers or 5,000-6,000 miles.
The tires’ lifespan can be cut even shorter if you:
- Have not inflated your tires to the correct tire pressure
- Use the wrong type of tire for the terrain you’re on (such as if you use street tires for off-road riding)
Why do motorcycle tires lose air pressure?
If the low air pressure isn’t caused by a flat tire or by a leaky tire valve core, it’s because of a process known as “osmosis.”
In plain English, it means that over time, the air will pass through the rubber parts of the tire.
It’s a fairly slow process, but it’s normal for most motorcycle tires to lose as much as 3 PSI of air pressure each month.
It’s for this reason that you must check your tire pressure regularly.
How often should I check my tire pressure?
Ideally, you should check your tire pressure daily, but at the bare minimum, you should check it at least once every week.