Are you seeing cracks in your tire’s sidewall? Are they so big that you can run your fingers through them? Then, your tire has got a bad case of dry rot. In this blog post, you’ll discover:
  • What causes dry rot
  • 3 common reasons why dry rot sets in
  • Whether it’s possible to stop dry rot completely

Prefer to get this information in podcast form? Listen to the 30 Minute Motorcycling Podcast episode about tire dry rot:

What Is Tire Dry Rot?

image of tire with dry rot
Also known as “sidewall weathering,” dry rot is a phenomenon that causes cracks on the sides of the tire. If you run your finger along the sidewall, you might actually be able to feel the cracks – although they don’t have to be as severe as the one in the image above.  The critical thing to know is that if you see (or indeed feel) any cracks in your tire, do NOT ride your motorcycle or scooter. If you continue to ride with a cracked tire, you might have a blowout when you least expect it.

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    What Causes Tire Dry Rot? 3 Common Things

    1. Heat and UV sunlight

    If you’re reading this from one of the hotter areas of the world, like Arizona, Tunisia, or Pakistan, you’re most likely very familiar with this.

    The hotter it gets, and the more UV light a tire is exposed to, the more the chemicals inside the rubber deteriorate – causing the tire to crack.

    2. Underinflated tire

    Yes, tire pressure isn’t just crucial for your fuel economy and stopping distance – it’s also essential to keep dry rot at bay. Why? Because a tire with low tire pressure will generate excessive heat – which, as we’ve just seen, will cause the tire to crack.

    3. Aging

    But if you thought that you could avoid your tires from cracking simply by not using it – you’re sadly mistaken. The truth is that eventually, dry rot will set in with age. Because of this, every tire has a stamp on its sidewall that looks something like this:
    “3322”
    That means that the tire was made on Week 33 of 2022.  Since a tire has a lifespan of between 3-5 years, it might be time to replace your tire anyway if the current date is 2027 or later.

    Can You Stop Tire Dry Rot?

    Unfortunately, once dry rot sets in, it will not go away. Not only that but finding a cure for it is like trying to achieve immortality – it’s just not going to happen. But it’s not all doom and gloom – there are things you can do to at least slow down the dry rot process, such as:  
    • Inflating your tires to the correct pressure level
    • Storing your tires in the shade
    • Avoiding getting corrosive chemicals (e.g. gasoline) onto your tire
    • Riding your bike regularly