A Roman saying (that I cannot recall the exact words of) implies that a man who cannot take care of his chariot cannot take care of his woman! How many times have you been stranded on the road because the tyre of your motorcycle gave way?
Worn out or damaged tyres of any vehicle can not only ruin the performance of the vehicle but also jeopardise your safety. Old rubber can cause serious accidents by suddenly giving up and losing all of its grip.
What Wears The Tyres Out
There are different factors that determine when to change motorcycle tyres, such as the riders speed (if you ride fast, the rubber of the tyres will get worn out faster), tyre pressures and suspension, to name a few. Tyre wear patterns also have a role to play. You can read about tyre wear patterns here.
Inspect Your Tyres
Under ideal circumstances, one should inspect a motorcycle every week to check the tyres, irrespective of how much mileage you may have achieved. Michelin recommends a daily check-up by motorcyclists to pick up on any external signs of aging or wear: deformations or cracks in the tread, on the shoulders or sides.
What To Inspect
There are several instructor videos on how to check your tyres. You can see one here:
While you are inspecting your motorcycle tyres, take care to notice:
1. Damage Caused By Impact
We are not just talking punctures here. Sidewall ruptures are common forms of tyre injuries caused by striking a hard surface or minor accidents as well as debris on the roads like nails and metallic or glass shards.
2. Signs Of Natural Wear And Tear
It is the motorcycle's tyres that give you the experience on the road and you should pay careful attention to any tell-tale signs of wear and tear. The life of a tyre is not related to its manufacturing date. In fact, tyres that have not been used at all, or not used regularly, may also age. Weather conditions, the way they are stored, usage conditions, speed of riding, maintenance - all have a role to play in how soon a tyre wears out.
3. The General State Of The Tyres
Are your motorcycle tyres losing shape? Do they have flattened sides/ edges? Any good rider will know that the sides of a tyre wear out faster than its middle. If you notice the sides of the tyre are becoming more rounded and blunt, it will indicate that you need to replace them. Flaccidity of the rubber is another indicator of the ill-health.
It is possible to still ride a motorcycle much past the signs that show wear and tear in treads. But this is not safe. If you are unsure about whether the treads have worn off or not, please consult a mechanic or expert who will give you an opinion.
4. The Depth Of The Treads Of Your Tyres
For the best performance, you must always use tyres with the same tread pattern for the front and rear. Tyres that have different designs, treads and wear patterns will hamper your motorcycle's stability and balance. You should not fit your motorcycle with one radial tyre and one non radial tyre - unless specified by the manufacturer - or recommended by a professional mechanic.
Here is a detailed video that explains how to check damage in treads:
5. Pressure In The Tyres
Excessive inflation of the tyre reduces the space of contact between the road and the tyre. This means not enough heat is generated to keep the tyre on optimum temperature. This causes the tyre to rip off. The tears can be deep enough to pull out a bit of rubber with fingernails.
On the other hand, not inflating the tyre adequately leads to hot tears. In case of inadequate inflation increases the contact patch to the ground - this means the tyres can overheat. With the heating of the whole tyre, the surface gets very hot and melts off.
You can easily identify these tears if it's possible to remove a large portion of the rubber with your fingernails. If you see this is the case on your tyres, please change them pronto.
General Rule Of Thumb
For those of you who are new to motorcycles, here are a few rules to follow:
- Take your motorcycle to a mechanic every fortnight to have them examined.
- After 5 years of use, tyres should be tested every year by a professional mechanic.
- If you need to change the tyres on your motorcycle, follow the manufacturer's recommendations about replacing original components.
- As a precaution, all tyres that have not been replaced after ten years should be changed, even if they appear to be in a generally good condition and have not reached their tread wear limit.
Do let us know if there are any specific questions that you may have. Happy Biking and Stay Safe!