Every motorcycle rider knows that tires are one of the most critical parts of a bike. Without sound, smooth-rolling rubber on your wheels, you can’t go anywhere. And if you don’t keep up with regular tire maintenance and replace them when they’re worn out or damaged, then there’s no telling what could happen to you in the future. As a motorcycle rider, it’s important to know when to change motorcycle tires.
What’s more, is that it isn’t always easy to tell when your tires need replacing – especially if you’re riding a cruiser or touring bike instead of a sportbike. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to show riders when to change motorcycle tires for maximum safety and performance.
What to Know Before Changing Motorcycle Tires
Let’s start by remembering what the General Vehicle Regulations provide for the minimum tread thickness. Measurements that differ between cars and motorcycles. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, with a recommended minimum of 3mm for summer tires and all-season tires. For motorcycles, it ranges from a maximum of 1mm to a minimum of 0.5mm for mopeds. Below these thresholds, administrative penalties can be very high.
Tire inspection checklist
It is risky to drive on worn-out tires since they can ruin your motorcycle’s performance and put your family at risk.
Every week, make sure to check:
- Check the condition of the tires
- Check tire traction depth
- Check for impact-related damage
- Unusual wear and tear
- At least twice per month, check your tire pressure.
Don’t hesitate to consult an expert when in doubt.
Reasons to Change Tires
If you are wondering when to change your tires, the answer is not always clear. It can depend on a number of factors, like unsuitable tires. We looked into this question and found some helpful information to help make it easier for you! Let’s have a look:
1. Exceeding the legal wear limit
According to General Vehicle Regulations, the grooves in tires must be 1.6 mm deep. To measure the depth, you need a depth gauge. You can buy it in spare parts stores and workshops. You can also use a digital depth gauge (if you are more professional).
Tires typically have indicators that indicate that they have reached a specific limit, allowing for visual inspection. Look for the initials TWI (Tread Wear Indicator, which means tread wear indicator) on the side of the tire, and look at that height. You will see some projections inside the tread grooves. For safety reasons, do not even attempt to reach the wear witness. It is very clear that 1.6 millimeters are not enough in a heavy downpour or a pool of water.
A second reason not to rush is that rubber on the last layers doesn’t offer the exact grip in the rain as the first layers. This is because the number of times a component has been heated and cooled greatly affects its effectiveness. Different rubber compounds have different grip properties, and a tire’s age and the amount of rubber in it both affect performance. When we wear a tire too much, its performance becomes less and less, and eventually, the tire will no longer grip, even though there will still be some gum left. Currently, modern construction technologies allow us to lower these issues by improving safety, but there is still the fact that a tire with a lot of kilometers and use could still crack.
2. Non-repairable puncture
Despite significant advances in tire shell resistance, punctures remain an issue. When a puncture occurs in the tread and is of moderate size, it may be possible to repair it. However, if the damage is to a sidewall or the internal tarpaulins have been ripped, the tire must be replaced.
Flat tires are dangerous, but they can also cause cuts inside the tire. In these conditions, if you have had to drive a few meters, it is best to inform your mechanic that you will try to repair the tire since it is worth removing the tire to check its condition.
3. If the tires are old
How long does a tire last? The average age of tires is challenging to estimate since they depend on various factors: tire compounds, conservation, maintenance, the environment, and use. No matter if they are not used, they will deteriorate over time. Here are some examples of how a tire will lose its effectiveness:
- A tire should be inspected annually from its fifth year of life, and its age should be no greater than 10 years.
- It can be dangerous to leave the motorcycle parked in the same position for long periods. The bike should be supported with studs or harnesses in hibernation, or on a central stand if it is being used. It is also important that you keep the motorcycle vertically when you don’t have it, or at least rotate it to prevent it from sitting in the same spot for days, weeks, or even months at a time.
- Direct sunlight can cause them to burn. Protect your tires with something that will not let light through, such as storing them in a dark area. Rubber dries out and degrades under the full sun.
- Temperature and humidity are changing rapidly. If you plan to use the tires again, you shouldn’t leave them exposed to the elements since temperature changes will cause the rubber to dry out before it has time.
4. The tire is damaged
It is possible for tires to be seriously damaged by pavements, holes, or blunt objects. Professional mechanics should examine all tears, cuts, and deformations. The repair of a tire can only be determined by a professional. It is generally not recommended to drive with flat or damaged tires.
When does a tire become irreparable?
- Puncture in the flank
- A visible or deformed heels
- Deformed or peeling tread rubber
- Under your tread or sidewall lies a false belt or carcass
- Oil damage or damage from corrosive substances
- Insufficient tire pressure and the tire inner faces appear yellow.
5. The tire has an unusual wear pattern
It is often a sign of a mechanical or balance problem when the treads wear unusually in particular areas, in the center, or on the shoulders. Incorrect tire pressure can also cause this. Regularly checking your wheel balance will prevent unusual wear. This way, your tires will last longer, and your drive will be as enjoyable as possible. Also, as mentioned above, tire wear is likely to be excessive for a motorcycle in the same condition as other motorcycles.
A specialist should be contacted in this case.
6. Unsuitable tires for the vehicle
Make sure that you choose your tires according to legal requirements and in accordance with your vehicle’s equipment type. It is important to use identical tread patterns on your front and rear wheels for optimal performance. The balance and stability of the vehicle can be affected by tires with different patterns, treads, and wear patterns. Unless specifically requested by the manufacturer, never mount radials and non-radials tires on the same vehicle.
The Best Way to Change a Motorcycle Tire
When it is time to change any of the motorcycle tires, it is best to do it at the same time, that is replace both the front and rear wheels at the same time.
However, if the front tire is still fine and only the rear tire needs to be changed. In order to maintain safety on the road, a new one with the same size and model must be installed. When placing more than one type of tire on the same motorcycle, consider the softest rubber at the front. It is not recommended to mix different types of tires on the same motorcycle.
Motorcycles can become unstable in the event of a skid or any other emergency situation if the wheels are not changed at the same time. The tires wear differently, which can cause the motorcycle to behave differently.
Please remember that if you replace only one tire, the other will likely not perform as effectively as one that is new. Following the manufacturer’s instructions when changing the complete pair of wheels is always the best way to avoid taking unnecessary risks while handling the motorcycle.
3 Pro tips to know when tires must be changed:
- In case of puncture. Usually, the tire shop decides whether a simple repair or a replacement is necessary in the most common case;
- Wear beyond the legal limit. The workshop will be very helpful here, advising you on the tires that are best suited to your needs;
- By aging. It is hard to estimate a specific date, but a lasting period of three to five years on average is consistent with the model and manufacturer.
It is always important to keep in mind that safety depends on your tires.
Changing motorcycle tires is a task that many people are not comfortable with. We hope this article based on when to change motorcycle tires has given you the necessary knowledge to change your motorcycle tire if needed. Riders of all skill levels need to understand when to replace their tires and how often they should be replaced to avoid being stranded on the side of the road!