There’s only one thing between you and the road. Your tires!
Riding season is right around the corner (at least we hope)! If you’re like us, and live where it’s cold during the winter, your bike has probably been in storage for a few months. It’s very important to check your tires before you take it out for it’s first spin of the year.
There’s a few things you will want to inspect:
- Overall Look of Tire
Motorcycle tires have a small area of contact with the ground, making it much more important than a car that your tires are in good condition. The tire treads on motorcycles are designed specifically to shed water and maintain traction. Most tires are directional, meaning they must rotate a certain direction for the tread design to function properly. Adequate tire tread depth is important as it will allow water to be moved away from the contact spot. This helps with grip under wet conditions.
To check your tread “garage style” (without a tread depth tool), grab a penny and stick it with Abe’s head into the tire tread. Make sure you are checking the center of the tire where it has contact with the ground the majority of the time. It may appear that the sides of tire have a ton of depth left while the center is less, unless you plan on just riding in a circle it doesn’t mean much. If the top of Abe’s hair is showing, it’s time to invest in a new tire. The tire shown has plenty of tread left to be safe!
How’s the Weather
It’s also important when you check your tread to take a good look over the whole tire to see if it appears weathered. Is there cracking on the sidewall or in the tread of the tire? Is the tire worn unevenly? These are all things that can cause problems when you are out on the road and who wants to waste vacation time fixing preventable issues!
The Pressure is On
Checking your tire pressure is something that definitely needs done after your bike has been in winter storage. Check tire pressure periodically throughout riding season as well. If you usually ride solo and today is a two-up situation or you packed the bags heavy for a long trip, make sure to check pressure before you leave. You want to check pressure when your bike is cool, not after you’ve been riding it all day. Tire pressure can dramatically change the handling of your bike.
To check your tire pressure, simply grab an air gauge. Locate your valve stem and remove the cap. You want to make sure the PSI is within the specified range set by the motorcycle manufacturer, typically around 32-36 PSI front and 36-40 PSI rear. Either inflate or deflate depending on the reading.
Tires will overheat and wear quickly when not properly inflated. This can lead to a blowout, which can easily cause an accident. The picture shows one of our buddy’s tires that he rode about 400 miles when they were under-inflated. They were inflated to about 20 PSI, just enough he didn’t notice visually, but low enough the tire overheated. We would say he was damn lucky he didn’t have a blow out.
Routine tire inspection is a simple task that is vital to keeping the rubber down and shiny side up. We have all heard someone say, I will ride it a little longer, tires are too expensive, or it doesn’t look that bad…. DON’T be that person, tires are always cheaper than insurance deductibles. Ride Safe.