Unlike car tires that last for miles and miles on end, motorcycle tires have a shorter lifespan. Motorcycle tires are made out of a softer rubber than car tires are made with. This is done on purpose to create a bigger contact patch on the road. Softer rubber is also a lot stickier which improves grip. While riding on softer rubber is great for grip, the down side is that these tires wear out a lot quicker. Speaking of wearing out - what are the signs that it's time to change your tires made of this soft rubber I keep talking about? Let's dive into it and look into those 3 signs that it's time to change your motorcycle tires.
1. TIRE TREAD IS LOW
One of the most common ways to tell if a tire needs changing is checking that tread! Tread is the rubber on a tire that contacts the road. As I'm sure you can imagine, as you add more miles to your bike, you also are wearing down that tread. While many may not know it - tire tread is so important that there's actual state and federal laws on what the minimum of tire tread should be. In some places, you must be riding on a tread depth no less than 1/32", in states like where I live you can't ride on tires with less than 2/32"...got to love fractions! There are ways to check tread without getting too mathematical though. One of the cheapest ways is to do the coin test. All you do is place a coin in the tire's groove with the President's head pointing inward. If you can see just the top of the President's head, you can tell what the tread depth is. Here is what you can expect by using one of the following coins:
- U.S. Penny: Seeing all of President Lincoln’s head shows that there’s a 2/32" of tread depth.
- U.S. Quarter: Seeing all of President Washington’s head means there’s 4/32" of tread depth which beats the minimum in most places.
2. THE TIRE SHOWS SIGNS OF AGING
Not only does low tread indicate that it's time to change your tires, so does the tire's age. Contrary to popular belief, while motorcycle tires don't last as long as car tires do, it may surprise you how long some of them actually last based on the manufacturers recommendations! Most folks state that tires have a lifespan of 5 years after the date they were made...but according to many of the people who make our tires... it's actually 7 years after the date. That being said though, we still do need to look out for common signs of aging. When inspecting your bikes tires, look for things like cracks and dry rot. These are common features on a tire that is too old to ride on.
3. THE TIRE IS DAMAGED
A tire can get damaged by more things than just a nail in the road. Things like chemicals or oils can easily damage a tire. Riding on too low of tire pressure could also cause damages to the tire. Also if a tire gets punctured along the side wall - like the damages I listed above, the tire is beyond repair. If you run into any of those instances, you should be quick to replace those tires.
Tires are one of the most important parts on our motorcycles. They literally are the things that stand between us and the ground. If at any point you start to doubt that your tires are suitable for the road, I highly recommend consulting with a professional at your nearest shop.