Nitrogen-Filled Motorcycle Tires?

AtmosphereTHE CONTROVERSY OVER NITROGEN-FILLED MOTORCYCLE TIRES: Does nitrogen help the performance of our motorcycle tires? Or is at unnecessary expense?

Filling motorcycle tires with nitrogen (instead of air) has been a controversial subject for a number of years now with members of various motorcycle forums touting either its benefits, or conversely, the view that its apparent value is not worth paying anything at all, compared to readily available free air (which contains 78% nitrogen).

In an old issue of Rider Magazine, Chris Sidah (“Tech Q&A,” February 2009) has this to say in reference to the promoted advantages of nitrogen:

“A 100 percent nitrogen-filled tire will do all the things they claim compared to a flat tire. I suggest you regularly use the 78 percent nitrogen mixture that’s available for free to keep your bike’s tires properly inflated. I don’t think we need to get into the size differences of N2 and O2 molecules, or the concepts of Boyles Law here. Suffice it to say, in some instances nitrogen – which is an inert gas – is a better way to fill a tire. Those instances occur on the racetrack, in airline tires and some military applications. For normal day-to-day circumstances, it’s just not worth the hassle. “

What are your thoughts and experiences regarding the use of nitrogen in motorcycle tires? (“Leave a Reply” below.)

57 thoughts on “Nitrogen-Filled Motorcycle Tires?

  • As a former commercial pilot, I do understand the benefits of Nitrogen in tires, so my bike has it. Here is a important formula for all bike riders so you can figure out your hydroplaning speed. I’ll use a Harley touring bike as a example. Tire pressure of 36PSI, and the square root of 36 is 6 times 9 is 54. 54 MPH is not the speed you want to be going on a wet road with standing water. I don’t care how heavy a bike is, or a car, truck, or a MD-80. At a given speed calculated by the above formula the tires will not disperses the water under it, and loss of control will begin.

    IE: 36PSI squared = 6 X 9 = 54. Say good bye to controllability at 54MPH.

  • Been using Nitrogen with all of our cars for years. I love the response I get handeling wise
    However to maintain the same feel as air you must add 2-3 lbs extra especially in 50 degree or below. It has helped with flats in fact that’s where it all started. I am somewhat reluctant to use it on my bike it has a special tire set and I am sure it was never calculated with nitrogen. I would try as long as I could recoup some of the price if it sucks. Nitrofill the brand does offer road hazard protection. Top quality optics are filled with nitrogen whi h helps condensation which surly is a problem in South Florida. I am willing to try,however it will take some experimentation and I wish the bike manufactures would put this contraversy to the test.

  • The reason for fitting pure nitrogen is to eliminate the water content in ordinary air. This can cause problems in extreme conditions, ie 30,000 feet up in the air where it will freeze and might cause problems to a tyre when it comes in for landing. Possibly on the racetrack as water when it heats up expands considerably more than pure nitrogen so the pressures can’t be calculated for high speeds on a racetrack. Extremely important I would have thought

    I’d just say check your tyre pressures at least weekly and run a puncture preventative that will help keep tyres running a little cooler, it balances the tyres and might very well save your laundry bill if you do hit a sharp nail

  • thankfully, air contains moisture. This is why I try to breath at least twice a day. No ne wants dry lungs.

  • I have tried filling my tires with water. It gives a somewhat harsher ride but I was told by a Hollywood star that it fights Global Warming . That is proof enough for me.

  • I have used Nitrogen for years. It is wonderful. I have actually ridden over 10 Penny nails and bent them. What a wonderful product. Rumor has it that Santa feeds the Reindeers Nitrogen before his annual trek and he has never had a flat Reindeer. I also love car tires on motorcycles, zombies, vampires and women with incredibly inflated breasts because they inflated them with Nitrogen, which is so much safer than Silicone.

  • Used it for 2 yrs. with no discernable differences. Ithink baggers should have it for stable tire temps.,,after riding next to a rider ,approx 260 lbs. ,with a at least a 250lb. passenger.!!! The rear tire was almost flat. Go to sturgis and ck out some of the bad decions riders make.

  • The zeps used hydrogen, which had this funny way of exploding in a fireball. Helium would be fun. . .it would make the tires lighter and if you sucked the hose you could sing the Chipmunk Christmas song.

  • Seems like a low cost-benefit ratio. Lots of money for “what?” Tires that lose pressure a little more slowly? A mini pump and a few minutes seems a lot more sensible.

  • I use normal air for my bike, I am not sure if they do pump it with Nitrogen when it goes for service, I will have to ask the next time I book it in.

  • Now here is a topic – Nitrogen!. To make a point Water is H2O and will ultimately condences in tyres and knock the balance off. This is why Nitrogen is used – especially in racing. Nitrogen does not have the building blocks of water – inert, but expensive. Point made – so the question must be: Is it worth the expence to put it into a street bike where performance is frowned upon by the traffic authorities? Well! If you earn that kind of money, “knock yourself out”, as they say. For everyone else, save your money towards the next tire, which on a bike comes around soon enough, negating the water in the tyres rule anyway – speaking of which – Water does have a use in tyres. Water is used to infalate tyres of heavy duty motor equipment (like earth movers) so punctures are slowed. Water is also used in military vehicles as a damper against landmines (Pressure of the tyre forces water down on to the landmine, lessening the intensity of the explosion) which saved my life in 1974.

  • TO DOUG
    Beware of the advice you were given. Why? Because nitrogen will still be affected by lower(or higher) temperature.However,not quite as much. Therefore, nitrogen is not a reason/excuse to ignore your tires.
    Regular checking with an accurate tire pressure gauge is your only protection.
    For those who want more information, see TIRERACK.com. [nitrogen]

  • I asked the guy at costco,(the tire shop) why do they put nitrogen in there tires, & he said pressure won’t very, like just air. & costco has used it for years in all there car tires.

  • The only thing N2 is better than air is it does not contain water. But if you fill your tires from a big compressed air tank, it is also very dry because almost all the water is condensed at the bottom of the tank

  • Doesn’t seem anyone knows the reason for using GN2. (Gas nitrogen) its because it doesn’t have water in it… so there

  • I tried nitrogen in my motorcycle tires. I noticed a difference when I drove across a area that I usually travailed was smoother. This was a big noticeable difference to me. Everyone has their own opinion, but for me I will use Nitrogen. They have list of benefits and it can be found in more places. I bought my own tank for home use.

  • And give Nitrous Oxide (N2O) a go too. it’s a laugh!! Helium is no good though, just got a high pitched whine and some squeaky noises.

  • My gas mileage always suffered when my tires werent properly inflatedor correctly aligned. Make sure to keep an eye on those tires.

  • I fill my tyres with CO2 – makes them heavier and gives a more planted feel.. The bigger molecules don’t leak out so easily and means I only have to check the pressures annually

    🙂

    Nick

    ( and if you believe that …. LoL )

  • Sorry Speedracer but its N2 not No2 you put in your tires… if you really worked there and had a clue you’d know that. No2 is nitrous oxide! Anyways… I have been using it in my tires (car and bike) for 27yrs and all I know is that through out the seasons I don’t have any loss of pressure. I also work where there’s plenty of nitrogen gas. Use it that’s what I say!

  • still not clear about the fact that normal air filled as per recommendation is 33psi,how much nitrogen should be put in leu of the same.

    filled 32psi of nitrogen tyres seemed to have higher pressure and gave a very hard feeling with reduced jump,though shockers are fine just replaced.

    please add some comments about this observation and that if nitrogen is a better option to normal air than what is the exact nitrogen pressure to replace 33psi of normal air.

    regards,
    ‘vipin arora

  • From a motorcycle dragracers perspective……….. constant tire presure is an absolute must. Burnouts crest heat which increase tire presure. Any circumstance that requires consistant pressure requires the use of nitrogen. In my street bikes I run it as well. Ialready have the equipment so why not. Sometimes we try to pole vault over ant dropings. Its safer…. tires last longer. In the heat of the summer im not as concerned about blow outs at speed. Simple taskand safer. Im one that likes to leave my skin cells inside my boxer shorts not on the pavement. But hey, to each his own.

  • Hello people, The Ford shop i work at, has the No2, an when people want to go from “air” to No2, What we use, takes 100% of O2 out, an refills the tire with 100% no2. Do i think it is worth it? No its a pain in the ass, because people come in all day for there tire light is on. An we fill it for free, so i dont get paid for this service GRR, im going to put it in my Fz6 only because it is free for me. an im there every day.

  • I use pure nitrogen in my bike,car, and moped free. I work at a tire shop. There isn’t a huge difference in air and nitrogen. To the perfectionist it is worth it.

  • Junior, you are close but still wrong. Tires increase their size when filled with a pressurized gas. The volume of an inflated tire is larger than that of a tire whose lumen is at ambient pressure. Therefore when filling with nitrogen you would expect a slightly higher percentage of Nitrogen in the mix than you calculated. If the presence of small amounts of contaminating gasses like oxygen and carbon dioxide were a concern we should have vacuum pumps in all our garages. That way we can evacuate the tires before filling them with nitrogen.

    Since the temperature of a gas increases when raising it’s pressure do you chill your tires when filling them (like a SCUBA shop will do with a SCUBA tank)? If not your tires are full of hot air ( or hot nitrogen… and not full when the temperature decreases) just like this thread is.

    IMHO, Terry

    > Junior says:
    Assuming a prevailing atmospheric pressure of 14 psi, the total pressure when the tire is filled with N2 will be 56 psi, since “tire pressure” is the differential between atmospheric pressure and the actual pressure inside the tire.

    Using Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures gives you a N2 percentage of 94.5 in the inflated tire.

    > Andrew deLivron says:
    Here is a question?
    Your tire is filled with air at 0 PSI
    There is 78% Nitrogen in the tire.
    You add 42 Lbs of Nitrogen to the tire.

    What is the percentage of Nitrogen in the tire.
    One must assume that 0 PSi has a volume and weight.

    Show your mathematical formula to prove your statement.

    Yes this requires a physics and math knowledge.

  • Nitrogen and air are both gases and both do the same job – induce pressure. That said, do you really need the added cost.

  • Bikers in general should be much more aware of their tire pressure than car drivers, and check it far, far more regularly. Given that you almost always lose a little air when checking them, how are you going to make up for it without nitrogen around? If the nitrogen really does run cooler, I can however see an advantage (although it may be tiny): when riding with off-road tires on tar, when riding with tubes. However, will nitrogen make a difference for, say, fleets of trucks?

  • Great responses so far. In summation, nitrogen for most people, in most driving situations is not worth the time, cost or hassle associated with it. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary- there are some situations where it may be worthwhile for some, such as autos stored with inflated tires, drivers who go from the desert floor to snowy mountains, etc. For most of us, in the real world, the marginal benefits are just not worth the hassle. Anybody use “Slime” in their tires?

  • Nitrogen has it’s place, but not in my bike tires. One of the reasons is that it is temperature stable (relatively).
    I’ll explain. A motorcycle manufacturer, or tire manufacturer willing to invest the time and $$ ( Continental does ), takes many things into account when determining the cold tire pressure for a given bike. One of those things is heat build up and the resulting pressure rise when a tire is in use. With niotrogen you get a good bit less pressure change over a given temperature rise or fall. Does this place my warm tire pressure outside what the manufacturer has determined is acceptable? I do not know, but I do know that running regualar old compressed air works just fine and adds no extra costs.

  • Ive driven from sea level 36 C to 1500ft above sea level 44C ,and that rear AVON Venom X heated up to 70 psi from 35psi , 3hrs into trip. The heavy motorcycles go through a cycle of ups and downs from how you ride, and basically tire heat, road heat.

  • if nitrogen versus ordinary air is going to make a life or death difference, something else is going to kill you first.

  • A waste of air. You still need to check the pressure at least every other week, and more often if you are on an extended journey. Each time you do a slight amount is released from the tire. I doubt there is a lifetime guarantee of free N refills, and I doubt whether the convenience store in Austin Nevada has one when you are going through there on your transcon US 50 trip.

  • Guys Im not gonna get into all the physics and chemistry of nitrogen filled tyres, but by experience of riding long distances in deserts all i know is the tyre pressure at the end of 750kms run on a 45 deg C ambient temperature iv never had to check the tyre pressure if it was nitrogen in it but if it was normal air the back starts to hurt as the tyre pressure goes up to some amounts but again the difference is not that great but at the end of 800kms of hot weather run when your bike handling is all important then this does make a lot of difference.,… Just my view on it that is all…. Cheers

  • I fill my tires with helium, makes the bike lighter so it goes faster. Also I take a few hits of the stuff and get light headed and talk like donald duck. Actually I think just keeping your tires at the proper pressure (with air) while using the proper tire for the riding you are doing, and keeping tires that are in good shape on your bike are about as serious as you need to get.

  • Hey this was potentially one of the most intelligent posts I’ve had the chance to go over on the subject so far. I don’t know where you learn all of your data but keep it coming!

  • Andrew–

    Assuming a prevailing atmospheric pressure of 14 psi, the total pressure when the tire is filled with N2 will be 56 psi, since “tire pressure” is the differential between atmospheric pressure and the actual pressure inside the tire.

    Using Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures gives you a N2 percentage of 94.5 in the inflated tire.

  • Here is a question?
    Your tire is filled with air at 0 PSI
    There is 78% Nitrogen in the tire.
    You add 42 Lbs of Nitrogen to the tire.

    What is the percentage of Nitrogen in the tire.
    One must assume that 0 PSi has a volume and weight.

    Show your mathematical formula to prove your statement.

    Yes this requires a physics and math knowledge.

  • I just fill mine with compressed air to 22% higher than recommended pressure…bleed off the extra gases out o fthe tire and now have 100% nitrogen!! **Just use the proper amount of air!! **

  • I see no value in using 100%. Only in an extreme racing situation, and by that I do not include track days…

  • It is of no benifit to the motoring public.The number one concern should be—what is the tire pressure?
    The pressure is so important that in Nascar teams sometimes adjust in .5 psi increments to achieve better handling.
    We should be concerned with with regular checking and maintaining pressure to the recommended +/- 2 psi (depending upon our gauge).

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