Beware! If you are here to celebrate the religion of motorcycle tires and their infinite nuances, which are most appreciated by the high priests of motorcycle high-performance, you are in the wrong place.
And if you are seeking insights into the dark side of the motorcycle tire religion, those whom swear to the efficacy of using car tires on their bikes; alas, you too, will be gravely disappointed.
This is an earthly article, mundane in all aspects, and targeted to the heathen, unwashed masses for whom the travails and ecstasy of worshiping specific motorcycle tire characteristics have yet to seize their soul.
In fact, this is for those who barely care about motorcycle tires.
More to the point, this is for those whom, however well-intended or not, have found themselves riding a motorcycle with no more attention on those rubbery round things under their bike, than they may care about the tires on their car.
Modern car tires have evolved to a point whereby they can almost be ignored. For sure, it’s a bad idea to ignore them. But nevertheless, lots of car drivers do manage to pay little attention to their automobile tires with no more ill effects than lowered gas mileage, increased tire wear and decreased performance. More importantly, most of those who generally ignore their car tires don’t crash or die as a result of their under-appreciation of under-inflation and the like.
So, for those who could care less, let’s address the obvious: motorcycles and cars are very different. But regardless of how clear the distinction between two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles may be, the difference between motorcycle tires and car tires is just as great, regardless of their surface similarity.
To highlight the obvious, there does exist a similarity: Most car tires and motorcycle tires are round, black and made with some kind of rubbery compound. But that similarity is holy treachery if you let it inform your perspective on bike tires.
When was the last time you paused for a second to contemplate that every time you mount your bike you are entrusting your life to those two small contact patches where the rubber meets the road? Should anything go wrong with one of them, you don’t have three others to save your hide.
Riding is all so fun, as long as those two contact patches are happily doing their job.
But if one of them gets a little grumpy, you too may start to embrace the religion of motorcycle tires, which will most likely result in a full baptism when you see your life unfold before you as part of your first motorcycle accident (presuming you survive).
OK, if the fear of God has not been struck upon your soul, as yet, let’s just get to a few pointers, and call it a day.
Regardless if you have avoided paying attention to your car tires in the past, such a devil-may-care attitude needs to be jettisoned re your bike. Here are three of the most fundamental points to respect about your motorcycle tires.
A) TIRE PRESSURE: Lord have mercy, if you take anything away from this silly sermon, you really do need to maintain the bike manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure for your motorcycle load. You’ll need to dig out that owner’s manual, or check online for your motorcycle manufacturer’s recommended inflation levels for your front and rear tire. Even if you don’t ride your bike regularly, you can lose a little bit of air every week. Hence, check air weekly to ensure optimum front and rear tire pressure. Heck, in some religions, there might be some motorcycle God who will give you a pat on the back if you check tire pressure before each and every ride.
B) TIRE TREAD: Yes, it can be a nuisance, but you have to tear yourself away from the good-time saddle to LOOK at and inspect your tire tread. Car tires seem to last forever. Motorcycle tires don’t. If you ride a lot, you change tires a lot. Oh well. Replace those tires before they get down to the last 10% of their tread because that’s where most motorcycle tire failures occur. (Again, to emphasize the obvious, motorcycle tire failure means bad things for riders, but generally nothing more than inconvenience for automobile drivers). There’s a lot that can be learned about different tires, but if you really want to keep it simple, just get the same tires your motorcycle manufacturer recommends.
And don’t forget that when you replace your tires, you need to be especially careful while riding for the first hundred miles, or so, since new tires tend to be smooth and slick.
C) TIRE CLEANING: OK, maybe you’ve been lax about checking your tires. But at least you clean your bike and clean your tires. And that’s a good thing, ain’t it? Sure, cleaning your bike is good. And cleaning your tires with soap and water is fine. But if you’re the kind who really gets jazzed about dressing up your motorcycle tires, you may be meeting your maker sooner than you intended. If you are keen on making your sidewalls look shiny and new, you do so at the risk of getting the tire dressing product on your tread, which can make your tires very slippery. After your accident, and presuming you survived, your insurance adjuster may be kind enough to advise you that the your tires look pretty and shiny on your smashed up bike and you may have inadvertently caused your own wreck in pursuit of that beautiful black.
Reciting the above 3-point hymnal to the true and faithful of the motorcycle tire religion will not win you any respect for there is so much more to know about motorcycle tires. But at least you won’t be thrown out of the church for blasphemy.
Wishing you safe riding.