Motorcycle Tires vs. Car Tires

Motorcycle Tires, Car TiresBeware! 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.

76 thoughts on “Motorcycle Tires vs. Car Tires

  • It’s valuable that you point out that motorcycle tires need to be changed regularly in order to keep your bike safe to ride. My motorcycle’s tires are very worn, so I’m considering having them changed this week. I’m going to search for a good business in the area that can put some new tires on my motorcycle.

  • I’ve been using the car tire on the back of my Yamaha V*1300 to her for about eight or nine years and I love it! Online used to be a chart that gave you all the different bike make model manufacture and year with the conversion to car tire size and tire manufacture. I can’t find it online anymore, must’ve been taken down. But car tires were great on the back of bikes that have Sidecars or even on the back of trikes because they don’t need to lean the same way as a regular bike. I don’t think I would put a car tire on the back of my regular 2 wheel bikes but works good on one with a sidecar! Current one’s been on there for 30k and and still looks great . The cost of the tires doesn’t bother me it’s just a pain in the butt of having to pay somebody to change them.

  • I’ve been using the car tire on the back of my Yamaha V*1300 to her for about eight or nine years and I love it! Online used to be a chart that gave you all the different bike make model manufacture and year with the conversion to car tire size and tire manufacture. I can’t find it online anymore, must’ve been taken down. But car tires were great on the back of bikes that have Sidecars or even on the back of trucks because they don’t need to lean the same way as a regular bike. I don’t think I would put a car tire on the back of my regular bikes but it works good on one with a sidecar! Current one’s been on there for 30k and and still looks great . The cost of the tires doesn’t bother me it’s just a pain in the butt of having to pay somebody to change them.

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  • I’ve never heard of anything more stupid in my life than putting a car tire on a motorcycle. Just make sure you put me in as a beneficiary to your last will and testament

  • Car tires on a motorcycle??? Will you please put me in your will? Why not use ATV tires on your car? Or on your motorcycle? Ron White is right… you CAN’T fix stoopid!

  • Question her. The tires give one psi (29) and the manual gives a slightly different psi (36). Which do I go with?

  • Good points about tires (even if it was barely in English), also I would like to add that tires can only take so much. I read a lot about motorcycle adventure trips and every article includes flat tires. Why we ask, it is because of riding all day in extreme conditions it doesn’t take as much for them to fail after they heat up and continue to do so when persisting in asking them to do so much. I have a fast sport bike and I would never take it to very fast speeds if I had just put a lot of miles on it in the hot sun especially. I once had a tire blow out on a generator while pulling it 70 mph down the highway in the hot summer sun and the little small 14 inch tire just could not hang in there. Moto tires can have similar issues so watch the triple digit speeds when your tires have been working hard all day or afternoon.

    Also get the proper type for your machine. Heavy road bikes need thick and durable tires that can handle the weight.

  • What exactly was the point of this article? I thought it was gonna be about the merits / debate of car vs mc tire. Instead it about air pressure, clean tires and ???

    I ride a Honda Pacific Coast PC 800 and the rear tires are hard to find. Especially since Metzler’s poor tire quality (the chunking issue) took away one of the two options for the rear tire.

    I went to a B F Goodrich TA on the rear and now have 24,000 miles on it and will probably get another 24,000 miles. It is the best handling rear tire I’ve ridden. Outside of a slight effort to get it on the edge in cornering it handles better than any other tire.

    Not going back to a mc tire. This is a great tire for my needs.

  • Video was definitely dead. Alas, a transcript was reconstructed from the digital remains and posted above.

  • I got a question about his video…. why doesn’t it work? Why don’t ANY of the videos on this site work?

  • I am unsubscribing from this sight since the videos don’t work and the author either is oblivious or unconcerned.

  • Sorry, This video also does not work for me. And then there is stuff like this (which i had to guess after reading the comments)

    I am assuming that the video is about putting car tires on motorcycle to save initial cost and increased life. I think car tires are cheap because of the mass production. Life is more because of harder compound rubber.

    Look at the case of motorcycles in india, we have like 5 motorcycles per car here, so tires are generally cheap (less than half the price of car tires) and those commuter bikes get about 25 to 50 thousand kilometers on them. What is the down side? well grip is low, but that does not matter on these low powered slow bikes. And they are the manufacturer recommended tires.

    If you want to put a car tire on your high powered, high lean bike; just to save some money, then god help you
    Warm regards

  • I’ve been on this mailing list for a while now and the videos NEVER work for me. I’ve tried different browsers to open them… nothing. What’s up with that?

  • Just don’t get in a crash with a car tire on your bike. Your screwed if it goes to court. Obviously you think motorcycle manufacturers hire idiots for engineers. Who will a judge and jury believe, even a jury of your peers, other riders? Certainly not some amatuer know-it-all trying to save a few cents.
    And don’t you think the manufacturer would specify a car tire if it was at all appropriate. Better check your owners manual for the recommended tire type and size. Seems ridiculous to me that a motorcycle owner, spending big bucks on a ride, would elect to save a few dollars at the expense of handling safety.

  • Good day, for the purpose of increased mileage and lean angle I find that using extremely tacky, high performance motorcyvle tires on my Dodge diesel Dually very satisfying. That heavy 10,000 pound vehicle has never had it so good. Please do not criticize my choice here as I know what I am doing, I have built more vehicles than most OEM manufactures ever hope to in a good day.
    Thank you and Diesel- on!
    Joey-Bobbed .

  • Love the Yokohama 195 60 13 on the 2013 Eglide classic! Also had a car tire on my 2011 Rk that I traded at 25K.

    Never any problems ,Better ride, good cornering and great in the wet!!

    What else can I say? Do what you want and believe what you want !

    I Do not care about your opinions on this matter as it is closed subject!

    Have a Nice day and ride hard

  • I cannot get the video to play either.However has several the other side mentioned motorcycle tires are expected to do a lot more in terms of geometry done car tires which essentially maintain a perpendicular surface to the road. Car tires do not have much in the way of camper thrust forces of the go round corners they don’t have to lean into corners there’s a little bit of side wall of like the primarily you got a flat road surface on the road as a river face in friction. Also there are four tires on the road not just to show the amount of surface area is quite a bit greater on automobile. Motorcycle tires must necessarily also be much lighter in weight for proper suspension action in any car which me off and still come with a steel wheel contrary to a bike and its need for far less unsprung weight. Finally motorcycle tires must necessarily trade some life and mileage for the that he’s in a motorcycle requires just To be able to go around corners with traction. He’s also on like a car tire which can be optimized for mileage because you have such a wide foot print on the ground times 4.

  • i have used studded snow tires and chains on my bike in the 70’s seemed ok even on wire wheels rims . so just go for it ..its all good …on the big bikes now a days you can not lean over much with out some thing scraping .. to tell you thats the limit ….i would try car tires on the front also ..seems like they might work also … really why put motorcycle tires on a motorcycle …has anyone tryed motorcycle tire on a car to handle better … just thinking

  • I cannot play this video where else can it be found?

    I have an 85 Gold Wing 1200cc. How do I determine the correct tire to replace my rear bike tire with a car tire?

  • A car tyre has a totally different shape to a motorcycle tyre, and the compounds are not generally the same. At the very least, under hard cornering, you will go over the shoulder of the car tyre resulting in a pronounced and sudden change of attitude. It is also likely that the car tyre may not perform as well in adverse conditions. In many countries, it is illegal to fit car tyre to bikes.

  • A car tire is not for everyone. If you research the right tire and make sure you are at the right pressure it is better than a bike tire on some bikes. You can find videos that show how much contact you maintain on cornering. I ride a V2K and the stock tire wore out in 6700 miles. After a lot of research I found the Toyo Proxes4 to meet compound components and sidewall function that was similar to a performance bike tire. Measuring tread contact on cornering the car tire had more contact than the bike tire. I went with a 215-55/16 which was close to the same size as the stock tire, but wider. You can search online to compare tire sizes to match the specs on sizes so you can get the best match and fit for your bike. The ride is better and at over 10000 miles still like new. I am an aggressive rider and have found the CT to be more stable and durable. But you should take into consideration the size, weight and power of your bike. Smaller lighter bikes may not be suited for the CT and I would make sure to do the research before using one. I agree they are not for everyone and could be dangerous used on the wrong application.

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