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Buying new motorcycle tyres


Do you really want to take a chance on your tyres not being 100 per cent? Find out how to keep them in perfect nick here.

Scooter tyre

Nothing is more important when it comes to riding a bike than making sure the tyres are in good condition. If they are worn – or simply not suitable for your machine – then you are playing Russian Roulette with your life and those of other road users.

The fact is that they are the only parts of your bike that are in constant contact with the road — so they have a great bearing on how it responds to acceleration, braking, steering and general handling. Do you really want to take a chance on them not being 100 per cent?

The basics

The original tyres fitted when your bike came off the factory production line will have been chosen following consultation between both the manufacturers of the bike and the tyres – and they will have obviously been in the best position to make such a call.

With that in mind you should never change tyre size or type without asking the advice of the bike or tyre manufacturer as these alterations may have a dramatic effect on the way that it handles in various conditions. It could end up being a fatal move.

If you are in any doubt – or have bought a bike second-hand and want to double check that the right tyres have been fitted – then consult the owner’s manual. You certainly don’t want to be paying the price for somebody else’s mistakes.

Buying tyres

It is best to fit tyres in matched pairs. Indeed, it is illegal to mix brands on the same bike in certain European countries. Therefore, check that both tyres fitted to the bike are made by the same manufacturer and have the same tread pattern.

Once you know exactly the type – and make – of tyre you need it’s time to shop around for the best deals. Various tyre outlets are likely to charge different prices so it pays to do your homework well in advance of needing to buy them.

Keep them inflated

Tyres need to be properly inflated. Prolonged under-inflation can cause excessive flexing and rapid wear of the tread shoulders/edges.

It is also likely that your bike will be using up a lot more fuel due to this extra drag. Conversely, over-inflated tyres not only mean an uncomfortable ride but also a reduced area of contact with the road.

Therefore, insure your tyres are inflated in accordance with the owner’s manual. The exact pressures required will also be dependent on load – such as carrying a pillion passenger – so double-check what is required.

Check your tyre pressures from cold at least once a week using an accurate gauge. If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition then it’s advisable to take your bike to an approved fitting centre and speak to one of the experts.

Maintain your tyres

Motorcycle tyres usually have tread-wear indicators in the grooves. Once these indicators are level with the tread surface it’s time for them to be replaced but it’s best to change before this time rather than leaving it to the last minute.

As an aside, the legal limit of tyre depth in the UK for motorcycles over 50cc is 1mm across ¾ of the wide of the tread pattern and with visible tread on the remaining ¼. For those bikes up to 50cc all the grooves of the original tread must be visible.

As well as the pressures, you should regularly inspect tyres for cuts, bulges, uneven wear or objects embedded into the tread pattern. Also ensure your rims are not cracked or distorted, and use dust caps to keep dirt away from the valve core.


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