Three Signs it’s Time to Change the Tires on Your Motorcycle
Thinking it might be time to change the tires on your bike? Well, if you think it should be done, that’s probably the first sign it’s time to replace your motorcycle tires.
First and foremost, checking your motorcycle tires on a regular basis is the best practice for avoiding real (and quite possibly life-threatening) issues with your tires. Look, you only have two of them, so if one goes out, well, you’re in trouble. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. We want you to have fun, but you know you gotta do your own inspections from time to time to ride safely.
There are many parts to having a sweet ride and one of the most important parts? Solid, well-maintained, reliable motorcycle tires.
The performance and longevity of your tires are dependent on your riding style, of course, but also the tire technology; tire sizes, motorcycle type, and functionality all factor into how well they’ll hold up over time.
There are some red flags you should watch out for when you’re looking at the tires on your bike before hitting the road. Thankfully, we gotchu!
Here are a few signs and helpful information directly from your handy dandy helpers at TMS Parts.
3 Signs You Need to Replace Your Motorcycle Tires
First Sign: Age
There are plenty of ways you can keep your tires in good condition over the years. Regular maintenance and checks, maintaining the correct tire pressure, staying mindful of your braking habits are all fundamental and safe habits. But you just can’t argue with age. The older your motorcycle tires get, the less reliable they are to ride on. Thankfully, there’s a rule for you to keep in mind regarding when you should invest in a new pair of tires for your ride.
It’s the 5-year rule!
Many people may think that if their tires look like they’re in top condition, they don’t need to be replaced. But if your tires are older than five years, they need to be replaced. Any mechanic would say so.
Unsure of the age of your tires? No worries. There should be a four-digit code imprinted on the sidewall.
For instance, if you bought a used bike and didn’t know how old the tires were, to begin with, go ahead and take a look at the registered trademark. For example, say the numbers are 5216. This means that tire was manufactured the 52nd week of 2016. If it’s 2018, you’ve still got time. So long as there aren’t any other signs of wear, cracking, or defects, of course. If you’re reading this in 2021, it’s time to think about replacing those motorcycle tires!
Second Sign: Tread and Wear
The first thing to look for: tread. Do you have any?
Tread depth is incredibly important, so much so, that, according to federal and state regulations, your tires are actually required to have 1/32” to 2/32” of tread depth, according to an Acme Motorcycle article.
A majority of motorcycles have TWI bars. TWI stands for tread wear indicator and refers to small rubber bars which reside within the physical tire.
The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) has a fantastic guide specifically focused on tires. Here’s some of what they have to say about those little TWIs: “When the tread is worn down to the level of the wear bars (indicating 1/32 inches of tread remaining), the wear bars become exposed, and the tire should be replaced. Some manufacturers recommend replacing the tire when there are 2/32 or 3/32 inches of tread remaining.”
Another thing they, along with many others, recommend is to use “the penny trick” when or if you’re unsure or unable to tell what the depth of your tread is. Thanks to the MIC, here’s how to use this trick: “insert a penny into a groove in the center of your tire, 2/32 of an inch is right at the top of Lincoln’s head.” Got a penny? Check the couch cushions.
Third Sign: Defects, Punctures, and Uneven Wear
Keep an eye on the wear of the tire. If it’s got a weird shape…mmm… might be time for that change!
Many factors could play a role in why your tires wear out the way they do. Uneven wear, which is most commonly located directly in the center of the tire is also something to pay attention to. Usually, it starts to make the shape of the tire look kind of like a square. Acme jumps in again to say, “…that tire is not going to feel good when you lean to the bike into a turn, and the contact patch on the “corner” of that tire will be very small.” Square shape? No good.
Look out for scalping and cupping on the surface of the tire as well. In cases of scalping or cupping, this article explains what that looks like. Your tire, “…gets worn out along the length of the tread. This can be dangerous as it may lead to handling and stability issues. Scalping also depends a lot on a poor suspension set up. Next time you see your motorcycle tire getting scalped from the sides, invest in a new tire besides getting your suspension properly checked and serviced.”
Other times, bad shocks will over time cause a specific side or place in the tire to become wavy and worn out. Uneven tread can also appear like a bulge. Look at it this way; if your tires aren’t shaped like tires, it’s time for a change!
Dry Rot: Nothing about these two words sound right for your tires
Sidewall cracking, referred to as dry rot, is a defect that happens quite often. If you notice there are cracks located on the sidewalls of your tires, it’s time to replace them.
Wanna know how this happens?
Well, MIC says…science!
Well, okay, not really. Here’s what they actually have to say: “…every time you ride, the tires go through a ‘heat cycle’ as they go from ambient to operating temperature and back down again. Each successive heat cycle slowly hardens the tire. Similarly, as tires age, chemical reactions cause the rubber to harden, even during nonuse.”
MIC also encourages you to be careful about how you’re cleaning your tires. Age and temperature play a factor, but so do some chemicals commonly used in cleaning products. So, to help keep your tires in good shape, “…use a mild soap solution and rinse off with plain water. Do not use chemical cleaners or protectants, as they may degrade the rubber and cause cracks in the sidewalls.”
Come on, folks! If there’s a screw in your tire (or anything else that isn’t an actual part of your tire stuck in there) change it! Do not risk blowing out your tire and getting hurt.
If you see something, do something. Something like getting your bike to a mechanic or replacing your motorcycle tires yourself. (Who doesn’t love working on their bike?!)
Get yourself some new motorcycle tires!
To close, here are some tips from our MIC pals on how to maintain excellent tire conditions:
- Maintain proper air pressure
- Regularly inspect your tires
- Buy the right tires for your bike
- Have your tires professionally installed
- Avoid sharp objects and slick surfaces
So, wondering where you’ll find some spankin’ new motorcycle tires?
TMS Parts has some really awesome ones for you, go ahead and browse through your options. If you have any questions, lucky for you, we also have great customer service representatives who are more than happy to help answer any questions you may have.