If you're new to the game, a lone wolf, don't know the right questions to ask, or you don't know where to look on your 600,000 page user manual, common knowledge isn't so common!
When you got your first bike, were you told that you need to put air in the tyres every couple of weeks?
Nope? Neither were we!
Simple things like this make a world of difference with how your bike handles as well as your safety. Your tyres are the only thing connecting you to the road and they're one of the most important and easy ways to maintain your motorcycle.
In saying that, please enjoy some free knowledge on how to look after your tyres!
THE IMPORTANCE OF AIR:
Ever have those days when your riding confidence is completely off game? It's not all in your head. The air pressure in your tyres is one of the most common reasons for this feeling. Riding with tyres too flat or too inflated changes the way your motorbike handles and it can be dangerous or cause serious damage.
Refer to the symptoms below to diagnose how your bike's been handling.
INCORRECT PRESSURE SYMPTOMS:
HOW MUCH AIR?
The recommended air pressure (measured in Pounds per Square Inch) is different for each bike and will be listed in your owner's manual. If you don't have your manual handy, check to see if there’s a sticker on the swingarm, chain guard or frame.
TIP: Lose a few PSI for extra grip on road trips loaded with twisties & add a few PSI if you're carrying a pillion or heavy luggage to compensate for the extra weight.
The maximum PSI is also written on the sidewall of both tyres (next to the maximum load weight). This digit is a calculation of the maximum weight and speed your tyres can bear, it is NOT suggesting the recommended PSI for your motorcycle.
Lighter bikes and lighter riders will generally have a lower PSI recommendation than what's written on the sidewall, however larger motorcycles, such as cruisers and touring bikes, may actually have the same recommended PSI as what's on the sidewall, so it’s always best to check your owners manual.
OH, PUMP IT UP
CHECK THE AIR IN YOUR TYRES EVERY 1-2 WEEKS AND BEFORE EVERY LONG RIDE.
It's vital to check your tyre air pressure regularly and to do so when the tyres are cold. There are many ways to do this but using the free air supplied at your local service station is generally the easiest way to go, alternatively investing in a digital air compressor like the one pictured above is handy to use at home at any time.
WHEN ARE YOUR TYRES COLD?
We're not talking about waiting for a rainy day, check your tyres before the rubber gets a chance to heat up from friction on the road. Warm air in the tyres can give you an inaccurate PSI reading.
The tyres are “cold” when your motorcycle has been ridden less than 2 kms at moderate speed or after being stopped for three or more hours.
TIP: You can use a small gauge or bicycle pump to see what the PSI is before you head to the nearest servo, then wait for them to cool as much as possible before filling them up.
HOW TO INFLATE YOUR TYRES:
1. Unscrew the cap on the air valve of your tyre (don't loose it, rookie mistake!).
2. Push the air compressor nozzle firmly onto the tyre valve.
4. Look at the pressure reading then inflate (or deflate) air in your tyres until it matches the correct PSI to your tyre.
5. Repeat step 4 on your second tyre, taking note that front & rear tyres may have different PSI recommendation.
6. Screw the air valve cap back on.
7. Ride on!
WEAR: Tread wear indicator. (TWI)
That pretty ‘groovy’ design on your tyre is called the tread. Its job is to create grip on the road and disperse any water to give you traction. As soon as this tread starts to wear low you'll notice the roads feel more slippery, you will have less control and your stop time will be increased.
Your tyres have tread wear indicators which look like little bumps inside the main grooves. When the rubber of the tyre wears down to the level of these indicators (1.5mm), the tyre has reached its legal wear limit and must be replaced.
We can't reiterate enough how important it is to have a healthy amount of tread on your tyres and the correct amount of air pressure. These two key elements will have a massive impact on your riding confidence and how your bike handles. Replace your tyres sooner rather than later, do it before the tread depth is 1-2mm.
AGE: THE WRITING'S ON THE WALL
The average lifespan of a motorcycle tyre is around five years. At ten years old they should be replaced regardless of the tread wear. A tyre is made of rubber and just like an elastic band the compound hardens and cracks over time.
The age of your tyre is written on the sidewall. Each tyre will have a four digit DOT number which indicates the week and year the tyre was made. See these two different examples below.
It’s vital to visually and physically inspect your tyres regularly. Before each ride, pay your bike some attention with a nice sensual check-over; feel your tyres up and stroke them gently with your hands, look and see if you have any punctures or cracks.
Factors such as chain/belt alignment, load weight, bike handling, tyre inflation, weather, storage and road conditions can affect the life span and condition of your tyres.
General maintenance & tips to avoid damage
IN A NUTSHELL: