Are Your Motorcycle Tires Worn Out? 👻

Are Your Motorcycle Tires Worn Out? 👻

How do you know if your tires need to be
replaced? Stick around we’re gonna go over some of the telltale signs that
your tires are worn out. Tires are one of the most critical components keeping us from landing on our head. There are many factors that contribute to a tire being worn out including the most obvious. This is an extreme example of a tire being
flat worn out. This is what we jokingly refer to as “throwing sparks.” The rubber
has worn away revealing the metal bands, or chords, that hold the tire together.
When the rubber starts making these weird patterns, that means the metal
chords are just about to wear through. It’s worth noting that a tire does not
wear at the same rate throughout its life. As the rubber becomes thinner, the
tire actually wears faster. Like car tires, motorcycle tires have wear bars. When the tire wears down to the point where these bars are level with the rest
of the tire, it’s time to replace it. Most modern motorcycle tires the front
tire is tasked with moving all the water out of the way. This often means the rear
tire will have a solid strip of rubber with no saiping or tread in the center.
This is done to help the rear tire wear more slowly and withstand more abuse
from acceleration. This is why it’s important to always run matched tires.
Not only can mismatched tire construction cause we’re handling issues,
but the tread pattern on matching tires has been specifically engineered to work
together. The problem with tires with this solid
strip of rubber in the center is that it’s very hard to tell when the tire is
at the end of its life, particularly for those of us who live in ride in the real
world, where we wear out tires in the center long before we wear them out at
the edges. So here’s our plea to the manufacturers. Race slicks use these
little dots to indicate wear. When the dots disappear there is no more rubber
on the tire. So manufacturers; please put these dots down the center of these rear
tires. It would be so helpful so that we could more accurately be able to tell when a tire is wore out, so we don’t end up in this situation. The wear bar isn’t even yet flush
but… cords! All tires are stamped with the data manufacture. The stamp is a four digit number molded into the sidewall of the tire. If the number
is “2714” that means the tire was manufactured in the 27th week of 2014. If
the number is “0516” that means the tire was manufactured in the
fifth week of 2016. If the stamp is only three digits long that means that tire
was manufactured before the year 2000. So, how old of a tire should you run on your bike? Don’t confuse the manufacture date with the “Sell-By” date. Most manufacturers recommend the tire be sold before the tire is five years old. When you’re buying
tires it’s good to be mindful of the age a tire that’s three or even four years old is
fine. But also pay attention to the age of the tires on a used bike that you may
be considering. If the tires look great but we’re manufactured 10 or more years
ago, you’ll probably want to add the cost of new tires into the price of the bike.
Here’s the thing, as rubber ages it interacts with the air in the atmosphere
causing oxidation. Oxidation causes the rubber to harden and become brittle. The
rubber will wear away much more slowly but will offer significantly lower levels of grip. Oxidation also shows up as cracks, or “checking,” on the sidewall. Cracking on the sidewall, or in between the traction blocks, indicates severe
oxidation and it’s a sign that the tires should be replaced. Which brings us to
the third reason why a tire wears out. Heat increases the rate of oxidization,
so if your bike lives in a hot garage, or you live in a hot environment, your tire
will lose its grip more rapidly because the heat accelerates the rate of
decomposition of the rubber. What’s more, every time your tire warms up and cools down it goes through a heat cycle, which also compromises the grip the tire can
provide. When a tire has gone through so many heat cycles that it can no longer provide adequate levels of grip, that tire is “baked-out.” And not all tires deal with heat cycles the same way. A race tire or even a DOT race tire
that can withstand extreme heat punishment on the racetrack, may
only be able to withstand two or three heat cycles before the level of grip is
significantly diminished. While a sport touring tire may not be able to
withstand the abusive punishment and heat like a race tire can, it can
typically survive a lifetime of heat cycles from normal riding stresses,
before grip decreases. However, tires intended for cooler, wetter climates are
less capable of dealing with too much heat when used in hot, dry climates, and
may bake-out long before the tread is worn away. This is part of the reason
racers and track day riders use tire warmers. Not only to keep the tire warm
and grippy, but to reduce the number of heat cycles that tire will have to
endure. This is also why it’s a good idea to try to replace your tires and sets.
Your front tire is going through just as many heat cycles as your rear tire, and
is baking-out at the exact same rate. We’ve seen a lot of riders who will
replace the rear tire, and then a few months later replace the front tire, and
then a few months after that, replace the rear tire again.
So they are always chasing a new set of tires. And nothing makes your bike handle like new like a fresh set of tires. So, again, if you can swing it, it’s always best to replace
your tires as sets. But if you can’t, for whatever reason, then at least stick with
matched tires. Knowing how old your tires are, or how many heat cycles they’ve
endured, may be a bigger indication as to how worn your tires are, then how much
tread remains. Being aware of these things can help you make the best decision, to know when it’s time to
buy new sneakers for your bike. The way we tend to know the mileage
left in a tire is the simplest of all: We track mileage. We’ve collected a fairly substantial
database of tires that we ride,
and the mileage we got out of them, and we’ve posted that information on our website. There are still a wide range of factors involved here, so we don’t take these to
be gospel, but they do give us anecdotal evidence to determine if a tire should
be replaced before a trip, or can go the distance. So here’s the bonus;
below we put in a link to our tire mileage calculator. It’s a Google sheet
that will help you predict how long a tire will last based on how long tires
of the same make and model have lasted you before. This is how it works:
We’ve included the mileage of how long Pirelli Angel GT’s have lasted us, taken
from our Tire Mileage Chart just as an example. The only caveat is this really
only works for a single make and model of tire. Different makes and models can
provide vastly different levels of durability, even two different sport
touring tires from two different manufacturers can last from 3,000 miles
to 6,000 miles. So you’ll want to add a new sheet for each new make and model of tire you run. Next we measure to the wear-bar, not to the bottom of the sipe,
because we plan to replace our tires at that point, not when the tire is bald.
Which is this number. Then we enter in the mileage we got from previous
versions of the same make and model and the tread depth, to the top of the wear
bar, when we replace the tire. If you replace it early you’ll get a number
greater than zero and if you rode it until it was bald you’ll probably end up
with a negative number. From this point you just enter in your bikes odometer
reading when you installed the new tire. Then at any point later in time you come
back, re-measure your current tread depth, and the current odometer on your
bike, and it will tell you, roughly, how much more life you can expect from your
tire. Hopefully this will help you know if you have enough tire left over for
that weekend trip, or, so that you can plan your budget accordingly and not be
taken by surprise when your tire starts throwing sparks. But one last thing, that
if you want to get the most out of your tires, you need to stay on top of your
tire pressure. We strongly recommend you run the pressure recommended in your
bikes owner’s manual, not the max PSI rating stamped into the sidewall. Get
your hands on a quality tire pressure gauge and check your pressure at least
once a week, or before any long ride. We’ve provided links below to our Tire
Mileage Chart, our Tire Mileage Calculator, a tread depth gauge that we
like, and of course, a quality tire pressure gauge. Please click like and
subscribe, leave a comment below, we read every comment and try to respond to as many as we can. Thanks so much for watching and ride well.

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  1. Great job on the straight forward, logical, real world data, when, why, how to collect it and it's relevance.

  2. Just an FYI…'s what your viewers are seeing when they (I) clicked on your millage calc. link…….

    We're sorry, you are not allowed to proceed

    Your request looks suspiciously similar to automated requests from spam posting software or it has been denied by a security policy configured by the website administrator.

    If you believe you should be able to perform this request, please let us know.

  3. Very good content 😀. Do you know if it’s okay to put on performance tires on a sport touring bike to get more grip ?

  4. As usual, excellent advice.
    I did not figure that even an half-worn front was as aged (all in all) than the fully worn-out rear…
    Additionally, changing a full set prevents from sticking to the same exact tyres model, if so you wish. And to benefit of frequent promotional offers that usually come for pairs only.

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