A “crash” course in motorcycle tires

parked motorcycle

Every biking enthusiast is well aware of the fact that tires are the most critical part of a bike. While all tires may look the same to a rookie, they come in various different styles and sizes. Choosing the correct tire type for you depends on how you ride, why you ride, and your level of expertise.

Picking out the most important component for our bike is no easy task, so these are 10 things you should do to select a tire to ensure durability and safety for your bike.

1. Looks can be Deceptive

Often, tires that appear to be the same to all us rookies can be built for completely different purposes. They are built to reach different performance levels, safely.

The speed rating for each tire is mentioned in an alphabetic (letter) code on the sidewall of the tire. It is usually the last character of the alphanumeric and metric code which is mandatory to be inscribed on every tire, by law.

For example, the letter “L” denotes a safety speed of 120 kmph, while the letter “U” denotes 200 kmph. The codes should be properly checked before fitting new tires onto your bike.

2. Size matters!

Just like humans, tires come in different sizes. Usually, one is advocated never to let size determine your judgment, but here tire size can play a major difference in the handling of our bike.

Tire sizes are usually depicted in metric dimensions on the sidewall. For examples sake, if a tire says “120/90B-19 60H”, it means:

  • The section width of the tire in millimeters is 120
  • The aspect ratio (sidewall height from tread to the bead) expressed in percentage with relation to section width is 90
  • B indicates bias-ply, and R would indicate radial
  • 19 is rim size (diameter) in inches
  • “H” indicates speed rating of 210 kmph

3. Don’t Overload

Taking the same example as above, 60 would represent “load index”. Load index is the maximum load that the motorcycle can carry safely. Here, 60 denotes this particular bike can carry a maximum load of 551 pounds only.

If the total load on the bike exceeds this given value, the motorcycle may start malfunctioning.

4. Perfect Fits

There are mainly two types of tires based on how they are constructed:

1. Bias ply: the reinforcing belts are placed at a 30 to 40-degree angle to the beads.
2. Radial: the steel belts are place in line, from bead to bead.

All motorcycles are developed with special tire recommendations for its skeleton and suspension parts. Switching from bias ply to radial or the other way round negatively impacts the handling, stability and breaking.

Therefore, it is important to consult a professional before switching tires…
Continue reading the article and learn more about motorcycle tires on Vertextra.com.

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