The Dos and Don’ts Of Motorcycle Tires

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Did you know that if you don’t regularly check your bikes’ tires and air pressure you can compromise your bike’s performance and put your own life at serious risk too?

We spoke to Bridgestone Tires’ T.J.Tennent, to get some sensible advice from a man who has the impressive title of “Engineering Manager, Firestone Consumer Products, Government Products, Bridgestone Motorcycle & Karting Products.” An avid long-time motorcycle rider, Tennent in his spare time is also an instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and is Chairman of the Tire & Rim Association, Motorcycle Sub-Committee, which decides specifications for bike wheels, tires and tubes that are sold here in the U.S.

Tire Dos
Before you ride your bike you should check your entire motorcycle over every single time. “That doesn’t always happen in the real world,” said Tennent. “But it should. It’s a bit like being an air pilot carrying out a pre-flight inspection. You should examine your bike from front to end and pay particular attention to your tires. With a motorcycle you only have two wheels on the ground and you should take time to inspect your tires as often as you can.”

Even if you are a long-time experienced rider, Tennent recommends some basic things you should do to keep you and your bike safe out on the road.

Firstly, buy an electronic tire pressure gauge from any good automotive store. They are not expensive and start from as little as around $10. An analogue gauge is good too, but the electronic ones are a little more accurate and easier to use.

Before you ride anywhere you should always check your motorcycle’s tire pressures – both front and rear. Get down and look them and see if there is any unusual wear, bulges in the sidewall or anything sticking into them. If you do find something wrong you should take a photograph and e-mail or text it to your tire dealer or even the tire manufacturer’s customer service department, who will tell you whether they think it’s safe for you to ride.

“We also recommend that you read your owner’s manual that came with your bike to see what the recommended tire pressures should be,” said Tennent. “But if you don’t have a manual you can sometimes find it marked on the sticker on a bike’s swing arm. Failing that, call the manufacture and get the correct figures.

“Some people like to ride their bikes with reduced psi (pounds per square inch) as it offers a softer ride. But don’t do that. The load bearing capacity of a motorcycle is not in the actual tires but the air inside them. In effect you are compromising your tires, the way your bike handles and possibly your safety.

“The best way to achieve the ride you want is to adjust the suspension. Not all bikes have a sophisticated suspension systems but most will allow you to make some adjustments. It’s a much better and safer option than playing around with your tire pressures.”

Tennent also advises that a rider should run their tire pressures between one and two psi above the manufacturer’s recommendation. That way you take into account any changes in weather (heat and cold can affect pressures). But also if you are only going to do the bare minimum and check them just once a month, it will compensate for that too, as on average tires will lose one psi every four weeks under normal riding conditions.

“Once you have checked both tires are in good condition with no serious wear or damage, you should then do the pressure check. This should always be done when the tires are cold. If you have been out riding let the bike stand for an hour and let the tires cool off,” said Tennent.

“Move your bike each time you take each pressure reading so the tire valve stem is directly at the bottom of the wheel. Press the gauge as firmly as you can into the stem to make sure you get a good seal.

“If you need to increase the pressures use a regular air pump. Ideally you should be putting in dry air or even nitrogen but that can be an expensive option. As long as the ambient air is dry that should be perfectly fine.”

On average, a sport motorcycle’s front tire can last 3,700 miles and 1,800 miles for a rear before both need to be changed. This is if both tires are well maintained and are regularly checked. However, by running two or even three psi less than the recommended pressures you can actually cut the life of a tire by as much as half.

“It may not seem a lot but let’s say you rode with 27 psi in your rear tire rather than the recommended 32psi for an average sport bike. Then you will be lucky to get as many as 1000 miles out of the tire. You’re reducing its durability by almost half. Not only that, by running deflated tires you are altering the way your bike handles and performs and ultimately could be putting yourself in real danger.”

If you are checking a tire and you are unlucky enough to find a nail or a piece of debris stuck in it you should not attempt to ride the bike. Instead you need to find a way to get your bike taken to the nearest motorcycle tire dealer either on a trailer or in the back of a truck.

“If there’s a nail in the tire do not under any circumstances use a rope plug to repair it. There is an option for patch and plug that looks a bit like a mushroom. An expert should fit it, as it fits inside and creates a seal around the material of the tire. In all honesty the best thing to do is replace the tire if it has been damaged in any way. It’s not worth the risk,” explained Tennent.

If you do opt to use a patch plug to repair your tire remember you lose whatever speed rating the tire had before it was damaged. With a repaired tire your maximum speed is reduced to no more than 85mph. You also should not under any circumstances take a passenger on a bike with a patched tire.

Tire Don’ts
Never ever consider using a car tire to replace a motorcycle tire on your bike. Known as ‘Riding On The Dark Side’, some bike owners have done this as they think they will get better durability out of a car tire rather than a motorcycle tire.

“A Bridgestone car tire and a Bridgestone motorcycle tire are completely different and have been designed for entirely different purposes. For a start, there are different compounds in both and different traction properties.

“The contact patch on a motorcycle tire is much larger than a car’s. In wet weather with a car tire on your bike you will have less water dissipation and the bike could be fundamentally dangerous. Just don’t do it,’” said Tennent.

If you also like to attend track days with your motorcycles, pay extra special attention to your tires. Check with the manufacturer before you go and seek advice from other riders at the circuit as to the best tires and set-up and ask them what they suggest.

“You may also be at a track that has a lot of right hand corners. Consequently you may start to notice a lot of wear on the right side of the rear tire and not the left.

“Some people have been known to take the tire off and flip it around. Don’t do it. That is potentially very, very dangerous. Motorcycle tires are unidirectional – marked by those arrows you see on the sidewall and are designed to rotate in just one direction. You potentially could have a very big accident as the tire’s material will start to peel and then the will tread come off.”

It’s worth remembering that your bike’s tires are the two things that separate you and your motorcycle from the road. Check pressure frequently and keep an eye on them for wear and tear. It could save your life.

For further information on Bridgestone and the technology it uses to manufacture motorcycle tires go to its web site.

  • C.Stevens

    “On average, a sport motorcycle’s front tire can last 3,700 miles and 1,800 miles for a rear”

    I had no idea they were that short. I have a little Ninja 250 (which is super easy on tires) and was thinking about upgrading, but no way I could afford that kind of tire appetite. The rear tire would last me about a month.

    • JBXC

      You have to remember he represents a company that sell tires. He will alway err on the side of the motorcycle owner buying more tires. If “On average, a sport motorcycle’s front tire can last 3,700 miles and 1,800 miles for a rear” is what he recommends, then his credibility should be called into question in other regards as well.

    • Tony Thayer

      I got about 9k miles out of my last Pirelli Angel ST and it looks like the replacement Angel GT is going to go the distance too. This is on a Buell XB9S, so it isn’t exactly gentle on tires. The front has 11k and is still going strong. There isn’t much point in buying super sticky tires if you ride in all conditions, anyways. A good sport touring tire will hold up for a long time and will still give you good feel and performance, provided you aren’t doing track days on it.

      • karlInSanDiego

        Agree that there are high mileage tires that are harder in center compound for distance riders/commuters. Got 15k on Dunlop Roadsmart before it finally squared too much. Trying Angel STs for a change after a few years of the really good (on my wallet) Roadsmarts on my Daytona 675.

        • 80-watt Hamster

          Two rears to one front works out alright for wear, but not always for service life. If, like me, you struggle to put on much more than 3000 miles in a year, the carcass may not survive as long as the tread depth. I ran the original tires for three years and just over 10,000 miles, by which time the tread was separating to a greater degree than I was comfortable with. Even then, the rear had a probably a few thousand left in it (despite being slightly squared off), and the front looked nearly new aside from the cracking carcass. Also, the stock tires were crap, so I was glad to get rid of them. But yeah, if I were running 10,000 miles a year, I may have been able to stay with that front for 20K or more. Not that I wanted to.

          • jonoabq

            I almost always replace tires as a set. My rear is usually 80% fragged at 2500 to 3500 miles and that’s enough for me to swap it. It’s the only contact between me and the ground and to have it in good condition is far more important that squeezing out a few extra miles. I’ve ridden plugs after flatting days from home and they hold up fine but as soon as I can order a replacement tire I’ll swap it out, no matter how new the tire, mind you this has only happened twice in the last decade. I don’t see the point of blunting the performance of a performance bike by riding less than fantastic tires. That said, I don’t get to try out enough different tires…I’d love to see a Wes or Jamie discussion on the handling and profile characteristics comparing different tire manufacturers.

    • Chris McAlevy

      It very much depends on the stickyness of the tires, the specific bike (mo powah means shorter tire life, basically), and how you ride it (lots of ripping around=shorter tire life, gentle commutes=longer tire life). I think 1800 for a rear and 3700 for a front is about as close to a worst case scenario as you can get without burnouts being involved.

  • John Goddard

    “On average, a sport motorcycle’s front tire can last 3,700 miles and 1,800 miles for a rear before both need to be changed. This is if both tires are well maintained and are regularly checked. However, by running two or even three psi less than the recommended pressures you can actually cut the life of a tire by as much as half.”

    This is crap, nobody would be able to afford to ride replacing tires at that rate. My current Pilot powers i got 6k out of the rear and the front will probably go around 7k.

    “If there’s a nail in the tire do not under any circumstances use a rope plug to repair it.”

    This is also crap

    Rope plugs are fine for limping back home. Some guys/gals even finish off the tire with them in there. He is right about the mushroom plug though.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Run sticky tires on a liter bike and that’s about the life you can expect.

      • twm1010

        Maybe if you’re hauling ass everywhere, all the time.

        • alex

          the s20rs and the bt016′s before them last for 5k rear 7500 ish front and at 225 pounds I am not exactly light, nor is the wear that frequent 500 mile canyon based rides put on these tires. Especially on some of the older roads I frequent. Some of my puny friends will see easy five figures on theres.

          Unless were are talking about french made tires then yea I bin them after 2K because they get hard and slippery, not a good combo.

      • John Goddard

        He said “On average”. It’s just misleading to new riders. He makes a lot of good points. But in the end you have to remember he’s trying to sell as many Battlaxs as he can ;)

        • Frinkk

          Is it really “misleading” if new riders don’t know the meaning of the word “average”? :-)

          And unless you happen to know Mr. Tennent, I truly doubt he’s just “trying to sell as many Battlaxs as he can”. Not everybody is a salesman working on commission, just because they happen to work for a company. He’s almost certainly not going to make even one more penny, directly or indirectly, for anything he said here.

  • Ian Wayman

    How about using radial tires on a (tubeless) rim designed for bias ply tires? Bad idea?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Yes, terrible idea, the beads are different and the spokes will let the air out.

      • DaveDawsonAlaska

        Which spokes on tubeless rims are going to let the air out?

        As long as the rim is wide enough to support the radial tire, ride on. Most bikes designed around bias tire have significantly narrower wheels than modern bikes, make it difficult and/or unsafe to mount a radial.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Ah, I didn’t see the “tubeless rim” part.

  • http://instagram.com/real_jason_ip Jason Ip

    I know I’ll get flak for this but doesn’t just the simple act of checking the tire pressure every time you ride actually let out air thus lowering the pressure in the process?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Absolutely. But if you don’t let air squeek out for 30 seconds every time, it won’t be a huge problem.

      • http://instagram.com/real_jason_ip Jason Ip

        Ok, well I better get a digital pressure gauge then because every time I use an analog one it takes forever for me to get a good reading

  • motoguru.

    Some tire’s have a max PSI rating on them… THIS DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD PUT THAT MUCH AIR IN IT!!! Like the article said, your manual or a sticker somewhere on the bike will tell you the recommended PSI. Also, I usually run Michelin or Dunlop tires and with proper care I can easily get 10k miles to a set. (and I always change them before getting down to the wear bars.) I give my take offs to the local squids and they burn off the last few hundred miles.

  • Davidabl2

    “The contact patch on a motorcycle tire is much larger than a car’s. ” said Tennent.

    Surely this is a typo? If true, it’s certainly counter intuitive, given the flat profile of a car tire vs the round profile of a bike tire… It’s also counter intuitive given the relative mass of the damn things:-)

    On another note, I’d like to hear Mr. Tennant’s estimates on tire life of the other classes of motorcycle..
    After all, not all of Ride-Aparts readers ride Sportsbikes all the time..

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      A motorcycle tire uses a larger portion of the outer area of a tire in that it leans over.

      The limited life of superbike tires is used as an example. Every motorcycle and every tire is different.

      • Davidabl2

        “A motorcycle tire uses a larger portion of the outer area of a tire in that it leans over.”

        Well, yeah..When most cars are up on two wheels the contact patches must be pretty f’n small :-)

        I was actually thinking that the auto tire patch must be bigger when the two vehicles are moving in a straight line.

        • Michael Howard

          Yeah, something’s screwy. A moto tire’s contact patch is way smaller than a car’s. Moto tires have round profiles, car tires have flat profiles. The area the moto tire contacts the road is much smaller than the car tire’s. The statement in the article is flat-out wrong.

  • Rob

    This article is written for no one who will ever read it. If you’re here I’d say it’s safe to assume you know your way around a spanner and a tire gauge. The mileage statement is crap, the “don’t play with type pressure for tune setup” statement is crap (within reason obv.), the dry air/nitrogen statement is unnessesary as any tire shop will probably be filling with what’s called “shop air” i.e. not run through a dryer, plugs being off limits…yeah, right.

    Pretty shoddy article IMO. Just an opinion.

    • Davidabl2

      “The interviewer didn’t ask the hard questions”

  • HoldenL

    I’ll take a lot of this with a grain of salt, especially what he says about limited mileage and riding with a plug.

    On the other hand, Tennent works for a company makes some freaking awesome tires, so that adds to his credibility. When I first started riding, I had no idea that I would develop mad loyalty to a specific tire model, but me and BT-023s are a match made in heaven.

  • Tuscan Foodie

    you know what would be nice? If motorcycle tires didn’t last only 3-8K. There is the technology to make them last longer, especially for tires that are not performance oriented: but of course the nice Bridgestones of this world wouldn’t make enough money…

    And sure, don’t try and fix your tire: just buy another one instead. I am sure Bridgestone is saying this with our best interest in mind, not its own bottom line.

    • Frinkk

      Are you a tire engineer? You sound more like a grumpy Monday morning quarterback.

      Motorcycle tires last that long because that’s a price point people are willing to pay. You can’t make super-long-lasting tires for free. Would you pay 10 times as much for a set of tires that lasted 10 times as long? I sure wouldn’t. That’s almost as much as the rest of my motorcycle cost, and I don’t want to be writing a 4-digit check just because there was one nail on the road. I’d definitely come out poorer in the long run if I bought these hypothetical super-tires. Tires last as long as they do because it’s the sweet spot between cost, performance, and wear.

      As for replacing a damaged tire: you’re damn right that Bridgestone is doing it for money. Remember the Firestone incident 10 years ago? Ford and Firestone got the bejeesus sued out of them for a tire defect that killed far fewer people than drowned in their bathtubs at home during the same period. (Perception of safety mattered even more than safety.) No company would willingly and publicly endorse something that they thought would injure their customers.

      Why is it so hard for you to believe that our best interest and their bottom line might be aligned? That’s how companies work. That’s why people pay other people for products and services. Isn’t it *possible* that they want you to buy a new tire to replace your damaged one, *because* they don’t want you to crash?

    • henry

      Any modern motorcycle will easily go 100,00 miles if taken care of.

      I have been getting over 100,000 on my last 10 motorcycles. My last
      bike was a Suzuki DRZ400-S 110,000 miles and still running good.

  • Isambard

    Nice one-source story, folks — and thanks for the link to the Bridgestone website. Try harder.

  • Piglet2010

    I was told by a certain Lee Parks to drop the pressure in my tires about 5 psi below what the manual says before riding on a Supermoto track to improve traction.

    On my Ninja 250 with Pirelli Scooter Demon tires I will let about 10 psi out if riding on a wet track, since at recommended pressure traction is very poor.

    • Generic42

      Those are both very specific uses cases and not applicable to everyday street riding. Just like off-roaders lower their tire pressure when rock crawling, specific purpose, specific pressure.

      • Piglet2010

        Tennent was quoted as saying running tires 5 psi low (i.e. 27 psi instead of 32 psi) is dangerous due to altered handling – simply put this is not true as a general rule.

  • Dennis Bratland

    I’ve beaten this dead horse before, but why stop beating when I’m getting so good at it?

    You can’t argue one day how economical motorcycling is compared to a car, and then on a different day argue that you absolutely *must* buy a new helmet every two years, and you will definitely need two or three or four sets of tires every 10,000 miles, and you shouldn’t even think about getting on a bike without a $1,000 Dainese or Aerostich suit with a $400 boots and $200 gloves. And you’ll be wanting a few pairs of special $300 jeans and a different $600 jacket for every season. Must. Have.

    I know, of course, that you don’t really have to spend that much on gear and you don’t really need to burn through top of the line tires on your 200 hp bike. But even when you scrimp on gear and ride a cheap bike, motorcycling isn’t really cheaper than a cheap car. Motorcycling only just barely pencils out if you factor in intangibles like saving time by lane splitting.* And if you swallow hook, line, and sinker every RideApart post that tells you that you *must* buy these tires and those boots and the other gloves, then you’re definitely not going to save any money at all. Might have some fun, though.

    * Lane splitting offer only valid if you live in California. Your mileage may vary. See store for details. Oh, hey, did anyone mention medical bills? Medical bills cost a fortune with top of the line gear, and are an even bigger expense when you’re rocking ghetto cheap crash protection. Do you have good health coverage? Really good? No? Stay off a bike, then. Stay off.

    • Davidabl2

      Maybe the “economy” argument makes sense is if you’re comparing Maseratis or ricer/drifter/donk cars with bikes ;-) As to “practicality” I recall that RideApart ran an article awhile back about the the NHTSA injury/fatality stats on bikes vs cars. Neither “economy” or “practicality” explains why most of us ride.

    • kentaro

      Buying decisions are always emotional decisions. Riding motorcycles is a very emotional decision.

      Emotional decisions must be justified through intellectual reasons. This is why we tell our mothers, our wives and ourselves how riding will save so much money (“70 miles to the gallon! cheaper insurance!”). But in reality we are only trying to find reasons that justify spending so much money on these wonderful machines.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      WARNING: Math rant ahead. Proceed with caution.

      Yeah, I remember doing the calculations when I bought my first bike, a Virago 250 that got nearly 80mpg. Vs. my car at the time, which got about 25mpg, I figured it would take ~36k miles before R.O.I. based on fuel cost alone ($3000 bike and $3 gas at the time). I geeked out a bit and wrote up a couple of functions to calculate break-even point of a car vs. a bike with the following base assumptions: $4 gas, $500 in gear, 15,000 miles a year that would otherwise have been traveled in a car (80-mile round trip commute 75% of the time), and a 4-wheeled conveyance is kept and needs $600 in tires every 40,000 miles. Cost of car and insurance/payments are considered sunk costs and not included. Also, I’m completely guessing on tire cost/life and insurance.

      $4000 CBR250R at 60mpg, $200 ins. and 10,000 miles per $250 set of tires vs. a 25mpg car: 64,000 miles

      $7000 NC700X at 50mpg, $400 ins. and 8,000 miles per $300 set of tires vs. a 20mpg crossover: 106,000 miles

      $10000 R6 at 40mpg, 600 ins. and 5000 miles per $350 set of tires vs. a 15mpg pickup: 124,000 miles

      Supplement the truck with a 250 and you’re talking 25k, run a supersport alongside an econobox and the cost per mile calc actually goes upside down. Again, this is with both vehicles still in the garage. Everything goes sideways if you completely replace a car with a bike.

      • DaveDawsonAlaska

        So in 2009 I sold my truck (a 2007 Tacoma 2wd reg cab 5spd) and used my 2008 Yamaha WR250R as my full-time, year round transportation. I averaged 18-20k miles a year of driving with both vehicles. I was bike-only in the Baltimore-DC area for about 4 years before I moved to Fairbanks, Alaska and had to buy a car.

        Payments: The Tacoma was $325/month, the WR250R was something like $200. Savings, $125.

        Insurance: Tacoma: $2000/year. Yamaha: $100/year. Full coverage on both. Savings: $1900.

        Gas @ $3.75/gal, 20k miles: Tacoma @24mpg = $3125. Yamaha @50mpg = $1500. Savings = $1675

        Parking on campus (college student at the time): Tacoma $350/year, Yamaha $175/year, savings $175

        Maintenance per year @20k miles: Tacoma: 4 oil changes @ $30ea, Tires 1/2 set per year at $800 for good tires, so $520.

        Yamaha: 2 chains and sprockets (RK XSO chain, JT steel sprockets) @ $150ea, 10 oil changes at $20/ea. Tires, running Dunlop D606′s, usually got 5000 miles from a set and $200/set with tubes so $800 for the year. Valve adjustment at a local shop once per year (book spec is every 26,600 miles) was $250. Total maintenance: $1550. Extra cost, $1030. Assuming I didn’t break anything off-roading, which I except for mirrors and bars I was pretty good at not doing. Helps that its a supremely durable bike.

        So $125+1900+1675+175 – $1030 = $2845 saved per year.

        I spent $400 on a Shoei Hornet helmet, $400 on a Klim Traverse jacket with D30 armor, $250 on Aerostich AD1 pants that were on sale, and $120 on Tourmaster Solution WP boots and $80 for Thor 50/50 boots for commuting and traveling (total $1250). I also bought a set of dirt gear (Alpinestars Tech 6 boots from eBay for $80, Klim Baja pants on clearance for $90, and a 661 pressure suit for $100 from ADVRider, plus a couple $20 jerseys, and a $100 HJC dirt helmet with $30 Scott goggles) for $500ish total. So despite buying all the gear I could, I still saved enough for farkles and a 22 day trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Deal’s Gap, and the eastern half of the TAT.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Show me the word “must” in any article….

    • Justin McClintock

      I remember when gas got real expensive, my neighbor came over to me as I was working on my bikes to talk about getting one. He figured he could save some money on gas. I told him, if you want a bike, get a bike. But don’t get it to save money. Just offsetting the purchase price of the bike with fuel savings is extremely difficult (unless you sell the car, which he wasn’t about to do).

      Honestly, I’ve thought about what bikes somebody could ride if they really, really wanted to save money. The two that always pop into my head are an 883 Sporster and a Buell Blast. They both have belts that can last a LOT longer than a chain, neither requires valve adjustments or carb/throttle body syncs, neither goes through tires very fast (and the tires they use aren’t that expensive), neither need anything too exotic for oil, neither require coolant flushes, both get good mileage, and insurance on both is relatively inexpensive.

      The flip side of the coin is a sportbike. I had a Civic and an SV1K at the same time for about 5 years. The Civic was FAR cheaper to keep. Heck, it almost got the same mileage as the SV. The only thing the SV was cheaper for was insurance, and it wasn’t a huge difference there. And that was more than offset by maintenance costs, despite me doing all the work myself.

  • runnermatt

    I’ve heard that you shouldn’t mount radial tires on a bike that originally came with bias plys and vice versa. My CBR250R came with bias ply tires (IRC Road Winner RX-01), but I have wondered if it would be ok to put radials on it when it come time to replace tires. Maybe a good sport touring (Michelin Pilot Road 3 for example) tire to get good tread life for commuting and better tread pattern for water evacuation, etc.

    What would be the reasons against this? Does the higher dry traction screw with the suspension setup or rigidity of the frame?

    I’m sure my question is illustrative of how little I know about motorcycle tires and I understand that.

    • Campisi

      When I still had my CBR250, multiple shops told me that radials would fit just fine as long as they were the correct size. The stock IRCs were probably chosen by Honda for cost purposes, rather than any sound engineering reasons.

      • runnermatt

        That is kind of what I figured, but figured I would get some other opinions before I get to the point of needing new tires. I am about 46 miles short of 5000 right now and it looks like the original tires will easily last another 3-5k.

  • jonoabq

    Why no discussion about the number of heat cycles in a tire’s lifetime as a component of tire performance?

    • Davidabl2

      I’m gonna guess that heat cycles is a much bigger factor for track tires than for street tires?

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        Indeed. And we’ll assume anyone that’s serious about trackdays is more of an expert than someone that’s trying to figure out what tire pressures to put in their street tires.

        • Davidabl2

          Actually, Wes, what I was trying to say is that maybe the actual number of heat cycles, as well as the amount of tread left is probably a factor in whether a track tire is still good or not..since they are run at higher temps than street tires and are far stickier..Maybe if they aren’t worn out quickly enough, they’ll harden up
          like old street tires? And that would be due in part to heat cycles? I’m curious about these kind of things..and it makes me wonder about the practice of running ex-track
          tires on the street. I know of street riders who are less than well-heeled who
          customarily run other folks cast-off track tires on the street..which is kind of why the whole question interests me..

  • Evan Bowman

    Well this is a bit ironic…

    I read this article earlier today and had pretty much the same reaction everyone else did: Tires should last longer then that (excluding slicks), and checking tire pressure every ride sounds like a good idea but really who does that?

    What do you know, a few hours later I had a rear flat while out riding. It was probably a bit low before starting, and the bike tried to get away from me pretty good on a left turn. No harm, no foul (other than pushing a 400lb bicycle five blocks to the gas station), but maybe I will start checking those tires before heading out

  • kpfaaland

    Been looking for a decent digital tire pressure gauge. Can you recommend one?

    • Tim Watson

      The Roadgear Hi Tech Digital gauge is worth a look – gets good reviews and is not that expensive at around $24.00. Or you could really go crazy and splash out $70 for their Ulra Hi-Tec gauge – http://www.roadgear.com – But it’s still a good idea to look around on the internet and see what other people are recommending. There’s a lot out there to choose from.

      • kpfaaland

        Cheers! Ordered the Roadgear one for 24$. Not really too uptight about whether or not its spot on accurate, so 24$ is a good deal.

        • mulderdog

          +1 on the road gear. works great, lasts long time, good price.

  • akaaccount

    Do you guys even keep any particular bike long enough to wear out tires normally? If I had brand new demo bikes being thrown at me and it was my job to find out what they’re capable of then, then yeah I wouldn’t feel motivated to try and stretch 10k out of a sport touring tire. For the rest of us, though, going through a set of tires over the weekend isn’t really something that happens often.

    • Afonso Mata

      Some of us actually ride everyday. Commuting and stuff, y’a know? Over the last 13 months I’ve put 10k miles on my bike. That kinda makes you aware of simple stuff like bike maintenance and tire wear ;)
      Though, I have to agree that those numbers for “miles before the tires need to be changed” are kinda low (even for a sport’s bike). Sound a bit like Bridgestone trying to push tire sales :P

      • Michael Howard

        Uhm… I’m pretty sure the question was directed to the RideApart staff. Or do you review demo bikes , too? ;)

        • Afonso Mata

          Yeah, i know the question was directed to the RideApart staff ;)
          I just thought it was wrong for @akaaccount to say that “the rest of us only ride on weekends” ;)

          • Michael Howard

            Ah… gotcha. My bad.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Sure we sometimes only have a bike for a few days, but we also spend months at a time on others or do trips big enough to shag one or more sets of tires.

      Right now, we’re planning to ride up to Washington State to do AltRider’s Hoh Rainforest ride. That’s 3,000 miles on the highway and two days off-road, we’re figuring out how to get two sets of tires on multiple bikes.

      • akaaccount

        Thanks for the serious response. Wasn’t trying to be a jerk, though it kind of came off that way.

  • Vracktal

    Just checked the pressures on my KLE because of this article…

    16 psi front, 12 psi rear…. D:

    oops.

    • Davidabl2

      I hope that’s a dirt bike..and you’re running it in the dirt.

      • Vracktal

        Dual-sport on asphalt. D:

        • Davidabl2

          Keeping Bridgestone in business, are we then?

  • Michael Howard

    Every time I hear we should check our entire bike before every single ride, I have to wonder if they assume people only use their bikes for weekend joyrides or something. I ride every day (so long as there’s no ice/snow on the roads). Often multiple times a day. My bike is my only transportation. I’m not checking my tire pressure, oil, coolant, brake fluid, brake pads, lights, etc., every f’n time I go somewhere. Get real. As for tire pressure, one ritual I do have is kicking the rear tire to make sure it’s not flat (or seriously under-inflated) before mounting up.

  • Pete Yingling

    Not really sure how you came up with contact patch being larger on a m/t vs c/t as my goldwing m/t leaves an imprint of 1/2 inch and 8 INCHES on c/t! YOUR LOGIC IS MESSED UP AND WRONG!!!!!!!!! Also m/t cost over 300$ for wing and 126$ for c/t for it!!!

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      As you can see in the comments below, he’s referring to the fact that a motorcycle tire uses a greater amount of the outside area of the tire as it rolls left and right. So the contact patch at any particular moment is smaller, yes, but a larger overall area is designed to contact the ground at some point.

      • Pete Yingling

        NOT TRUE as we have done SEVERAL test m/c vs c/t and it is PROVEN that c/t touches MORE rubber to the ground than m/t! EVEN in turns!

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Again, I don’t believe you’re listening to what we’re saying.

          A car tire’s contact patch is constant. It’s one area, one size, all the time. (more or less).

          A motorcycle tire changes the location of its contact patch as it rolls over. A a straight, the contact patch is in one area. In a corner, it’s in another.

          That’s what TJ is stating above.

          • Pete Yingling

            Still does not explain OUR test that PROVE EVEN IN A CORNER there is more rubber touching the ground on c/t than m/t! ROLLED OVER IN TURN OR NOT!

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              You’re an idiot. Goodbye.

  • Pete Rowley

    Is it safe to swap back and forth between two sets of tires? For example, to run 50/50 dirt tires for a weekend and switch back to the street tires for the week commute, rinse/repeat with same two sets. If it is, how many times would that be recommended? Depends?

    • Davidabl2

      I strongly suspect that he number of times you do it is gonna be limited by the amount of patience you have rather than anything else ;-)

  • Parker James

    Dont care what that moron said, i run on the darkside!! I run a General Ultimax on my back rim. I have better rain dispersal, better traction, and shorter stopping distance. The ONLY drawback i have found is the square corners on the tire. You have to MAKE the turn, which means more aggresive leaning into turns. Not only that, but the Metzler tire for the back of my bike is 286.00 and last about 8 months, MAYBE, versus the ultimax at 80 BUCKS, and I’ve had this on on for 2 years, and now Its getting a little slick. GO FIGURE!!

  • Mark Boese

    Fear mongering from a motorcycle tire manufacturer. No issues whatsoever with “Riding the Darkside”. It actually improves handling on Superslabs.