Basics of Motorcycle Tyres:
Motorcycle tyres are the key to performance, comfort and safety.
Choosing the right tyres will make all the difference in how your motorcycle works. Proper maintenance and routine inspection are other key areas to look upon for getting the optimum performance
Tube or Tubeless Tyres?
In case of tube tyres, the tyre compound is generally a soft compound which means when it comes to gripping the road surface, these tyres perform the best in the business. The air pressure of the tyre is taken care of the tube inside the tyre. The rubber tube inside is made of a thin but elastic material which holds the air and hence gives the tyre its hardness.
Due to this the soft compound tyres get the extra material holding the weight. Tubed tyres don’t have any direct contact with the air inside; hence the bonding of the tyre to wheel of the bike is not exactly airtight. Hence for this reason the bikes with spoke wheels use tubes tyres as the tension of the spokes affects the wheel and hence with tubeless tyres there are chances that there will be air leakages.
There are two types of Tubeless Tyres - Radial and Bias Tyres
Radial Tyres: These tyres are constructed using multiple parts where the sidewall of the tyre is made of a completely different part. Hence the sidewall functions as an independent entity without being dependent on the crown of the tyre.
Bias Tyres: These tyres are constructed using multiple layers of the same piece. Hence the sidewall of the tyre is thicker and hence is interdependent on the crown of the tyre. This is why Bias tyres tend to overheat quickly and hence radial tyres are used more commonly in most sports bikes.
With Tubeless tyres, there is no worrying about the tubes. Though the initial cost is a bit on the higher side, but overall the life of the tyre is a lot more than tubed tyres. The reason being tubeless tyres are made available in medium as well as hard compound tyres depending upon the usage requirements and their lifetime. Harder compound tyres last longer.
In case of tubeless tyres, the air is directly filled in the tyres, so there is a need for the tyres to form an airtight seal with the wheel so as to not let the air escape. Hence tubeless tyres are always used in case of alloy wheels as they do not have the stretching tendency.
Street Tyres or Track Tyres?
Most motorcycle riders say that they ride aggressively on streets and hence want to go for track tyres. But that's not a good idea to consider.
Track tyres often have compounds requiring very hot temperatures to “stick” to the road that a rider — even an aggressive one — will not hit on the street. This means that in real use, the track-day tyre may be less grippy on the street than a sporty street tire.
Track-day tyres also have different cross sections, usually inviting quicker steering, but twitchier handling. They are almost never optimized for wear and they probably don't handle water or debris well, since those are usually absent on the track, though that cannot be said of city streets.
Track tires also rarely take into account loaded riding that street bikes are frequently saddled with. There are a number of super-sticky street tires that really bridge the gap between track and street use and they are almost universally the best choice for the rider who asks this question.
What are the basic parts of a tyre?
Tread: The most obvious part of the tyre people see is the tread, this is where rubber meets the road. You’ll find a variety of tread patterns depending on the intended use for that tire.
Carcass: This is the backbone of the tyre that lies underneath the tread. Essentially, the carcass is made of steel or fiber cords that run from bead to bead. Every tyre is either a bias ply or radial ply, which is a major distinction. Bias plies are laid at an angle (bias) in a direction, whereas radial plies are laid directly from side to side.
Radial tires displace heat better, which increase longevity and improved wear
By construction, radial tires sidewalls are not stiff as bias-ply tires. This allows the sidewalls to contour to the road better, improving surface area to the section or tread.
Bias-ply tyres are still around, but for good reason. Due to the stiffer sidewalls, bias-ply tires come standard on many heavy cruisers and touring bikes. The lack of flex works well for bikes designed to carry passengers and/or luggage.
Bead: The bead is where the tyre mounts to the wheel. Multiple steel cords are placed in these areas to ensure a snug fit against the wheel and no leakage in a tubeless tire.
Sidewall: This is where the vytal tire information is displayed, however the sidewall is much more important than just an indicator. Virtually all the load support and much of the handling is determined by the sidewall design.
How to maintain proper tyre pressure?
Possibly the most overlooked preventative motorcycle maintenance is checking the air pressure. Not only can under or over inflation be unsafe and cause unpredictable handling, millage decreases as well. When your tires are over inflated, the middle section tends to wear faster than the sides of the section. When under inflated, the inverse is true, and your sides will wear disproportionality to the middle section.
1. Use Suggested Pressure: Always abide to suggested tyre pressure indicated on the side wall for proper pressure. If you are going to carry lots of luggage or a passenger, we suggest adding a bit more pressure being sure not to exceed the tire pressure indicated on the sidewall of your tire.
2. Get yourself a good gauge: A quality tire pressure gauge will be much more accurate. Tyre performance is heavily tied to pressure, and even a few PSI can drastically effect handling. Always check pressure when the tire is cold (not immediately after you get off).
3. Check pressure frequently: Anywhere from daily to weekly will serve you fine. Really, the conditions and amount you ride should dictate how often you check your pressure, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
When do I replace a worn out tyre?
1. Tread Depth: To eliminate the guess work, manufactures incorporate wear bars that run across the tread. Once the wear bars are flush with the tread, it’s time to replace. Another easy trick is use the old penny technique. Placing a penny in the tread, if Honest Abe’s head is covered in some degree, your tires likely have some life in them. There should be at least 2/32” of tread in any area.
2. Age: As a rule of thumb, no matter the tread wear, a tire’s active life span should not exceed five years. Some people suggest a tire’s life is done five years after manufactured date, however we feel it’s safe to extend that to 10 years.
3. Cracking: Like most things, tires are not immune to sunlight, and if your tires have been exposed for long periods of time, you might experience cracking on the tread or along the sidewalls.
4. Cuts and Punctures: Frequently check for any cuts or punctures in your tire.
5. Loosing Pressure: If you’re checking your pressure frequently, you’ll notice if a tire continues to loose pressure too rapidly. If this is happening, your bead may be worn out and leaking air
6. Feeling Odd: Sometimes the best way to spot a worn tire is in your hands. If you notice vibrating, pushing, pulsating or any unnatural sensation when riding, it could be your tires.
7. Under-inflation or over-inflation can lead to uneven wear. You will find excessive wear in the center or sides of the tire if not aired up properly.
The best practice is to select replacement tyres identical to those currently on the motorcycle. Motorcycles were designed and developed with a specific tyre size, so altering the ply style or load rating can be unsafe and will not handle properly.
A clean tyre sidewall can really jazz up the bike, but stick to water and mild soap for cleaning. Stay away from heavy duty tire cleaning products.
That’s it for our basic motorcycle tyre buyer’s guide. Hopefully with the knowledge you’ve gained you can take the right steps towards buying the best tyre for your bike and needs! The individual tyre pages will have great info on the intended and best usage, features and even detailed videos to help you make an informed purchase.