Connect With Us!

Avoiding Tire Failure: Getting the Most From the Tires That Were Meant For Your Bike

This low-profile car tire begins to bulge when tire pressure drops below 25 psi.

This low-profile car tire begins to bulge when tire pressure drops below 25 psi.

Eric Trow
June 11, 2012
Filed under Motorcycle Tires: Reviews

Bookmark and Share

Getting the most from the tires that were meant for your bike.

Motorcycles subject tires to an enormous range of forces, stresses and heat. Fortunately, motorcycle tires are overdesigned to be able to meet those needs and still have reserve. So why do some tires fail? Most motorcycle tire failures come as a result of low tire pressures and excessive weight. No wonder tire manufacturers rate tire pressure as the number-one priority and they strongly urge riders to check it regularly. So, if we’re going to become fanatical about anything, it should be about religiously checking our tires and avoiding the sins of overloading them.

“Overload and underinflation is a bad, bad combination on any motorcycle,” Dunlop’s Mike Manning explains. “It creates excessive flex in the tire and an excessive heat buildup that can negatively affect handling and could ultimately result in tire failure–for any kind of tire.” Unfortunately, overlooking tire maintenance is all too common, even among active long-distance riders. “In our travels to rallies and other motorcycle events, we routinely find motorcycles with badly neglected tires. We have found tires with multiple nails—some clearly from different times—and a high percentage of tires that were significantly underinflated.” Perhaps that’s because it’s difficult to see when a motorcycle tire is low in air.

Even with just 10 psi, it is difficult to see that this motorcycle tire is dangerously low in pressure.

Even with just 10 psi, it is difficult to see that this motorcycle tire is dangerously low in pressure.

You can tell when most car tires are underinflated by as little as 5 pounds because the sidewalls visibly bulge. In contrast, a motorcycle tire must be nearly out of air before it appears to be low in air. The motorcycle tire is much more stiff by design, so giving the tire a kick or pressing the center with your thumb to see if it has enough air inside just won’t do the trick. That’s why it is so important to regularly check air pressures and keep them at their prescribed levels—even more so when carrying passengers or otherwise loading the bike. How often? Check pressures and visually check tires for foreign objects daily on a trip and weekly otherwise. And be sure to adhere to the motorcycle manufacturers’ GVWR limits to avoid overloading tires. Use the worksheet below to assure that you are not exceeding the limits of your motorcycle and contributing to potential handling and tire problems.

AVAILABLE LOAD CAPACITY:
1. Enter GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). Check owner’s manual or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate.        1. _______lbs.
2. Enter dry weight of motorcycle. Check owner’s manual.    minus    2. _______lbs.
3. Average weight of fluids (gas and oil).    minus    3.         40 lbs.
4. Available load capacity of your motorcycle (Line 1 – Line 2 – Line 3):         4. _______lbs.
LOADING OF YOUR MOTORCYCLE:
5. Enter total weight of rider and passenger. Include helmets, boots and clothing.         5. _______lbs.
6. Enter weight of accessories you have added, including chrome, windshield, saddlebags, etc.     plus    6. _______lbs.
7. Enter weight of any cargo/luggage you are carrying.    plus    7. _______lbs.
8. This is the load you are adding to your motorcycle (Line 5 + Line 6 + Line 7):        8. _______lbs.

If line 8 is greater than line 4, YOUR MOTORCYCLE IS OVERLOADED. Overloading your motorcycle could lead to tire failure, accident, injury or death.

Courtesy, Motorcycle Industry Council

The above is compounded further when tires are underinflated. Be sure to check tire pressures and make certain those pressures are appropriate for the load on the bike (most motorcycle manufacturers list different tire pressures for riding solo vs. when riding with the bike loaded and/or two-up).

This article as published in the July 2012 issue of Rider magazine as a sidebar to Tales from the Dark Side: http://www.ridermagazine.com/top-stories/tales-from-the-dark-side-putting-car-tires-on-motorcycles.htm

Related:
Erasing Doubt: http://www.ridermagazine.com/browse-by-type/tires/erasing-doubt-car-tires-on-motorcycles.htm

Tales From the Dark Side: Putting Car Tires on Motorcycles http://www.ridermagazine.com/top-stories/tales-from-the-dark-side-putting-car-tires-on-motorcycles.htm

Letters to the Editor: http://www.ridermagazine.com/latest-news/letters-to-the-editor-dark-side.htm

Comments

2 Responses to “Avoiding Tire Failure: Getting the Most From the Tires That Were Meant For Your Bike”

  1. Tales From the Dark Side: Putting Car Tires on Motorcycles | Rider Magazine on June 11th, 2012 2:22 pm

    [...] Other stories that might interest you… Avoiding Tire Failure: Getting the Most From the Tires That Were Meant For Your Bike [...]

  2. Erasing Doubt: Car Tires on Motorcycles | Rider Magazine on June 11th, 2012 2:23 pm

    [...] Motorcycle Tires: ReviewsTales From the Dark Side: Putting Car Tires on Motorcycles – June 11, 2012Avoiding Tire Failure: Getting the Most From the Tires That Were Meant For Your Bike – June 11, 2012Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart II Motorcycle Tires Review – June 1, 2012Michelin Pilot [...]

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!





Name:

Address:

City:

State:

ZIP: