Did you know motorcycle tires are not designed to last as long as vehicle tires do? For tires that are five years old, manufacturers recommend an annual inspection by a professional. For tires that are 10 years old, manufacturers say the tire has hit the end of its useful life and must be replaced – even if the tread looks decent.
Motorcycle tire rubber is a bit softer than car tire rubber, simply because it has to be. A contact patch between the pavement and your motorcycle tire is typically the width of a credit card. Hard tires have more of a tendency to slip and slide, while soft rubber grips the pavement better, which you will need to properly handle your bike.
However, the extra grip comes at a price, as the soft rubber of your cycle’s tire will wear out and become brittle faster than the tires on your car. Use caution if you’re riding on old tires, as they may not have the same grip level as your buddy’s new bike.
Guidelines for Determining if You Need to Change Your Tires
1. Check the Tread
Federal and state regulations say you have to have 1/32″ to 2/32″ of tread depth. The middle of the tire, which sees the most contact with the road, usually wears out first. Have your tread depth measured by a professional or check your wear indicators, which may be cast into your rubber tread grooves.
Look for a groove that has a raised segment of rubber, usually off the tire’s center. This will indicate the manufacturer’s least amount of tread possible in order to stay safe. Most manufacturers say you should replace your tires before this happens.
Also, check for defects in the tire. If you see cracking along the sidewalls (called dry rot), you need to replace the tire.
2. How Old is the Tire?
Check the date code stamped into the sidewall. Take a look at the last four digits. For example, if you see the # 4310, this means it was made on the 43rd week of 2010, which means the tire would be about 10 years old – time for a replacement. Even if the tread looks OK, don’t be fooled. It’s still unsafe because the rubber is brittle and hard. To determine the tire’s hardness, put your thumbnail into the rubber. Does it feel pliable and soft?
To get a more precise evaluation, bring your cycle to a professional who can measure the hardness with a special gauge and tell you a numerical measurement.
Before you get frustrated for having to buy new tires, consider that motorcycle tires have been enjoying big improvements in technology. This leads to a whole new level of performance you’ve never experienced before on your bike, such as a more planted feel, smoother ride over bumps and improved confidence.
Contact AA Motorcycle
Before you ship your motorcycle, you should make sure your tires are in good working order. This will ensure you can hit the ground running once at your destination. Get a free quote now on motorcycle shipping.