Motorcycle Tire Safety & Maintenance Manual
Tires on motorcycles, like any vehicle, play a vital role in the performance, handling and safety of the bike. Many times we tend to ignore the necessary maintenance needed to keep the tires safe. With motorcycles, there are only two small contact patches for the rider to rely on, so it is extremely important to keep the tires in top condition.
Any tire, no matter how well constructed, may fail in use as a result of punctures, impact damage, improper inflation, overloading, or other conditions resulting from use or misuse. Tire failure may create a risk of property damage, serious personal injury or death. To reduce the risk of tire failure, we strongly recommend you read and follow all safety none contained in this brochure.
It is recommended that riders do a periodic inspection of their tires and have any imbedded objects removed by a qualified service person. Serious personal injury or death may result from a tire failure. Many tire failures are preceded by vibration, bumps, bulges or irregular wear. If a vibration occurs while riding your motorcycle, or you notice a bump, bulge or irregular wear, have your tires and motorcycle evaluated by a qualified service person.
It is not often that a properly maintained tire will "blow out" while you are riding. More commonly if air is lost, it will be gradual. If you do experience a blow out or sudden tire failure, the following none should be helpful: When the failure occurs, slowly decrease the amount of throttle, hold the handlebars firmly, and steer to maintain your lane position. Once the motorcycle has slowed and is fully under control, apply the brakes gently. Gradually pull over to the shoulder and come to a stop.
Always keep the motorcycle manufacturer's recommended air pressure in both tires. This is an important requirement for tire safety and mileage. Your motorcycle owner’s manual will tell you the recommended cold inflation pressure. On some motorcycles, the recommended front and rear tire pressures will be different. The pressures stamped on the sidewall of the tire are only for maximum loads. On some occasions, these pressures will also be the manufacturers recommended settings as well.
Riding on tires with too little air pressure is dangerous. The tires will build excessive heat. This can cause a sudden tire failure that could lead to serious personal injury or death.
Underinflation may also:
Riding on tires with too much air can be dangerous. The tires are more likely to be cut, punctured, or broken by sudden impact. Serious personal injury or death could result. Do not exceed the pressure indicated on the tire sidewall. Consult your owner’s manual for the recommended inflation and other tire none.
Never inflate a tire unless it is secured to the motorcycle or a tire-mounting machine. Inflating an unsecured tire is dangerous. If it bursts, it could be hurled into the air with explosive force resulting in serious personal injury or death.
Valve Stems, Cores & Caps
Old or damaged valve stems and cores may cause air loss. Replace them when mounting new tires. Use caps (finger tight) on the valve stems to keep dust, dirt and moisture away from the valve.
Checking Tire Inflation
In order for your new tire(s) to provide optimum performance, tires should be ridden very cautiously for the first 100 miles in order for the tread surface to be “Scuffed-In” and work properly. Directly after new tires are mounted, sudden acceleration, maximum braking and hard cornering must be avoided. This will allow the rider to adjust to the “Feel” and handling characteristics of the new tire and for the new tire to be “Scuffed-In” correctly in order to achieve optimum grip level.
Riding your motorcycle in an overloaded condition is dangerous. Overloading causes excessive heat to build up in your tires. This can lead to sudden tire failure and serious personal injury or death while the tire is overloaded or at some later date.
Riding on damaged tires is dangerous. A damaged tire can suddenly fail causing serious personal injury or death. Have your tires regularly inspected by your local dealer for damage.
Spotting Damaged Tires
Minimum Tread Depth
Excessively worn tires are more susceptible to penetrations and road hazards. Always remove a tire from service once the wear reaches the tread wear indicator bars (indicating 1/32 of an inch of tread depth) located in the grooves of the tire.
Riding on an improperly repaired tire is dangerous. An improper repair can cause further damage to the tire. It may suddenly fail, causing serious personal injury or death. To be safe, go to your local dealer for proper tire repairs.
Before having a tire repaired, tell your local dealer if you have used an aerosol fixer to inflate/ seal the tire. Aerosol fixers could contain a highly volatile gas. Always remove the valve core outdoors, away from sources of excessive heat, flame, or sparks and completely deflate the tire before removing it from the rim for repair.
A tire's speed rating is void if the tire is repaired, retreaded,
damaged or abused, or otherwise altered from its original condition.
Thereafter, it should be treated as a non-speed-rated tire.
Mount only “tubeless” tires on “tubeless”
rims when the rim manufacturer recommends this fitment. Some rims
require tubes. A “tubeless” tire must be installed on
a “tube type” rim when the appropriate tube is inserted.
It is extremely important that the proper size of rim is used for
your tires. Be sure to match your tire size to the size allowed
on the rim. Improper rim width may affect handling and stability.
Consult the sizing none of the tires you want to install
for rim width allowances. Be sure that there is proper clearance
between the tire and swingarm and any fender areas.
To avoid vibration and accelerated tire wear, it is essential to
balance the tire & wheel assembly before use and each time the
tire is removed or replaced on the rim. Also, check the rim for
any imperfections as they could affect the overall balance.
All motorcycles should be equipped with the tire size specified by the motorcycle manufacturer as found in the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website. Be sure to equip the bike with radial tires only when they are required by the bike manufacturer.
Front and Rear Tire Matching
For optimum performance, it is very important to correctly match your front and rear tires. Riding your motorcycle with an improper mix of radial construction tires with bias or bias-belted construction tires is dangerous. Your motorcycle’s handling characteristics can be seriously affected. You could have an accident resulting in serious personal injury or death. Consult your owner's manual or your local dealer, for the proper tire replacement.
When fitting a new tire on a rim requiring a tube, a new tube should be fitted at the same time. Old tubes may become stretched and cause a crease which could make the tube fail. Check the size markings on the tube to ensure the tire size appears on the tube. Do not fit tubes in radial motorcycle tires, nor fit radial tires on rims requiring tubes, unless it is specified by the tire manufacturer.
Riding at high speed is dangerous, and can cause a motorcycle accident, including serious personal injury or death.
Never use race only tires on public roads. Race tires are constructed in such a way that they are very unstable under normal street riding conditions. These tires also require higher operating temperatures for proper performance. These temperatures cannot be obtained within legal speed limits.
Do not use a tire on the road that has been subjected to motorcycle dynamometer testing. The stress from this process may result in tread compound degradation and possible tire failure.
Tire Speed Ratings
Some tires bear a letter "speed rating" designation indicating
the tire's design speed capability. This speed rating system is
intended to allow you to compare the speed capabilities of tires.
To avoid reducing the speed capability of the motorcycle, replace a speed-rated tire only with another tire having at least the same speed rating. Remember, it's the "top speed" of the "slowest" tire on the vehicle, which cannot be exceeded without risk of tire failure.
* In laboratory tests that relate
directly to highway speeds.
These speed ratings
are based on laboratory tests under specific, controlled conditions.
While these tests relate to performance on the road under those
conditions, remember that real-life driving is rarely identical
to any test conditions. Your tire's actual speed capability may
be less than its rated speed, since it is affected by factors such
as inflation pressure, load, prior alteration or damage, driving
conditions, alignment, wear, vehicle condition, and the duration
for which high speed is sustained. A tire's speed rating becomes
void if the tire is repaired, retreaded, damaged or abused, or otherwise
altered from its original condition. Thereafter, it should be treated
as a non-speed-rated tire. The tire's speed rating designation appears
on the tire sidewall with the tire size.
Spinning a tire to remove a motorcycle stuck in mud, ice, snow, or wet grass can be dangerous. A tire spinning at a speedometer reading above 35 miles per hour (55 km/h) can in a matter of seconds reach a speed capable of disintegrating a tire with explosive force. Under some conditions, a tire may be spinning at a speed twice that shown on the speedometer. This could cause serious personal injury or death to a bystander or passenger and extensive motorcycle damage. Never spin a tire above a speedometer reading of 35 mph (55 km/h).
Wheel Spokes / Wire Wheels
Regularly inspect the spokes of your motorcycle wheels. Broken or loose spokes may cause wheel wobble, which can lead to instability and premature tire wear. Check rim tape condition. A protruding spoke can damage a tube and cause a tire puncture.
Tire and/or Vehicle Storage
Tires and/or vehicles should be stored indoors in a cool dry place where water cannot collect inside the tires. The tires and or vehicles should be placed away from electric generators and motors and sources of heat such as hot pipes. Storage surfaces should be clean and free of grease, gasoline, or other substances, which can deteriorate the rubber. Improper storage can damage your tires in ways that may not be visible and can lead to serious personal injury or death.
Oil, Grease and Gasoline
These items can deteriorate rubber when exposed to a tire for any length of time. Use a clean, damp cloth to remove these chemicals from the tire.
Use a mild soap solution to clean sidewalls, white stripes or raised
white lettering, and then rinse off with plain water. Never apply
any other materials, cleaners or dressings to enhance sidewall appearance.
These items may degrade the rubber and remove inherent ozone cracking
and weather checking resistance.
Registration of your tires is an important safety precaution since it allows the manufacturer to notify you in the event of a required inspection or recall. When you purchase replacement tires at an independent tire dealer, you should be provided with a registration card on which the tire serial numbers have been recorded. Be sure to fill in your name and address on this card and mail it promptly. You need not register tires, which come as original equipment on new vehicles, as the motorcycle and tire manufacturers handle that for you.
Tire Service Customer Assistance
For questions concerning the safety or warranty issues of your motorcycle tires, please consult your local dealer. The dealer can work with their tire distributor to see that your issues are solved.