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.


Tire Inflation


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:


1. Damage the tire leading to tire failure

2. Adversely affect vehicle cornering

3. Reduce tire life

4. Increase fuel consumption

5. Fatigue cracking


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


- Check your tire air pressure at least once a week and before long trips. Be sure to use an accurate pressure gauge.

- Check your air pressure when the tires are "cold." The tires are "cold" when your motorcycle has been ridden less than a mile at moderate speed or after being stopped for three or more hours.

- If you must add air when your tires are hot, add four pounds per square inch (4 psi)(28 kPa) above the recommended cold inflation pressure. Recheck the inflation pressure when the tire is cold.

- Never release air from a hot tire in order to reach the recommended cold tire pressure. Normal riding causes tires to run hotter and inflation pressure to increase. If you release air when your tires are hot, you may dangerously under inflate your tires.

- If your tires lose more than two pounds per square inch (2 psi)(14 kPa) per month, the tire, the valve, or wheel may be damaged. Consult your local dealer for an inspection.

- Use valve caps to keep valve cores clean, clear of debris and to help guard against air leakage.




Use care when riding on new tires. We Recommend that you ride slowly and carefully for the first 60 miles (~100Km) until you become accustomed to the performance of your new tires in conjunction with your motorcycle. We recommend avoiding extreme maneuvers, including sudden acceleration, maximum braking and hard cornering, until you have become accustomed to the performance of your tires in conjunction with your motorcycle.


Tire Loading


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.


Safe Loading


- Consult your motorcycle owner's manual for the motorcycle load limits and proper tire inflation that applies to your motorcycle and tires.

- Never exceed the maximum load rating stamped on the tire sidewall of your tire or the maximum vehicle load rating, whichever is less. Before a trip, determine the total weight of luggage, equipment, and rider(s) to be added to your vehicle.

- Never exceed the accessory restrictions and motorcycle load capacity found in the owner's manual, or the maximum load molded on the sidewall of the tire.

- Pulling trailers behind your motorcycle is not recommended by Bridgestone/Firestone as trailers may contribute to motorcycle instability and overload. 


Tire Damage


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


- After striking anything unusual in the roadway, ask your local dealer to demount the tire and inspect it for damage. A tire may not have visible signs of damage on the tire surface. Yet, the tire may suddenly fail without warning, a day, a week, or even months later.

- Inspect your tires for cuts, cracks, splits or bruises in the tread and sidewall areas. Bumps or bulges may indicate a separation within the tire body. Have your tire inspected by a qualified tire service person. It may be necessary to have it removed from the wheel for a complete inspection.

- Inspect your tires for adequate tread depth. When the tire is worn to the built-in indicators at 1/32nd inch (0.8 millimeters) or less tread groove depth, or the tire cord or fabric is exposed, the tire is dangerously worn and must be replaced immediately.

- Inspect your tires for uneven wear. Wear on one side of the tread or flat spots in the tread may indicate a problem with the tire or vehicle. Consult your local dealer.

- Inspect your rims also. If you have a bent or cracked rim, it must be replaced.


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.


Tire Repairs


- 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.

- Never repair a tire with less than 1/32nd inch (0.8 millimeters) tread remaining. At this tread depth, the tire is worn out and must be replaced.

- Never repair a tire with a puncture larger than 1/4 inch (6.4 millimeters) in diameter. Such tires cannot be properly repaired and must be replaced.

- Repairs of all tires (radial and non-radial) must be of the plug and inside patch type. Using plugs alone on any type of tire is not a safe repair.

- Never repair a tire with a puncture or other damage outside the tread area. Such tires cannot be properly repaired and must be replaced.

- Any tire repair done without removing the tire from the rim is improper.

- Tubes, like tires, should be repaired only by a qualified tire service person.

- Never use a tube as a substitute for a proper 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.

Speed should not exceed 50 mph (80kph) in the first 24 hours after a repair is made and the repaired tire should never be used at speeds above 80 mph (128 kph).

Removing and Replacing Tires on Rims (Tire Mounting)

Always stand well clear of any tire mounting operation. This is especially important when the service operator inflates the tire. If the tire has been improperly mounted, it may burst with explosive force causing serious personal injury or death.

Removing and replacing tires on rims can be dangerous. Attempting to mount tires with improper tools or procedures may result in a tire explosion causing serious personal injury or death. This is a job for your local dealer or other qualified tire service location only.

Serious personal injury or death can result from:

1. Failure to select the proper tire and rim. The tire must match the width and diameter requirements of the rim. For example, when mounting 16-inch diameter tires, use only 16-inch diameter rims.

3. Failure to inspect both the tire and rim. The rim must be free of cracks, dents, chips, and rust. The tire must be free of bead damage, cuts, and punctures.

3. Exceeding the maximum bead seating pressure. The tire service person must never inflate a tire beyond 40 pounds per square inch (psi)(276kPa) to seat the beads. Be absolutely certain beads are fully seated before adjusting inflation pressure to the level recommended for vehicle operation.




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.

Do not install non-radial tubes in radial tires. Insure that the tube marking matches the radial tire marking before installation to rims that require tubes.

A new valve must be installed on the rim each time a worn out motorcycle tire is replaced.

Never put flammable substances in tire/rim assemblies at any time. Never put any flammable substance into a tire/ rim assembly and attempt to ignite to seat the beads.


Rim Size


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.


Tire & Wheel Balance


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.


Tire Size Selection


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.

- Mount tires marked " Front Wheel" on front positions only and tires marked "Rear Positions" on rear positions only.

- Never mix Radial construction tires with bias or bias-belted construction tires.

- Some motorcycles may be equipped with Radial tires. Consult the motorcycle manufacturer before equipping replacement Radial tires to insure the proper specification and combination for your motorcycle.

- A new front tire equipped on a motorcycle with a worn rear tire may cause instability.




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.


High Speed


Riding at high speed is dangerous, and can cause a motorcycle accident, including serious personal injury or death.


1. Regardless of the speed and handling capabilities of your motorcycle and its tires, a loss of control can result from exceeding the maximum speed:

(a) allowed by law or

(b) warranted by traffic, weather, vehicle, or road conditions. High-speed riding should be left to trained professionals operating under controlled conditions.

2. No tire, regardless of its design or speed rating, has unlimited capacity for speed, and a sudden tire failure can occur if its limits are exceeded.


Race Tires


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.


Dyno Testing


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. 

When purchasing or replacing speed-rated tires, make sure to:

1. use the rankings in the chart below to compare the speed ratings of all the tires, and

2. follow the motorcycle manufacturer's recommendations, if any, concerning the use of speed-rated 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.



The letter symbols and corresponding design speeds are:
Speed-Rating Symbol Speed Category*
F  Up to 50mph (80 km/h)
J  Up to 62mph (100 km/h)
M  Up to 81mph (130 km/h)
N  Up to 87mph (140 km/h)
P  Up to 93mph (150 km/h)
R  Up to 106mph (170 km/h)
S  Up to 112 mph (180 km/h)
H  Up to 130 mph (210 km/h)
V (with service description)  Up to 149 mph (240 km/h)
Z (with service description)  Over 149 mph (240 km/h)**
W  Up to 168 mph (270 km/h)***
Scooter  Up to 62 mph (100 km/h)
Flotation Type  Up to 50 mph (80km/h)



* In laboratory tests that relate directly to highway speeds.
Reminder: Actual tire speed and performance capability depends on factors such as inflation pressure, load, tire condition, wear and driving conditions.

** Although no upper limit speed is specified here, the indicated tires nonetheless have limited rated speed capability. Call 1-800-367-3872 for a referral for more technical tirename.

*** Any tire with a speed capability above 149 mph (240 kph) can, at the tire manufacturer's option, include a "Z" in the size designation (120/70ZR17). If a service description IS NOT included, the tire manufacturer must be consulted for the maximum speed capability. If a service description is included with the size description, the speed capability is limited by the speed symbol in the service description.


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.

Examples: 120/60ZR17 55W - 140/70V18 67V

In these examples, the "Z” and "V" respectively, are the speed-ratings ("R" indicates that each of the example tire sizes are radials).
The "55W" and "67V" in these two examples are known as "service descriptions."


Tire Spinning


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.


Sidewall Treatment


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.

Tire Registration


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.