Motorcycle Tires or How Thick is Your Skin? 

     One of the critical components of your motorcycle are the tires.

     They are the only thing between you and the road surface.  Proper care and inspection is critical for safe operation of the motorcycle.  It is important to check not only the tire pressure routinely, but also the entire tire surface for cuts, nails and other items such as cracks, splits and bulges, before each ride. 

      Tire pressure is important for various reasons including life of the tire in terms of mileage and ride quality. Please refer to your Owner’s Manual for the tire inflation pressures for your model of bike.

     CAUTION: Never inflate a tire beyond the maximum inflation as noted on the tire sidewall.

     Inflate your tires when they are cold, and be aware that a cooler day may also require you to recheck the inflation pressures due to a change in outside air temperature.

     When inspecting your tires check the tread wear indicators (TWI), which are noted by the TWI (some tires may display logos etc in place of TWI) marking located on the tire sidewall.  Look towards the center of the tire to locate the actual tire wear bar which will be located in the tread groove itself, as a raised bar.  When the tire is worn to this indicator it is time for a new tire.  We have actual samples of worn tires to show you the amount of skin left between you and the road so to say.  It is scary.  The remaining amount of rubber is actually less than is apparent from the outside.

     Hydroplaning is the effect when the tire rides up onto the water surface of the road.  What effects this is both the remaining thread depth, speed of the motorcycle and the amount of water on the road surface.  In wet weather slow down and before going on a long ride for safety sake replace your tires if they are near the wear bars…its your skin.

     Motorcycle tires work in much more brutal environment then car tires.  Because of many factors such as load carried, horsepower and torque produced, and this being applied to a contact surface that is very small by comparison, one can understand why the tires are not only expensive but also work in a much more demanding environment.  Therefore keeping the tire pressure correct and routine tire inspection is critical. 

     It is good idea to attend one of our tech sessions to learn how to plug the tires with a plug kit if that nasty nail has found its way into the tire carcass.  That way if it does occur this temporary repair can be quickly accomplished on the roadside.  It is important to note, this only a temporary repair, as BMW recommends the replacement of the tire as soon as possible.  It is not recommended to patch the tires and or the tubes, as these may not properly seal.

     Tubes should always be replaced as these will wear just like the tire itself.   When installing tubes be sure to locate the valve stem retaining nut all the way to the top of the valve stem so that it touches the cap.  This way if the tube spins inside the tire you can see this by the tilt of the stem before the stem is torn from the tube itself.  On tubeless tires always inspect the valve stem for cracks and dried out rubber, since these can crack over time and leak air.  This thinking applies to car valve stems as well. 

     Unseen internal tire damage:

     If you have a front or rear wheel that has a dented rim, replace the tire, as the tire has suffered internal damage to the sidewall. This applies to car tires as well. It is wise to replace the wheel as well since it may be internally cracked.  The straightening of bent wheel rims is not recommended since you are reworking the metal thus weakening it.

     CAUTION: Do not apply any type of tire dressing to the sidewall or worse to the tread area of the tire, it is very slippery.

     Use only approved tires for your model of bike.  BMW spends much time to determine which tires work overall the best for each model.  Rely in their testing instead of doing it on your own. 

     Reprinted from the Iron Horse Motorcycles August Newsletter.  Visit Iron Horse Motorcycles web site to sign up for an e-version:



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