No matter what you read on the internet, except for here, the most important thing on your motorcycle or scooter is the tires. Tires that are aged, improperly inflated or worn can cause an uncomfortable ride or even a crash. Keeping up with motorcycle tire maintenance is a simple task and can save you in the long run.
On average a tire will loose 1 pound of pressure a month. To exacerbate the issue, a tire will gain and loose 1 pound of pressure for every 10 degree fahrenheit change in temperature. If you were to ride your bike in the summer then ride it 6 months later in the winter, without increasing pressures, you are likely to have pressures 10 pounds lower, or 2/3 of the tires required pressures. It is best to check the pressures in your tires every time you ride, how else will you know if you have a slow leak?
Every motorcycle manufacturer has recommended tires and pressures for their bikes. These pressures have been tested specifically for the weight, suspension and riding style specified for each bike. By running a tire at incorrect pressures you could experience increased wear, scalloping of treads, overheating of the tire carcass or possibly a blowout.
Tire wear can be found in many different ways, and the most common for city riding is squaring. A squared tire is exactly how it sounds, the center of the tire has worn flat and there are now edges to roll over when leaning the bike. This wear, usually caused by straight line riding or running too high of tire pressures, makes the bike feel very unstable when leaning anywhere past where it has become flat. The second most common type of wear is scalloping and this can be caused by low tire pressure settings. Low pressures not only overheat the carcass of the tire, but they also allow the larger tread blocks to push into the tire and wear the smaller sections faster. This wear will cause the tire to become bumpy and create vibrations that resonate through the bike. Neither a squared nor scalloped tire can be fixed, so keep on top of your pressures to keep this premature wear from costing you a set of tires
If your tires wear correctly then congratulations, but your not out of the woods just yet. Checking tire tread depth is important for water evacuation and without that, hydroplaning is eminent. Each tire has tread depth indicators in the sipes (the lines cut in the tire to make the individual tread blocks) that are slightly higher than the normal sipe depth. These indicators are usually found toward the outside of the tread so it is important to still measure the depth of the tire wear in the center. This depth should be no less than 2/32 of an inch, or if you want a quick inexpensive way to check, the distance from the top of a penny to Lincoln's head.
Checking for Rot:
If tires are too old they will begin to dry rot in the sipes or on the sidewall. This is very important to catch before it become a serious problem. Best way to make sure this doesn't happent to you is by checking the manufacture date on the tire and make sure it is not older than 7 years. Each tire has the manufacture week stamped on the sidewall, this number can be found in a small oval on one side of the tire. The number will be 4 digits and will denote the manufacturing week and year of that specific tire. For example, (3210) would mean that the tire was made in the 32nd week of 2010. Anything older than 7 years old, and it's time to replace.
For the best tire prices in the City contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (504) 595-6776 Ext 4.
If you'd like to find out more information on typical tire markings check out our article "Reading Tire Markings."