As people who love motorcycles, we always want the best for our bikes and we never get tired of upgrading the parts on our bikes. We can spend countless nights reading reviews, watching videos, participating in forum discussions, and what not to get the best parts for our bikes. But things get a bit tricky when it comes to choosing motorcycle tires.
Choosing the right tires is the trickiest of all choices you have to make on your bike. For any other part, you can probably count your number of options even with your fingers. But as far as tires are concerned, the permutations and combinations are close to infinity.
Before we get into discussing buying the best motorcycle tires, let’s first have a look at some basic tire terminology that can come in handy while buying one.
6 Basic tire construction terms you ought to know
- Section width: A three-digit number depicting the width of the tire measured in a straight line from side to side.
- Aspect ratio: It’s a two-digit number and is defined as the ratio of tire width expressed as a percentage to the height of the tire. It might get confusing, just keep in mind that the larger the number, the taller the tire will be.
- Rim diameter: The longest measurement across the rim from one end to another.
- Load rating: A number from 20 to 80 denoting the designed weight the tire can bear. The bigger the number, the larger would the bearing capacity be.
- Speed rating: Encoded alphabetically, designating the designed speed at which the tire can run safely when loaded.
- Date of manufacture: A four-digit code, in which the first two indicate the week of the year it was made and the last two digits indicate the year of manufacture.
You don’t have to read through any manuals to know all these. It’ll all be printed on the tire itself, all that you need to know is how to read them.
We are not here to make you a tire technology graduate, just to help you select your best fit. So, keeping the rocket science terms aside and get into answering the questions we commonly encounter when it comes to choosing tires for motorcycles.
- Does the bike manufacturer give me the best tires?
If you are asking about the quality of tires yeah, they do give you good quality tires. But if you are concerned about its performance, you might be disappointed. Most manufacturers see the tire as a way of cost-cutting. For instance, you can’t expect a stock tire to give you better performance while cornering or give you an extra bite while braking.
As said, it varies with manufacturers and you should check with your motorcycle’s dealership.
- Can I increase my motorcycle’s tire width?
Yes, you can increase the size of your motorcycle tires. But know that it is easier said than done. Depending on how big a tire you plan to get, you might have to modify the swing arm, swing arm bush, chain, chain cover, mudguards, and maybe even more. Changing tire circumference will also squeeze your mileage, change gearing ratios, speedometer readouts, etc.
You would have thought about getting a wider tire for a better grip, better cornering, or better aesthetics, but make sure that you take into consideration the previously mentioned factors and address them.
- Radial v/s bias-ply. Is it ok to mix? Is it ok to switch?
Your right to choose is fundamental in this sense, but the golden rule is the manufacturer’s recommendations.
While running, tires heat up due to friction. Radial tires can keep the heat build-up to a minimum which in turn increases their life. They are stiff, rigid, and comparatively higher priced among the two. If you have a performance motorcycle or a sports tourer, we suggest you get a radial tire.
In the meantime, bias-ply tires are soft and offer better ride comfort & load-carrying capacity at a lower price. If you have a heavy cruising machine like a Harley or an Indian, we advise you stick to those bias-ply pair you have.
We don’t recommend mixing as it can sometimes compromise stability & braking performance. You shouldn’t mix your motorcycle tires unless it is provided by the manufacturer itself.
- Can I use tubeless tires for my spoke rim wheel?
If it were up to us, we would never do that or recommend it to anyone. But if you are adamant to put a tubeless tire for your spoke rim, there are modification products available in the market. They seal those spoke nipples on your wheel so that air won’t escape through the gaps.
Keep in mind that these products don’t come with any guarantee from the mod manufacturer, so do it at your own risk.
Ideally, you should change your spoke rims to alloy wheels for tubeless tires.
- Can I use a tubeless tire with a tube inside?
Yes, you can use a tubeless tire with a tube inside but you will have to compromise on stability because of heating. Having a tube inside a tubeless tire can generate friction and heat your tire from inside.
This won’t have a direct impact on the ride quality or life of tires but you may have to compromise on higher speeds and stability.
- Can I re-read my old tire?
Yeah, you can re-thread your old motorcycle tires but we don’t recommend doing it. Unlike cars or other heavy vehicles, two-wheelers transmit power through a chain assembly. With retreaded tires, you can’t expect to get adequate grip which increases the chances of skids and reduced traction.
- Older tires to save money?
Don’t do that ever. Tires have a service life irrespective of whether they are used or kept unused. The older tires end up heating more causing wear and tear at a faster rate. You will end up replacing it sooner than expected.
- Rear and front of different companies?
It is not advisable to do that. The major tire brands like Pirellis, Michelins, or Revz come in pairs. They have specific recommendations while offering you their promises of a better ‘world’ on your motor.
- When should I replace my tires?
Let us enlist some situations here to make it simple.
- Puncture at sidewalls
- Older than 6 years
- Punctures of more than a quarter inch.
- Improper wear and tear mostly due to alignment issues
- Cuts and slices on tires caused due to any accidents.
- Tire grips are worn out
Now that you have a better idea on choosing the best motorcycle tire, make sure that you read the Tips & techniques on changing motorcycle tires.