Motorcycle tire safety tips
The number one dangerous condition I have found when servicing customer’s bikes over the years is an under inflated tire!
Can you identify the hazardous condition in the picture to the right? If you did not identify an issue, don’t feel bad - most won’t. This tire was under inflated by more than 50%! The reason this is so dangerous is because it is not visually apparent.
Tires don’t like excessive heat. Running under inflated generates much more heat and load on the sidewalls. Add gear, a passenger, or a trailer and things get much worse, much quicker. Tire pressure is greatly affected by temperature. As a matter of fact, tire pressure can decrease by 10 pounds overnight if the temperature drops drastically. Plus, tires lose air naturally. Always check your tire pressure even if there was not a temperature drop. Conversely, if the day warms up significantly, you may need to bleed some air out as pressure will increase due to the temperature change and heat generated during your ride.
Have the tire checked for age (yes, they have a born on date, just like your favorite beer). Due to external conditions, tire composition changes over time. Always do a visual and look for checking and cracking all over the tire. The tire on the right is well past its useful service life due to wear. If you see any adverse conditions, don’t ride it!
Read your owner’s manual, buy a good tire gauge, and check your tires frequently. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself have a tech check them. Most good techs will check your tires at no charge.
Lastly, new tires inspire confidence and allow you to feel more in sync with the twisties, but new tires are slippery at first. Give them time to break in. Cold roads and cold tires are slick too!
Be safe and enjoy your season of riding!
About the author:
John "Woody" Graves is one of those "been there, done that" motorcycle enthusiasts. Enthusiast is actually an understatement; it’s his passion and way of life. Woody’s passion dates back to 1971 when he started motocross racing. Since then he’s dedicated his life to restoring, fabricating, and repairing motorcycles. Today, Woody owns and operates his own motorcycle shop in Waukesha, WI. He’s also still racing and a promoter of the Midwest Vintage MX series. With five decades of experience working on his own bikes, building race bikes, and servicing customer’s bikes, he has the knowledge to help you enjoy your ride and stay safe on the road.
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.