Motorbike Tyre Safety

Maintaining your motorbike tyres is an important job and will keep you safe and legal on the road. Failure to comply with tyre safety legislation can result in huge fines, points on your licence and can put you and other road users in danger, so it is important that you check them weekly.

Choose the Right Tyres for your Motorbike

When buying new tyres it is extremely important that you choose ones which will suit your motorbike and driving requirements. For example, you can fit tyres suitable for off-road, racing or touring to your motorbike, so choose a tyre optimised for your intended use.

You must also check that the motorbike tyres you are buying are the correct size. You can do this by consulting your owner’s manual before purchasing new tyres or by speaking to a tyre specialist.

It is important to bear in mind that mixing tyres of different constructions on a motorbike is highly dangerous and can be illegal. It is recommended that both the tyres fitted are of the same construction and from the same manufacturer. You should speak to a tyre specialist if you require further guidance.

Motorbike Tyre Tread

Your motorbike tyres provide grip to the road to enable you to safely accelerate, brake and corner. Tyre tread decreases (naturally wearing down over time), decreasing the gripping capabilities you can expect from them when new. For your safety, and as a legal requirement, it is important that you monitor your tyre tread depth, to make sure that it does not drop below the legal minimum.

The legal limit for tyre tread for motorbikes over 50cc is 1mm across ¾ of the width of the tread pattern and with visible tread on the remaining ¼. Motorcycle tyre manufacturers usually use tread wear indicators to help to notify you when your tyre tread is reaching its legal minimum and tyres need to be replaced.

TyreSafe recommend replacing your tyres before they reach the legal minimum, as motorbike tyres that have a tread depth lower than 2mm provide drastically lower gripping capabilities.

Motorbike Tyre Pressures

Making sure that your tyres are correctly inflated to the right pressure is an essential part of motorbike tyre maintenance. TyreSafe recommend that you check your motorbike tyre pressures every week, to ensure that they are not over or under inflated.

You can find the recommended tyre pressure for your motorbike in your owner’s manual, however, if you have purchased alternative or specialist tyres for your motorbike, you should seek further advice from the tyre manufacturer. When you know the recommended tyre pressure, you should use an air gauge at home or at a local service station, when your tyres are cold, to check that yours are correct.

Driving with the correct tyre pressures is crucial to your safety on the road. Over inflated tyres have a reduced contact patch, meaning that grip is reduced, and they tend to wear more rapidly. Under inflated tyres will have decreased handling capabilities, excessive flexing and will use more fuel. Take a look at this image from TyreSafe for more information:

Motorbike tyre inflation diagram

Motorbike Tyre Condition

It is important that you regularly visually inspect the condition of your motorbike tyres to ensure that they will keep you safe on the road. You should keep an eye out for:

  • Cracks – potentially mean that the rubber of the tyre is starting to deteriorate. This indicates that the tyre is aging or has been stored in poor conditions.
  • Lumps and Bulges – suggest that there may be internal damage to the tyre, which could have been caused by impact like driving over pot holes or speed bumps or hitting kerbs.
  • Cuts and Foreign Objects – mean that something has penetrated the tyre and if ignored could lead to tyre failure.

If you do notice any of these deformities on your motorbike tyres you must contact a tyre specialist as soon as possible.

Visit the TyreSafe website for more information on motorbike tyre safety.