The Truth About Motorcycle Tires: What You Must Know Before You Choose

  • Added:
    Mar 16, 2013
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The Truth About Motorcycle Tires: What You Must Know Before You Choose Photo by Rebecca White

Motorcycle tires are purpose built tools designed to serve different needs depending on the bike. At one end of the spectrum are genuine racing motorcycles. They are built for speed and grip and their tires were designed to maximize holding power. The tires are wide radial slicks without groves that can handle turns very well. On the other end there are the bias-ply tires for touring which will carry multiple people and stuff for thousands of miles on the roads and Interstates. They can take the wear of riding, but are not quite as comfy and would probably create slip if you attempted to race them on the track.

A carcass and plies, the rubber composite and a tread type, are what make up the motorcycle tire. The tire carcass is really levels of  and the tires are wide for enhanced hold on the road. You'll most often see these on sport bikes. Bias-ply tires have a profile that is higher and a more narrow design. You don’t under normal circumstances want to switch up from bias-ply to radial on a motorcycle built for bias-ply or the opposite because it may not fit correctly having an effect on clearance and the ability to corner. Speedometer readings can also be off.

Motorcycle Tire Tread Types

The indentions in the tread pattern are called sipes. Sipes are created to break the surface tension and additionally they serve to move water in the direction away so that the tire will not hydroplane in the rain. The sipes allow tires for street driving to have some give at the edge.

A grove-less tire with no sipes is referred to as a racing slick, and the drawback of optimized grip is that they won’t run when the surface is wet or sandy.

Not every set of tires fall at one far side or the other. Lots of today’s tires are somewhere in between. Tires on a Softail or Sportster, for example, will handle up to 500 to 700 pounds and attempt to achieve braking ability over grip on corners. And a longer tread life is almost always a plus.

And don't forget your bike needs to look good. There are options like a wide rear tire or white sidewalls to get the right look.
 

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