Ensuring your motorcycle's tyres are in good condition is critical for maintaining grip - and staying safe on the road. So how do you know when to change your bike's tyres?
Motorcycle tyres wear down faster than car tyres
Motorcycle tyres are softer than car tyres because softer tyres give more grip than harder tyres. And for a motorcycle, good grip is extremely important.
The downside of softer tyres is that they wear down quickly - far faster than car tyres do. This means you need to check your tyres regularly.
Identifying worn tyres
Motorcycle tyre treads are designed to draw water away, helping to maintain grip and keep you stable on the road - even in very wet conditions. As tyres wear, this gripping ability diminishes.
How to spot wear
At the bottom of the main grooves on your tyres, you'll see a little bump of rubber. When the treads wear down to this bump, you need to change your tyres.
The Gov.uk website states that a motorcycle tyre’s tread pattern must:
- "be visible over the whole tread area
- have a depth of at least 1.0mm throughout a single band of at least 3/4 over any section of the breadth of tread round the entire outer tyre circumference
"The whole tread width must have at least 1.0mm deep tread if the original tread pattern did not extend beyond 3/4 of the tyre width when new."
If you do not replace worn tyres you will have less grip on the road - especially when it's wet. You will also be breaking the law.
Other signs a tyre needs to be replaced
Age: Tyres aged fives year or more should be checked for wear. Tyres aged 10 years or more should be changed for new. This is because rubber hardens over time, meaning the tyres have less grip.
Cracks in the rubber are also a sign the tyre rubber is hardening and needs to be replaced.
How to tell a tyre's age?
All tyres feature a code in a box. The last numbers in this code denote the month and year of manufacture.
Reject a tyre if:
- The tyre’s ply or cord is exposed
- The tyre has bulges or lumps due to structural damage
- The tread rubber is starting to lift
If you feel your motorcycle is not handling as well as it once did, it could be a sign your tyres need to be replaced. Indeed, if tyre condition is impacting handling, your tyres should probably have been replaced sometime before.
Riding your motorcycle with care will help make your tyres last longer. Conversely, aggressive or off-road driving could lead to worn patches.
Check your manual for tyre type and pressure
Refer to your user manual for which type of tyre is best for your motorcycle and how you use it. Your manual will also detail the recommended tyre pressure; over- or under-inflation could lead to premature damage - and having to pay for new tyres earlier rather than later.
Not sure if your tyres need to be replaced?
Your motorcycle’s tyres can take a certain amount of damage, but if they come into contact with a foreign object, or become particularly worn, they may need to be replaced. If you are unsure, show any damage to a professional mechanic and they will advise you.