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Where the Rubber Meets the Road – 6 Motorcycle Tire Tips

Here are few of the most frequently asked questions about tires and a little help in assessing their condition – and how to know when they’re shot:

1. Why do you need new tires and what makes them better and safer?

New tires, aside from the fact that they’ll have more tread of course, are better because a tire is organic and it will eventually decompose. Second? The older the tire gets, the more it’s exposed to what the eggheads call “outgassing.” Outgassing is a chemical process which makes the tire brittle over time.

2. When is your tire officially old?

Really, the newer the tire the better. Making a tire last longer isn’t always a factor of the tire’s lack of use,  and be careful not to buy tires which are over six or seven years old even if they’ve never been run a single mile. You can find the date of manufacture for any given tire by searching for the three or four-digit number stamped in the tire’s sidewall. For instance, 2101 stands for 21st week of 2001 – which is the tire’s manufacturing date.

3. So what about size and pressure?

Always, and there’s no getting around it if you’re smart, run your bike on tires at the recommended tire pressure. Stick to the manufacturers guidelines, it’s the safest and the best way to go.  Some small deviations might be okay depending on your desired level of performance, but going too far in either direction will result in some truly harrowing handling issues. And do yourself a favor; check tire pressure regularly.

4. What to do in case of a flat tire?

Motorcycle tires are under enormous stresses. Unlike car tires, motorcycle tires come in pairs. Vigilance is the key here and  the best thing you can do for yourself is to monitor the condition of your rubber with an obsessive attention. If you have a tire go flat, do the right thing and replace it – don’t just just repair it, ride on and hope for the best.

5. When to replace a motorcycle tire?

You front tire in particular might be shot even when it appears to have ample rubber. A motorcycle tire may still look good even if it’s gone through far too many heat cycles. Motorcycle tires can also cup or scallop, and as soon as you start seeing uneven wear it’s time to bite the bullet, fork over the cash and replace them.

6. When and where should you buy a tire?

It’s a purchase you should make from a reputable motorcycle store or repair shop. These stores generally sell established brand names and offer service. You can order online, but you’re taking an unnecessary chance doing it as you have  no guarantee that you’ll be getting newly manufactured tires. Make sure to check the date of manufacture before you install them if you’re doing it yourself. Buying at a motorcycle store or shop also gives you the chance to compare prices and quality – and you can ask for advice while you’re there…

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