Motorcycle Tires: A Quick Guide

101 on Motorcycle Tires in San Diego, CA

When it comes to the safe operation of motorcycles, a few things come to mind before all others. Rider safety always comes first, and this is something that should go beyond helmets and San Diego motorcycle insurance policies. All riders should take time to learn about the only two parts of their motorcycles that are in constant contact with the road: the tires.

Parts of a Motorcycle Tire

The entire body of a tire, which is the part that covers the wheel, is also known as the carcass. A radial carcass has steel belts to support the treads, which are always in contact with the road’s surface. Bias-ply carcasses feature fiberglass cords instead of steel belts. The treads are designed to handle various surfaces, and they connect to beads that run perpendicular to the sidewalls, which in turn provide shock absorption and weight transfer functionality.

Tire Codes

Motorcycle tire sizes and ratings are codified in a manner similar to auto tires in the sense that they are both alphanumeric. Some codes start with the letter M to denote they are for motorcycles. This initial is followed by another letter that corresponds to the width. These two letters are followed by the aspect ratio, which should be interpreted as a percentage, and the rim diameter in inches. The final code is a letter that stands for the load rating. A more common code string begins with the width in millimeters over the aspect ratio, which is followed by the rim size, load rating, and speed rating.

Types of Motorcycle Tires

When shopping for new tires, the safe rule of thumb is to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. Nonetheless, some degree of deviation is allowed with regard to the terrain type and the intended use.

Wider tires are often perceived as being more comfortable for the purpose of balancing the motorcycle with both feet on the road, but there are clearance and turning factors to consider as well. Fuel efficiency could be affected when choosing a wider tire with off-road treads.

Radial tires mean durability to a certain extent. Bias-ply tires can handle heavier bikes and also provide greater shock absorption, which means a softer and more comfortable ride. Once again, manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed, particularly when they call for a mix of bias-ply and radial tires.

Tire Brands

Most manufacturers will recommend using the same brand of tires in the front and rear of the motorcycle. Mixing brands should only be attempted in emergency situations or with the blessing of a shop technician.

Understanding the DOT Code

This number can be seen on the sidewall of every tire, and the last four digits denote when the tire should be replaced. A 4010 code means the tire was manufactured on the 40th week of 2010, which also means the tire should be changed since the general recommendation is to replace after five years of average operation.

If you’d like to learn more about motorcycles, or if you need insurance for your bike, reach out to American Tri-Star. We are also a leading provider of San Diego auto insurance. Call 619-272-2100 today to speak with one of our knowledgeable agents.