Motorcycle Tires for Road Cruisers and Racers

Motorcycle tires affect the handling, comfort, ride quality and safety of any bike, so it‘s obvious they should be the first thing on every rider’s check list before embarking. Whether you ride a sports bike, cruiser or touring cycle you need to consider those big, black round things that keep you upright.

Want to know about motorcycle tires?

Two types of tire you may see are bias-ply and radial. Most cruisers and touring cycles use bias ply tires, while sport bikes use radials.

irc durotourA bias-ply tire will have a round profile and tall sidewalls; they are best suited to touring cycles and cruisers because they tend to load up with gear and a passenger.

A radial tire has a flatter profile and shorter sidewalls. They are not as suitable for heavy loads but will run much cooler than bias-ply, making them perfect for sport bikes that tend to corner and accelerate harder than cruisers or touring cycles.

Motorcycle suspensions have extremely critical settings, so you should ensure that you consult with a good dealer about the type of tire best suited to your bike.

Tread Patterns and Compounds

Tread pattern grooves are different on bias-ply and radial tires. The tread is designed to force water away from the tire’s contact point on the road and stop hydroplaning. A tire that is designed to be ridden in the rain will have more tread pattern grooves.

dunlop rally raidCruisers and touring cycles see more road duty in wet conditions, so either a good wet weather or intermediate motorcycle tire is recommended.

Sport bikes are set up to handle like race bikes, so tires are usually dry weather tires with less tread pattern grooves. The fewer grooves in a tire, the more tire on the road and the better the grip.

When you choose a tire, consider whether a soft or harder compound tire would better suit your needs and wallet. Softer compounds grip better but wear out much faster. Harder compounds will not grip as well as their softer counterparts but they will last longer.

Inflation Pressure and Other Contributors to Wear

Premature tire wear is often caused by poor inflation. A motorcycle tire that is not correctly inflated can affect your bike’s handling characteristics. It can also affect the tire’s lifespan, costing you more money for replacements you shouldn‘t need.

You can inflate a motorcycle tire to its maximum pressure shown on the sidewall. This is especially practical if carrying a passenger and gear.

Riding style can also affect wear characteristics. Cruiser and touring cycles often wear out the rear tire first, this is because there is more weight at the rear of the bike and all the traction and braking load is taken by the rear suspension.

Sport bikes are designed like racing machines, so are ridden more aggressively. Most sport bikes will wear out the front tire first, because it’s so easy to brake late into corners when you ride them. Sport bikes are set up to use all the rider’s weight at the front.

See Also:

Motorcycle Tires, Part II, Tourer/Cruiser and Sport bike articles.


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