Motorcycle tires - Part II

TIRE GUYMotorcycle Tires for Trail Bikes


Off-road bikers take their machines to the extreme on a regular basis, it‘s all part of the fun of owning such a machine. There is a huge variety of motorcycle tires available, so you should do some really thorough research to get the best deal and results. The Internet is the perfect place to do it and here are some simple tips.

Tread Basics

Some people think that the deeper the tread, the better the tire’s grip, but it‘s sort of the other way around. It is the rubber on the road that does the job and the deep tread gets rid of the water, mud or whatever else is not solid beneath the tire.

Tire pressure

Lower inflation pressures create a bigger contact patch as well as allowing more flexibility in the tire. It is great for grip in the mud, but not so good for the life of the tire. Under inflated motorcycle tires will generate more heat which contributes to wear and reduces your tire‘s lifespan.

The manufacturer’s recommended pressures are clearly displayed on the tire wall and the best place to start until you really know what you‘re doing with pressures. Check them regularly and buy your own pressure gauge because the ones at the gas stations are usually wrong.

Tire Types

Motorcycle tires fall into three main categories, road, enduro and off road. Enduro tires try to do a little bit of everything but should not be taken to the extreme in either environment.

Tires are also available in hard and soft compounds, the softer compound grips better but wears faster, while the harder compound is for durability.

If you are looking to carry a lot of gear or a passenger, you might want to seriously look at the load rating of your tires. Other factors to consider are speed rating, width and profile.

Off-road tires have aggressive-looking big blocks of rubber that are great for mud but perform poorly on hard surfaces. This is because only a small amount of rubber contacts the road. They are noisy, too and affect your top-end speed due to more road friction.

Mud tires have big, wide tread between the blocks of rubber, while sand and gravel motorcycle tires have closely packed blocks of rubber.

Tubes or Tubeless

Tubed tires can be deflated more, so if you are looking to do some riding on sand, rock or through the mud, tubed tires with lower inflation pressure are the way to go. Tubes also give more resistance to sharp rocks and other sharps.

Tubed tires generate more heat and they don’t have the higher speed ratings of tubeless tires. There is also the danger of the tire coming away from the wheel, unlike with tubeless tires.

If you are planning to ride challenging trails, heavy-duty tubes are a must and should be replaced regularly; regardless of whether they have ever sustained a puncture.

Choosing a Tire

This is where a good tire dealer and a lot of research come into play. First thing to decide is what you will be doing on those tires.

  • Will you be going off road weekends but riding your trail bike on the road?
  • Will you be climbing rock surfaces or racing through muddy terrain?
  • Will you be parking the bike in the garage except for races?

Baja 1000

The Baja 1000 attracts a myriad of competitors with large and small bore motorcycles, as well as VW and trucks. It also attracts the craziest spectators. Every year there are reports of crowd members booby-trapping the track with poorly made jumps and freshly dug holes and racers are warned to be extremely wary of suspicious pockets of bystanders.

See Also:

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


Other useful links

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