Do you ride a motorcycle? Your life depends on a surface of two eggs

How to choose safe motorcycle tyres?
Two chicken eggs – this is the size of the contact point of a motorcycle with the road. So if you have very high demands towards your motorcycles, then you should expect similar quality from tyres. To cope with the motor's engine power and ensure driver’s safety and comfort, the tyres must guarantee adequate traction, driving precision, great water drainage and be resistant to fast abrasion and damage. The performance of your motorcycle will largely depend on your tyres. The small contact area between the tyre and road is the only thing that guarantees motorcycle’s adhesion – also at highway speed, when the rear tyres in the more popular size rotate almost 1000 times per minute. After the engine shaft, tyres are the second fastest rotating element in the motorcycle – so there is not much margin for error in their selection and assembly.

Tyre manufacturers' task is to maximize the use of a small contact area between the road and tread to ensure safe driving. Of course, it is the rider decision which tyres they choose to go for. Before making that choice, however, it is worth consulting with specialists and choosing basing on their size and the category of the motor, but also the driving style of the driver and conditions of use. More and more drivers, having only a category B driving license, change to a motorcycle or a powerful scooter. That is why it is so important for them to be aware of some basic information that will affect the safety and comfort of using a two-wheeler.

Motorcycles have their own requirements

There are many different types of motorcycle tyres on the market: sport touring, hyper sport, classic or designed for choppers, scooters or off-road. Each type of machine has its own requirements – it needs suitable tyres. You can easily find out about specific solutions and technologies used in tyres from the official material from tyre manufacturers. What are the basic rules that should be followed when trying to buy good tyres?

– I will not warn you of choosing track tyres for an off road or a racer – these are the basics. In the large market offer of tyres, it's easy to get lost and be fooled by tyres with a nice name or and aggressive tread, which wears out quickly and does not provide good grip when cornering, and their only advantage is the price. However, if you believe that your life’s value is bigger than the cost of a set of tyres, then you should see how their quality and performance is rated in independent tests. Customers will not be able to test tyres like journalists or technical auditors– emphasises Piotr Sarnecki, general director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association (PTIA).

Used tyres are not "almost like new ones, but cheaper"

When buying a motorcycle, we often wonder what to purchase – maybe a machine with a slightly more powerful engine? Or maybe better trunks or a sportier fairing? And the tyres? – well, i should have to have some ... but all in all I have ABS, so it's not so important.

Well, it's just the opposite. Ensuring your own safety on a motorcycle begins with tyres. You may not have ABS, but what provides traction on the road and ensures short braking distance is a high-quality tyre. And necessarily a brand new one – in the factory their quality was x-rayed. Literally. In branded tyres, each belt cord has been checked with X-rays, whether it has been installed correctly and whether the inner layers are even. In used tyres we aro only able to assess external damage, tread condition and tightness. What cannot be seen outside the factory is very dangerous internal damage. Caused by what? Driving with low pressure or collisions and bumps. How do you check in a used tyre, that it’s previous owner really did take care of them?

Tyre size is not just a matter of aesthetics

The tyre, its size and weight are integral parts of the motorcycle suspension. Any changes or deviations from what the manufacturer suggests have a significant impact on handling and driving behaviour. Before ordering your dream tyres, let's check the basics – look for the machine’s manual and check what tyre size and with which speed and load indexes the manufacturer allows for. Any deviation from this unfortunately will cause the motorcycle to not grip as well to the road as the manufacturer promises.

The right tyre pressure makes the difference

The motor’s manual also includes the tyre pressure recommended by the manufacturer for the front and rear. Frequent habits of car drivers who drive at too low or high pressure on a motorcycle have much worse effects. Appropriate tyre pressure affects the size of the contact surface with the road, the temperature of the inner layers of the tyre or the effectiveness of the manufacturer's technology. In addition, an appropriate level of pressure extends the durability of tyres in which we invest hard-earned money.

Too low pressure can lead to problems when cornering on the road, uneven tread wear, and even a tyre breakage due to overheating of the inner layers. In turn, excessive tyre pressure means that the road contact point is too small. The tyre pressure level should be measured regularly – at least once a month and before each longer route – on cold tyres or after covering a distance of not more than 2 km, so that the increased tyre temperature does not distort the pressure gauge. Also remember to increase the tyre pressure by 0.3 bar when you have a passenger or luggage.

Use - what to remember?

Motorcycle tyre production technologies are very different now compared to 15-20 years ago. The tyre protection layer in case of storage is really thin – it’s gone after first few kilometres of driving on the road. Therefore, we do not wash new tyres with any solvents or gasoline. It is a good habit to break in new tyres – for the first 100-200 km, let's corner more carefully, using the principle of gradually increasing the deflection in a bend with the distance travelled on a new tyre.

Motorcycle tyres are most often divided into front and rear – you should strictly follow the manufacturer's recommendations in this matter. This has a huge impact on the behaviour of the motorcycle, and thus on the safety of the rider and other road users. Rear and front tyres can be made of various rubber compounds due to the fact that they are responsible for different performance groups – the front tyres absorb most of the braking force, while the rear tyres transfer the power of the machine to the road.

The element that is indispensable – taking into account the performance of modern motorcycles – is proper wheel balance. With a properly balanced wheel, the weights mounted on the rim should not exceed 10-15 g.

We should also remember that if it happens that we damage our tyres, any longitudinal cracks, tears or defects in the tyre and damage to its sides qualify it for disposal and immediate replacement. Given the importance of the tyre for our safety, it is better to invest in a new tyre than to patch after a puncture and ride with your hear in your mouth – adds Piotr Sarnecki.

Source: Polish Tyre Industry Association