Are your tyres letting you down?
A basic maintenance issue that we see more often than we’d like is bikes with incorrect tyre pressure and/or worn tyres.
The way a car and a motorcycle use their tyres is very different, and you can get away with a lot more poor maintenance on car tyres than you can with bike tyres.
First you’re more much involved with the riding of a motorcycle, you feel the grip and the motion of the bike as you lean into a corner or accelerate out of one, so for your own riding pleasure looking after your tyres is a really good idea or even treat yourself to a set of upgraded higher performance tyres.
Secondly, underflated or bald tyres can be dangerous, so looking after your tyres is really looking after yourself.
Thirdly, if you are caught with tyres with illegal tread wear then you can face a fine of up to £2500 and 3 points on your licence, and a policeman walking past a parked bike can see the tread depth much more obviously than on a car.
To avoid this there are two very simple basic checks you can do on your tyres in less than 5 mins. 1. Check the tyre condition & wear.
The current law states – “The legal limit of tyre tread depth in the UK for motorcycles over 50cc is 1mm across ¾ of the width of the tread pattern and with visible tread on the remaining ¼. For motorcycles up to 50cc the law requires that all the grooves of the original tread pattern must be clearly visible.”
So to check the condition and wear of the tyre, firstly you want to give the tyre a visual inspection, just look for anything like cracks, bald spots, lumps, thorns, nails etc anything that looks bad. Then you need to check the remaining tread depth, using a proper gauge, or a ruler or the edge of a coin. If you’re not sure it the depth is legal then it’s probably time to get some fresh tyres on.
You also want to look at the profile of the tyre as unlike car tyres, motorcycle tyres will “square off” meaning that instead of being a nice smooth arc as you look straight along the tyre, the tyre will wear flat and become more ‘square’. If this starts to happen you’ll feel it when you ride and it’s time for new tyres.
2. Check the tyre pressure.
Again because you’re so much more involved with the ride and the feel of a bike, having the correct tyre pressure makes a huge difference to a bike. To find the correct pressure for your tyres you should consult your user manual, or contact your dealer or manufacturer. To check the pressure you can do it at a petrol station but be warned the gauges there aren’t always very accurate. You can invest in a digital tyre pressure gauge, (Oxford sell one for £14.99) and it has a nice easy digital display and will tell you exactly what your pressure is. If they need topping up then you can do it are the petrol station, your local garage, or a decent upright bicycle pump will be more than enough.
If you do a quick check on your tyres once a week, it takes no time at all once you’ve done it a few times, and will keep you safer and happier.