Top Tips For Caring For Your Motorcycle Tyres

a picture of Ari who is the owner of Tyreman M/C
Ari Kypuros Owner & Founder of Tyreman M/C
10 mins August 10, 2022

Riding a bike with a faulty tyre is a bad idea; it’s that simple. You are putting your life and the lives of others on the road at risk. This is the primary reason why it is vital to understand the status of your bike’s tyres to ensure they are safe.

So, how long do motorcycle tyres last? While many factors will affect your tyres’ lifespan, such as how much riding you do, your riding style and the terrain, an estimated lifespan of 6000km for front tyres and 2900km for rear tyres should be kept in mind. This would typically apply to sports bikes with a spirited riding characteristic. The usable life, however, can be far greater on a scooter or lighter motorcycle ridden conservatively.

Use this as a rough rule to know when it may be time to change your tyres and keep reading to learn some tips to ensure the ultimate care of your bike tyres for longevity and protection on the road.

A mechanic inspecting a motorbike

Check for wear and tear

You should never use tyres that are not safe to ride on. Therefore, the first step is being able to identify unsafe tyres to ensure you avoid riding on them. The primary checkpoints for wear and tear of motorcycle tyres include:

  • Seeing if the legal minimum tread depth limit is still available, which is a feature all tyres have through the thread depth indicator located in the groove of the tyre. The rule of thumb would be a minimum of 1.6mm tread depth to ride safely
  • Checking for any major tearing that may be present on your tyre
  • Spotting tyre discolouration; if your tyres have a blue/green tint, this can mean that the oils that keep the tyre soft are reaching the surface of the tyre, signalling that it is time for replacements
  • Check for any punctures or other external damage
  • Ensure there are no bulging areas on the tyres

The presence of these points above will likely mean that it is time for new tyres. Check out our article on the top signs your motorcycle tyres need changing for a deeper dive into this topic.

a guy wearing a blue jumpsuit checking the air pressure of a motorcycle tyre in store

Ensure proper tyre pressure

Different motorcycles will require different tyre pressures to ensure their best performance. Your bike’s user manual will state the optimal tyre pressure, and it is important that you maintain this at all times.

We recommend regularly checking and filling the air in your bike’s tyres, especially before significant trips. The following should be taken into consideration when dealing with tyre pressure:

  • The weight of the bike
  • The load on the bike (passengers/luggage)
  • The different pressures for front and rear tyres

For a better understanding of the tyre pressure relevant to your bike type, read our tyre pressure safety guide.

a woman riding a motorbike along the road

Always warm in your new tyres

Brand-new tyres should be warmed up or “broken in” and ridden carefully until this happens. The recommended minimum ride to break in your tyres is 160 km, after which it is important to inspect the tyres and check the tyre pressure. For track riders, there is also the option of using tyre warmers if you don’t have the time to break in the tyres beforehand.

To warm up tyres on the track, use smooth but strong acceleration and braking to build heat slowly. Then, gradually increase your lean angles on the bends to further increase the heat being generated. For road riding, wipe-your tires using a clean, dry cloth, then take a long-distance ride that will gradually warm up and scrub the tyres.

Why do we do all of this? Most tyre manufacturers use release agents which help to separate newly-formed tyres from their moulds, leaving behind a glossy finish that needs to be “scrubbed” using the method above to ensure optimal grip.

Keep an eye out for scalloping/cupping

Tyre scalloping is when a tyre has uneven wear, and this is usually caused by the tyre gripping the road as you make turns. This effect can be increased by:

  • Under-inflated tyres
  • Suspension wear
  • Unbalanced tyres
  • Hard turning
  • Over acceleration
  • Hard braking
  • Excessive bouncing

This is not completely unavoidable, but keeping an eye on these issues can reduce scalloping/cupping. You can fix the issue if it occurs and has not reached a replaceable level. Worn suspension and shocks can cause cupping, so having a mechanic check this and your alignment can help reduce the chance of cupping.

people sitting atop touring bikes heading around a corner

Soft braking and Acceleration

Your riding style will have a significant effect on the longevity of your tyres. Aggressive braking can cause your tyres to deteriorate faster. Every rider should develop and practice a sound braking technique.

If you are approaching a stop position, start to roll off the throttle and check your mirrors to ensure other road users are at a safe distance. Next, apply a gentle pressure to both brakes, then progressively squeeze both front and rear brake levers, applying slightly more pressure to the front brake than the rear.

a mechanic changing a motorcycle tyre

Have a professional install and balance your tyres

Professional tyre installation and balancing provides the following must-haves:

  • The right balance for your tyres
  • Assurance that your tyres are matched
  • No damage will be done to the wheel during the change of tyre
  • The correct installation technique
  • The right pressure and tyre type for your bike

Tyreman MC are tyre installation experts who can help ensure your ride is set up correctly. Always leave it to the experts for true peace of mind and the correct and safe bike set-up.

Wash your Tyres with soap and water

When cleaning your tyres, it is important that you avoid cleaning products with chemicals that can weaken the tyre over time. Play it safe, and clean with a simple water and basic soap combination.

When cleaning your motorcycle tyres, consider the following:

  • The best way to clean your tyres is with a bucket of warm water, a stiff brush and plenty of elbow grease
  • Under no circumstances should you use bleach to clean your tyres
  • Vinegar is a safe, natural option for cleaning your tyres
  • Dish soap is another helpful, simple option for tyre cleaning

In most cases, you are making a much safer bet by using a cleaner that has been specifically designed for tyres over something that is made for cleaning toilets. The warm water and elbow grease option is still our highest recommendation.

Washing your bike’s tyres regularly is also important, especially after long road trips. Built-up mud and dirt can take a serious toll on your tyres, and if not washed properly, you increase the risk of skidding on the road due to all of the accumulated grime and dirt.

a cruiser motorcycle parked beside a brick wall

Keep tyres out of the sun when not in use

Your tyres can deteriorate much faster as a result of temperature changes, sunlight exposure, and other weather-related factors. Therefore, we recommend keeping your bike in a garage and out of the elements. If you need to store your bike for long periods of time, place it on a stand, so the wheels are not resting on the ground.

Being mindful or how your bike is stored and cared for when not in use is just as important as the care you take when riding it. All of this increases your bike’s performance and safety levels.

A close up of a damaged motorcycle tyre

Don’t be slack with repairs

If you do happen to spot an issue, such as a nail or tear in your tyre, do not postpone its repair. We strongly recommend that you avoid further riding and have the issue fixed as soon as possible.

A long-distance ride with a nail in the tyre is extremely dangerous. To avoid further and more expensive damage, have your bike towed to the garage. Repairs are not something to be pushed down the to-do list!

Ensuring you have the best tyres for every ride

Over time, your tyres will inevitably lose their grip. Wear and tear is a part of riding, and if you notice your tyres are not gripping the road properly, play it safe and get them replaced. A tyre that cannot provide a strong grip can lead to serious accidents, especially in wet conditions.

If in doubt, let the tyre experts at Tyreman MC assess your tyres (and bike) to confirm if you are riding on something that is safe. We love motorcycles and want to ensure our roads are safe for riders and other users. Be smart with your bike and let Tyreman MC ensure it is in good condition today.