5 Basic Tips For Buying A Motorcycle Tyre
Published On 29-Nov-2019
[caption id="attachment_1006" align="alignnone" width="730"] Choosing the right tyre for your motorcycle is a must![/caption]
Riding motorcycles is one joyous and adrenaline pumping exercise. However, unlike cars, motorcycles are single-track vehicles, and because of this very reason they’re being tagged as outright ‘dangerous’ by the wise and the sensible of the world. Their logic is simple and quite rational if you give it a thought. For instance, if you make a mistake while riding a motorcycle, odds are that you’re likely to get hurt badly. There could be many reasons for a crash/accident, however, on several occasions it has been seen that motorcyclists meet with undeserved fate just because of some fault in the running components of a motorcycle. Tyres, for example, are one among them!
In order to ensure that your motorcycle always stays on the road with its rubber side down, it’s very important for you to keep that ‘rubber’ in good nick. And most importantly, you should be able enough to differentiate between different types of tyres while purchasing one for your motorcycle. For they are your motorcycle’s only contact patch with the road.
Here are some quick but essential tips before you purchase a replacement tyre for your motorcycle,
[caption id="attachment_621" align="alignnone" width="720"] Decoding a tyre code[/caption]
1. How do I know the correct tyre size for my motorcycle?
Be it car drivers or motorcyclists, many get confused by the markings found on a tyre’s sidewall. While motorcycle and car tyres differ from each other based on their construction and usage, the alphanumeric coding you see on both is standardized, barring a few details.
Before purchasing a tyre, you must be able to crack the tyre code since this will help you understand critical details of a tyre including its size, aspect ratio or profile, speed rating, load index, construction type, etc. All of which should be matched with the replacement tyre you’re eventually going to fit on your motorcycle.
Here’s a basic guide on How to read a tyre?
[caption id="attachment_1007" align="alignnone" width="784"] Bigger tread blocks do not necessarily result in increased 'grip' levels[/caption]
2. What’s the difference between various tread designs on a motorcycle tyre?
More than often, you’d have come across people who think a particular kind of tread pattern defines the road-grip levels of a tyre, which is true to an extent. However, most of the people believe bigger treads and deeper grooves result in increased grip levels and stability in all conditions. In addition to that, many people find this particular aspect visually appealing. As a result, they go ahead and fit these kind of tyres regardless of their riding conditions.
A tyre with large tread blocks and bigger grooves will have excellent traction in the wet or mud as it will ‘pump’ away more water/dirt from between the tyre contact patch and road-surface as it moves along. However, when a similar tyre is used on dry roads, the larger groove percentage will result in decreased contact patch of the tyre with road, resulting in lower grip levels.
Also, since we are on the topic of ‘grip’ levels, it’s worth mentioning that it depends greatly on a tyre's compound more rather than its tread pattern. A tyre made up of soft-compound will be more ‘sticky’ as it creates more friction when it runs hot. On the downside, a soft compound will wear out faster. A hard-compound tyre on the other hand will have exact opposite characteristics- it will have a longer life than a soft-compound tyre but as trade-offs you will get lower levels of grip and compromised handling.
[caption id="attachment_1008" align="alignnone" width="740"] Mixing a radial and bias-ply tyre is not a good idea, unless recommended by the motorcycle manufacturer[/caption]
3. Could I mix different construction-type tyres on a motorcycle? Like mixing bias-ply and radial tyre?
Ideally, you should not do that. Always try and stick to what your manufacturer recommends since they spend a lot of time and efforts developing your bike.
That said, in some of the cases it has been seen that bikes come factory fitted with a mix of bias-ply and radial tyres. The Yamaha R15 V2, for example, has bias-ply tyre up front while a radial is employed at the back. But like we have mentioned before, this setup may not work with every bike, so avoid getting caught up with this thought of mixing tyres.
In case you can not resist the temptation of mixing tyres on your motorcycle- make sure radial tyres are fitted on rear wheel whereas the bias-ply goes at front. Remember, you will be doing this entirely at your risk unless your manufacturer recommends doing so!
[caption id="attachment_1009" align="alignnone" width="768"] A wide tyre may result in affecting a motorcycle's performance in a negative way[/caption]
4. What’s the widest tyre I can fit on my motorcycle?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by motorcyclists all over the world across all segments. Just like tread design, a fatter/wider tyre on your motorcycle will serve more as a visual proposition rather than a functional one in most cases.
To understand this, we will briefly bring some technical terms in to the picture. A tyre tends to ‘grow’ in all directions when it is subjected to higher temperatures and centrifugal force. This means it needs some clearance as the motorcycle moves along the road. Fitting a wider tyre than required can hit a motorcycle’s vital components like swingarm or chain-set, etc.
Similarly, if you opt for a higher profile rubber, the circumference of the wheel or the rolling radius will significantly increase. This will result in change in gearing ratios and show errors in speedometer readouts. What’s more, it can also come in contact with fenders and swingarm. Something you won’t like much!
Another misconception among most of the motorcycle riders is that wider tyres help in increased grip levels. Well, yes, the contact patch definitely increases once you do that but, a wider tyre will ‘turn in’ worse than the stock tyre; the fuel economy will drop considerably while it will also affect the performance of the motorcycle.
[caption id="attachment_1025" align="alignnone" width="740"] Difference between tubeless and tube-type[/caption]
5. Can I use a tubeless tyre on a tube-type rim or use a tubeless tyre with a tube?
Again, this is one area where a lot of motorcycle owners get confused and unfortunately end-up making wrong choices. Let’s understand the what’s what of tubeless and tube-type tyres taking specific cases.
Tube-type tyre on tubeless rim: Most people do that, and will recommend you doing the same based on their experience. NEVER DO THAT! A tube-type tyre is not designed to run without a tube for a simple fact. If that had been the case, tyre manufacturers would not have taken the trouble to classify tyres as ‘Tubetype’ and ‘Tubeless’ in the first place.
A tubeless tyre has a different and reinforced bead design so that it can hold air against the rim in an ‘airtight’ manner. The bead design of a tube-tyre is not meant for that since it employs a ‘tube’ for the job of holding up air.
Tubeless tyre with tube: Running a tubeless tyre with a tube is allowed, but only when there’s an emergency. A tubeless rim/tyre has different internal design as opposed to a tube-type tyre/rim. In which case, an inner tube can get damaged, causing instant deflation. Other than this, a tube will alter a tubeless tyre’s properties as it will run much hotter than usual (added mass=increased rolling resistance). So, putting a tube inside a tubeless tyre is essentially a dis-service you’re doing to yourself while also putting your bones at risk!
If your motocycle’s tyres are tube-type, you may also get tempted to fit a tubeless tyre on your rim. Do note that if the rim is spoked, it won’t be able to hold air. In case it’s an alloy wheel, a tubeless tyre may fit, but again this would be going against the manufacturer’s recommendation. Also, tube-type and tubeless rims are designed differently. So is the case with their valve-stem. Don’t do that.
Many motorcycle owners can be seen carrying out aforesaid ‘modifications’ on their bikes. In some of the cases, many of the riders are ‘extremely satisfied’ with the results, too. Unfortunately, engineering doesn’t work on hit-and-trial methods. Hence, it’s recommended that you stick by the manufacturer approved specifications on your motorcycle and enjoy riding it in a carefree manner!