Choosing the right tyres is vital
The best type of tyres for you
04 September 2008 12:30
Perhaps one of the most important things on any motorcycle is the tyres and it's important that you choose the correct type of tyres for your bike and your style of riding.
If all you do is commute to work through city traffic then it would be daft to go for the most expensive race-orientated rubber you could find, a harder compound tyre with more tread would be more suited to commuting.
Likewise if your motorbike is a track only bike you won't want touring tyres. Below we will advise you on the best tyres for you and give advice on maintaining and checking tyres.
Track/sport bike tyres
If you own a sports bike and the majority of your riding is either fast road riding or track riding then there's plenty of choice out there for you. Most sport-orientated tyres are amde up of several different compounds to increase grip and tyre life.
The centre of the tyreis made up of a harder compound because that is the part of the tyre that will be in contact with the road most. The harder compound will mean the tyre lasts longer.
The edges of multi-compound tyres are generally made up of softer compounds for higher grip levels when cornering. The Bridgestone BT016 Battlax and Michelin Pilot Power 2CT are good tyres for track riding and sports bike riding.
If you're going to be covering huge distances on your bike you'll want a harder compound tyre that has a longer life than soft, sticky sport-biased tyres.
You'll want something hard enough to last a long time but that offers enough grip for stable and confident cornering. Something like the Metzeler ME880 Marathon or the Dunlop D103.
Off road and on road capability
A popular style of bike at the moment is the big trailie, like a BMW R1200GS or Yamaha XT660Z Tenere. A lot of the owners of these bikes may never take them off road, but the few who do, will need a tyre which is the perect compromise between an off road and road tyre.
They'll want enough 'blocks' on the tyre to offer grip on the rough stuff but they'll want as few tread lines as possible for it to give good grip and feedback while cornering on the road. The Continental Conti Escape and Metzeler Tourance are good compromises
Below we will give you tips on how to make sure your tyres are safe for road use.
Tyre pressure: It's important to check your tyre pressures regularly as incorrect tyres can worsen the handling of your bike and increase tyre wear.
If the tyre is under-inflated then the tyre can overheat and this will destroy the internals of the tyre, making it unsafe. If the tyre is over-inflated then the tyre will wear unevenly (e.g. the tyre could 'square off'), this can also cause instability.
If you are riding on track then the tyre will need to be about 5psi below the suggested road pressure to offer better levels of grip. But DO NOT use track pressures on the road!
A good tool to keep in your tool kit on the bike would be a pencil tyre gauge. They may not be 100% accurate but they give a good enough reading for you to know if you're tyre is wrongly inflated.
Air pressure should be measured when your tyres are cold to give a more accurate reading. If you take the pressure when the tyres are hot you will get an inaccurate reading because the tyre is full of hot (expanded) air.
Tyre tread: The tread depth of a tyre is very important. The minimum legal limit is 1mm, but it is advised that you keep the tread above 2mm to be on the safe side as it will de extremely dangerous in the wet with 2mm of tread or less.
Tyre tread gauges are available to buy from most car accessory shops.
Carrying a pillion: A lot of bikers don't bother changing their tyre pressures for when they carry a pillion, but it is advisable to do so. If you have it handy, refer to the owners manual for correct tyre pressures for carrying pillions. If you don't have the manual handy then it's best to add 3psi - 5psi to account for the extra weight.