Ever wondered how long tires last on a motorcycle?
Well, motorcycle tires don’t actually have an expiry date. Their longevity mainly depends on usage and maintenance. Keeping your tires regularly checked, buying from reliable manufacturers, and riding carefully will help them last longer.
In this article, we’ll talk about the right time to replace a set of tires, what causes them to wear out, and more. Let’s start.
Factors Affecting Tire Life
Many factors affect the life of your tire. Here are some considerations that contribute to tire wear.
Average Mileage Of A Motorcycle Tire
Manufacturers and safety authorities don’t provide a specific guideline about the life expectancy of a tire in terms of the distance it travels. But here are some ballpark figures:
- Front tire: Since the front tire does not experience a great deal of load, it can generally last approx 3,700 miles (ca. 5,955 km).
- Rear tire: Takes most of the load so it can only last for approximately 1,800 miles (ca. 2,897 km) on average.
You can only rely on these figures if you maintain your bike and have it checked regularly. So keep track of your motorcycle’s mileage when you buy new tires to determine their lifespan.
More speed means more heat, which gradually increases the treadwear rate and decreases the life of a tire.
At high speed, your tires tend to produce more friction with the road, generating more heat which softens the tire’s rubber. So, while you may like the thrill of riding at top speed, if you want your tires to last, ride within the standard range.
Are Your Tires Inflated Properly
Proper inflation is crucial because incorrect inflation can cause your tires to wear rapidly. Most manufacturers include inflation ratings on rear and front tires, just like the speed ratings. Following that, rating not only optimizes performance but also improves fuel economy.
Similarly, the right amount of pressure distributes the vehicle load on both the tires and enhances acceleration, braking, and cornering force on the tread.
It is advisable to check the tire’s air pressure level every two weeks to ensure everything is working smoothly. The correct pressures will be in your owner’s manual.
Read more about motorcycle tire pressure, tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and the best pressure gauge options.
Your tires’ tread plays an important role in improving the grip on all surfaces and repelling water. Since the middle of your tire makes the most contact with the road, it tends to wear out more quickly.
Federal and state regulations require that tires have tread depths of between 1/32 to 2/32 inches. If your tires have hit that limit, they have already worn out, and it’s time to replace them.
The tires’ average mileage on a rough and broken road differs greatly from a smooth one. For example, if you ride on bumpy terrain, then its lifespan may be cut in half. But if you roam on city roads more, it can last longer.
Keep in mind that specific tires are also built for different roads. Off-roading on bumpy trails will negatively affect tires that were built for the city and vice versa. Using the appropriate type of tire will make your tires last longer.
Proper Alignment Of The Wheels
Misaligned rims and wheels can cause dog-legging. This leads to instability, mishandling of the vehicle, and rapid tire wear.
You can’t adjust the front wheel if it’s out of line without professional help, but you can shift the dropouts on the rear wheel.
Toe alignment also affects tire wear. So, what is the most appropriate alignment? The tires will move sideways for every mile traveled for about 150 feet (ca. 46 m) if the setting is off by 1/16th of an inch. This will mess up your tire treads big time, so get that sorted out as soon as you can.
High Torque Can Wear Tires
Riding out with tire marks behind you might look cool, but it’s sacrificing your tire’s lifespan. You won’t just be dealing with skid marks but potentially cracks in your sidewalls.
How To Identify The Age Of Motorcycle Tires
Manufacturers quote a date on their tires when it’s ready to be shipped. This date is when the lifespan of a motorcycle tire begins. To find out how old a tire is, check its Tire Identification Number (TIN). The last four digits indicate the week and year of the production. For example, 1020 represents the tenth week of 2020.
Here’s a video to help you identify the markings on your tire
How Do I Know When I Need New Motorcycle Tires?
A general rule of thumb is not to use tires over five years old. Another sign that you need new tires is when they develop cracks along the sidewalls or the tread due to intense sunlight exposure.
Another clear sign is if the tires lose pressure too quickly. This is most likely because the bead has worn down, suggesting a need for replacement.
How To Inspect Motorcycle Tires — Physical Inspection:
Most modern manufacturers make motorcycle tires with a suggested date for replacement. That said, it’s useful to look at your tires and know if they need replacing or not. New tires come with a tread depth of five to six millimeters, which decreases over time.
Small bumps indicate tire treadwear in the grooves of the tread. Usually, when you get to those bumps in the tread surface, about one millimeter is left in the track, meaning replacement is due.
Here’s a rough checklist of things to look out for:
- How often does the tire lose pressure?
- Are there cracks in the sidewalls or the tread?
- Has the tire hit the tire wear indicator?
Check out this video to learn more about physical tire inspection
Motorcycle Tire Wear Indicator\TWI
You can check the tire wear indicator (TWI) marked as a triangle on the side of the tire. It refers to the rubber line running across the tire tread. So, if you find that the line is equal to or below the line of the top tread groove, it’s time to change them.
Despite hitting the TWI, you can still get a few more kilometers or miles on your motorcycle. Just ride slower and stick to the speed rating as you look for a place to change your tires.
Do I Need To Change Motorcycle Tires After Five years?
You’ll find brands offering ten years of tire life. But ultimately, it’s up to you, your mechanic, and the environment your tires are stored in.
You should have your mechanic examine your motorcycle tires, even if they appear to be in good shape after five years. In any case, the life of a motorcycle tire does not exceed ten years, so you must replace them once they reach that age before they become unsafe to use.
Also read: Motorcycle tire change costs
Do Motorcycle Tires Go Bad With Age?
As tires age, oxidation occurs. This is when the rubber compounds are exposed to oxygen, causing them to harden and become brittle. As the tires wear down over time, their performance will decline.
Also, take note that oxidation happens more quickly at higher temperatures. So keep your bike away from the heat if you can.
Do Unused Bike Tires Go Bad?
If you have a set of new tires and do not plan on using them right away, knowing how to store them properly is crucial.
The tires should be stored at room temperature, away from humidity or heat. You can wrap them in plastic and store them in the back corner of a closet. The idea is to keep them away from UV light, ozone, hazardous fumes, and excessive heat that can deteriorate their tread rubber.
How Long Do Tires Last in Storage?
Motorcycle tires will last longer if they are stored in the right conditions. If you’re doing that, you can expect your tires to last six to seven years, even if you’re not using them.
Hopefully, you’ve got an idea about how long tires last on a motorcycle and what makes them wear. If you’re still uncertain whether to change your tires or not, it’s always best to visit your mechanic to find out.