How to Inspect and Maintain Motorcycle Tires

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Tires: The Only Thing Between You and the Road

Inspection is easy when tires are new, but as rubber ages, more care must be taken to ensure that their integrity is maintained. Photo © Basem Wasef

Rubber is the only thing separating you, the motorcyclist, from the road, and a visual inspection of your tires before every ride is a good habit that shouldn't take much time. Maintaining proper tire pressure is also an important part of bike maintenance, and you should check your pressure once a week. 

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Inspection & Checking Tire Pressure

Always check your tire pressure while they're cold, before you start riding. Photo © Basem Wasef

Inspecting Your Tires

Under well-lit conditions, look for any signs of punctures (such as nails or shards of glass) which might potentially lead to a loss of pressure or a blowout. Bulging or cracking might also occur on old tires; make sure you roll your bike forward in order to see all surface areas that come in contact with the road.

Checking Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is especially crucial on motorcycles, and handling and ride quality can change dramatically with small adjustments. Tires also wear more quickly when they're not properly inflated, adding yet another reason to check tire pressure regularly.

The best time to check tire pressure is before you start riding while the tires are cool; once the bike is in motion, tire temperatures warm up, which changes the density and pressure of the air inside.

Always use your owner's manual for recommended PSI levels. If you're using non-standard tire sizes on your bike, go by the pressure figures printed on the sidewall.

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Adding Air Pressure to Tires When Necessary

Ensure a tight seal with the Schrader valve when inflating tires. Photo © Basem Wasef

After checking tire pressure, inflate them using compressed air until they reach the recommended pressure. If they're over-inflated, simply bleed them by depressing the center of the Schrader valve until they are properly inflated.

If you check tires after a few hours of riding, anything more than a 10% gain in pressure could indicate they're working too hard. If that's the case, you'll want to lighten the load and/or slow down.

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How to Check Tread Levels

Use a quarter. Getty Images Credit: Michelle Halatsis / EyeEm

Adequate tire tread not only ensures tire integrity, it allows water to be channeled away from the contact patch, which helps maintain grip under wet conditions.

Using a quarter, ensure that when placed within the tread groove, there's enough tire tread to extend past the top of Washington's head. If it doesn't, it's probably time to replace your tire.