October is National Tyre Safety Month – which is a great reminder to check our tyres.
Tyres are the only part of our motorcycle, scooter or moped in contact with the road surface, and their effective performance is critical when we are accelerating, braking, steering and cornering.
Doing all these things safely depends on this relatively small area of contact – which is why it’s so important our tyres are properly maintained and kept in good condition, if we aim to stay upright.
Only 20cms of tyre touches the road at any time so we need to make sure it’s a good 20cms!
With a bit of loving care and attention, our tyres will help us achieve maximum performance, enjoyment and safety from our rides without disruption and at minimal cost.
Failure to comply with the minimum legal standards can result in fines and penalty points, a poor ride or even worse, life-changing injury/fatality. There’s no sugar-coating reality.
Motorcyclists of all types of bikes should check their tyres once a week and do a visual check every time we ride.
Don’t think because you’re riding a 50cc it’s not as important: good tyres are as vital on a moped as they are on a Honda Gold Wing.
There are three crucial things to check:
- Inflation pressure
Tyre pressure influences how our bikes handle, brake and accelerates. Correct pressures reduce our risk of losing control, particularly in more challenging circumstances on the road. Make sure you know the required pressure for your bike – it should be in your handbook. If not, check out the manufacturer’s website then check it’s still correct by using a pressure gauge at your local petrol station.
Tyres are in constant physical contact with the road and can be damaged by debris, potholes and kerbs. It’s essential to check your tyres haven’t picked up something unusual along the way, such as a nail or sharp stone.Look out for any cracking of the tread or sidewall rubber, and any cuts or bulges, which can be sign of internal damage. If you spot any, get your tyres examined by a tyre specialist without delay.In addition, stay alert to any change in performance or behaviour as you’re riding, such as new noises or more vibration. They could be tell-tale signs that something isn’t right with your tyres.If you have any kind of riding impact but think you’ve got away without any damage, don’t risk it: have your bike checked over by a tyre professional.
Tread ensures a tyre stays in contact with the road during wet conditions. You need to be aware of the minimum legal limit for your size of motorcycle.The legal limit of tyre tread depth in the UK for motorcycles over 50cc is 1mm across ¾ of the width of the tread pattern and with visible tread on the remaining ¼. For motorcycles up to 50cc the law requires that all the grooves of the original tread pattern must be clearly visible.Not sure what to look for? Motorcycle tyres normally have tread wear indicators in the tread grooves and as these are approached, you should consider replacement. Once the indicators are level with the tread surface, your tyre should be replaced.
Our tyres will take care of us if we take care of them. Avoid the parts of the road where debris collects. Hatched areas are great for filtering, but equally great hiding places for glass, nails and other tyre shredders.
You may feel deflated in more ways than one if you try filtering through those parts of the road not used by other traffic.
Want some more advice on tyres?