News from Oakland Harley-Davidson

How Do Motorcycle Tires Differ from Automobile Tires

Posted by Ryan Beeman on Mar 7, 2017 6:00:00 PM
Picture of Ryan Beeman

We're all familiar with the dreaded time of the year when you have to replace the tires on your motorcycle. But what makes them so darn pricey? Well as it turns out there's a lot that goes into motorcycle tires that make them different than the tires on our cars or trucks. So here's the down low as well as some tips and tricks to get the most out of your tire investment.

Picture1.jpgHow Motorcycle Tires Differ from Automobile Tires

  • Wear occurs more rapidly on motorcycle tires than on auto or truck tires because the tire patch is much smaller, about the size of a credit card, than those found on four-wheeled vehicles.
  • This means that a great deal more force is applied to a motorcycle tire per square inch of tire patch than it is to other types of vehicles.
  • For safe, stress-free riding it's of critical importance to monitor tire wear and maintain you tires regularly.


Factors That Impact Tire Wear

  • Proper inflation - Which not only protects riders and passengers, but helps minimize tire wear
  • Aggressively riding – It stands to reason that pushing the bike means added wear and tear on the tires
  • Road surface - The gentler the surface, the longer the tires will remain roadworthy
  • Riding two-up - How often the bike is ridden two-up – the more weight put on the tires, the more wear you’re bound to see
  • Tire compounds – The chemical makeup of tires also impacts the degree of tire wear; sport tires are softer and stickier than other types of tires, resulting in more rapid wear
  • Bike maintenance – Improper maintenance of suspension, swingarm hardware and steering stem components can adversely affect tire wear also.

Tire Maintenance Basics - Air Pressure

  • CHECKING tire pressure is the most IMPORTANT tire maintenance function you can perform.
  • Properly inflated tires wear longer (saves you money)
  • Correct pressure promotes stable handling and maximum traction
  • Correct pressure reduces the risk of tire damage or failure
  • MAINTAIN tire inflation and load according to the motorcycle owner’s manual, tire information placard on the bike and restrictions molded on the tire sidewalls
  • Check tire pressure FREQUENTLY and when tires are COLD
  • Weekly during the riding season, daily on a trip


Tire Maintenance Basics - Tire Condition

  • MAINTAIN suspension settings in strict compliance with vehicle owner’s manual.
  • INSPECT the tire for cuts, gouges, or foreign objects that may cause punctures and loss of air pressure
  • Rotate both tires all the way around & check them completely
  • CHECK tread depth using a penny or a tread depth gauge
  • If you insert a penny into a groove in the center of your tire, 1/32 of an inch is right at the top of Lincoln’s head
  • Tread wear indicator bars become visible on the tread surface at 1/32“
  • Replace tire when or before 1/32” tread depth remains

Tire Maintenance Basics - Load Capacity

  • Check your owners manual for your load carrying capacity.
  • If its not displayed, check your owners manual or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate for your GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and use the following formula.

Time for math...

  ____________ Enter GWP    ___________ Enter weight of rider, passenger and gear
-____________ Subtract dry weight of motorcycle +___________ Add the weight of accessories
-____________ Subtract 40lbs for fluids +___________ Add the weight of any cargo
=____________ This is your load capacity of your motorcycle =___________ This is the load you are adding to your motorcycle

If the load you are adding to your motorcycle is greater than the load capacity of your bike, YOUR MOTORCYCLE IS OVERLOADED! Overloading your motorcycle could lead to loss of control, sudden tire failure, accident, injury or death.

Tire Maintenance Basics - Trailers, Sidecars

  • DO NOT pull a trailer behind your motorcycle.
  • Trailers may contribute to motorcycle instability, grossly exaggerated tire stresses and overloadPicture5.jpg
  • Such stresses and overload can cause irreversible damage resulting in sudden tire failure, accident or injury
  • Sidecars SHOULD NOT be fitted unless approved by the motorcycle manufacturer.
  • Pulling a trailer behind your motorcycle can VOID both your motorcycle and tire warranty


Why Should You Buy Harley-Davidson® Replacement Tires?

  • Harley® has partnered with 2 of the premier tire brands in the world to create approved Harley-Davidson® co-branded tires
  • Exclusively designed, tested and approved to deliver optimum performance on each Harley-Davidson® vehicle application
  • Engineered to deliver optimal riding quality, handling characteristics and overall performance as designed from the factory
  • Anything else (aftermarket tires) are a performance downgrade!
  • Remember: Use only Harley-Davidson® specified tires. Using non-specified tires can adversely affect stability, handling and braking


Dunlop® Harley-Davidson® Tire Series

  • Deliver an exceptional combination of durability, comfort and handling designed specifically for Harley-Davidson® motorcycles
  • Can be visually identified by the bold “Harley-Davidson” script on the sidewall
  • Factory installed on current Touring, Trike, Softail®, Dyna Fat Bob®, Dyna Switchback™ and Sportster Seventy-Two® models. Can also be installed on a replacement tire on other specified models
  • New D407T Touring tire is the highest-mileage touring tire ever offered by Harley-Davidson®
  • Comes stock on MY14 Touring models, also fits ‘09-’13 Touring models.


Harley-Davidson® Co-Branded Michelin Scorcher® Tires

  • Deliver an exceptional combination of durability, comfort and handling designed specifically for Harley-Davidson® motorcycles
  • Can be visually identified by the bold “Harley-Davidson” script on the sidewall
  • Factory installed on current V-Rod® and most Sportster® and Dyna® models. Can also be installed as a replacement through authorized Harley-Davidson® dealers.
  • Available exclusively through authorized Harley-Davidson® dealers


Key Takeaways for Tire Maintenance

  • Maintain/check air pressure regularly
  • Monitor tire condition
  • Maintain load in accordance with capacity guidelines

Tire Maintenance Tools

  • H-D Digital Tire Pressure Gauges
  • H-D Tread Depth Gauges

Ensure you use a high quality accurate gauge when checking your tires

  • Gauges can become inaccurate over time due to wear and tear
  • Harley-Davidson offers several high quality gauges which are designed for ease of use with on your Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle

After all that do you find that you need a new tire?

We're here to help. Give a shout to our Service team and they will hook you up.

Request a Service Appointment

Want to check out some more Basic Maintenance for Your Harley-Davidson Motorcycle?

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Topics: Oakland H-D News, Parts & Accessories, Service, Riding in the Bay Area, Current Rider

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