Most of us motorcycle enthusiasts love to ride in part because we trust the craftsmanship and abilities of our bikes so much. If you think about it, it really is remarkable how all of the individual components of a motorcycle come together to give us that ride and feeling we love. However, it’s also important to keep up with your maintenance in order to ensure that your hallowed ride stays safe.
One of the most important components of your motorcycle is the tires. Most of us are aware that we need to keep our tires at a certain PSI in order to ride optimally and maximize efficiency, but it’s also important to understand how long tires are generally expected to last. So if you have ever sat around and wondered, “How many miles do motorcycle tires last?” the good news is that you are not alone.
The bad news though is that the answer is not as simple as an easy mile calculation. There are many factors that go into motorcycle tire life expectancy. Mileage is certainly one of them, but there are other aspects to consider as well.
Tread of the Tire
One of the quickest ways to determine whether or not you need to replace your motorcycle tires is to look at the tread on the tires. You are generally required by both federal and state laws to ensure that the tread on your motorcycle tires is at least 1/32 or 2/32 deep.However, keep in mind that not all areas of your motorcycle tire wears evenly. Unless you spend all of your time driving around in circles, it’s very likely that the middle of your motorcycle tire is going to lose tread faster than the outer parts of it.
Thus, when you are examining your motorcycle tire lifespan by means of the tread, you should definitely look at the tread in the middle of the tire first.
Age of the Tire
Ah, yes, the age-old question, “How old can motorcycle tires be and still be safe?” The good news here is the answer can be readily found by checking your manufacturer’s recommendations in regards to your particular tire make and brand. To this end, different manufacturers give you different answers.
However, if you are looking for a ballpark figure, generally the average front tire of a sportbike lasts 3700 miles. Rear tires tend to need to be changed much more frequently, and the ballpark figure here is closer to 1800 miles. If you would prefer your ballpark figure to be in the form of a time limit, generally speaking you should replace your tires every five years at the latest.
Of course, if you want to get this many miles out of your motorcycle tires, you are going to need to inspect them regularly and make sure that maintenance is up-to-date on your bike. The longevity of your tires is not just dependent on their age, but also the conditions that you drive them in and also the care you take regarding the rest of your bike. Bikes that enjoy more regular maintenance tend to have tires that last longer as compared to bikes that don’t get as much love.
Additionally, bikes that are driven on pavement in better condition also have tires that last longer. It probably goes without saying that if you typically drive around on a parking lot full of rusty nails, you can’t really expect your motorcycle tires to last that long.
Defects of the Tire
Tread and age are not the only things that can cause motorcycle tires to go bad. General defects also need to be taken into consideration. For example, sometimes your tire might experience dry rot in the sidewalls. This often looks like cracking along the sides of the tire. If you see dry rot, you definitely need to replace your tires as soon as possible. This goes even if the actual tread of the tire is in good shape. (Generally speaking, you come across dry rot more often in bikes that are exposed to a lot of harsh sunlight. So desert rats are going to experience this more than rain warriors.)
Pay attention to the side profile of your wheels as well. Bikes that get a lot of ride time often end up with oddly square-looking wheels. If your wheels look anything less than round, this is an indication that wear and tear has taken its toll on your tires. You should replace them.
Either this or you should try checking the tire pressure and re-inflating. The problem might be a lack of air.
Another very common defect that most motorcyclists experience at some point is a flat or punctured tire. Unlike with four-wheeled vehicles, once a motorcycle tire experiences a puncture of any sort that tire should be replaced.
Yes, there are plenty of patch kits out on the market (and you should certainly have one on you in case you do end up running over the aforementioned rusty nail at some point), the job of the patch kit is simply to get you to the nearest mechanic so that you can purchase a new tire. Once a motorcycle tire is punctured, it is not recommended to drive around on the patch for any longer than absolutely necessary.
How Can I Tell If My Tires Need To Be Replaced?
Along with “how long do motorcycle tires last?”, this is probably one of the more common questions. Obviously, this question is easy to answer if your tire has experience a puncture: you need to replace the tire right away.
Otherwise, one of the best ways to tell if your tires need to be replaced is through the way the bike feels when you ride it. Of course, there is very little like riding a new bike for the first time, but if your ride feels especially odd or off, it’s very likely that the tires aren’t performing the way that they used to. If you are experiencing odd vibrations or tire slippage during turns, that’s also a good sign that you probably need to invest in a new set.
Another telltale sign is if your wheels no longer hold air. Of course, even new tires need to be pumped up at some point, but if it’s literally happening every single time you’re trying to get in the saddle, you may need to invest in new tires.
When you do decide to go for a new pair, make sure you’re aware of the best motorcycle tires for sale.