Tech Tips: How To Read Motorcycle Tire Wear

Tire Tread Wear Indicator
No matter what kind of motorcycle you ride, you should always pay attention to the quality of your tires. Whether you’re using slicks, off-road tires or those made for street bikes, you should know how to spot signs of wear. Tires are made of rubber, so every time you ride on the pavement, dirt or other surfaces, the friction erodes the material a bit. Eventually, the tires can grow bald, meaning there is no tread, which may make riding dangerous. This is why it is so important to keep an eye on your motorcycle tire health.

You will want to carefully examine the entire surface of the tire, from the areas that come into contact with the road to the sidewalls.

Tread wear indicator

The first thing you should check is the tire wear indicator (TWI), which is a triangle imprinted on the side of the tire. It points to a line of rubber that is built into the tire that runs across the tread. If you notice this line is level with the top of the tread grooves, you will need to replace the tire.

Other types of wear

Tire wear can indicate a number of issues. For instance, if the center of the tire is more worn than the edges, the tires may be over inflated. Conversely, underinflated tires will have worn edges. When your tires are underinflated, make sure to keep an eye on the pressure when you refill them. If it drops quickly, you may be dealing with a leak.

When the front tire has more wear than the rear, you may be braking too hard. If the front tire wear is mainly on the edges, try to take it easy on the curves, as cornering too hard can put added pressure on this section of the tire.

Tears and cupping, or scallop-like indentations, are other issues you should watch out for. They can be caused by the improper air pressure as well as shock springs or rebound that has been adjusted incorrectly.

Worn Tire Image Gallery

(Click for full size images)

Final Thoughts

The age of the tires can factor into their overall quality as well, and if you’re not sure how old they are, there are codes printed on them that allow you to determine their age. Check out “How To Read Motorcycle Tire Date Codes” for a guide on deciphering this information.

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