Advantages and Disadvantages of a Wider Tire

motorcycle with a wider tire

Tires are complex products consisting of many layers of material. Designers pair these components together in unique variations to make each tire optimal for a certain type of terrain and riding style. One of these key variations is size, as a wider tire has many performance differences from its narrower counterparts.

Each tire has a distinct profile, and when comparing wide vs. narrow tires, there are many factors to consider. Each of these profiles performs optimally across various terrains. The profile changes both the motorcycle’s look and feel, making it important criteria for each rider to consider.

What Are The Advantages of a Wider Tire?

motorcycle with a wider tire

When most people think of a wide tire, they automatically assume that it has a larger footprint. However, in many cases, the tire’s inflation has more of an impact on the contact path than the profile itself.

Looking at wider tires, there are many advantages that make them a popular choice for all different riding styles and functionalities. Here are some of the top reasons why you might consider switching to a broader design:

Cornering Performance

In dry-weather environments, wide tires have excellent cornering performance. When these tires move across a surface, the shape of their footprint—not the size—helps the rider to maintain balance at higher speeds.

All things being equal, wider tires generate a more optimal slip angle, which allows them to provide a greater cornering force. All in all, this makes wider tires more suitable for racers and riders that corner often.

Tire Appearance

Many riders enjoy the overall aesthetic of wider tires. People tend to associate bigger tire profiles with more aggressive, sportier designs. If you want to make a statement with your bike, wide tires provide a look of athleticism and professionalism that may get you noticed.

Improved Grip (Dry Conditions)

Having wider tires is just one of the ways to improve the bike’s grip. Because there is more potential surface area for the tire to cover, there is a decreased interference from ground debris. Increasing the total contact area gives your bike more available road to hold onto, but it also decreases the force that the bike exerts.

Typically, you will see improved grip on drier surfaces if you use a wider tire. If you frequently ride on slick roads, however, you will want to choose the narrower tire which gives you greater contact force and cuts through the water better.

What Are The Disadvantages of a Wider Tire? 

Motorcycle with a wider tire

When deciding which type of tires to buy, you should know that wider tires (although popular) are not always the best option. Here are some of the disadvantages of going to a wider tire:

Overall Cost

Because they are literally bigger (and heavier), wide tires require more materials to manufacture. This increases the overall production cost, making them more expensive. You also want to consider the increased gas costs associated with a wider tire profile.

Due to the amount of friction generated (which remains optimal for sport uses), wide tires make the bike burn more fuel to generate greater speeds. Their weight also contributes to this, as the bike must utilize more energy to create forward momentum.

Lifespan

Factors including greater surface area, friction, and load capacity shorten the lifespan of wider tires. This causes riders to replace their tires more often, but riders that race or do any rough riding should expect eventual wear and tear.

Changed Handling

When you choose a tire that is wider than the bike’s recommended specification, it affects the overall handling experience. Before switching to a wider tire, you want to make sure that your vehicle can adapt to the changes successfully.

Going to a wider tire will affect your bike’s:

  • Steering capability: Wider tires need extra time to course-correct after turns. This requires more physical force from the rider, potentially making it harder for you to ride for extended amounts of time.
  • Safety systems: Features such as the ABS and traction controller are impacted by larger tires. The systems may not work optimally or accurately if the upgraded tires are significantly wider than the intended tires.
  • Acceleration: The bike will take longer to speed up, given the added tire weight.
  • Gauges: You may receive incorrect readings off your various pressure and speed gauges when you go to a wider tire.

Choosing the Right Tire

Motorcycles lines up

Any tire that exceeds the recommended size for your vehicle is considered wide. When you upsize to a wider tire, you need to make sure you are fitting it to a rim within its recommended rim range, so that it will not have an adverse effect on the bike’s overall performance.

If you drive in inclement weather such as rain, you probably should stick with standard tire size. Wider tires having more surface area, are more susceptible to hydroplane, so you could potentially compromise your safety on the road.

For racers, wide tires, which are typically taller as well to achieve a more aggressive profile, provide the cornering force needed to inch out the competition while maintaining a solid grip on the pavement. Choosing to go to a wider tire depends primarily on what types of sport capabilities you need. Make sure that when you upgrade, you have done the proper research to ensure that your new tires will keep you safe while you get out there and ride (i.e., check clearances on the bike and recommended rim ranges for the tire).

If you are interested in trying out a wider tire size on your bike, contact Dunlop Motorcycle Tires today to explore your options with a specialist.