How Often Should I Replace Motorcycle Tires?

Mechanic replacing motorycle tires

Proper bike maintenance is the most foolproof way to ensure a long-lasting ride. For most motorcycle lovers, this is not a problem. We love spending extra time with our bikes—taking them for rides, tinkering with their bells and whistles, and testing their boundaries.

At the center of all this activity is the tires. They are the only barrier between your body and the ground, so making sure they are taken care of is essential.

Tires vary in their durability, composition, and overall longevity. This means you need to be able to notice signs of wear and understand when to replace the motorcycle tires.

Tire Composition

replace the motorcycle tires at Dunlop. Mechanic changing the tires

Despite popular perception, tires are extremely complex products made from many layers of unique compounds and materials. These layers give the tire its structure, flexibility, and durability—all of which are needed to perform at the highest level.

The most visible area of the tire is its tread pattern. Located around the exterior of the tire, the textured pattern that sits on top of the tire carcass can tell you a lot about how many miles your tires have left.

Motorcycle tires have a variety of uses, from off-roading to adventure touring. Consistent use causes the tires to slowly wear away, causing the tread to become less effective over time. As the road wears down the tread, you will be able to tell the general tire condition using something called a penny test.

To know when to replace the motorcycle tires, simply put a penny head-first into one of the tread grooves on the tire. Provided that the tread covers Abraham Lincoln’s head, it is not too shallow. In the United States, the acceptable tread depth is usually 2/32 of an inch. If you insert the penny and see Lincoln’s head or face, you need to replace the motorcycle tires as soon as possible.

Tire Age

replace the motorcycle tires

You should replace the motorcycle tires if they are over five years old. However, this is a general guideline to follow, and it does not apply to all situations. You may be able to use tires that are older than five years if they sat in storage for the first one to three years without extensive damage.

Rear motorcycle tires typically require replacement more frequently than front tires. Most motorcyclists will go through two rears for every front, but some touring rear tires will last just as long as their counterparts.

Tire mileage depends on several factors, including:

  • Underinflated/overloaded tires (side wear)
  • Overinflated tires (center wear)
  • Insufficient tire rotation
  • Improper wheel alignment

These issues create not only uneven wear but also accelerated wear. Motorcycle maintenance is necessary for extending the life of your tires, which explains why it is hard to generalize tire timelines—each set of circumstances has a different impact.

External factors such as weather patterns and road conditions also play a major role. If you frequently drive on smooth pavement, your tires are going to last longer than if you ride a very coarse road daily. Sport bike tires are made of softer compounds than say a sport touring or cruiser tires, so they will tend to wear out quicker in the same environment.

It is important to make sure you have the right tires for your riding style. Having the wrong type of tires can cause their lifespan to deteriorate quickly.

Other Signs of Wear

tire plugs and patches are great repair options if you don't want to replace the motorcycle tires

With just your eye, you may also be able to notice other important signs of wear. If you notice that your tires have lost their round shape and look more angular, it is probably because they have seen many miles.

In this situation, you might try re-inflating the tires to see if you notice any changes. It is possible that the tire pressure is low and causing your tires to appear misshapen. You may also consider replacing them, as the irregular shape can cause poor handling and banking.

When you have a punctured tire, you should always use a patch or plug-patch to fix it. Cheap plugs do not require you to take the tire off the wheel, and it is important to assess the inside of the tire before you repair a puncture. Black shavings on the inside of the tire indicate that you have had significant low-pressure wear and that you need to replace the motorcycle tire altogether.

Another sign of wear is cracking. When the rubber is dried out and begins rotting, it will appear as cracks on the surface. This is more common in hot, dry climates and it can be a major safety concern, causing dangerous tire blowouts while you are riding. If you see cracking, you should replace the motorcycle tires as soon as you can.

If you need to replace your motorcycle tires, contact Dunlop today to get started on an order!