31/03/2010: How well do you know your bike tyres?
Even though we all know that bikers are a far better informed bunch about their motorbike tyres than their car driving cousins are about theirs, there are still a lot of technical points that may pass you by. Motorbike tyres are actually highly developed pieces of technology and are certainly a lot more than the round black things that many would have you believe. In fact if you take a little time to learn more about motorbike tyres, you’ll find that your performance, your safety and your pocket will all benefit.
The first point about motorbike tyres - which must be obvious even to the least informed car driver – is that the front tyre is different from the back tyre. This is hardly surprising because the two different kinds of motorbike tyres are designed to do two very different jobs. The rear tyre is designed for traction and acceleration and to always offer a very good contact patch to the tarmac - even when the bike is leaning far over in corners – which is one of the reasons why motorbike tyres are made to be very tough.
The motorbike tyres for the front of the bike on the other hand, are designed to handle 80% of the braking effort, for turning in and out, and to provide stability that helps keep the bike upright with less effort from the rider. These requirements are absolutely critical in the design of motorbike tyres and they play an important part in making the bike more nimble and responsive to steering inputs as well as giving the rider a better riding experience. Fitting the wrong motorbike tyres to your machine is a seriously bad mistake.
So which motorbike tyres are right for your bike? Well it depends what kind of bike you’ve got. Motorbike tyres are designed for all styles of riding, from cruising to racing to off-roading, and the first thing you need to do is to be sure of your needs. This is very important when comparing prices because you may be offered motorbike tyres at a price that looks like a bargain but if they turn your greyhound into an old dog they won’t seem like a bargain after all. If you’re unsure, fit the manufacturer’s originals but you can upgrade if you like.
As you might expect, motorbike tyres are even more complicated than they might first appear, because the compounds from which they are made, the internal carcass construction, the way the plies are laid and the tread patterns are all carefully put together. The manufacturer’s aim is to offer the very best in terms of performance, safety and longevity to suit a particular kind of bike. You really can’t just fit any old motorbike tyres because your entire biking experience depends a lot more on the tyres than many people imagine.