Motorcycle Tire Tips From Dunlop

Motorcycle Tires

There are some basic rules about tires that can greatly enhance the performance and safety of riding. Aside from the obvious, such as only using tires marked "front" for the front, and tires labeled "rear" for the back, here are some tips that can extend tire life and ensure better tire performance.

Tires of uneven wear front and rear can greatly affect handling. A new front tire matched with a worn rear tire can cause instability. Also, mixing radials, or mixing radials with bias or belted tires can also affect handling.
It’s always recommended that tires be matched, fitting tires such as Dunlop’s Sportmax, Sportmax II D204, Sportmax touring D205 and Dunlop D207 high-performance radials in pairs.

Without question, the single most important maintenance a rider can perform is checking and maintaining proper tire pressure. Always follow manufacturer recommendations and adjust tire pressure accordingly to loads and riding situation, such as riding with or without a passenger and luggage, and hard riding as opposed to touring.

Underinflated tires can affect cornering, resulting in less precise handling and higher running temperatures. Overinflating tires does not increase the load capacity and can result in a hard ride and accelerated tire wear. Check tires cold with a dependable, good quality gauge that holds the reading (for accuracy).

Inspect tires frequently for any visible damage. Take note of warning signs like vibration, instability or unusual noise as these could be warning signs of damage or imminent failure. Always seek out professional help for any questions or concerns you may have about your tires.

Other Tire Tips from Dunlop

Run-in Period
Replacements for worn, differently patterned or constructed tires will not react the same. When new tires are fitted, they should not be subjected to maximum power, abrupt lean-over or hard cornering until a reasonable run-in distance of approximately 100 miles has been covered.

This will permit the rider to become accustomed to the feel of the new tires or tire combination, find the edge, and achieve optimum road grip for a range of speeds, acceleration and handling use. Check and adjust inflation pressure to recommended levels after tire cools for at least three (3) hours following run-in.

Remember, new tires will have a very different contact patch and lean-over edge. New tires, mixing a new tire with a worn older tire, and mixing different pattern combinations require careful ride evaluation.

Wheel Balance
It is essential tire/wheel assemblies be balanced before use and rebalanced each time the tire is removed or replaced. Unbalanced tire/wheel assemblies can vibrate at certain speeds, and tire wear will be greatly accelerated.

All Dunlop street tires should be installed with the yellow balance dot at the valve. Wheels may be balanced with spoke nipple weights, lead wire or self-adhesive rim weights. Consult the motorcycle manufacturer for approved wheel weights.

Dunlop does not recommend the use of dry or liquid balancers/sealers and will not warrant tires into which these materials have been injected. Tire and wheel assembly balance must be checked with a balance stand or computer wheel balancer.

Minimum Tread Depth
Excessively worn tires are more susceptible to penetrations. Always remove tires from service before they reach the tread wear indicator bars (1/32 of an inch tread pattern depth remaining). Worn/unworn tire combinations and worn tires used in wet conditions can result in deteriorated handling.

Load-Carrying
Tires offering different load-carrying capacities are available. Consider carefully the weight of the motorcycle, the weight of any optional equipment and whether it will carry passengers. Remember, the load- carrying capability of the tires is also reduced by under inflation.

It is possible to overload a tire even though it is the size specified by the motorcycle manufacturer. Maximum loads and corresponding pressures are indicated on the sidewall of all Dunlop street tires.

Never exceed the accessory restrictions and vehicle load capacity found in the motorcycle owner’s manual, or the maximum load molded on the tire sidewall. Before a trip, be sure to determine the total weight of luggage, equipment, and rider(s) to be added to the motorcycle.

Wheel Inspection
Bent wheel rims and bent or cracked cast wheels should be replaced immediately. Bent rims may cause wheel wobble, bead unseating and, in the case of tubeless tires, gradual air loss. Sudden wheel failure may result from the use of cracked cast wheels. Be aware of these conditions and their consequences.

Tire Pressure
Check cold tire pressure frequently with a good quality gauge that holds a reading, and always before every ride especially extended trips.

Inflate front tires to maximum recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Never exceed maximum load indicated on tire sidewall or vehicle capacity load found in owner’s manual.

Keep in mind that hard cornering, passengers, heavy loads and sustained high speeds will require higher pressures (up to that indicated on the sidewall).