A patch of tire rubber no larger than a credit card is what connects a motorcycle to the road, and maintaining those tires is critical to motorcycle performance and to the safety of your ride.
The motorcycle tire experts at Harley-Davidson have put together the following tire-care tips for all riders.
A number of factors can influence the rate of motorcycle tire wear. One of the most critical is also frequently overlooked by riders: maintaining proper tire inflation pressure.
“Checking tire pressure is one of the most important tire-maintenance functions a rider can perform,” says Steve Bindl, H-D Product Portfolio Manager. “Properly inflated tires wear longer, and correct pressure promotes better braking, better fuel economy, maximizes traction, and reduces the risk of tire damage or failure.”
Tire pressure should be checked before every ride as a part of the pre-riding checklist in the motorcycle owner’s manual. Pressure should be checked when the tires are cold (before riding), and adjusted to the pressure listed in the motorcycle owner’s manual or on the tire information sticker located on the motorcycle.
Use a high-quality gauge intended for motorcycle use when checking your tires. The Harley-Davidson Digital Tire Pressure Gauge provides accurate pressure readings in 0.50 psi increments up to 60 psi, and features a 12-inch braided line and 90 degree angle chuck for easy access to valve stems.
SERVICE TIP: Pressure gauges can become inaccurate over time due to wear and tear and should be replaced or checked against a gauge with known accuracy.
2. Loaded for Trouble
Exceeding the load capacity of any motorcycle can lead to loss of control and sudden tire failure, either of which could result in an accident. The load capacity of the motorcycle should always be considered when adding accessories, a passenger, or luggage to the bike. Check the motorcycle owner’s manual or the information label on the motorcycle’s frame down tube for the load capacity and never exceed the maximum load.
Another factor that can greatly impact load capacity is trailers and sidecars. Trailers should never be used with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Pulling a trailer will void both the motorcycle and the tire warranty. Sidecars are appropriate for some motorcycles but should not be fitted unless approved by Harley-Davidson.
SERVICE TIP: For every 4 psi a tire is underinflated, you could lose up to 80 pounds of load-carrying capacity.
3. Replace Those Tired Tires
After checking and adjusting the pressure, give each tire a careful inspection for cuts, gouges, or foreign objects that may cause punctures and loss of air pressure. If any damage or excessive wear is noticed, contact an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer immediately, says Bindl.
Worn tires can adversely affect motorcycle control and traction, and are more prone to road damage. Most tires have tread wear indicator bars that will appear between the tread block when tire tread depth reaches 1/32 of an inch, which is the legal limit. It is best not to wait until the tread is at the bare minimum.
Once a tire gets to 2/32 of an inch or below, tires should be replaced. The pocket-size Harley-Davidson Tire Gauge Tread Depth Indicator Tool provides a precise tread depth measurement, and also has an air-pressure gauge.
4. Get the Right Tires
Motorcycle tires are integral to the dynamics of the bike, so choosing a replacement tire is an important decision. Harley-Davidson has partnered with Dunlop and Michelin – two of the premier tire brands in the world – to create Harley-Davidson co-branded tires which are exclusively designed, tested and approved to deliver optimal performance on each Harley-Davidson motorcycle model.
These tires can be identified by the bold “Harley-Davidson” script on the sidewall and are available through authorized Harley-Davidson retailers. Harley-Davidson advises its customers that it is essential to use only Harley-Davidson service replacement tires that are the approved fitment for each individual year and model motorcycle. Using non-approved tires or mixing approved tires from different manufacturers on the same motorcycle can adversely affect stability, which could result in death or serious injury.
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