We all know tires are one of the most important and overlooked areas of our motorcycles. During a recent conversation with a Dunlop Tire Company Rep, I asked if there was any helpful advice he could give me to pass on to the K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) customer. He was more than happy to share the companies beliefs and recommendations.
Tire selection: When selecting new Dunlop motorcycle tires, be sure they meet the requirements of your motorcycle and its expected usage. For the makes and models not covered by the Dunlop Motorcycle Tire Application Guide, contact Dunlop before tires are fitted. Installing radial tires to the wrong vehicle can cause instability and accidents. Certain motorcycles may be fitted only with radials so you will want to consult the motorcycle manufacturer before fitting radial replacements to ensure you are applying the correct specification and combination for your motorcycle.
Matching Front and Rear Tread Pattern: Remember, the correct matching of front and rear tires is important to obtain optimum performance and handling. Follow the Tire Selection Guidelines and mount only tires marked “front wheel” on the front position and only tires marked “rear wheel” on the rear position. Mixing radials, or mixing radials with bias or belted-bias tires, may adversely affect handling and stability, and should only be done when specifically fitted and/or recommended by an OE vehicle manufacturer. It should also be noted that many factors other than tire incompatibility can affect the handling of a motorcycle, including the weight and height of the rider, mixing worn with unworn tires and the fitment of luggage or fairings. Consult the motorcycle manufacturer before making modifications from stock.
Weight Limitations of the Cargo and Passengers: Consider carefully the weight of the motorcycle when selecting new tires, whether it will carry passengers and the weight of any optional equipment. You also need to remember, the load-carrying capability of the tires can be reduced by underinflation, so it is possible to overload a tire even though it is the size specified by the motorcycle manufacturer. Maximum loads and the corresponding pressures are indicated on the sidewall of all Dunlop street tires. Before riding, the motorcyclist must determine the total weight of luggage, equipment and rider(s) to be added to the motorcycle. Make sure the total combined weight of luggage, equipment and rider(s) must never exceed the vehicle load capacity found in the motorcycle owner’s manual. Dunlop does not warrant tires used on motorcycles fitted with trailers. Sidecars should not be fitted unless approved by the motorcycle manufacturer.
Maintain Correct Tire Pressure: Checking Tire Pressure is the single most important maintenance function you can perform. You should follow the pressure recommendations shown on the Dunlop Motorcycle Tire Application Guide and contact Dunlop if your year and model are not shown on the current guide and the owner’s manual does not list pressure settings for Dunlop tires. For high-speed, fully loaded or dual-riding touring-motorcycle applications, inflate tires to maximum recommended by vehicle manufacturer for Dunlop fitment. Never exceed maximum load indicated on tire sidewall or vehicle capacity load found in owner’s manual, whichever is lower. Underinflated tires can result in imprecise cornering, higher running temperatures, irregular tread wear, fatigue cracking, overstressing and eventual failure of the tire carcass, or loss of control, which could cause accident, injury or death. Overinflating tires does not increase load-carrying capacity, but will result in a hard ride and accelerated tire wear in the center of the contact patch. Be sure to check tire pressure cold, frequently with a good-quality gauge that holds a reading, and always before extended trips. Loss of pressure may occur due to worn-out or badly seated valve cores, so be sure to check valve cores, and tighten if necessary for correct seating, or remove and replace them. Also make sure the tires have valve caps install that are in good condition. Repeated loss of inflation pressure may result from undetected tire damage so you want to visually inspect tires for punctures, cuts, abrasions, cracks, bulges, blisters or knots. If you notice stress cracks in the tread grooves this is one indicator of overload and/or underinflation. If you find evidence of tread-groove cracking, you should remove and replace the tire immediately. Damage caused by impacts, penetrations or continued underinflated/overloaded use is progressive and can result in sudden and complete tire failure and accident, injury or death.You should always seek expert inspection of the dismounted tire following curb, chuckhole or other impacts. It is always a good to get into the habit of inspecting your tires frequently for damage and to always heed warning signs such as vibration, handling instability, rubbing or tire noise that occurs during operation of the motorcycle.
Minimum Tread Depth: 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.
Purchasing tires can be a very intimidating experience, but with a little knowledge, you can make it a little easier. Developing good pre-ride inspection habits can lead to trouble free adventures on the road. When the time comes for new tires, check out the great deals available from K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) on Dunlop tires and more.