Last night Mr. Ron Bowen, of Metzeler and Pirelli tires, was in the store to present the Technology of Tire Traction seminar.
About forty of Road Rider’s customers attended, and the hottest topic of the night was tire pressure. The subject is widely neglected, but it is one that is of paramount importance to your tire’s life and performance. Ron also talked about tire construction and shared a video which gave a glimpse of Metzeler’s incredible and labor-intensive manufacturing process. Understanding a bit more about what goes into the design and construction of a motorcycle tire sheds light on why correct tire pressure is so integral to maintaining proper tire function and maximum performance.
Ron Bowen is an expert in his field, and has been Parts Unlimited’s National Brand Manager for Pirelli and Metzeler tires for over ten years. He has also worked for Dunlop and Bridgestone. His vast experience was evinced by his anecdotes from the field and his breakdown of the daunting science of tires. Here’s a summary of the biggest points of the night for those who didn’t attend:
Tire Pressure, Tire Pressure, Tire Pressure
Regularly checking your tire pressure is VITAL to maintaining the life and performance of your tires. For street riding conditions, inflate your tire to meet (not be less than) the tire manufacturer’s maximum PSI rating that is stamped on the sidewall of your tire. The only exception to this rule is for sportbike tires, which can be inflated to the bike manufacturer’s standard recommended tire pressure of 32 PSI in the front and 36 PSI in the rear.
Correct tire pressure will ensure you get maximum life, handling, and fuel efficiency out of your tires.
Under-inflating tires will cause:
- Uneven wear, shape irregularities, and a shorter life
Under-inflation is the #1 cause of scalloping and cupping which causes loss of stability and poor handling. This will also lead to premature tire failure.
The tire’s materials and construction will wear and fail prematurely due to unnecessarily high temperatures caused by under-inflation.
The graphic below illustrates the increase in a tire’s internal temperature as tire pressure drops.
As you can see, as the tire pressure drops by 1 PSI, the tire’s temperature increases by about 180 Fahrenheit. At the point on the graph when the tire is inflated to 10 PSI below the tire’s maximum PSI, the internal temperature of the tire has DOUBLED.
Car Tires On Motorcycles
Don’t do it. The sidewalls and carcass of motorcycle tires are designed to withstand pressure that is about four to five times that of car tires per square inch. Mounting car tires on a motorcycle is dangerous to you, to other riders, and to tire technicians because the beads can and will break, and with severe consequences.
The Question on Everyone’s Mind
All tire pressure gauges aren’t created equal. If a few PSI can make a difference, then a good gauge is worth its weight in gold. Ron’s favorite tire gauge is the Accu-Gage.
For cleaning tires, Ron likes Bike Brite Motorcycle Spray Wash. It’s safe to use on your tires and effectively cleans off brake dust. Don’t use tire shine or petroleum based products on your tires.
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