How To Choose Tyres For Your Bike
Choosing the right tyre for your motorcycle is a must!
Riding motorcycles is one of the joyous adrenaline-pumping exercises. Motorcycle being a single tracked vehicle, proper awareness is recommended while selecting the right companion for our bike. A tyre should be chosen according to the driving conditions, terrain and, most importantly, what you want from the tyres in terms of durability, stability, comfort and mileage efficiency.
For a motorcycle to be efficient and serviceable, a proper pair of tyres with promising durability and grip is mandatory. That most importantly, enough knowledge to differentiate between different types of tyres while purchasing one for a motorcycle. They are the motorcycle’s only contact patch with the road.
Here are some quick but essential tips before you purchase a replacement tyre for your motorcycle,
1. How do I know the correct tyre size for my motorcycle?
Be it, car drivers or motorcyclists, many get confused by the markings found on a tyre’s sidewall. While motorcycle and car tyres differ from each other based on their construction and usage, the alphanumeric coding you see on both is standardized, barring a few details.
2. What’s the difference between various tread designs on a motorcycle tyre?
Many of them would have come across individuals who think that the road-grip levels of a tyre are determined by a certain kind of tread pattern, which is valid to an extent. Most individuals, however, assume that wider treads and deeper grooves result in improved levels of grip and stability in all environments. In addition to that, many individuals find this specific feature visually attractive. As a result, regardless of their riding conditions, they go ahead and fit these kinds of tyres.
A tyre with large tread blocks and wider grooves would have outstanding wet or mud traction as it pumps more water/dirt away from the contact patch of the tyre and the road surface as it goes along.
GRIP: It’s a combination of
- Tread pattern
- Tread Depth
- Tread Compound
- Inflation pressure
Furthermore, since we are on the subject of ‘grip’ levels, it is worth noting that it depends more on the compound of a tyre than its tread pattern. As it causes more friction as it runs hot, a tyre made up of a soft compound would be more ‘sticky’. A soft compound will wear out more easily, on the downside. On the other hand, a hard-compound tyre will have exactly the opposite features-it will have a longer life than a soft-compound tyre, but you will get lower levels of grip and compromised handling as trade-offs.
3. Could I mix different construction-type tyres on a motorcycle? Like mixing bias-ply and radial tyre?
You shouldn’t, ideally, do that. As they spend a lot of time and effort developing your bike, always try and stick to what your manufacturer recommends.
That said, it has been seen in some of the cases that bikes come from the factory fitted with a mix of bias-ply and radial tyres. For eg, the Yamaha R15 V2 has a bias-ply tyre upfront while a radial is employed at the rear. But this setup may not work with every bike, as we’ve mentioned before, so avoid getting caught up with this idea of mixing tyres. It is always suggestible to fix the original equipment for improved performance and efficiency.
4. What’s the widest tyre I can fit on my motorcycle?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions in all segments from motorcyclists all over the world. In most instances, a fatter/wider tyre on your motorcycle would act more as a visual proposition than a practical one, much like the tread style.
We’re going to quickly put some technical terminology into the picture to grasp this. A tyre, when exposed to higher temperatures and centrifugal force, appears to ‘develop’ in all directions. This means that, as the motorcycle travels down the lane, it needs some clearance. Fitting a wider tyre than necessary can hit the vital components of a motorcycle such as a swingarm or chain-set, etc.
Similarly, the diameter of the wheel or the rolling radius would increase substantially if you opt for a higher profile rubber. This will result in adjustments in gearing ratios and display errors in the readouts of the speedometer. What’s more, the fenders and swingarm can even come into touch. You won’t like anything much!
For most motorcycle riders, another myth is that wider tyres help with improved levels of grip. Well, yeah, if you do that, then contact patch will certainly increase, but a wider tyre will ‘turn in’ worse than the stock tyre; the fuel economy will drop considerably, while the motorcycle output will also be affected.
5. Can I use a tubeless tyre on a tube-type rim or use a tubeless tyre with a tube?
Again, this is one place where a lot of owners of motorcycles get confused and end up making wrong decisions, sadly. Let’s explain what the basic cases of tubeless and tube-type tyres are.
A tube-type tyre on the tubeless rim: Most people do that, and based on their experience, they would recommend you do the same. NEVER DO it! A tube-type tyre is simply not designed to operate without a tube. If that had been the case, it would not have been difficult for tyre manufacturers to identify tyres as ‘Tube Type’ and ‘Tubeless’ in the first place.
A tubeless tyre has a distinct and improved bead shape so that it can retain air in an ‘airtight’ way against the rim. A tube-bead tyre’s nature is not intended for that as it uses a ‘tube’ to keep up air for the job.
A tubeless tyre with tube: It is appropriate to operate a tubeless tyre with a tube, but only when an emergency arises. Unlike a tube-type tyre/rim, a tubeless rim/tyre has a different internal shape. An inner tube may get damaged in which case, causing instant deflation. Other than this, a tube can alter the properties of a tubeless tyre as it will run much colder than normal (added mass = increased rolling resistance). So, it is essential to bring a tube into a tubeless tyre.
You can also be tempted to fit a tubeless tyre on your rim if your motorcycle’s tyres are tube-type. Notice that the rim would not be able to retain air if it is spoken. A tubeless tyre may suit if it is an alloy wheel, but this will again go against the advice of the manufacturer. Tube-type and tubeless rims are both differently made. So is their valve-stem case. Many owners of motorcycles can be seen carrying out the aforementioned “modifications” on their bikes. Many of the riders are ‘highly pleased’ with the performance in some of the conditions, too. Unfortunately, engineering doesn’t work with methods of hit-and-trial. Therefore, it is recommended that you stick with the manufacturer-approved specifications on your motorcycle and enjoy riding it in a carefree manner!