Tips on Choosing the Correct Motorcycle Tires

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Motorcycle Tire Buying Tips

Motorcycles come in different kinds, such as roadsters, cruisers, sportbikes, and many other types. While some claim that motorcycles require less maintenance than a car, motorcycle tires would say otherwise. Tires are the most ongoing expense you should know when you purchase a bike. They get worn and torn at a much faster rate than car tires. You need to be aware of some terms when getting new tires for your bike, as these terms are confusing for newbies. Tires are different, and this guide will assist you in choosing the right tires for your motorcycle.

Basic Tire Terms

Before getting into the details of choosing the right tire for your bike, you should be familiar with some basic tire terms.


The exterior part of the tire is the one that you see hitting the road, and smooth treads work better on smooth and dry surfaces, while chunky treads are suitable for off-road situations. The tread pattern can make it better on wet surfaces, for example.


The bead is the part that mates to the wheel, and it is steel wire covered heavily with rubber. It sticks closely to the wheel to prevent it from slipping rotationally in the tire.


You will hear terms such as bias-play or radial, which refers to the carcass or the tire’s body under the tread. These terms indicate how the tire is constructed.


A vital part of the tire connects the tread and the bead. This area in the tire is responsible for the tire’s handling and load transfer capabilities.

Choosing the Right Tire Type

Your riding style and the bike you own determine the right tire type that will suit your needs. There are four general designations for tire types: cruiser, street, dual-sport/ADV, and dirt. For example, cruiser-type tires are obviously the best tires for cruisers, but different types indicate the riding style under this family of tires. For example, if you intend to drive long distances with your cruiser, you should opt for touring tires instead of economy tires. It is easy to choose the type of tire; the challenge is choosing the right size.

Choosing the Right Tire Size

Tire manufacturers print a code on the tire’s side showing different parameters, such as measurements, speed rating, and other information. The code comes in three systems; alphanumeric, standard inch, and metric. Manufacturers no longer use the standard inch system, and the alphanumeric system is rarely used.

The metric system we will discuss is the most common code system used nowadays. This is an example of the code or tire designation, but remember that the numbers and letters change from one tire to another. For example, the code is 130/90 R 16 67 H. The 1st number, 130 in this example, indicates the tire section width as in width across the face of the tread in millimeters.

The 2nd number, 90, represents the aspect ratio, which is the height of the sidewall expressed as a percentage of the width. To determine the height, multiply the first number by the percentage. In this example, it would be 130×0.9, which equals 117mm.

The letter designation refers to the carcass construction. In this example, “R” stands for radial play, and in some other tires, you will find “B,” which stands for bias-ply.

The 3rd number is the rim diameter in inches, indicating the wheel size it will fit. This tire is designed for a 16-inch wheel in this example.

The last number and letter indicate the load and speed ratings, respectively. The load rating shows the maximum weight the tire can handle, and the speed rating specifies the maximum speed without wobbling. The speed rating is expressed in letters; you can find online charts explaining what each letter represents.

Bias-ply Vs. Radial

Bias-ply tires last longer than radial but have reduced grip, while radial tires are stiff and offer more traction. Unfortunately, there is no definitive rule for choosing a certain tire construction, as it all depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations and your bike type.

Keep the points mentioned in this guide while shopping for new tires. Finding the tires that suit your riding style and bike is essential. You may experiment with tire size but ask an experienced biker for recommendations.

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