With the beginning of the raining season in Thailand it's good to look at our tires. How often do you check your tires? Be honest now. Once a month? Once a year? Ever? The truth is most of us seldom look at the condition of our tires, which, if you think about it, is absolute insanity. If anything goes wrong with your tires, you're in a world of pain, and that's a best case scenario.
So, with the help of a motorcycle tire expert, we've put together a quick guide that will hopefully make you think a bit more about tire safety.
Ideally, you should give the tires a once over visual inspection every time you ride the motorcycle. Look for objects penetrating the tire, stones trapped in the groove, tread wear and anything that looks out of the ordinary.
The tire pressures. Ideally, you should also check your tire pressures every time you ride your motorcycle, but this often isn't practical. Once a week is the minimum. Use a decent pressure gauge, analogue ones – those with a dial – are generally better than digital ones. Those cheap ones you can buy that extend to show the pressure are crap, and avoid garage and petrol-station pressure gauges, which are as accurate as a TV fortune teller.
If you're unsure of your motorcycle's tire pressures, either check you handbook, call the manufactures hotline, or go online to check the tire pressure at the manufactures website. Different makes of tire can run at different pressures, so ensure you check the correct pressures for the make of tire that your motorcycle is running.
And check the pressures when your tires are cold. Incorrect pressures can affect the handling of the motorcycle and make the tire more susceptible to punctures.
The minimum tread depth on a road tire is more than 1mm over 75% of the tire's tread area. Tires usually have tread depth indicators. These look like little mounds in the tread, and are often indicated by a 'TWI' on the sidewall and an arrow. It's better to buy a gauge though, and they cost less than you think.
Not enough tread reduce your wet weather grip, and can be the source of serious accidents.
Always run valve caps and use a sealed valve cap if possible; one with a rubber ring in the cap. Metal caps are better than plastic ones, but that's your choice. Caps are important because the centrifugal force of your wheel turning can push the tire valve core back, release the air and deflate your tire.
A motorcycle tire is guaranteed by most manufacturers for five years and has a recommended use of ten years. Cracks in the tread grooves and cracks in the sidewalls are both signs of a tire that has reached the end of its life. It's time to stick new rubber on that classic!