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Motorbike Tyre Safety

There are many elements to motorbike safety, from the type of tyres that you use to the way that they are maintained.

The type of tyre that you fit to your bike should meet the purpose for which you will be riding e.g. on the streets, off-road or racing. Some tyres are not road legal and can only be used on private land or tracks; these include racing slicks. These tyres will be marked NHS which stands for Not for Highway Service.

Type of Tyre

The construction of the tyres themselves can differ; there are X-ply, Bias Belt and Radial constructions. Where possible, it is best to match the same construction and tyre manufacturer on your front and back tyres as this will ensure stability and performance. It is possible to mix and match these constructions, but only in certain ways.

If your front tyre is X-ply, then the rear can be any of the other types, X-ply, Radial or Bias Belt. However, if your front is Bias Belt then the rear must be the same or Radial. If your front tyre is Radial, then the rear must also be Radial, there is no safe alternative.

Tyre Pressure/Inflation

One of the most important aspects of tyre safety is having your tyres correctly inflated. Over-inflated tyres significantly reduce the area of the tyre which is in contact with the road, making them more dangerous. This also wears the tread in the middle of the tyre quicker than the rest, making it unbalanced. Under-inflated tyres reduces fuel economy as well as wearing tyres in an uneven manner; the outer edges will wear quicker than the inside as they will be dragging on the road. Should your tyres be under-inflated for a prolonged period, they will flex and the casing will deteriorate.

It is important to check your tyre pressure weekly, when they are cold, to maintain them effectively.

Tread Depth

The tread of a tyre is designed to give the bike grip when the road is wet by displacing the surface water. However, as the tread is worn, the surface area of the water becomes greater and the grip lessens – it is advisable to reduce speed in the wet and take corners more carefully to avoid slipping.

The tread grooves of your motorbike tyres will have ware indicators; when the tread begins to approach these, you need to consider changing the tyres soon. If the indicators are reached, you need to change your tyres immediately.

The legal limit for tread on motorbike tyres is 1mm on 3/4 of the tread and the final 1/4 must have visible tread for bikes over 50cc. Bikes up to 50cc must have visible tread at all times in all areas.