I’ve found myself riding down the interstate when in a flash, the rear tire flattened, my speed slowed and I had to make it across two lanes to the safety of the shoulder. This scenario can be scary for even the most experienced rider, and often is not the rider’s fault. You’ll want to be sure this doesn’t happen because you, the rider, failed to take notice of your tires and their condition. To ensure your motorcycle tires are roadworthy, there are several things you should do before you ride, which only take a few minutes, but can be the difference between a safe and a dangerous ride.
1. Check your tire pressure. This is a must, and if you are traveling long distances, it’s a good idea to check the pressure at every stop. Rides from hot weather to cool temperatures can change the pressure in your tires. Improper inflation can contribute to early wear of the tire, and can affect handling of the bike as well as fuel consumption. Under-inflation of the tire can lead to a blowout and decrease the tire’s life by as much as 25%. Over-inflation can cause damage more easily if you run over potholes or debris in the road, and can’t isolate road irregularities as well, making your ride rougher. Correct tire pressure varies from bike to bike so it’s important follow the specifications given by your motorcycle owner’s manual for the correct pressure. A motorcycle tire pressure gauge is something every biker should have. They fit easily into a saddlebag and take up very little space. There are a wide variety of Motorcycle Tire Pressure Gauges available on the market, but they are not all the same. Price really does matter when purchasing a tire pressure gauge – cheap gauges are generally less accurate than more expensive ones, and that inaccuracy can be dangerous.
2. If you don’t want to have to constantly check your tire pressure, there is a great gadget that can assist you in constantly monitoring your tire pressure, the TireGard Wireless Motorcycle Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS). This system will enable you to continuously monitor the temperature and inflation of your tires while you ride, and give you an opportunity to stop and make corrections prior to getting into any trouble. The TireGard Wireless Motorcycle Tire Pressure Monitor System can be an invaluable tool for the rider, especially if you’ll be traveling long distances or under changing weather conditions.
3. Check your tires for wear and tear. Look for small holes, nails or rocks that may have penetrated the tire and can cause a blow out. Check for cracks and bulges in the tire. Be sure to roll the bike so you can see every surface of the tire. It will be easier if you have a partner, but still it can be done alone in just a few minutes, and can save you time and possibly an accident on the road later.
4. Check your tires for tread. Adequate tire tread is important to your safety; it will help your motorcycle perform optimally, and will help you maintain control under wet conditions. Use a quarter to measure tire tread. With a quarter, when placed in the tread groove, the top of the tire should extend past the the top of Washington’s head. If it doesn’t, the tire is not safe and should be replaced immediately.
5. Check your tire’s spokes. You can easily have a flat if the spokes are not tight. If one or more spokes become loose, they can break and puncture your tube. If you have spokes, check that each spoke is tightened. This can be done easily by grasping the spokes, one at a time, and making sure it doesn’t wiggle or move. If it does, a simple tightening can be accomplished. If more than one spoke is loose, it’s a good idea to take the bike to a certified mechanic, and have the wear of the tire checked. Loose spokes can cause the tire to wear unevenly and possibly result in a bad accident at highway speeds, especially if it’s a front tire blow out.
Your brakes will not work properly if your tire is deflated. If you are riding and get a blowout or flat tire, remove your hands and feet from the brakes and throttle. Do not brake suddenly. Allow the bike to slow down on its own and move to the side of the road as safely as possible.
What about using Fix-a-Flat or similar products? I’ve heard of people using it, but personally don’t recommend it. I’ve heard of cans heating up and exploding inside of saddlebags. However, if you choose to use it, make sure that you don’t ride over 35 mph, take your bike to get the tire replaced immediately, and make sure you tell your mechanic that you used the stuff. I know some mechanics who will not fix a tire that has been inflated with Fix-a-Flat because of the mess it causes. A better bet is to have a good roadside assistance plan that covers your motorcycle.
You can improve the longevity of your tires by doing regular inspections and ensuring proper tire inflation. A couple of simple gadgets like a Motorcycle Tire Pressure Gauge, and a TireGard Wireless Motorcycle Tire Pressure Monitor System will help you maintain proper tire pressure and temperature, and alert you to the need to make adjustments or change the tire. Proper inspections can go a long way to helping prevent a blowout while riding. However, if you do find yourself in a blowout situation, awareness of your surroundings and knowing how to handle your bike can help keep you safe.