The tyres are as critical component of your bike as bike’s engine, it is normally seen that even riders who take riding seriously often do not take tyres as seriously as they do their engines. Seldom we care about the air pressure in our bike’s tyres and having them checked when we stop for the refueling is a luxury for our poor tyres.

However, apart from the general care of our bike’s tyres, we should be aware of the other important aspects of them as well. In today’s modern motorcycle tyres there are wide variety of them available in the market. A lot of them you must have come across but all I felt that the more you get to know about them the more you get confuse. It is an attempt to simplify the technical jargon used on tyres and to limit the chance of confusion.

The right choice of tyre will help to ensure your safety, which is always a high priority when driving on just two wheels. Let this article, therefore, expand your knowledge on the subject of motorbike tires.

Superfact motorcycle racing tyres, huge chopper tyre models, dynamic motocross tyres, or even slower classic tyres – all of these variants provide riders with great levels of pleasure and excitement when used correctly. You should always remember that it is your safety that should be considered above anything else, so the right tyre choice is vital. Some drivers travel on choppers, others may use touring bikes and others may be in need of tyres for a classic motorcycle. Racing riders, on the other hand, need sport tyres suitable for the racetrack, but also approved for use in regular traffic. Further niches can be found with off-road enthusiasts,  who will often prefer enduro tires and motor cross tyre products.

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Types of Motorcycle Tyres:

Road tyres

Your choice of tyres should depend, among other criteria, on your preferred driving style. A general analysis of driving trends in Europe shows that the leading type is radial tyres, closely followed by diagonal tyres.

Because of the tyre construction involved, radial tyres often offer better performance. This is especially true when riding at high speeds. Tyre vendors offer customers a wide choice when it comes to different types and rubber compounds. Because of the variety available, it is vital to obtain expert advice before buying such products.

A professional salesperson, for instance, will take into account the driver’s style when selecting a tyre. They should also include additional circumstances, such as whether the customer is planning a long-distance trip. In this instance, the bike’s load will be much heavier than normal, which will prove a significant factor.

Of course, this isn’t all that goes into the tyre selection process. You should also consider additional important issues, such as corner handling and emergency sharp braking. The pleasure of driving should be a secondary factor behind the extremely important issue of safety, not the other way around.

Touring tyres

Compared with other types of motorbike tyre, touring tyres probably have the widest range of uses. Of course, we should not expect too much from these products, as they provide an optimum performance at speeds below 124 mph.

You should be aware that, with this type of tyre, it is necessary to compromise somewhat on sport riding characteristics, as the capabilities of the product in this area is reduced to improve all-round performance in other areas.

Touring tyres are designed to enable driving on the widest range of road surfaces, thus performing the role for which they are intended. They offer good drivability, a long driving time and a high level of driver comfort. Manufacturers are also aware that riders will be out in a wide range of weather conditions, so rainfall should not cause any significant problems for a touring tyre.

As usual, it should be kept in mind that real safety can be only be achieved when there is a very good harmony between all of the factors relating to motorcycle riding. In this regard, many people appreciate touring tyres for their balanced performance.

Chopper and cruiser tyres

With cruiser models, also commonly known as chopper tyres, high speed performance is not the most important factor. Instead, the main focus here is on offering a long continuous running time, good grip on turns and an optimum silencing of the tyre at turns beneath a heavy bike.

In contrast to the sporting parameters of tyres designed for racers, in this case the emphasis is very much on offering an “easy rider” experience.

Off-road tyres

As the name easily suggests, off-road tyres are designed with a very clear purpose in mind – off-the-road, all-terrain driving.

When most people here the term “all-terrain”, it is easy to think of meadows, forests, stones, gravel and other typical outdoor environments. As a result, these tyres have a very strong construction and need to be equally resistance to all of these external factors.

Gravel and snow, or the well-known M+S (mud and snow) conditions, are not just abstract symbols. Any claim that a tyre is suited to driving on a loose surface makes it obligatory to ensure excellent drivability in such tough conditions.

A good level of grip will help guarantee that, in a critical situation, the bike will not behave like a panicking horse. Tightening corners, or on turns taken at a high speed on a less than solid surface, require high levels of grip on the front tyre, as most riders are able to at least cope with the sliding of the rear wheel.

Sport tyres

To make the best use of a motorcycle racing tyre, you should ideally be a licensed racing driver. A sport tyreis more demanding than a normal tyre and is typically not intended for use on public roads, as its tolerance limits are very narrow.

Tyre pressure, tyre temperature and various other driving parameters need to harmonised for a competitive, high-speed environment. As such, a driver riding on such models needs to be aware of how far these tyres can be taken.

Various subtypes of sporting tyres can also restrict the range of manoeuvrability even further, such as in the case of slick tyres, which are only suitable under specific weather conditions.

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Tyres’ Speed Rating:

The first and foremost thing to know about the tyre is the speed rating and it becomes even more vital when we talk about the real fast bikes- the super sportbikes; This is the alphabetical letter (code number) mentioned at the end of the tyre size code which is imprinted on the sidewall of the tyre, for eg: the tyre size rating code of Suzuki Inazuma 250 is; 140/70- 17 66H, here the alphabet “H” denotes the maximum safe speed limit/ rating and in this case it is 210 Kmph.

Here is the Table of Speed Rating Code S 180 kmph
Code Maximum Safe Speed T 190 kmph
L 120 kmph U 200 kmph
M 130 kmph H 210 kmph
N 140 kmph V 240 kmph
P 150 kmph W 270 kmph
Q 160 kmph Y 300 kmph
R 170 kmph Z >240 kmph


How to interpret the Tyre Rating Code?

The code written on the side wall of the tyre can be decoded as entire information of the tyre including its dimensions, capacity, manufacturer, speed rating and type of the tyre. For eg: the same tyre rating code of Suzuki Inazuma- 140/70- 17 66H

  • Here, “140” is the section width of the tyre in mm, that means it’s the width of the tyre after it is fitted on the rim and properly inflated.
  • 70” is the aspect ratio, and it is measured as percentage of the section width. It denotes the side wall height or thickness of the tyre on the ground, which is measured from the last peripheral tread and the bead of the tyre. In this case “70” refers to the height of the side wall which is 70% of the section width which in this case is 140mm. If we calculate, the 70% of 140mm comes 98mm and hence the height of the side wall of the tyre is 98mm.
  • 17” refers to the rim size or the diameter of the wheel for which the tyre is apt. This number is measured in Inches.
  • In some tyres there is “B” or “R” imprinted after the rim size, this refers to the type of the tyre. “B” means it is “Bias ply” type which generally is a tube type tyre, whereas “R” refers to the “Radial tyre”.
    With Speed rating it is generally “Load Index” imprinted, it is the safe maximum load capacity of the tyre. In this case it is “66” and as per the chart below mentioned it is 300 Kgs.

Load Index

Load in Kgs Load Index Load in Kgs Load Index Load in Kgs Load Index

Load in Kgs

33 115 47 175 61 257 75 387
34 118 48 180 62 265 76 400
35 121 49 185 63 272 77 412
36 125 50 190 64 280 78 425
37 128 51 195 65 290 79 437
38 132 52 200 66 300 80 450
39 136 53 206 67 307 81 462
40 140 54 212 68 315 82 475
41 145 55 218 69 325 83 487
42 150 56 224 70 335 84 500
43 155 57 230 71 345 85 515
44 160 58 236 72 355 86 530
45 165 59 243 73 365 87 545
46 170 60 250 74 375

Dos & Don’ts Of Motorcycle Tyres:

Every motorcycle is designed with specific chassis and suspension setup, the tyres are designed keeping the handling of the bike into consideration. Changing the tyres with non specified rating code could lead to a poor handling of the bike and in worst case scenario it could prove fatal.

  • Never mix Bias ply tyres with the Radial tyres and visa versa, always use either type of the tyres at both the ends.
  • Never swap the tyres from front to rear or visa versa.
  • Never use automotive tyres other then two wheeler tyres on the bikes even if they are of the same specification.
  • Always stick to the company specified size and type of tyres, never use over size tyres on the stock rims as it may hamper the handling as well as braking and the suspensions of the bike.
  • Tyres designed with the race specification may perform what it is made for but will not be good for the normal road conditions. Therefore, refrain from racing tyres if you are going for one just for the fun of it and will actually going to use them on street condition.
  • Inspect your bike tyres on regular basis to spot any abnormality. Bulges on the side wall of the tyre is a sign of separation of the ply from inside and if avoided can result into fatal catastrophe.
  • Take care of the cuts on the tyre, leaving apart the small cracks on the side wall due to the age of the tyre one should always take big cuts and cracks seriously, specially if they are found at the treads of the tyre.
  • Last but not the least, always maintain proper inflation in your bike tyres and change the tyre pressure according to the ride and the climatic condition where you are riding the bike.

“Always Drive carefully, wear helmet while driving, reach home safely”

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