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Tyre Tech Talk – September 2020 - RideFast Magazine

by Bruce de Kock, Owner of Bike Tyre Warehouse

Original article published by  RideFast Magazine, September 2020 Issue

Chances are good that you will need to refer back to this feature every once in a while. There is a lot of info, but it is important – and relevant, no matter what bike you ride.

The basics of reading a tyre

Wow! Provinces are open and the sun is shining. Riders are getting back onto their bikes in full force to hit the countryside and enjoy the open road. If you have been off your bike for a while, make sure that you give it a good scrutinising when you are dusting it off in the garage.

Critical is to check your tyres if your bike has been standing for the last 6 months. If you’re not sure about the condition of your tyres, pop into a reputable motorcycle tyre fitment centre and have them checked out. 

The Bike Tyre Warehouse Fitment Centre Group will give them a free inspection and check you have the correct specification tyres for your bike as well as the correct tyre pressures before you head off into the sunrise or sunset.

If you need new rubber, here is a very basic guide to reading a tyre. It is important for you to take the time to run through this content as it will assist you in making the correct choice by that I mean not the brand of tyre but the type of tyre specific to your bike and your bikes requirement which could – essentially save your life.

We can’t tell you the number of times that riders come in with issues concerning road handling, road noise, tyre life etc – and it is usually because they have fitted the incorrect tyre/s to their bikes, 90% of the time due to ignorance about the basics of motorcycle tyres.

HOW TO READ A TYRE’S MARKINGS

  1. Tubeless: No tube is used, when mounted on a tubeless rim; abbreviated “TL”
  2. Rear: Direction of rotation for rear tyre, indicated by an arrow on the tire sidewall
  3. Michelin: Tire manufacturer
  4. Load index: For example, 73 corresponds to a load of 805 pounds (365kg) per tyre
  5. Radial
  6. Pilot Power 3: The tyre’s model name
  7. Nominal section width of the tyre, expressed in millimetres
  8. Aspect ratio, the sidewall height as a proportion of the tyre width
  9. R: Radial construction
  10. Bead-seat diameter of the wheel, expressed in inches (1 inch = 2.54 cm)

Let’s kick off with the tyres LOAD INDEX (4) which is a numerical code associated with the maximum load that a tyre can carry at the speed indicated by its Speed Symbol under service conditions specified by the tyre manufacturer.

This is important, and more especially so if you are carrying more than just the weight of the bike and yourself. Loading your panniers, the wife’s kitchen sink, pillion etc. all has a dramatic effect on the tyres capability to do what it needs to under load.

Again the amount of times bikes come in with tyres that are totally incapable of carrying a load, sport touring heavy weight motorcycles especially. The table below is self-explanatory so have a look see and check that the tyres you have on your bike are the correct load index.

Just as important is the SPEED INDEX which indicates the maximum speed at which the tyre can carry a load corresponding to its Load Index under service conditions specified by the tyre manufacturer.

Every bike requires tyres with a specific speed index. The table below defines the maximum speed at which a tyre can carry the maximum load indicated by its load index under the conditions of use specified by the manufacturer.

The maximum speed is clear when the speed rating is defined e.g. J = 100, S = 180, H = 210 etc.

The (W) speed index is not restricted, (known as unbounded, shown by the use of brackets around the speed index letter, the tyre manufacturer must be able to supply the maximum speed capability of the tyre.

It is important to know the maximum speed capability of the bike before a (W) speed rated tyre is fitted. If the bike is capable of a higher speed than the tyre is, the rider MUST be warned of this.

This is also a consideration for off road biased DUAL SPORT TYRES such as the Michelin Anakee Wild. In some cases the speed index is lower on the Anakee Wild than the speed capability of the bike and the OE tyre fitment. Riders MUST be warned of this fact yet again ignorant tyre sellers do not do this, so it all comes down to you as the rider knowing the basics and servicing your bikes tyre  requirements by professionals who specialize in motorcycle tyres and have the knowledge to advise you on the correct set up for your bike.

I have decided to tackle quite a few topics concerning tyre technology related to capability & safety in the future. There are some specific subjects I have written about over the years which now need revised detail as the capability and technology of motorcycles has increased substantially and so does the tyre technology therefore it’s about updating and increasing your knowledge base.

So many times I read the write ups on the new bikes hitting the market, most of the time mention of the tyres is only made if it is a well-known brand that is OEM fitment or if a brand importer has sponsored tyres for the bike test. Sometimes I have noticed that even the test tyres sponsored have not been the correct specification tyre type for the bike.

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Education is key and the Bike Tyre Warehouse Group is driving motorcycle tyre education in your interests; we are always available to discuss your concerns, so pop in at any of our branches and talk to the professionals.

A big thank you to Ryan Robertson – Business Development Manager, Auto Cycle Centre JHB for sponsoring this September Tyre Tech Talk in the interests of promoting rider safety.

More than most, bikers have felt the lock down as we are so used to our freedom and open roads so enjoy the sunshine and ride safe.

Bruce de Kock, Bike Tyre Warehouse

For more information on motorcycle tyre markings get in touch with your nearest branch.

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