Here Is How You Can Tell Your Motorcycle Tire Has Worn Out

Your motorcycle tires make up an important part of the bike. Besides ensuring handling and traction, they influence your braking performance. That’s why it’s important to check the tread on your motorcycle tires to ensure they’re in good condition. In case you don’t know how to do that, I’ve prepared a complete guide on checking the tire tread.

Why You Should Check the Tread on Your Motorcycle Tires

Motorcycle tires come with a tread pattern to ensure traction while you’re riding. The tread depth of your tires can change based on the motorcycle. Typically, though, it’s around 2 to 4 millimeters. Once you see signs of tread wear, it has less grip on the road. It’s dangerous to ride a bike with such tires, as it increases the risk of accidents. You can prevent this from happening by checking the tire tread on a regular basis and replacing the old tires when needed.

Additionally, remember to check the tire pressure. This way, you can ensure that they’re inflated properly and prevent a flat. Following these steps is crucial to ensure your safety on the road.

How Is Tread Depth Measured?

In tires, the tread depth is measured in the 32nd of an inch. The general rule to measure tread depth is that anything below 3/32″ indicates that it’s time to replace tires. But you don’t have to carry around a ruler to measure the tread wear because there are plenty of ways to do so.

How to Check the Tread on Motorcycle Tires – The Ultimate Guide

One of the main ways to ensure safety and a smooth ride is to check the tread on your motorcycle tires. While there are plenty of ways to do it, using a penny is quicker and gives an accurate measure.

Using The Penny Test To Check Tread Wear

First off, find an appropriate place to park your motorcycle and make sure the ground is level. Next, take a penny and insert it into the tread, with Lincoln’s head pointing towards the tire.

If you can see the top of his head, it means that your motorcycle tires have a tread depth of less than 2/32″. Similarly, if you can see all or most of Lincoln’s head, it means the depth is below 1/32″, which prompts an immediate replacement. Otherwise, your tires won’t have enough traction to run through a puddle without putting you in a dangerous situation.

But if you’re only able to see a part of Lincoln’s head, your tires have enough tread depth. A penny test is easy, so include it in your maintenance routine.

Using a Tread Depth Gauge

To get a more accurate measurement of the tread depth, you can use a tread depth gauge. Start by extending the measuring probe as far as it goes. Position the probe into one of the tread grooves, but make sure you don’t place it on one of the raised surfaces, such as the tread wear indicators. Then, push down on the base of the gauge and check the measurement.

What To Do When The Remaining Tread Is Low

Just about every experienced motorcyclist knows that checking on the tread is important. In some states, bald tires are illegal, making them more than just a safety risk. So if you spot a low tread on your motorcycle tires, you can do a couple of things.

Before anything else, try adding more air to your tires. It helps to increase your tire’s footprint temporarily, which is useful to provide traction. But if that doesn’t work, you should get the tires replaced.

Replacing the tires is especially important if the tread has experienced severe signs of wear and tear or if there is damage to the sidewall, which indicates the tire age. Luckily, you’ll be able to find lots of replacement options, whether you need dirt bike tires or sport tires.

Tips on Getting Your Motorcycle’s Tires

Your motorcycle tires are among the most important parts of your bike. They allow you to move around turns and suddenly stop at a red light. That being said, it’s important to know how you can purchase tires. Sure, it can be quite difficult considering the number of options available, but here are a few tips to help you out.

Choose The Right Type of Tire

Most tires fall into two categories: off-road tires and street tires. As the name implies, off-road tires are designed to tackle rough terrain, so they offer more stability and grip. In contrast, street tires offer better handling along the pavement. Of course, if you need something that offers both, dual sport tires are a good option.

Choose The Right Tire Size

Once you settle on the type, it’s time to choose the size. Measurements for motorcycle tires are usually in inches. The size is given in terms of three values: width, height, and diameter. For instance, you might see a tire’s size written as 110/80-17. This means the tire has a 110-millimeter width, 80-millimeter height, and a diameter of 17 inches.

Once you keep these factors in mind, you’re ready to purchase motorcycle tires.

Keeping Tires in Good Shape

While tire replacements are inevitable, it’s important that you know how to keep them in good shape while ensuring a longer life.

  • Measure the pressure in your tires regularly. Because tire pressure can drop for numerous reasons, it’s essential that you check them frequently. To get an accurate reading, get a digital tire gauge.
  • Keep track of the tread. Bald tires are dangerous, so remember to check the tread on a regular basis and replace your tires when they start to show signs of wear.
  • Keep a lookout for weather conditions. Weather conditions can impact your tires’ performance, so check the weather forecast before you hit the road.
  • Park your motorcycle inside a cool, dry place, like your garage, to protect tires from direct sunlight. Constant exposure to the elements and high temperature can cause cracks in the rubber, resulting in dry rot.
  • Don’t leave your bike parked too long to prevent flat spots. As a rule of thumb, remember to inflate tires once a month to maintain proper tire pressure.

These tips are effective to ensure tire longevity.

Motorcycle Tire Tread FAQs

Still have more questions? Here are some of the most common questions about motorcycle tires that riders ask.

How regularly should I check my tires?

Try to make a habit of checking your tires every week and before heading out for a long ride. Specifically, you should look for signs of wear and whether any objects like nails are stuck in the tire.

What is the recommended air prssure for motorcycle tires?

Ideal tire pressures vary depending on your riding style and the motorcycle you own. Most manufacturers have guidelines on proper air pressure, so check your owner’s manual for details.

How can I tell when it’s time to replace tires?

Your bike tires need replacing after 3,000 to 5,000 miles, but this can depend on the tire’s age. Tire life also depends on whether it’s a rear tire or a front tire. If you spot the tire’s sidewall cracking, uneven wear, or a tread depth that’s less than the minimum limit, it’s time for a change. Fortunately, you can find plenty of aftermarket wheels at local shops.

How are radial tires and bias ply tires different from each other?

The plies on bias ply tires run across the tire i.e., diagonally. In radial tires the rubber-covered steel belts are perpendicular to the direction of travel. They’re positioned radially from the tire’s center.

How are tubeless tires different from tube-type tires?

In a tubeless tire, there is no inner tube holding the air. Instead, they hold air inside the space between the tire and wheel rim. In contrast, tube-type tires are fitted with inner tubes that hold the air.

How to check tire speed rating?

The last character in the tire’s size code is the speed rating. For example, if the size code for a tire is 205/60/R16 82S, it means that the speed rating is S. To learn the size code, you’ll have to look at the DOT code on the sidewalls. It indicates important information such as the aspect ratio and maximum load.

Are touring tires the right choice?

Touring tires ensure responsive handling and reliable traction that’s effective for all seasons. Compared to all-season tires, they have a higher speed rating and an asymmetrical tread pattern. It’s why touring bikes are great for long-distance riding.

Can you use track tires on the street?

Track day tires have fewer tread patterns and offer better grip than high-performance tires. In this way, they’re suitable for street bikes. However, they aren’t the safest option in wet weather conditions. Because they have little tread, they can’t run through standing water as well as your average tire.

How to find out the load rating for my tires?

You can locate your tires’ load rating by checking the tire sidewall. It will be represented by a letter, like D or E, indicating how much weight the tires can carry. It’s an important thing to consider, along with the speed rating.


This was a complete guide on how you can check if your tires have worn out. Proper tread can allow safer road riding and fewer risks of encountering a puncture. Now that you know how to take care of your motor cycle tires, take some time every week to carry out an inspection. The process should hardly take a few minutes, and it helps you maintain the bike.