You can find plenty of types of motorcycle tires at your local mechanic, each of them coming with unique numbers and letter s on it. For new riders, it can be difficult to understand what these numbers and letters mean, or why you should need to learn about them in the first place. Well, in this guide, we will go over everything that you need to know about the numbers on your motorcycle tires, what they mean, and why you need to learn about them.
How to Read Motorcycle Tire Size: a Guide for New Riders
Even if you just got into bikes, you might have noticed that your motorcycle tire has all sorts of writing on it. Along with the name of the tire manufacturers, each tire comes with a sequence of letters and numbers that each represent a specific characteristic of your tire. The sequence is made up of five letters and numbers, each of which represents the tire size, aspect ratio, construction, speed rating, and load capacity. Here is a more detailed look at all of these numbers and what they mean.
Motorcycle tire sizes
The first number in the sequence refers to the motorcycle tire size, or the tire’s width. The widths of tires is in millimeters, so the first number that you see in the sequence, which could be 200, refers to 200 mm. Each bike will be able to support tires of a specific widths, so you should look up the right one for you in your owner’s manual. You should also remember that this number refers to the overall width of the tire and not the tread width.
The next number in the sequence is the aspect ratio, which is the height to width ratio. This second number will always be in percentages and refers to how broad or tall a tire is. So if a tire’s second number is 55, that means the tire’s sidewall height is 55% of its width. The higher the number, the taller the tire will be, with the smaller numbers referring to the tires being much broader.
The next number in the sequence is the wheel diameter of the motorcycle tire. the wheel diameter will include the rim diameter and the length of the tire’s rubber. The rim diameter will always be in inches, which you can also refer to as the length of the tire.
Following the numbers in the sequence, the next thing that you will see here is a letter that refers to tire construction. This is the first letter code in the sequence and it can be one of two common letters referring to tire construction. R refers to radial tires and B refers to a bias ply tire. Radial construction is possibly the most popular type of tire that you can find, with bias ply tires being the second most popular option. Choosing between radial tires and bias ply tires, usually comes down to personal preference, but these both tire construction do come with their specific perks.
The speed ratings, also known as the speed index, refers to the maximum speed that a tire can safely handle. This speed rating is always a letter in the sequence, and is often the final letter. The higher speed rating means that the tire can manage faster speeds safely, increasing the maximum speed that you can travel at.
Also called the tire’s load index, load ratings refers to the maximum load that a tire can handle. Load ranges are essential to consider when getting tires for your bike, since a motorcycle tire with a lower load index will have a harder time managing the maximum load of the bike. This could cause accidents or create unnecessary strain on the engine.
How to tell your motorcycle tire speed rating
While you often just want to hop on your motorcycle and drive off into the distance, you should always first look at the motorcycle tires’ speed rating along with the tire size and load rating. Each motorcycle tire comes with a unique speed rating, which refers to the maximum speed that the motorcycle tire can reach without causing premature wear. Following these speed ratings is essential to prolonging tire life, and you can find out the speed rating for your specific motorcycle tire by looking for a unique letter code in a sequence.
Along with checking for the letter in a sequence that can include aspect ratio, tire size, and load rating, you also need to consider a variety of other factors. You need to consider the type of bike and tires you have, for example dirt bike tire or tubeless tire, make and model of your bike, and the gears you drive in.
Speed ratings can vary for each bike and the first thing that you need to find the ideal speed rating for your bike is finding the redline on the tachometer. This number represents the maximum engine speed that your bike can reach safely. Next, divide this number by the final drive ratio, which will give you the top speed that you can reach theoretically. You should also remember that this maximum speed or speed rating doesn’t account for wind resistance and other factors that can affect top speed.
Different tires for a different riding style
Along with having a different tire size and speed rating, different motorcycle tires tend to be better for specific riding styles. For instance, you have sports bike tires which have much higher speed ratings thanks to their softer rubber compounds. Its unique makeup also extends the tire life and has a tighter grip on the road. These motorcycle tires have a unique tire size and are great for going at high speeds and cutting corners fast.
Street bikes and touring bikes focus more on maximum weight and offering a smooth riding experience. The tire’s age can last a fairly long time thanks its unique rubber compounds from tire manufacturers. The tire sidewall of the rear wheels especially matter, since that particular tire is responsible for acceleration regardless of the riding style people have.
But if you have a motorcycle like a dirt bike, you should get dirt bike tire since their better grip can handle off road terrain. All in all, its a poor idea to not get the correct size for your motorcycle tires.
When Should you replace a motorcycle tire
you can find plenty of types of motorcycle tire sizes in the market such as tubeless tires, factory spec tires, track tires, off road tires. All these motorcycle tires work more or less the same way but offer unique advantages to its riders. And with so many types of tires to choose from, choosing tires or a new tire can be difficult. Getting the right tire designed for your motorcycle often means finding the right motorcycle tire sizes for the rear tire and front tire cupping.
Tire age and correct size tire should always be a significant concern when you’re riding on your motorcycle. Most tires can undergo premature aging, especially wider tires, when you under inflate your tubeless tire. You should first look for signs of damage throughout the rim diameter of your aftermarket wheels. If your white wall tire tt is showing cracks or bulges throughout the rim diameter, then you should look into changing them. Depending on your riding style as well, you should look at different tire sizes for your new aftermarket wheels. For most stock sizes, you can check the tread depth of a motorcycle tire to see if it warrants replacing.
How you can choose the right replacement motorcycle tire
Choosing a replacement for a Harley Davidson motorcycle can be fairly easy, since they often have recommended bias ply or radial tires that you should get for your bike. But if you have custom bike, you can just get any bias ply or radial tire. You need to consider things like tire sizes, rim size, the inner air tube, aspect ratio, tube type tire, fuel mileage, and nominal width. Luckily, you can find the right tire for your bikes even if its not a Harley Davidson by following these tips.
First, you should consider the terrain you’re most likely to ride on. For instance, if you’re mo0re likely to stick to paved roads and won’t be going off road, then you should get a tire that’s better fit to handling on asphalt than it is on off road. But if you do plan going off road, then you should get a tire with a much deeper tread to make sure that it can hold on to looser surfaces.
Second, you should consider the type of weather you will be riding in. If you live in a place with little rain, then you don’t have to take an specific precautions. But if it does rain a lot in your city, you want to get tires that can specifically meet those specific weather conditions.