Winter can ‘store’ tyre problems for spring riders (2)
Motorcyclists who fail to check their tyres after leaving their bikes in storage over winter could pay a heavy price.
That’s the stark warning from TyreSafe as April’s bike tyre safety month gets underway. To minimise the risk of accidents, the UK’s leading tyre safety organisation is urging motorcyclists to give their tyres a thorough inspection, especially when heading out on their first ride of the year.
“If a bike is not stored properly over the winter months then its tyres can become illegal,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “However, staying the right side of the law shouldn’t be the only consideration as rubber deterioration can lead to a drop in pressure and cracking amongst other things which can compromise safety. So, carrying out a full tyre ‘health check’ is vital to avoid becoming another road casualty statistic.”
To help riders determine if their tyres are safe, hundreds of tyre dealers and specialist motorcycle repairers across the UK are offering free tyre safety checks as part of April’s bike tyre safety month.
For those inspecting the tyres themselves then particular attention should be paid to the tread and sidewall areas. If a tyre has been in service for a long time then cracking might be spotted, but rubber deterioration may also occur as a result of poor storage over the winter. Any sign of cracking should result in the rider seeking professional advice or replacing the tyre.
Motorcyclists should also look for any damage in the tyre such as bulges, cuts or lumps. If a foreign object is found embedded in the tyre then it should also be removed.
Riders should also make sure their tyre pressures match the recommended levels and are adjusted appropriately for solo and for pillion and pannier loads. Prolonged under-inflation causes excessive flexing, deterioration of the casing and rapid shoulder wear. Fuel consumption also increases. Over-inflation may result in an uncomfortable ride, a reduced area of contact with the road, accelerated wear in the centre of the tread and may make the tyre more susceptible to impact damage.
Just as importantly, the tyre should also be inspected to ensure it has adequate tread depth as this plays a vital role in removing any water from the road surface, allowing the tyre to grip wet roads. For bikes over 50cc the legal minimum tread depth is 1mm across three quarters of the width of the tread pattern, with visible tread on the remaining quarter. TyreSafe recommends that riders consider replacing motorcycle tyres in advance of the legal requirement, such as at 2mm.
Jackson adds: “The tyres are the only point of contact with road so play a central role in bike safety. Ensuring that they are up to the job should be the number one priority for all motorcyclists before heading out on a ride.”
TyreSafe top tips for motorcycle tyre safety:
– Check your tyre pressures from cold at least once a week using an accurate gauge
– Inflate tyres to the level recommended in the manufacturer’s handbook
– Inspect tyres for cuts, bulges, uneven wear or objects embedded into the tread pattern and replace if necessary
– Use dust caps to keep dirt away from the valve core and to act as a secondary air seal
– If your rims are cracked or bent they should be replaced immediately
– Check that your tread depth is not below the legal minimum of 1mm (for bikes over 50cc)
– Replace old or damaged valve stems
– Select the correct type of tyre for your machine and riding style
– Check that both tyres fitted to the bike are made by the same manufacturer and have the same tread pattern
-Make sure that your tyre has been fitted the right way round by checking the directional arrows on the sidewall
– When replacing tube type tyres always use a new inner tube
– Make sure your tyre/wheel assembly is balanced correctly
– Keep oil and grease off your tyres using detergent if necessary
If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition take your bike to an approved fitting centre and speak to the experts.