RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
It almost sounds like a question in a pub quiz. “What is the right tyre pressure for your motorcycle?” Tyre pressure actually has a lot in common with back protection. How so? Because we easily forget about it, while it is actually really important.
“How can you forget about tyre pressure?!” I hear you think. You will be surprised how many motorcyclists hardly ever consider it. And yes, that is a bad thing. So let’s change that. And start by telling you a bit more about tyre pressure. How does that work exactly? What is the right pressure, when do you check or change it and what about it when you put your bike away for wintertime? We will tell you more.
Table of contents:
– The right tyre pressure for your motorcycle
– Checking the tyre pressure of your motorcycle
– How often do you check your tyre pressure?
– The consequences of low tyre pressure
– The consequences of high tyre pressure
– How to get the right pressure in your tyres
– Tyre pressure during the winter stop
The right tyre pressure for your motorcycle depends more on your motorcycle than it depends on your tyres when you ride on roads. A pressure of 2.5 bar in your front tyre and 2.9 in your rear tyre is a generally given advice. Mind that this is the recommended pressure for cold tyres! But this advised pressure doesn’t suit every bike. Lots of manufacturers provide you with their own advice based on your specific motorcycle. This is stated in the service manual. They often also put a sticker somewhere on the swingarm.
Did you buy a motorcycle second hand, then that service manual probably has disappeared over time. And the sticker can be worn down and hardly readable. What to do? No worries. Most of that information can be found on the web these days. One manufacturer will provide you with an advise in bar, the other in psi. There are also lots of tools to be found online to help you convert one to another. In the Netherlands, we often use pressure in bar.
The right tyre pressure is not only determined by your motorcycle. It also depends on how you use that bike. The general advice manufacturers give you will do for road use. Unless you buy a dirt bike of course. Do you own an all road or adventure bike? Then the advised pressure will also work for road use. But you can take these bikes off road as well. Planning to do so? Then lower your tyre pressure a bit.
You also lower the pressure when you ride on track. When you ride on track, you don’t just use your tyres. You abuse them. Especially braking zones provide extra heat in your tyres and thus extra pressure. When you run a lower tyre pressure, all this heat and pressure can go somewhere. And gives you the best grip on the tarmac. That’s why racers use tyre warmers. These things keep their tyres warm. This way, they can measure their pressure more accurately too.
Are you going for a pillion ride? Or going on a motorcycle trip with lots of luggage strapped to your bike? Then it is wise to increase your tyre pressure. Also when it is really cold outside. Cold tyres with low pressure will hardly warm up. Running them with a bit more pressure in them will give you a bit extra grip.
To run the right pressure, you need to check the pressure of your motorcycle tyres. You can do this at home or at a gas station. Do you want to check it at home? Then you need to get yourself a tyre pressure gauge. You’ve got different variations. Digital ones, analog ones etcetera. You can buy a simple one for about twenty euros.
Tyre gauges come in all shapes and sizes, like basically anything you can think of in the motorcycle world. One is more pricy, others more accurate or small and easy to take with you. The most important thing is to preferably always measure your tyre pressure with the same device. Is there a gauge attached to your compressor? But did you measure the pressure with a portable gauge? Then stick to the pressure the latter gave you.
So you measure the pressure when your tyres are still cold. Did you leave your bike in the sun for hours? Then the pressure could have risen a bit. This won’t give you an accurate measurement. Put your bike in the shade and wait for ten minutes. Tyres cool down quicker than they warm up, so it won’t require a lot of patience.
Preferably, often. I check it almost every week. It is up to you how often you want to check it. You can’t really overdo it. One does it before every ride, others every week and some do it every month. But don’t go a few months without checking it at all.
– Higher fuel consumption
– Faster aging and wear of tyres
– Heavier steering, worse handling
– Bigger chance of a flat tyre
– Less grip due to less contact with the road
– Less control due to smaller thread
– Chance of a blowout
– Tyres heat up less quickly
How you get the right tyre pressure in your tyres? Simple; use a bicycle pump. Okay, that sounds a bit strange. But if you have a bicycle pump that fits a car valve, you can use that pump to inflate your tyres. But you could also ride to a gas station nearby. These air pumps are predominantly less accurate, but if you always choose the same one, you will still get a reasonably accurate level of measurement. And thus little deviation.
Inflating motorbike tyres with the air pressure pump at a gas station can be quite challenging by the way. These pumps are often ideally designed for inflating car tyres. It can be quite a challenge to get the pump onto the valve, especially when you have a motorbike with quite large brake discs in relation to the rim size.
90 degree angled valves offer the solution for this. In fact, they are just a pleasant upgrade in general. Even though it is a small one. Need new tyres? Then add some angled valves immediately. Problem solved.
You can also use a compressor to inflate your tyres. Or a hand compressor. Do mind that the compressor has a water filter. Without that filter, you could pump condensed water vapor into your tyres. This makes your tyres more susceptible to temperature changes. And we’d rather not have that.
So.. First measure your tyre pressure with cold tyres. Is it too high? Then deflate them a bit using the gauge. Is the pressure too low? Then inflate the tyres using the pump or compressor. Measure the pressure again, after inflating or deflating them. Always double check. You can trust the measurement on your pump, but there can always be a difference between two pressure gauges. So use measurement of one of them and stick with it after bringing the tyre pressure to the desired level.
Are you about to prepare your bike for a winter break? Then inflate your motorbike’s tyres more than usual. Think of an extra 0.5 bar on top of the recommended tyre pressure. This will reduce the risk of deformation of your tyres. This happens when your bike presses on the same point of your tyres via the jiffy for a long time.
Do you use paddock stands? Then this does not apply. After all, the wheels will be lifted off the ground.
Tyre pressure is a tricky thing. For many, it is a vague subject. If you only ride on the roads, it is usually not that exciting. The recommended pressure provided by the manufacturer of your bike will do in most circumstances. Do you always ride with a passenger? Then increase the pressure by 0.1 or 0.2 bar. Going off road? Then lower the pressure a little.
Once you start to ride on track (be careful, it is addicting!), tyre pressure becomes a daily topic of conversation. Then you have to deal with different desired pressures at each track. Desired pressure in the cooler mornings differ from the wanted pressure in the afternoon. And again, as soon as you ride faster and faster. You will run around with that pressure gauge in your hand all day.