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Why You Should Care About Tyres

Posted on 21 January 2017

Many bikers, especially newer ones who have never been in a crash, may feel that any street tyre from a recognised manufacturer is good enough for their motorcycle.

But once you've been biking long enough, you know that this is a wrong assumption and tyres need to suit your riding style.

On the market, you'll find the familiar big ones: Dunlop, Metezler, Bridgestone, Michelin. They all offer an incredible range of variety, with scores of different models in different categories like touring and sports. You've got the bias ply and radials, while others need tubes and modern designs are tubeless.

1. Tyres are part of suspension
If you're wondering why your ride keeps getting jumpy and sort of wallows while leaning into those tight turns, don't always suspect your suspension system or shock absorbers. It could be that your rear tyres are losing air.

If you find it happening frequently, get tyres that keep pressure better for your journeys. Remember that tyres at the right pressure last longer and ride better.

2. Size does matter
OK, first of all, it's not actually the tyre size that matters but that of the contact patch. That's the rubber area that is in contact with the road. However, depending on how much you lean your bike into corners, more areas come into contact and it is this variation that will determine the type of tyres you need.
Old-fashioned “square” tyres like the ones from Avon have a larger contact patch when upright which gets smaller as the bike tips in. Wide radial constructions like the ones Continental makes, on the other hand, do the opposite.
In racing, more rubber on the tarmac also means more heat transfer both in and out of the tyre.

Of course, only trial and error can teach you what tyres work best for your bike and your style of riding. One way to learn is to ask people who ride like you and own the same bike as you do. So unless you ride like my great grandmother or never turn corners, remember that tyres do matter.

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