How long do motorcycle tires last? Maintenance Guide

How-long-do-motorcycle-tires-last

You might not know this, but your motorcycle tires have an expiry date. The experts recommend that they should last for around 5 years, after which you should consider replacing them.

It's important to heed to this advice since old, worn-out motorcycle tires can significantly affect the performance of your bike on the road. Plus, they make your motorcycle dangerous to ride.

With this in mind, you'd want to know how old your tires to help you replace them on time and keep your bike running at its best.

Why Do Motorcycle Tires Expire?

The reason why tires come with an age limit is that the rubber components used to make them tend to deteriorate with time.

To be precise, the rubber compounds will oxidize with continued use. This leads to hardening and, thus, increased brittleness and reduced flexibility.

Since oxidization is a developing process, these tires come with an age limit—regardless of whether you use them or not.

How To Determine The Age of Your Motorcycle Tires

Now that we have stated that you should not use your motorcycle tires after they hit 5 years, you might be wondering how you can check the age of your tires.

Right?

Well, you don't have to do any guesswork as all the information you need to determine your tires age is written on the sidewall of these tires.

To get this information;

Check the sidewall of your tire for the acronym "DOT" and check the series of numbers that follows it.

You should focus on the last 4 digits of these number series as they'll help you uncover when your tire was manufactured.

Of these 4 digits, the first 2 represent the week of manufacturers, and the last 2 the year of manufacture.

Don't get it?

Here's an example to make things easier for you…

Let's say the last four numbers on your tire sidewall are 3517. This simply means that your tire was made on the 35th week of the year 2017.

Having deciphered this info, now grab a calculator and divide the number of weeks by 4.3 to determine the month of manufacture.

35/4.3= 8.1395

This means the tire was made in August 2017.

Now subtract the manufacturer date from the current date to get the exact tire age.

In this case:

August 2019 - August 2017= 2 years.

For this particular tire, you'll have to replace it in August 2022, so you'll have to wait for around 3 more years.

Remember that the sidewalls of these tires also provide you with additional crucial info on the tire's width and height, and even the rim size. This will come in handy when looking for a tire replacement.

IMPORTANT: If you go shopping for tires from a dealer today and come across a tire that was manufactured last year, it's still considered new. BUT… keep in mind that the safe limit for all rubber tires is 5 years from the manufacturing date. This is the period after which the rubber compounds cease being reliable.

Rule of thumb: Replace your motorcycle tires when they hit their 5th birthday, even if they still appear to be in good working conditions.

Other Reasons To Replace Your Motorcycle Tires:

We've said it severally earlier on… that you need to replace your tire when they hit they hit their expiry date.

But this isn't always the case.

Sometimes, you might be forced to change the tires before they hit 5 years due to a number of reasons that we're going to share with you below…

  • Your tire suffers a puncture: if your motorcycle tire gets a tire flat or puncture of any kind, consider replacing it asap. You should only use the puncture kit to help you reach the nearest mechanic to get a new tire. Riding with a punctured tire can be a risky affair.
  • Tread wear: the tread on your tires plays a significant role in improving grip on all surfaces and pushing away water. If this tread starts wearing, therefore, your bike becomes dangerous to ride. If your tires reach the legal tread wear limit (which is 2/32" (or 0.8 millimeters) of tread depth), you must replace them.
  • Tire gets damaged: regularly inspect your tires for damages such as dry rots. If you notice any cracking along the tire sides, you should also consider replacing your tires immediately.
  • Unusual wear pattern on your tire: we also advise you to inspect the side profile of your tires. If you notice that the tire has assumed oddly square shape (or anything less than round), this means they have suffered enough tear and wear, and it's time to replace them.

Should You Replace Both Tires?

Not really.

You should only replace the tire that has reached the age limit, has tread wear, or has any other defects we have outlined above.

If you notice any physical damages on both tires or they're over 5 years from the date of manufacture, only then should you consider replacing both of them.

In most cases, the rear tire wears out faster than the front one. This is quite understandable given that this rear tire sends all the engine's power on the road, taking more than half of your bike's weight.

Most seasoned riders confess to changing the front tire with every second rear tire change.

In case you're switching to a different model or brand of tires, then you might consider changing both the front and rear tires. Riding a bike with tires of different models/brands might result in strange handling issues.

Tips for Keeping Your Tires In Good Shape For Long

Frequently replacing your motorcycle tires before they reach the recommended age limit can take a toll on your finances.

Luckily, you can observe the following motorcycle tire maintenance tips to ensure your tires stand the test of time:

  • Inspect both your motorcycle tires before any ride to ensure they're in good working condition for a safe ride. Look for tread wear and cuts, cracking, or foreign objects chipped onto your tires.
  • Check the pressure of both tires and ensure they're periodically inflated before you ride your bike, under-inflation can cause the rubbers to create excess heat which leads to a tire blowout. Likewise, riding with overinflated tires can cause your tires to get easily punctured, cut or broken by sudden impact.
  • Where you ride your bike can also affect the tire's longevity. For instance, excessive exposure of tires to sunlight has been shown to cause dry rot. Riding in a parking lot of full of rust nails can cause damage to your tires
  • Whenever you change tires, take time to break in the new ones. Ride the first 100 miles cautiously to ensure proper break-in and extended excellent service. Say no to hard cornering, sudden acceleration, maximum braking, etc. with your new tires.

Final Thoughts

Motorcycle tires have a maximum age limit of 5 years, after which you should replace them, even if they still look perfect. Past this period, the rubber components used to make them tend to harden, making them feel brittle and less flexible.

But you don't always have to wait for the expiry date to replace your tires. Regularly inspect, and if you notice any punctures, cuts, damages, tear and wear, etc., you should consider changing the tire, even if the 5-year period isn't over.

Regular (and proper) tire maintenance can go a long way in helping your tires serve you for longer, avoid frequent replacements, and save you money.

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