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MTC Tech Tips: Tire Safety

09.22.09 | Motorcycle Technology Center

One of the most important things to do before every motorcycle ride is to inspect your tires.

Maintaining proper tire pressure.
This is an important part of bike maintenance. You should check your tire pressure while your tires are cold (this is before you start riding for the day) at least once a week. Once the bike is in motion, tire temperatures warm up, which changes the density and pressure of the air inside. Tire pressure is especially crucial on motorcycles, and handling and ride quality can change dramatically with small adjustments. Tires wear more quickly when they're not properly inflated, adding yet another reason to check tire pressure regularly. Use your owner's manual for recommended PSI levels. If you're using non-standard tire sizes on your bike, go by the pressure figures printed on the sidewall.

Inflate tires using compressed air until they reach the recommended pressure.
After checking your tire pressure, if needed, inflate them using compressed air until they reach the recommended pressure. If they're over-inflated, simply bleed them by depressing the center of the Schrader valve until they are properly inflated.

If you check tires after a few hours of riding, anything more than a 10% gain in pressure could indicate they're working too hard. If that's the case, you'll want to lighten the load and/or slow down.

Look for any signs of punctures such as nails or pieces of glass.
Most anything found in tires might potentially lead to a loss of pressure or a blowout. Bulging or cracking might also occur on old tires; make sure you roll your bike forward in order to see all surface areas that come in contact with the road.

Check your tire tread with a quarter.
Put a quarter in the tread groove with Washington's head facing down and make sure tire tread is not lower than the top of Washington's head. If it does, it's probably time to replace your tire.

Adequate tire tread not only ensures tire integrity, it allows water to be channeled away from the contact patch, which helps maintain grip under wet conditions.

At YTI Career Institute Motorcycle Technology Center, you can learn technical skills such as this for entry into the motorcycle technician field. Topics include the ability to read a service manual, look up parts and prices, measurements techniques, hydraulic brake maintenance, valve lash adjustment, electrical systems, fuel systems, 4-stroke disassembly and re-assemble, transmissions, tire replacement, vehicle set-up and pre-delivery inspection. Motorsports Technology is a 9 month diploma program.

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