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Modern motorcycles vary greatly in design and specification including scooter and all-terrain to suit a variety of requirements and applications including race, street, sport, touring, off-road and leisure. Tyres should be chosen with both the motorcycle and application in mind.

Types of Tyre

There are three tyre construction types diagonal cross-ply, radial ply, bias belted. These may be tubeless (no tube required) or tube tyre (requiring inner tube). All three construction types are manufactured in several tread profiles. Tread patterns and profiles are available for front and rear positions.

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Load and Speed Markings

The relevant speed symbol is positioned near the size designation in conjunction with a load index: e.g. 120/90-18 65S, where ‘65’ is the load index and ‘S’ the speed symbol. In the case of speed symbols ‘V’ and ‘ZR’, these are shown within the size designation, e.g. 120/90-V18.

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Tyre Pressure and Tread Depth

Tyre treads are designed to give good wet grip but the road surface condition plays the major part in tyre to road adhesion. In general, wet grip decreases as tyre tread patterns wear down or as the depth of surface water increases. Motorcyclists should take this into consideration and reduce speed when it is wet

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Running in Tyres

The running-in period allows the tyre to settle itself onto the wheel rim, serves to "scuff-in" the tread surface and allows the rider to adjust to the feel and handling of the new tyres.

After fitment, ensure the tread surface is not contaminated in any way. Clean off any fitting lubricant, buff around the tread circumference with a dry cloth and ensure the label is removed.

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Motorcycle Tubes, valves and repaired tyres

Ensure that the correct size and type is fitted and that the valve stem tightly fits the hole in the rim. Always use a new tube when fitting a replacement tube type tyre.

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Wheels and Rims

It is essential that the wheel size and type is a suitable fitment for the tyre and motorcycle concerned.

Tyres must not be used on damaged or distorted wheels since this could result in tyre damage and deflation.

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Tyre Conversion

Motorcycle tyres are manufactured in a number of different countries with differing requirements in terms of load, dimensions and speed ratings. This has resulted in various size markings. This chart gives a guide to the relationship between various size markings.

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Tyre Sidewall Markings

There are essentially three types of size marking used for motorcycle tyres:    

  1. Imperial
  2. Imperial Low Profile
  3. Millimetric
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