“Bend over and say. . . aahh … I forgot to check my tire pressure!”
By Greg Smith
How many times have you found yourself chatting with other motorcycle enthusiast and the importance of tire pressure (PSI) and especially the need to check it on a regular basis comes up … But Do We Check It?
After having been reminded to ”check your tire pressure” and having it drummed into our heads all the years we have been riding, why do we still get on the bike, start it, and take it for a ride without checking the tire pressure? Think about – we have all done that.
We have been lead to believe that a tire pressure deviation of +/-2 lbs. is acceptable. However, consider this; we rely on a tool (our tire gauge) that in many cases may be off +/- 0 to 5 lbs. With a tire gauge off +/- 5 lbs. plus a deviation of 2 lbs., your tire pressure could be off 7+ lbs. This could cause a significant change in the handling of your motorcycle. Now add in that the average rider checks their tire pressure once to twice a year, and when you fail to regularly check your tire pressure the potential of extreme improper tire pressure increases; now you have a huge problem and recipe for disaster. A good quality tire gauge is a must and preferably two.
The tire pressure or PSI of your motorcycle tire is calculated by the manufacture to give the maximum handling factor on a motorcycle. It controls everything from the tire’s contact patch on the road to side wall flex, and thus effects tire road grip / overall handling / wear / and of course fuel consumption. Any PSI deviation, either up or down, affects one or more of these.
Never exceed the maximum inflation pressure (PSI) listed on the tire’s sidewall, or the tires load limit. Doing so can cause tire failure. Remember many motorcycles require you to adjust the pressure to account for weight load such as a passenger or extra luggage.
The Top Cats have put out the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) “T-CLOCS” inspection check list. The first Item on the list is T = Tires. Keep this list handy.
Remember, the small Patch of contact of the front and rear tires are the motorcycle’s only source of traction. Take an interest in your tires, check their condition often and check the air pressure every time you ride. Buy a good Tire gauge … but most important … USE IT.