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Old Motorcycle Tires: What you Need to Know!
Written By Fun Expert & Manager; Brett Vanderkooi, HFX Motorsports
For many active Motorcyclist’s it may seem a bit crazy to think that the tires on their Motorcycle could be considered too old or “dried up”. A phrase uttered throughout our shop, “I just replaced that tire last year” is heard every spring as bikes emerge from winter storage. However, there are still a considerable number of bikes that for one reason or another lay dormant, remaining in storage or suffering infrequent use. As riding season, after riding season passes by, the performance of the tires on those bikes could be significantly reduced. Here is what you need to know about old or aging motorcycle tires.
Do motorcycle tires have an expiration date?
To put it simply, no. However, they do have a date code. The date code is a 4-digit number molded into the side of the tire, it is used to determine the week and year the tire was manufactured. Using this information, you can monitor the age of your tires. The older the tires are, the higher chance that the tire has lost some of its original performance. If you are worried about the performance of your older motorcycle tires, it is generally accepted that motorcycle tires are “good for” approximately 5 years from date of install and 8 + years from the date code in ideal conditions. When inspecting your tires adding some of your own common sense is key, Motorcycles are cared for and stored in many different forms.
How should Motorcycle tires be stored?
The conditions that your bike is stored in can reduce the life span and performance of your tires. Indoor temperature-controlled spaces would be considered Ideal storage conditions for motorcycle tires. Something that many riders do not know, is that concreate surfaces can leech the moisture from tires, essentially contributing to aging the tires faster. Fluctuating temperatures and exposure to direct sun light will harden rubber compounds, making the rubber more brittle causing the tire to ware prematurely, crack and decrease traction. Tires that are stored correctly can have a lengthy shelf life and should cause little concern. However even when stored correctly, tires are one of the most important components on your motorcycle and deserve your attention regularly.
What are signs of an old tire?
Some signs that a tire will need to be replaced are easier to spot than others. If any cracks, commonly referred to as weather cracks, form in the tread or along the carcass of the tire, you should replace it immediately. Weather cracks will not pass Motor Vehicle Inspections and mean the tire is at increased risk of failure. The Cracks form when the rubber dries out from age and oxidation. Other signs of old tires could be; decreased traction, uneven or unusually fast tire ware and flat spots/becoming out of round. Motorcycles that are better maintained have tires that last longer and defects from age are more likely to be spotted before causing failure.
(Dry/Weather Cracked Motorcycle tires shown above)
Modern Motorcycle tires have rubber compounds and tread designs that offer better performance and wear longer than ever before. But…These traits fade over time and it is important to monitor the age of the tires using the date code stamped on the side wall. Not everybody has a heated garage to keep their bike in, so each situation is different and must be treated as such. This advice is to be used as a guideline. Ultimately it is up to you decide when your tires need to be replaced. Of course, if you are unsure of the condition of your tires consult an experienced mechanic at your local moto shop.