Abnormal motorcycle tire wear

Written by kyle mcbride
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Abnormal motorcycle tire wear
Abnormal tire wear patterns indicate problems with the bike or the rider. (superbike tire image by Christopher Nolan from Fotolia.com)

Motorcycle tires provide the crucial connection between the bike and the road surface. The tire contact patch can be quite small, only a couple of inches, and traction is easily diminished by wear in the tire tread. Abnormal wear indicates a problem with the vehicle or the riding style, and the cause should be rectified to avoid dangerous riding conditions and frequent, costly tire changes.

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Low-Pressure Wear

Low tire pressure allows the tire to deform and make a larger contact patch than intended. Heavy wear or scuff marks on both sides of the tire in the outer third of the tread, and light wear in the middle third indicates persistently low tire pressure. Low tire pressure leads to poor handling in the corners, diminished braking capacity and excessive, uneven tire wear.

High-Pressure Wear

High tire pressure deforms the tire by making it too round and hard to maintain the proper-sized contact patch. Overinflation causes the centre of the tire to contact the road surface improperly, causing the centre third of the tread to wear much faster than the rest. This condition reduces traction and causes a harsh ride and leads to frequent tire changes. Ensure that all tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Excessive Wear

Severe wear at the centre third of the tread patch in spite of proper tire pressure can be caused by improper riding techniques. Performing burnouts or "smoking the tires" can wear a tire tremendously, removing tread rubber from the centre of the rear tire. Excessively harsh braking can cause the tire to slide on the road, causing flat spots due to the localised wear being placed upon it. Flat spots can affect handling and tire balance, and can diminish the contact patch strength due to hopping of the tire.

One-Sided Scuffs

Improper front wheel offset causes the bike to lean to one side more than the other. The act of counter-steering against this force causes the front wheel to scrub on the road surface. Scuff marks and wear on one side of the tire tread indicates an offset problem. Arrange the spacers in the front axle to adjust offset with a magnesium rim. Adjust the spokes to move the tire rim relative to the hub to adjust the offset on laced (spoked) rims.

Diagonal Scuffs

Scuff marks that appear diagonally across the tread of the rear tire indicate an out-of-alignment condition. Rear axle misalignment, controlled by the rear axle adjusters, causes the rear wheel to constantly move away from the centre line of travel, causing the rear wheel to scrub across the road surface. Tread wear is greatly accelerated if the tire is out of alignment, and handling becomes difficult, particularly when cornering or in slippery conditions.

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