In the end, motorcycle tires are one of the most important pieces of the equation for the enjoyment, safety, and cost of your ride. Just as with helmets, jackets, or any other piece of riding gear, all tires are not the same. They are designed differently, styled differently, and can carry very different price tags- all for good reason. From the various styles to differing tread patterns, compounds, optimum motorcycle fitments, and usage scenarios, each set of motorcycle tires has been crafted to offer its own set of advantages. At the same time, when choosing the advantages of one, you are often taking on its inherent disadvantages as well. The key to making the right selection for your own motorcycle tires rests in understanding not only what the differences are, but why they exist in the first place. For more information on tires in general, check out Lemmy’s Motorcycle Tires Guide 101 and FAQ article on Common Tread. Get some funds back by purchasing tires that are eligible for a manufacturer rebate.
In looking at motorcycle tires, there are a ton of terms to consider. For new riders, or seasoned ones with little tire experience, the plethora of options and info can at first seem overwhelming. Once you break it down to the basics, however, the search for the best motorcycle tires for your bike and riding style gets a bit easier.
This is the part that is at the forefront of most people’s minds. In short, tread is a general term that denotes the surface of your motorcycle tires that comes in contact with the road. Tread patterns can vary greatly. From zero tread on race slicks to aggressive knobby ?tread for motocross, tread patterns help denote the tire’s specific application. They can also give an indication of the tire’s handling characteristics, as well as how well dirt and water are evacuated.
Less well-known than tread, the bead of a motorcycle tire is the portion that is directly touching the wheel. Consisting of a steel “bead wire” and a section of “bead filler,” the tire bead provides a stiff foundation for the sidewall and prevents your tires from slipping off of the rim.
The carcass of a motorcycle tire can be seen as the foundation, skeleton , or HTML code upon which the rest of the tire is built. Basically, the carcass will come in one of two forms: radial or bias-ply. Each of these terms simply refers to how the guts of the tire are constructed. Radial motorcycle tires utilize steel reinforcing belts placed perpendicular to the bead and underneath the carcass, while bias-ply employ cords of fiber running diagonally from bead to bead.
The sidewall is a portion of the tire that doesn’t get credit where credit is due, but it is integrally important to performance, handling and longevity. The sidewall of your motorcycle tire is the portion between the bead and the tread that supports the tire carcass and dictates how much weight the tire can hold, the tire’s lean-angle, and it can even help add a bit of style to your ride. Options from classic white walls, raised white lettering and vintage profiles are just a few of the ways a tire’s sidewall can jazz up your rubber. From sizing (height, profile, or aspect ratio), to the way your motorcycle receives feedback from the road itself, the sidewall is not to be overlooked.