MC Garage Video: Tire Pressure and Why It’s Important!

Handling, traction, comfort… tire pressure affects it all.

We know, tire pressure is hardly an exciting subject, but it is really important. After all, your tires are the only thing connecting your motorcycle to the road, and tire pressure affects a lot of stuff like traction, handling, stability, ride comfort, and tread wear.

Checking tire pressures is the most fundamental of maintenance items, yet most riders fail to do it as often as they should. As a rule you want to check your tires at least every other week. Make sure you're using a decent tire gauge (see Tools 101: Tire Gauges), and check the tires when they're cold. That doesn't mean waiting until winter, it just means doing it before you ride since the tire will heat up as it rolls down the road.

Left alone, your tires are going to deflate. Tubeless tires bleed down more slowly than tube-type tires, but in any case the fact that air molecules find their way out of tires all on their own means that under-inflated tires are pretty common.

If your tire pressures are too low, then you end up with a soft tire and a big old contact patch. That leads to sloppy, heavy handling, premature wear, excess friction and tire temperature, and poor fuel economy.

On the other hand if your tire pressures are too high, you’ll have a really small contact patch and a very hard tire. That means less traction and a rough ride.

So how do you know what the correct pressure is? Some people go by the pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire. That’s the wrong place to look. That figure is the maximum allowable pressure for the tire, and the recommended pressure is sure to be well below that.

The right place to look is in your owner’s manual, or right on your motorcycle. There’s likely a sticker on you bike’s swingarm or on the frame that lists the pressure for your particular bike.

And since tire pressure is so critical, you’ll want to use a quality tool to check it. Those cheap pencil gauges are convenient but they’re notoriously inaccurate and are good for a ballpark reading at best, so you should invest in a decent gauge.

So in review: Check your tire pressures at least every other week; use a quality tire gauge; and take the measurement when the tires are cold.