Got Fresh Rubber? Learn How to Break In Your New Motorcycle Tires
As your motorcycle racks up the miles, so do your tires. Cumulative wear and tear changes how your motorcycle handles over time, and the more worn your tires become, the more unpredictable your bike's handling can get. The last thing you want is to go down due to tires that have been pushed far past their wear limits.
You'll eventually need to invest in some fresh rubber for your two-wheeled steed. However, fresh motorcycle tires need to be broken in before they offer optimal performance for your bike. Riding on fresh rubber the same way you would on your old rubber could have unexpected and expensive consequences for you and your bike.
Proper tire break-in will save you the expensive embarrassment of wiping out on even the most basic of corners on your new tires. The following tips will also help you get the most out of your tires on the open road.
Fresh From the Tire Shop
When you pick up your fresh set of tires, the first thing you'll notice is how glossy or slick they appear. Although that glamorously glossy surface makes them worthy of being featured on a magazine cover, it also makes it more difficult for your tires to perform optimally out of the gate.
Most tire manufacturers use release agents to separate newly-formed tires from their molds. These agents tend to leave behind a glossy finish that's also slippery to the touch. Some manufacturers use Teflon-coated molds in place of traditional release agents, while others limit the use of release agents to the sidewalls. Even without the use of release agents, motorcycle tires can still take on a glossy sheen due to chemicals used in the curing process.
So getting rid of the leftover release agent should help break in your tire, right? With most things in life, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way involves using abrasives to scrub or sand off the tire's surface. Attacking your bike's new tires with a belt sander or an acetone wash will only make things worse, as you'll risk severe damage to your tires.
If you want to break in your tires the right way, start with a wipe-down of your tires using a clean, dry cloth. The next step involves a long-distance ride that'll help gradually warm up and scrub in your tires.
The First 100 Miles
During the first 100 miles of your motorcycle tires' life, focus on breaking them in gradually. As mentioned before, a long-distance ride provides the perfect opportunity to warm up and break in your tires properly. During the break-in period, your tires will lose their glossy sheen as the curing chemicals and release agents are worn off.
If you're not able to get out on the highway, you can use an empty parking lot and take slow figure-8 motions on your bike to safely scrub in your tires. Using tire warmers can help speed up the break-in process, but these are not an accessory that every rider has access to.
Breaking in your new tires during the first 100 miles comes with some important dos and don'ts. Keep the following in mind:
- Plan your break-in rides during warm weather. Riding in cold or rainy weather just means it'll take longer to properly break in your motorcycle tires. Riding on a warm spring or summer day helps your rubber get more grip sooner.
- Forget about weaving around. Professional racers do this to retain heat in their pre-warmed tires, but it does little to help ordinary riders warm up their street rubber. Weaving simply puts you at greater risk of a lay-down.
- Stick to cruising around during the break-in period. As tempted as you may be to go full throttle and get your knee down in corners, you should go easy throughout the break-in period.
- Check your tire pressures regularly. Breaking in your tires at the wrong pressures can have adverse effects on long-term handling and performance. Keep a close eye on tire pressures and adjust them as needed.
Observing these tips can prevent you from taking a nasty tumble on slick, poorly-prepared tires.
Mile 101 and Beyond
Once you're past the 100-mile mark on your fresh, new tires, you'll be tempted to crack open the throttle and really put your tires to the test. But not so fast — a gradual break-in is still best for your tires. Start by putting your motorcycle through its paces gradually, pushing further as you build up more confidence in your tires' performance.
Some patches of tire may remain slippery after the break-in period ends. Fortunately, these patches will eventually go away as you continue riding, just as long as you follow the proper break-in tips.
Your tires are one of the most important parts of your motorcycle. After all, they're the only point of contact you have between yourself and the road below. Visit Bob's Cycle Supply and browse our inventory of tires and wheels for your motorcycle.