Tire pressure is critical to motorcycle performance, but most riders don’t check it often enough. Some experts say to check your tires at least twice a week. Others insist you put a tire pressure gauge on both tires every day you ride. Many motorcyclists who monitor their tire pressure neglect to adjust it based on the time of year or their riding style.
How often should you check your motorcycle’s tire pressure?
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) recommends incorporating a tire pressure check into your pre-ride inspection every day you get on your motorcycle. Because manufacturers recommend you check your pressure while your tires are cold, you can’t pull over and do this check halfway through a ride.
The MSF publishes an extensive pre-ride motorcycle inspection checklist. New riders may want to print the MSF list to ensure they remember every item. The list also leverages the acronym T-CLOCS, so it’s easier to memorize. T-CLOCS covers tires, controls, lights/electronics, oils/other fluids, chassis, and stands.
An experienced rider can complete T-CLOCS inspection in moments. Learning the inspection will familiarize a new rider with most mechanical aspects of their bike, and enable them to intuitively understand when systems are wearing or failing.
There’s a reason MSF lists tires first on the checklist: Tires can lose pressure over time and eventually make a motorcycle unsafe. Properly inflated tires also wear out. And a blowout on a motorcycle can be deadly.
What’s the best way to check your motorcycle’s tire pressure?
Motorcycle manufacturers recommend you check your tire pressure before riding your bike or after it’s been parked for several hours. Many mechanics find digital gauges more precise than cheap, plunger-style gauges.
If you plan to measure your motorcycle tire pressure as part of the T-CLOCS checklist, every time you ride, you will need a good system. First, locate the valve stem in both your rims. If this stem is sometimes blocked by the rear swingarm or front forks, consider a pressure gauge with a short hose so you can reach it in every position. Otherwise, you might have to roll your bike a few inches to access its tire valves.
Next, look up your manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure range in your owner’s manual. It will be listed as pounds per square inch–or psi. Keep reading to find out the precise psi best-suited to your riding style.
What tire pressure is best for your riding style?
Some people fill their motorcycle tires up to the maximum recommended pressure, but this is often a mistake. You want the psi of your tire low enough that its rubber flexes to better grip the road.
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One way to tell if the rubber of your motorcycle tire is gripping the road is by noting how much your tire heats up during a ride. As your tire heats up, its psi will increase.
If you often ride during hot days or accelerate and brake rapidly, your motorcycle tires will heat up more and your psi will increase. Likewise, if you carry heavy luggage or always ride with a passenger, your tires will heat up more and your psi will rise.
Luckily, you can simply test your motorcycle tire pressure before and after an average ride to find out the perfect psi for the way you use your bike.
Next, learn how to tune your motorcycle tire pressure to your riding style or see the T-CLOCS pre-ride check demonstrated in the video below: