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Checking and changing your motorcycle tires is one of the most important routine maintenance tasks a bike owner can do. Not only will it make your ride smoother, but it’ll save you from entering a dangerous situation. Here’s everything you need to know about changing your tires, including whether you need to replace both of them at the same time.

When to change your motorcycle tires

Your tires can be damaged in many ways. If you spot these issues, then you’ll have to change your tire. The first involves the tire tread’s wear and tear. Checking for it is similar to checking a car’s tire. For a bike, the process is simple. Grab a penny and put it into the tire tread. If you can see Lincoln’s head or hair, then you likely need to change your tires.

You can also use a ruler to measure the thickness of tread, but they’re so thin that it’ll be hard to see. Your tires will be at a dangerous tread level at one-eighth of an inch in thickness, and you should definitely replace your tire if it gets to one-16th of an inch in thickness.

If you don’t change your tires, then they’ll perform poorly, especially in wet conditions. A worn tire tread will increase the time it takes for you to brake, which can lead to an accident.

Another common way for a bike’s tires to get damaged is via something physical. If you rode over a nail, for example, then you may not actually need to replace your tire. According to Side Car, any physical damage to your tire that’s a straight hole can be repaired. However, if slashed your tires, then you’ll definitely need to replace them.

Should you replace both motorcycle tires at once?

The answer is no, you probably don’t need to replace both tires at once. That’s because the function of one doesn’t affect the function of the other. In fact, according to Side Car, the rear wheel gets worn out about twice as fast as the front wheel due to how the motorcycle works. That said, there are two cases where you should replace both tires at once.

Say you bought a brand-new bike. One day, several years later, you inspect your tires and notice they’re five years past their date of manufacture. Old tires are prone to damage that’s hard to see, so they’re more dangerous. Side Car says, in this case, you should replace both tires since they were likely built around the same time.

Another instance where you may want to replace both tires at the same time is if you want to switch to a new tire brand. Different tire brands will deliver a different road feel, so if you mix and match tire brands, your handling may suffer.

Buying a new motorcycle tire

Just like how a certain tire brand has a specific handling feel, it can also have different braking and durability characteristics. Some tires will wear faster; others will be more dangerous in wet conditions.

When you’ve picked a new tire for your bike, be sure to break it in. Brand-new tires will feel very different from tires that have been used. Side Car recommends you take it slow for the first few miles so you can break in your new tires.