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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have learned a great deal about bikes on this forum from some well educated and experienced riders. Now I am hoping someone can once again educate me. I have no experience with bike tires so please be patient with my questions. :)

My wife and I travel and live in a 40 ft motorcoach. It was a HUGE investment for us so I am very anal about maintenance on the Diesel engine as well as the coach itself. One item that I am really observant about are the tires. Blowing one on a 35,000 lb - $ 1/4 million dollar rig will ruin your day for you. So I am adamant about tire safety. I use a computerized tire pressure monitoring system and always make sure I am where I need to be on pressures.

After 5 years owners such as myself typically throw the tires out and bolt on new ones ( 6 of these can cost 2,000 K ) , regardless of their condition. The reason being is that most tire blow outs occur with age, especially after 6 years. They just seem to be susceptible to zipper blow outs after 6 years. One blown tire ( depending on its position ) can dent your wallet for several thousand dollars if it takes out electrical systems, parts of the body, plumbing and other misc. parts located under the coach. So tire safety on a coach is critical.

My question now is this. After reading today about the couple who had a tire blow out on their cruiser on a freeway and both being killed because of it, is there a practice you bikers use with your own bike tires ?

* When do you throw yours out ? Do you go by age or appearance ?

* Do you go over your tire pressures before you ride ?

* When is a bike tire no longer safe ?

BTW, I cannot speak for bike tires but for our coach tires, these things will blow most of the time due to age or running down the road under inflated for your weight.

What causes a tire to blow out on a bike ?

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks gang.

Chris
 

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The number one cause for tire failure on bike is riding under inflated.

I check my pressure every two days when riding regularly and everytime I take it out after it has been sitting any length of time > 2 days.

Everytime (almost) that I throw a leg over the bike I look at the tires and bounce on the bike for a quick visual of sagging tires.

I would be willing to bet that the couple that died on the bridge was more a result of not wearing a helmet than from a blowout/tire separation.

Catastrophic blow-outs on tubless tires are rare - hell on any tire, but tubes will let you down pretty fast, hence why I run tubless tires.

I wouldn't change a tire unless there was good reason, like very low tread depth, sidewall cracking etc. However, if funds were not an issue it wouldn't hurt to change based on time intervals.......of course if funds were not an issue I would use a new Mach III blade everyday to shave. :wink:
 

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Hey Chris,
You beat me to the topic, I was wondering the same thing as you when I heard this on the news this morning. Taking into consideration of how fast the traffic is on I-4 and how close people follow each other, I would have to guess that not only not wearing a helmet was a factor but also the traffic.

Anyhow, I don't have the chance to ride my bike everyday so it sits in my garage until I get the itch to ride. I was getting ready for a short ride one Saturday and hop on the bike and the wife notices that the tires are low, now I hadn't checked them in a while.. I get off and sure enough the tires are WAY LOW on pressure. I had remembered back to my previous ride and the bike was squirrelly in the turns, didn't really think of it though, and the bike rolled poorly when in neutral. So my lesson learned: Because I don't ride everyday I need to check the tire pressure before every ride. They taught me this in the safety course I took but failed to follow that rule.

Ron
 

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Christopher,

You got some good advise from the those that posted, but if your just using the bikes from time to time..it does get a little more difficult to give an "ideal" answer. :roll: :lol:

Your bike/s have tube-type tires, spoke rims and they are possibly "exposed" to elements daily/weekly/monthly IF they are trailered behind the RV and parked outdoors as you travel. All these factors will contribute to the tire/s usable lifetime more so than the mileage one puts on the bike.

From "my" riding experience, bike tires that are not ridden on a daily basis will "age" faster because one doesn't heat the tires enough (heat cycles) and when not used as often...all those enviromental things "eat" at the tires. They then start to show "hair line" cracks, a hardening of the tire compound and then one loses the full "grip" of the tire...just from age.
Also "tube tires" tend to lose air pressure faster then "tubeless"(it's a part of the "design factor"...tube/tubeless). And then there is the operator factor. The operator looks at the tire and see's it's not "flat" and then that's all they see until.........the bike starts wiggling in a slight turn. They "think" there's nothing wrong....they just haven't ridden that much....BUT, it is the low air pressure that was not checked or a "object" was picked up (nail/screw, etc.) in the tire. A "pre-ride" check should be a basic "habit/chore" BEFORE you leave for the ride.

Depending on "when" you purchased your bikes and if new/used at the time will also affect this measurement of safety for the tires. Just by a "rule of thumb"(not cast in stone...as they say).......tires that are in the 5-6 year range should be changed for new.

Checking tire pressures, checking for "objects" and doing this basic habit every time will pay off.

Bullzeyet
 

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I'm fairly anal about tires and follow a similar pattern to CBJR. I also junked the stock Dunlops way before I needed to just because I didn't like them. The main thing is just inspect them as I believe there are far too many factors to come up with a formula answer. I think close inspection will catch most issues before a catastrophic failure such as a blow out, flats however can happen no matter what you do. Flats are just a reality we deal with.
 

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Keep them inflated correctly, inspect for dry rot and ozone cracking, (too much direct sun), and enough tread to do the job. You should have no tire troubles with tube or tubeless.
 

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saw a bike a few weeks back that a guy was selling . Bike had around 1, 500 miles on it and he said it sits alot so he wanted to see it .

I checked the rear tires and there were major cracks in it almost from rim to rim . Just from sitting .
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for your input. So I gather then that in simple terms a tire is a tire is a tire regardless of what its bolted to.

* Check inflation pressures and never run them when low.

* Inspect them for cracks, damage, weathering, etc.

* Age is subjective I guess. Myself I will toss mine after 5 years which is exactly the age of my tires on my 02 ACE.

Thanks again everyone. The old saying of " TIRES - Your Life is riding on them " holds true with bikes as well.

Chris
 

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So, all that being said. What tire pressures do you all ride? I have sorta been toying with my pressure to find the smoothest safest ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
bweiner10 said:
So, all that being said. What tire pressures do you all ride? I have sorta been toying with my pressure to find the smoothest safest ride.
Funny you mention that. With my coach I run 5 to 10 lbs OVER the prescribed inflation pressure but your talking about tires running at pressures at 105 - 110 lbs. I do give up a bit of soft ride but the air suspension handles it.

Now I am going to be VERY curious to see what others ride at with their bikes.

Great question and post bweiner10.

Chris
 

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I agree with what others have said, and I inspect my tires closely while the bike is warming up. Cracks, uneven wear, tread depth. I also keep an eye on my mileage to guestimate how much I've put on them in a given month or so. I also check my tire pressure once a week whether I'm riding regularly or not.

When I first bought my bike last year I thought the rear felt a little soft in turns and as I found later, I was running about 10 lbs lower than spec for my tires. :shock: Not good. Airing them up solved the mushy feeling, so now I check them regularly.

A little off-topic but relevant I think: I've had a couple "almost gotcha's" this year with mine. First was a loose riser I noticed while on a ride last year. When I got it home I could almost turn the bolt underneath the tripple tree by hand. Eeek!

Just last week while checking out the bike I noticed the bars felt loose again. There was about 1/4" vertical play in them. So I checked the riser bolts underneath again, but they were tight. Something still didn't seem right though, so I loosened the allen-heads from the top of the risers and moved the bars out of the way. Lo and behold, there's an allen screw holding the risers there too! Yup, you guessed it, loose as all get out. Either one of those coming completely off would've had me eating pavement, so I'm glad I checked.

I guess the point to my rambling above is that it's never a bad idea to sit on the bike in the garage and just look it over, feel it out. Anything changed you didn't notice before?

Sometimes we get so excited to get out there and go that we forget the details and what matters first. I think that's especially true now that winter's coming to an end.

Just my views...
 

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I check my tires on our bikes every week visually and with a tire gauge. I come from a police background and learned early on that you do a walk around and a pressure inspection before each use cuz your life depends on it. We ran the patrol tires at maximum pressure according to manufacturer and that is exactly what I do on my bikes. I usually will toss a tire when it gets twon to 2/3 3/4 of tread wear, I run a lot of miles so time really does not enter into it for me but if you are a low mileage user then I would think that would come in to play also.
Ride safe have fun is my motto
Jeff
 

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I check the pressure in tires each time I ride and will top them up if only down one pound (I run 29 lbs front and back). When I first picked the bike up from a private seller, it was the first time I had ridden anything over a 250. The steering was super heavy and very difficult to turn. But I didn't know any better that first trip. By the time I got the bike home (25 miles), I had completed singing multiple choruses of "nearer my God to thee". It was hair raising. It then (belatedly), occured to me to check the tire pressure; 6 lbs up front. No not 16, 6. :shock: Hence I am very anal now about checking before every ride.
 

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Been a good post. Tires usually blow out because of heat, and that heat is friction caused by under-inflation. Tires also deteriorate as soon as they get into the atmosphere. With large semi trailers and tractors running 80 to 105 thousand pounds, we usually run about 80 psi on 12 ply tires sized at 11.00X24.5.

On a bike, there is a recommended tire pressure for light and max loads for both front and rear tires - on the VT1100 it is about 33 PSI on the front and 33 to 41 on the rear, depending on load. There is also a maximum PSI rating on the side of the tire. A good rule of thumb is to always be between the two, and never exceed the max stamped on the tire. Most of the tire manufacturers have a min tread depth and tread depth gauges molded into the tire in three locations. Usually the rear is 3/32 inches, and front is 2/32s. I usually toss mine well before that, because they do not work real well on wet roads with shallow tread. Besides, 90% of all tire trouble occurs in the last 10% of tread life. And 5 years is about all I will keep a tire because of age - using the molded DOT date stamp on the tire.

I regard once a week a minimum for inflation pressure check, and the same time I will put the bike on a jack and rotate each tire at least twice looking for foreign material embedded in the tire. My like is too short to waste it because I am trying to get another five bucks of wear out of a tire.
 

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Christopher said:
My question now is this. After reading today about the couple who had a tire blow out on their cruiser on a freeway and both being killed because of it, is there a practice you bikers use with your own bike tires ?
I didn't have a blowout and am very happy. I have, however, had a tire go flat while riding 2-up. It is *not* a pleasant experience.

* When do you throw yours out ? Do you go by age or appearance ?
I ride the tread off mine long before age gets to 'em. The Cruiser needed a new rear tire at 7k miles (the OEM dunlops were ass). The FJR got new sneakers at around 7500 miles because the OEM BT020s got pretty squirrely on the road with wear. The GL1100 got ~8000 miles on a set of tires when I sold it and looked to be about 50% left. I put two sets on the Magna in the time I owned it. I don't fool around with tires. They're a *small* price to pay to be safe and well protected.

If I'm buying a used bike, I've probably already budgeted in another $300-$400 for new tires and factor that into my offering price. It's not that I don't trust people... hmm... well, maybe it is.

* Do you go over your tire pressures before you ride ?
Visual inspection every time, pressure check every few rides if the visual is good. After spending a good number of years as a mechanic, you develop and eye for things.

* When is a bike tire no longer safe ?
That my friend is a loaded question. For me they have to be 100% mechanically perfect. If they're not, I don't ride them. That includes tires, lights, engine noise (I won't ride a bike with an engine knock - ever had an engine seize on you? not fun!), fuel/coolant leaks, sloppy chain, etc. I'll ride the rattiest, ugliest, most beat up looking bike in the world - if it's mechanically right.

BTW, I cannot speak for bike tires but for our coach tires, these things will blow most of the time due to age or running down the road under inflated for your weight.

What causes a tire to blow out on a bike ?
Under-inflation remains the biggest cause of blowouts. Over-inflation and aggressive center-tread wear is probably a close second.
 

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Never had a blow out on a motorcycle. Had a blow out on a bicycle once coming down a steep hill, estimated 30 mph and it vibrated the bearings loose in the steering head and scared the you-know-what out of me.

As for motorcyle tires, I've always believed that down to Lincohn's head on a penny is a good indicator for tread wear replacement or every two years, whichever comes first. This year it was tread wear that got the new Metzelers put on.

I also believe that when one tire needs replaced, replace 'em both, front and back.

Bruce
 

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I check mine weekly.

It was factory/dealer set to the max the manual referenced...should it be?
I run 29 (30) psi in the front and the rear has been at 36 since the day I got the bike. But the manual says that it should be 29 unless I am adding 200+ pounds.
Well, I am 180 pounds, I figured close enough for jazz, and left the pressure alone.
Should I change it to 29?

Btw, great thread.
 

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Good question.
I have an air compressor in the garage and check the motorcyle's tire pressure evey couple weeks. I keep the front and rear at the specified pressure. In addition to the bike, I check the cars we have also. It only takes a few minutes. An air compressor is a good investment. You will find all kinds of uses for it.
Little story that is sort of funny.... I didn't put a pressure regulator on the compressor when I first hooked it up. So I got a chipping hammer to take out the kitchen tile and mastic. The chipping hammer didn't like the 150 lbs of pressure from the compressor and blew apart. But not before throwing pieces of tile into the frig and stove. If you decide to invest in an air compressor, keep it regulated at 90 lbs or less. You can get an inexpensive regulator and moisture trap for cheap at a place like Home Depot. Good luck.
 
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