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The Scooter Tire Guide


>> Ashley Benson


You ride a scooter and, while you're still part of the bi-wheeled family, you know that your ride is a bit different than all the other motorized two-wheelers. For instance, the tires you have on your scooter are made just for your ride. Scooter tires are in a category all in their own. So it's important that you know the proper way to shop for and maintain those unique rubber rollers and not just any motorcycle tire guide will do. You need one that knows and understands all the special quirks about your machine. You need us.

As scooters continue to grow in popularity, manufacturers are popping out hundreds of different makes and models to fit the needs of every person. This means that your scooter isn't just any other scooter, it's particular to you and how you ride. This also means that you can't use just any old tire on your scooter either.

Unfortunately, tire manufacturers haven't been able to keep up with the varying tire sizes, styles and standards. In order to replace your rubber, you'll need to know what kind of tire you already have to help you find where you can get your new ones. But look at the bright side: being limited in the tires you can put on your scooter means your choices are easier. Those poor motorcycle riders have so many choices when it comes to tires that it makes your head spin but you're set once you find a manufacturer that makes a tire that will fit your machine.

Knowing your tire

In order to get new tires for your trusty steed, you'll need to know the in's and out's of the tires that are currently on it as this will play a huge part in what kind of tires you can replace them with. The size of your wheels will range from eight to sixteen inches in height and will decide what size tire you should buy. You may be thinking that you can put a lift kit on your scooter to get some bigger treads but, other than being completely impractical and maybe impossible, you'll probably end up looking ridiculous. Scooters are more practical than anything. Because of this, it's rare to change the wheels that came stock. Most scooters don't even have alternative wheel sizes available. Sticking with the stock wheel size may not only be easier, it might also be your only option.

Knowing the size of your tire means knowing where to find the size measurement. If you're handy enough, we don't doubt that you could measure it with an old fashioned tape-measurer. However, we've always just found it easier to read the sidewall of your tire to find out everything about it. Now you may find yourself panicking as you think of the obscure foreign language that is on your tire sidewall. But not to worry, it's easier to understand than you think. Depending on the type of tire you have, the markings on the sidewall can be arranged in three different styles. Each will show the diameter of your rim which will designate the size of your tire.

Once you know the size of you wheels, you can check out which tire manufacturers actually make tires in that size. As mentioned before, tire manufacturers rarely make a tire in every size for scooters so your options will be limited. We recommend looking for your size with your preferred manufacturer first. You might get lucky and find that they carry your size.

You will also want to note whether or not your scooter requires a different tire for its front and rear tires. Some scooters have a specific design which needs two different tires and putting a front tire on a rear tire or vise versa can cause your scooter to be unstable and unsafe. Most scooter tires, however, are made for both the front and the rear and are interchangeable.

Handling

The size of your wheels and tires will make a difference when it comes to how your scooter handles. The smaller the wheel and tire, the easier you will be able to get around sharp corners or navigating through tight spots. Bigger wheels are a bit more bulky and will make it harder to maneuver. A scooter generally has a much smaller tire than a motorcycle, however, so they are just as able to maneuver no matter the size of the tire. What this really boils down to is that smaller wheels and tires are great for shorter distances in urban environments. If you find yourself dodging lots of obstacles and only traveling a few miles, a smaller tire will benefit you. A larger tire, however, is great for traveling long distances on freeways or roads. Also, if this is your goal for how you plan to use your scooter, you'll want to make sure to get a tire with good durability.

You'll also notice that potholes are quite a nuisance on your scooter. If you've ever ridden a motorcycle, you may feel that they don't affect your motorcycle stability drastically. However, scooters have a bit of a harder time with them. Scooters are a bit more unstable when it comes to potholes. The smaller the tire, the harder it will be to handle your scooter if it hits a pothole. The bigger the tire, the less noticeable a pothole will be. Yet the smaller the tire, the more maneuverability you will have and with that the better possibility there is of being able to dodge the pothole. How you deal with potholes really just comes down to what you find to be more comfortable with: dodging potholes or just riding them out. However, since it is uncommon to change the size of your wheel (and therefore the size of your tire) after you have purchased your scooter, this is probably something that you will have considered before purchasing your scooter.

One way to control how well your tire handles uneven pavement after you've bought your scooter, however, is tires made for handling road irregularities. Some tire manufacturers make a style of tire designed specifically for riding in urban areas which are more prone to potholes and road irregularities such as these Michelin City Grip Scooter Tires. These tires tend to have a better tread and can help you deal with potholes until your letters to the city actually convince the city council to repave the road you ride to work everyday.

Maintenance

Your scooter's tires are important to you (or at least we hope they are) since they're what's keeping you happily cruising down the street and not sprawled out in the street. So properly maintaining you tires is high on your priority list.

In order to properly maintain your scooter's tires, it's important to give them a quick inspection before you put them under you. First, check the tread wear on your tires. If the tread has been completely worn down, you're more than overdue for some new rubber. Letting a tire get to worn down not only makes riding your scooter less safe since you lose traction, it can also cause your tire to fail on you while you're riding which is definitely not pleasant.

Many scooter tires will have a tread indicator that will tell you when your tread has gotten too low and you should invest in new tires. If you can't find the indicator or your tire doesn't have one, grab a penny from that change jar you keep telling yourself you'll take to the bank to cash in. No, we're not telling you that you can just buy new tires for a penny (we wish). You can use this penny to measure your tread. Flip the penny upside down and place it in the divot in your tread. If all of Mr. Lincoln's hair is showing, you need new tires. If some of his hair is covered up, you're still good to go. If you don't trust the penny trick, you can buy a cheap tread indicator that will give you the exact measurement of your tread. Once your tires have gotten down to about 1/32nd of an inch (0.8 millimeters) you need to go shopping.

You may think that reducing the amount of riding you do in order to save tread will give your scooter tires a nice long life. Unfortunately, just like the milk in your fridge, tires have an expiration date. Because rubber breaks down over time, it's recommended that you replace your tires every five years even if they've still got good tread on them. Running on outdated tires will increase your chance of tire failure so get some new ones after they've been around for five years. In order to be able to tell when your scooter's tires were made, there should be four numbers stamped on the sidewall of the tire. These numbers indicate the week of the year and the year that the tire was made. So if your tire reads 2410, your tire was made in the 24th week of the year 2010. If your tire is more than ten years old, the date stamp might look a little different since the standard was changed in 2000. However, if your tire is over ten years old, it doesn't really matter because you should have replaced it a long time ago.

The second thing that you should do when checking your tires before you ride is to look closely for any visible cracks, foreign objects lodged into the sidewall or tread and any other irregularities. Any cracks can be a sign of tire failure and should be repaired or, if too badly damaged, you should replace the tire. Foreign objects can cause your tire to function improperly or affect your tread. Make sure to remove anything lodged into your tire. Also check for any kind of uneven wear, bulging in weird areas or anything that seems irregular. If you inspect your tires often, you'll get to know what they should look like and spotting any of these things will become easy.

Once a week you should also check your scooter's tire pressure. Having properly inflated tires is important on any vehicle as having an improperly inflated tire can cause major issues. In order to check your tire pressure, grab a pressure gauge, like this Motion Pro Professional Tire Pressure Gauge and check your owner's manual or the sidewall of your tire to see what the pressure (PSI) should be. Because the PSI for your tire is based on when your tire is cold, you should always check your tire pressure when it hasn't been ridden for a few hours. The air inside a recently ridden and heated up tire expands as it gets hotter. This means that measuring your tire while it is warm will give you a higher pressure than what your PSI will read and letting any air out to match what you think it should be will under inflate your tire.

Underinflated or overinflated tires can cause a variety of unpleasant things to happen. Underinflated tires are the primary reason that tires fail. If a tire is underinflated, it will be distorted as you ride which will damage the internal make up of the tire. You may not be able to spot this on the visible part of the tire but breakdown of the internal walls will speed up the failure of your tire. An overinflated tire can fail as well. Overinflated tires are more prone to bursting especially when hitting a curb or bump. If a tire had too much air in it, it won't have the necessary give when it comes in contact with any other object. Having the correctly inflated tire will also give you better gas mileage and help your tires last longer.

If you find that your tires are losing pressure a lot faster than they should or one tire is losing more air than the other, you'll want to check you tire valves and valve stems to make sure they're not damaged or dirty and leaking air. If you don't find any problems with the valves, you might have a crack or puncture in your tire that's letting out precious air. If that's the case, be sure to replace or repair your tires before riding on them again.

If you like to ride around town with another person perched on the back of your scooter (or if you happen to be a little heavier all by yourself) you'll want to check the load capacity of your tires. Some tires are stronger and can carry a heavier load. If you don't have these tires and you spend a lot of time with some extra weight on your scooter, it could cause your tires to fail as well. While we don't recommend asking your passenger how much they weigh, you should know how much weight your tires can hold and plan accordingly.

Cleaning

Your scooter has always looked best right after a good scrub down. You make sure that you have all the right chemicals and cloths that keep your scooter in perfect shape. So why should your tires be any different? Many people like to clean their tires with just warm water, however, we recommend using a mild soap that doesn't contain any chemicals that could break down the rubber of your tire. Also be careful not to get any wheel cleaner on your tires as these chemicals can speed up the decomposition of your tire's rubber as well.

Once your tires are all nice and clean, the worst thing you could do is slather some Armor All on them. Armor All and other tire treatments tend to be oily and will cause your tires to lose traction and be more slippery. Some people believe that putting the treatments only on the sidewall of your tires will give you that new look without cause any problems with your traction. However, these chemicals can spread or slide on your tires and will end up on your tread regardless while also increasing the rate at which your tire's rubber breaks down.

Tires are important on any vehicle. No matter how powerful your engine is, if your tires fail you won't be going far. No matter what you're riding, proper tire care will keep you on the road and keep you safe.




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COMMENTS:
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 10:48:33 AM
 
Greg said:
 

What tire pressure should I be inflating my dunlop 3.5X10 inch scoooter tires to? I have a Honda Elite 80 1989 scooter.

 


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