From engines to helmets, almost every piece of motorcycle gear requires some kind of break-in period, and tires are no different. In this piece, we discuss why tire break-in is important and how to correctly go about it.
There’s something exciting about getting new tires on your motorcycle that makes you want to get out and push the limits of that fresh rubber. As soon as tires get mounted, motorcycle owners jump aboard and are ready to hit the twisty roads, but forget one simple, yet important fact. Motorcycle tires need to be properly broken in before you start riding too aggressively. In some cases, even the most basic corner can be a wipeout waiting to happen. You might be wondering what makes a brand new tire so much of a hazard, since we’ve always been under the impression that new means better. Well, it’s not so much of an issue with the tire, but more of an error on the rider’s part because they’ve either been misinformed or not informed at all.
Proper motorcycle tire break-in is often overlooked and is a cause of many expensive and preventable wrecks. The various chemicals and oils in rubber compounds seep to the surface of tires making them slick until they’re warmed up and released.
Years ago it was common for tire manufacturers to use chemical release agents to help get tires out of the molds that resulted in slick tire surfaces causing untimely falls. Most manufacturers now only use a release agent on the sidewalls of the tires to ensure that all of the manufacturing numbers, text and company logos come out of the mold flawless. This is very similar to a baker greasing a cake pan to ensure that it slides out with little to no effort without causing any imperfections to the final product. This doesn’t mean that you’re out of the woods with new tires, because there are still plenty of oils and other chemicals in the rubber compound that need to be released in order to get the maximum traction out of your tires.
The only area where release agents are used in tire manufacturing process are the sidewalls. Companies want to ensure that all lettering and logos come out flawless and easy for you to read.
When you purchase a new set of tires, one of the most important things you can do is to bring them up to a safe operating temperature as well as running the tires with the proper inflation. Pirelli, a leader in sport bike tire manufacturing, recommends that you warm your tires up to 165-degrees for at least 10-minutes before pushing the performance of the tires. Why? For the sole purpose of bringing the tires up to temperature and allowing them to get warm enough to leech out oils and chemicals that can make them slick. For track guys this is fairly easy to do with a set of tire warmers, but in all reality that is probably less than 1-5% of everyone reading this. Most of you are casual street riders that like to let loose on the weekends, and it’s not likely that you’ll be carrying around a temp gun to check your tire temperature. A safe rule of thumb is that 20 minutes of hard riding should bring your tires up to the proper operating temperatures. Making sure that your tire pressures are properly set to the manufacturers specifications are equally as important.
Using tire warmers, like the ones pictured, is an easy way to bring tires up to temperature and release the chemicals and oils that make them slick. Unless you’re a regular at the track, it’s unrealistic that you’re ever going to own a set so you need to resort to an alternate method.
This might have you wondering why all of those racers do that weave and wobble on their bikes when they put a fresh set of tires on their bikes. Surely that has to help warm the tires up or at least scrub the surface to improve your traction right? Wrong. Weaving back and forth minimally increases the temperature of the tires, but does put you at greater risk of going down by depending on cornering grip from cold tires. Additionally those riders have had warmers on their tires to bring them up to temperature, and even then it still takes them about two laps on the track to get up to maximum performance temperature. For the casual rider it is best recommended to use strong acceleration and braking forces while upright and not leaned over, to generate heat in the tire carcass. This heat then transfers to the tread compound increasing your overall grip once up to proper operating temperatures during the break in process. Even after the tires are broken in, this is a procedure we’d recommend when you get back on the road to make you’re riding with the maximum amount of grip every time.
Sure this is one way to heat up ONE tire, but it’s not the most efficient or economical way to get it done. We recommend strong acceleration and braking forces to heat up the carcass of the tire.
Ultimately the point we want to get across is that after you get that fresh set of rubber mounted to your wheels, take the time cruise around town and get your tires broken in properly. By following the above steps, you’ll get the best performance out of your tires and potentially avoid an expensive mishap of going down. If you’re still shopping around for that perfect set of tires to mount on your motorcycle, be sure to check out our massive tire selection. We’re the best in the industry with our great inventory and pricing, so don’t miss out on spectacular deals.