Checking your tire pressure

Checking your tire pressure and making necessary adjustments should be a regular part of your riding routine.

First you'll need a couple of tools. One is an analog dial indicator in 1lb increments (air pressure gauge) and with a flexible hose. This type is recommended because of its versatility and also for its accuracy in psi (pounds per square inch) measurement. Second, you'll need a means of inflating the tire. There are many types available - from an inexpensive hand-operated reciprocal to a heavy duty air compressor. A small electric compressor can be purchased from your local home improvement store that won't cost a bundle and you will have it available for tires on your other vehicles as well.

Checking tire air pressure is always best done on cold tires, before you ride. Get all tools ready (air pressure gauge & air compressor). Starting with the front tire, locate and position the valve stem so it is in an accessible position and remove the valve stem cap. Inspect the cap for cracks; replace if needed. Using a good quality air pressure gauge, push the hose coupler firmly onto the valve stem, making sure to seat it properly. A short hiss might be heard when pressing down on the coupler. This is normal - it is the pressure gauge coupler seating on the valve stem. Hold down for a few seconds and read the needle on the gauge face to determine if the tire pressure is too low (rarely are tires over-inflated). If more tire pressure is needed, connect the air compressor coupler to the valve stem and inflate the pressure. Ten to fifteen seconds will usually be enough time to increase the pressure several pounds per square inch. Repeat the procedure for checking the tire pressure and if the pressure is still too low, repeat the fill procedure until tires are properly inflated. If the tire pressure is too high, use the air coupler to allow air to escape from the tire. Usually if the air coupler is pressed halfway down, it will allow air to escape and not add any additional pressure to the tire. Replace the valve stem cap. Repeat the entire process with the rear tire.

With motorcycle tire pressure it is best to consult the motorcycle manufacturer’s information for the correct and safe tire pressure for your style of riding and the circumstances under which the bike will be ridden. The recommended tire pressure setting can be found on an info sticker located on the swing arm or on the steering neck near the gas tank. On some bikes it may be located under the seat or on the reverse of one of the side covers. This information is also included in the owner’s manual.

The motorcycle manufacturer usually will list two tire pressures – one for riding with a solo rider and one for a rider and passenger or a high speed solo rider. The typical setting for a solo rider is 28psi-32psi for the front tire and 28psi-34psi for the rear tire. Typical tire pressure settings for rider plus passenger or high speed solo rider are 34psi-36psi for the front and 34psi-36psi for the rear.

When checking tire pressure, it is always a good habit to inspect the tires for any signs of damage or wear. The tires are a critical component of safe and fun motorcycling and too often riders will sacrifice safety for the sake of saving a few bucks. If you think something doesn't look right on your tires, consult your local motorcycle repair shop. They have the knowledge and expertise to judge the condition of your tires and can also answer any questions you may have concerning your motorcycle.

When it comes down to it, your tires are the only thing between you and the road. Proper tire maintenance and regular tire pressure inspection will help to ensure infinite miles of trouble-free and safe riding.

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