Why Do Motorcycle Tires Wear Out So Fast? (And Is it Normal)
Motorcycle tires wear out fast. In fact, a lot of beginner riders will be quite surprised at the rate motorcycle tires can wear out.
This simple fact will raise a few different questions and concerns, namely, are people riding their motorcycles the right way and why the tires are wearing out so quickly.
Why do motorcycle tires wear out so fast? Motorcycle tires wear out fast because they are engineered differently. Motorcycle tires are made from softer and stickier rubber compounds, which wear out faster. Touring motorcycle tires are harder and will wear out more slowly compared to sport motorcycle tires which are softer and will wear out quickly.
You cannot expect motorcycle tires to last as long as the tires of some other motor vehicles. There is a good reason for that, and multiple factors will affect how fast a motorcycle tire will wear out.
Below I go into more detail about all the intricate details on this topic.
Why Motorcycle tires wear out faster?
Before we continue, let’s put things into perspective. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how long motorcycle tires last compared to other motor vehicles.
- Car tires generally are expected to last between 50,000 to 75,000 miles or about 5 to 10 years.
- 18-wheeler tires will usually last around 300,000 to 350,000 miles.
- Tractor tires can last up to 30 years and more.
- Motorcycle tires will usually last about 2,500 to 17,000 miles or about 5 to 7 years.
- Moped tires last, generally, between 2,000 to 6,000 miles or about 4 years. However, some moped tires can last as much as 15,000 miles.
As you can see, regular car tires definitely do not last as much as the tires of the other more specialized vehicles. But even then, motorcycles tires wear out significantly faster than other vehicles.
Some people will start thinking that motorcycle tire manufacturers may be doing that on purpose. But let me stop you right there.
There is a good reason why motorcycle tires wear out so quickly—and it has everything to do with safety and control.
Motorcycle tire design and compounds
Motorcycle tires will wear out faster compared to car and other motor vehicle tires because of their design.
Motorcycle tires have a curved profile because the tires should allow the motorcycle to lean on turns.
Because of this rounded design, this also means that tires will have a much smaller contact patch with the road compared to a car.
A smaller contact patch is a hazard; it means less grip and less traction. Let’s not forget that you are also moving on two wheels, which are going to be less stable than a four-wheeled vehicle by default.
Generally speaking, cars are a lot heavier than a motorcycle and thus will have a better grip and traction than a motorcycle, which is usually a lot lighter.
To make up for these downsides, motorcycle tires need to be made from a rubber compound that has a higher coefficient of friction.
Because of these intricate details, usually, motorcycle tires are softer and stickier, especially around the rims.A softer tire will have more grip, traction, and will be safer on a motorcycle. In contrast, car tires do not have to lean on their sidewalls; thus, they are engineered a bit differently. They are harder and wear out slower.
That being said, new motorcycle tires wear out a lot slower than older motorcycle tires made in the 70s or 80s, for example.
Some riders prefer to put car tires on their rear wheels. Dark side will not wear out as quickly as regular motorcycle tires simply because car tires have a different design.
They have a wider contact patch and are made from a harder rubber compound. Using a car tire on your motorcycle will get you more mileage.
However, this comes at the expense of cornering, stability, and water performance.
Do motorcycle tires wear out the same way?
It is important to know that motorcycle tires will not wear out evenly. The rear motorcycle tires will usually wear out faster than the front tires.
Rear motorcycle tires may wear out two to three times as fast as the front motorcycle tires do.
For example, if you can get about 5,000 to 8,000 miles on your front tires, you may get about 3,000 to 5,000 on your rear tires in some cases.
Rear tires will wear out faster because they are subject to acceleration, deceleration, and braking forces and because they are the tires that drive the motorcycle. In addition to that, usually, more weight is transferred to the rear tire.
This subjects the rear tire to significantly more friction compared to the front tire, which is normally responsible only for cornering, rolling, and braking.
(See article: How much does it cost to change tires on a motorcycle?)
What causes motorcycle tires to wear out fast?
How long a motorcycle tire will last can vary wildly.
In addition to motorcycle tires being prone to wearing out faster, there are a several other factors that will affect how long the motorcycle tires will last and the rate at which they will wear out.
The type of motorcycle
More powerful motorcycles will eat through motorcycle tires with ease, while lighter and less powerful will not be so hard on the tires.
The weight of the motorcycle can also affect how fast the tires will wear out. A heavier motorcycle, as well as a heavier rider(s), and heavier cargo will cause the tires to wear out faster. Unfortunately, this also applies to passengers, as well. The more the people on the motorcycle, the faster the tires will wear out.
That being said, the wearing out rate difference is usually very minimal.
For example, touring tires on a lighter motorcycle can easily last between 9,000 to 15,000 miles. On the other hand, sport tires on a heavier and more powerful sport motorcycle can last between 2,500 to 4,000 miles at best.
The riding habits
Naturally, the way the motorcycle is begin ridden will affect how fast the tires will wear out.
If the rider pushes the motorcycle, does burnouts, wheelies, swerve at high speeds, and slides the rear tire around corners, the tires will not last very long.
It also should be noted that motorcycles are more powerful pound for pound, compared to a car. This allows motorcycles to accelerate fast and subsequently wear out their tires faster. (See article: Why are motorcycles so fast?)
On the other hand, riders that ride quietly, smoothly, and calmly will enjoy using their tires for longer.
The type and quality of tires
Motorcycle tires cannot all be put under the same column. They are very different and wear out at different rates.
- Sport motorcycle tires will usually last between 2,000 to 5,000 miles.
- Sport touring tires will last around 4,000 to 7,000 miles.
- Touring motorcycle tires will last about 5,000 to 12,000 miles.
On the track, things can be a lot more different.
A regular street tire may last about one to three track days for a rear tire and up to nine track days for the front tire.
And track tires are not much different. Often riders will go through a set of tires after just one track day.
The age of the tire
Age also plays an important part in how fast a motorcycle tire can wear out. Motorcycle tires usually are expected to stay good up to five years from the date of manufacturing. Depending on how they are stored, they can last even longer.
That being said, generally speaking, a motorcycle tire that is more than five years old will wear out faster. The rubber becomes more brittle with time and hard. This also affects the traction and behavior of the tire.
Road surface traveled on
The surface you travel on will have a huge say in how quickly your motorcycle tires will wear out.
Riding on pavement and highways will usually allow your tires to last longer, compared to dirt and gravel roads.
Thus it is no surprise that dirt bike tires will last between 15 to 50 hours or 300 to 1,600 miles, depending on the terrain they are used on.
Maintenance and care
Some other factors that may affect the speed at which the motorcycle tires wear out can also be affected by how they are stored and looked after.
Leaving the motorcycle sitting for long periods of time can lead to flat spots, which may affect the tires’ longevity. If the tires are exposed to harmful substances and ambient conditions, this can also cause the motorcycle tires to dry rot.
Maintaining proper motorcycle tire pressure is also important in order to improve their life. Under-inflated tires will wear out faster than properly inflated ones. The effect of this can be so big that an under-inflated front tire can wear out faster than a rear tire.
Things touching the tire
If anything is touching the tire under the wheel-well or fender, this can lead to a more localized and unnatural wearing out of the tire. A broker part of the fender, a hose, or anything else that may be sticking out and touching the tire can be a cause of faster wearing out.