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I was out for a leisurely ride this weekend and got caught in a short but fairly stout little shower. For me this is no big deal since I always keep wet weather gear, on my bagger, for such occasions. Nevertheless, I pulled off at a little roadside café for a cup of go juice and to let the wet stuff ease off a little before continuing on my way

When I got back on the road, it had quit raining, but the roads were still pretty wet. Again, no problem for me, but I had a buddy along who is a bit of a sports bike enthusiast and has a love of speed. The funny thing was that despite all his mods and power, he couldn’t run with me, at cruising speed, on the wet roads. Every time he hit the throttle, his rear end started to cha cha and he would have to back off.

It seems he had forgotten one very simple rule; No matter what you ride or drive, for that matter, it all comes down to where the rubber meets the road. He had spent a small fortune on his bike and ignored the one thing that really mattered, his tires.

Riding a motorcycle, your safety and indeed your life, comes down to about 8 square inches of rubber. That is all that holds you on the road.

So in the interest of helping my biker brothers and sisters never need my services, I would like to offer this quick guide to motorcycle tire safety.

Keep Good Rubber on Your Bike

I’ll start off with the simplest of all the ways to avoid having motorcycle tire issues. Keep a check on your tires and don’t ride on worn out tread. True, tires aren’t cheap and it can be tempting to try and stretch a few extra miles out of them, but hospital bills and funerals are even more expensive.

Stick a penny in your tread and if the rubber doesn’t reach the top of Abe’s head, replace your tires. For the technically minded that is 1/16 of an inch.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is one of the most overlooked areas of bike maintenance. Not only will over or under inflated tires cause handling issues, they cost you money.

Despite what some believe, over-inflated tires hurt your fuel mileage almost as much as under-inflated tires do and both also will cause your tread to wear much faster than normal.

OEM Tires

Despite their appearance, tires are one of the most highly engineered parts of your bike. Whether you are running a sport bike, cruiser, dirt bike or even driving a cage, the rubber that holds you on the road is the result of literally millions of hours of research both in the lab and the real world.

Not surprisingly, motorcycle manufacturers are very careful about what tires, they put on what bikes leaving their plants. They have engineers dedicated to doing nothing else but matching tires to models to give you the safest and most comfortable ride with the maximum performance.

Unless you have the background to understand all of the factors like friction coefficients, flex rates, and centrifugal force failure rates it is probably best not to second guess them too much.

The safest course is to stay on the side of caution and stick with what came on your bike.