How to Read a Motorcycle Tire

How to Read a Motorcycle Tire?

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Most people are unaware of the size of tires they have on their bikes. So how do you determine the size of your bike’s tires? There are three typical sizes for street tires: Inch Sizing, Metric Sizing, and Alpha Numeric Sizing.

For a newbie, it isn’t easy to understand the language of their motorcycle tools. However, it is necessary to determine the type and model of each part, such as tires, which is the most crucial element of the bike. There`s a lot of information printed upon tires so that it will become easy for you to get the new replacement from the market easily. 

Get down on the ground and have a look around. Moreover, if your bike has aftermarket wheels on it, you will find that the actual size of the tire is a bit different from what is specified in your owner’s manual or on the standardized sticker. Therefore, it is important to have a brief and thorough understanding of your bike`s tires if you want to enjoy a smooth ride.

Reading Motorcycle’s Tires

1. Sizes of Metric Tires

180/70R-16 is a radial tire with a diameter of 16 inches. The first value (180) represents the tire’s width in millimeters. The aspect ratio (70), which is the height of the sidewall, is the second value. Thus, the height is 126mm, or 70 percent of the breadth.

Besides, the rim size is determined by the third number (16). Moreover, the diameter of the rim, in this case, is 16 inches. You may be able to identify your tire type, whether it is a Radial or Bias Ply.  This will become easy just by looking at the third and second digits’ letter, which you`ll find either R or B.  you will find that the tire is the Bias Ply wherever there is no letter written upon them. 

2. Alpha Numeric Motorcycle Tire Sizes

MU85B16 is the Alpha/Numeric sequence. The breadth is the first group of letters. One hundred forty millimeters equals MU. For all of the Letter Designation Breakdowns, use a Street Tire Size Conversion Chart. Furthermore, the next letter you will find will either be B or R that indicated the Bias Ply or the type Radial. Hence, the rim diameter and the size will be the last number printed upon them. 

3. Numeric Tire Sizes

The number you’re looking for is 5.00-16. This is because the tire width in inches is represented by the first number (5.00). Thus, 5.10 millimeters Equals 127 millimeters. The rim size, also known as the rim diameter, is the second number, which in this case is 16 inches.

Hence, these numerical tires are commonly ranged between 6.0 or 150mm (MV) or 2.75 or 80mm (MH) sizes. To look at all of the sizes ranging between, look at a Street Tire Conversion Chart; this will give you an insight. 

4. Bias Ply and Radial Ply

Bias Ply tires were the first and are ideally suited for large loads. Bias Ply tires are made consisting of interchanging layers of flexes laid down from bead to bead across the tire, made of materials like Nylon, Rayon, or Polyester. This results in an extra tough and rigid sidewall that can withstand a lot of weight, making it hot and less maneuverable compared to their modern Radial siblings.

5. Tire load and Speed Rating


While looking at the readings, you will find a load rating and the speed ratings on the tire. For example, this would indicate a sum of a letter and a number such as -77H. Whereas the letter represents the speed rating of a tire and the number shows the load rating. 

You might be wondering about what is the sole purpose of these readings. Well, even a single miniature detail holds great value in selecting the right tire as a replacement. The load rating determines how much weight the tire can withstand, whereas the speed rating indicates that the tire can safely accommodate the given weight. 

This might give you an insight that you immensely have to follow in order to have a safe and sound ride. First, always check the tires before putting yourself at risk. Have an estimate of your weight and calculate how much the tire must accommodate accordingly.


  • How would I know about the right replacement of the bike`s tire?

If your bike is from a renowned brand, they have their specific marking upon the tires too. In addition, they have branded them with the actual size of the tire, material, and type of tire. Have a look at these readings, and you will get an idea of what you are looking for.

  • What is the easiest way to preserve motorcycle tires?

You need to maintain the condition of your motorcycle accessories. As tires are the most crucial part so clean them at least twice a week. Take a mild soap solution and apply it to the sideways, rinsing off with the plain water. This should do the trick. Avoid unnecessary detergents and cleaners because they will decrease the shelf life of the tires

  • What is the most suitable inflation pressure for the tires?

Make sure that you`ve properly read the manual. Afterward, try to maintain the tire`s inflation following the tire`s placard and restriction manual. Note the maxima and minima pressure value and fill it up to the optimum level. This will keep them in good health. 

  • What is the most suitable and recommended tread depth for the replacement of tires?

It is wise to detach the tires from the service beforehand when they get in touch with the tread wear indicating bars. For example, at the point where there are 1/32 inches of the tread pattern depth is remaining. Moreover, you have to be extra vigilant with the worn-out tires as they could easily deteriorate and lead to accidents. 

Final Verdict

Motorcycle tires are one of the most crucial safety features on any motorcycle, more than any other requirement. Using the correct tires on your motorcycle will ensure that you have the smoothest ride possible and achieve your desired outcomes. 

If you want to stay on the road, you’ll need softer tires. If you want to get higher mileage, get harder tires. If you want to go off-road further, you’ll need knobbier tires. Choose the tire according to the use.

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