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Thread: Tyres Explained.....

  1. #1
    Biker Trash DolphinD's Avatar
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    Default Tyres Explained.....

    A look at the tyre wall numbers

    For the most part, when the time comes for a rider to put some new road or track tyres on their machine there is little thought into what the size and shape of the tyre actually does for them. I would guess this is because the last pair worked perfectly fine, so why would they need to know?
    The answer is they don’t really, but the size and profile of a tyre can actually alter the way your motorcycle rides and handles, and some riders might actually benefit from a little change up.
    Before we look at what different motorcycle tyre sizes can do, lets first take a look at what all those numbers and letters mean on the side of the tyre. Not all the of characters determine the size of the tyre, but even so I think it’s worth a little lesson in what they all mean.
    As an example, here’s what’s on the side of my Metzeler Racetecs:
    180/55 ZR 17 M/C (73W) TL

    180
    The first number indicates the width of the tyre in millimetres, taken from the widest point of the tyre.
    55
    The second number indicates the aspect ratio (or height) of the tyre. This is represented as a percentage of the width of the tyre. In this example then, the height of the tyre is 55% of 180mm, which equates to 99mm.
    Z
    This is the first of two speed ratings found in the code. It indicates what speed the tyre is capable of being taken over. In this example ‘Z’ means that the tyre is suitable for speeds over 149mph. However it doesn’t tell us the maximum tolerable speed for the tyre; that comes later in the code in brackets.
    Here’s an example of some other speed ratings:
    R 106
    S 112
    T 118
    U 124
    H 130
    V 149
    W 168
    Y 186
    Z Above 149
    R
    The ‘R’ represents the construction type of the tyre. When you see ‘R’ on a tyre it means it has a radial construction. Here’s a brief explanation of radial tyres and the other most common construction type:
    Radial – A tyre that has its cord plies arranged perpendicular (at a 90 degree angle) to the direction of travel.
    Belted (‘B’) – A belted bias tyre starts life as a normal bias-ply tyre, then stabilizer belts are placed on top of the existing plies at different angles. This improves performance over non-belted, bias-ply tyres (also called cross-ply).
    If it has neither of these letters, it will be a bias-ply tyre.
    17
    This next number represents the size of wheel that the tyre fits measured in inches. In this case the tyre will fit a 17 inch diameter wheel.
    M/C
    This simply means that the tyre is suitable for motorcycle use.
    73
    The number portion of the characters in brackets represent the load index of the tyre, which specifies the maximum load the tyre can carry. To find what weight this number corresponds to you will need to refer to a load index table. As you can see, the number 73 means the tyre can carry a load up to 365kg.
    W
    The ‘W’ in brackets is the second speed rating found on the tyre. Put simply, the load you put on a tyre has an effect on its maximum capable speed. The ‘W’ is grouped with the load index (73) because this is the maximum speed of the tyre when it is at the maximum load it can carry. So in this case, if you load the tyre to 365kg then the speed rating of the tyre becomes 168mph as per the above speed index.
    TL
    TL means it is a tubeless tyre. If you see ‘TT’ then it is a tubetype tyre, so it must have an inner-tube.
    That’s everything in the code explained, but what do the different sizes and profiles of tyre do for you as a rider? Read below to find out how the size and profile of the tyre can help or hinder you.
    Tyre Size: The 180 vs 190 debate

    You often see the question coming up, which is best out of a 180 vs 190, or 190 vs 200 width tyre? The answer is neither is ‘best’, just that each is going to give you a slightly different feel.
    The general rule of thumb is that the wider the tyre, the wider your footprint on the road – for the most part. A consequence of the tyre being wider is that the profile won’t be as ‘pointy’ as a 180 for example, so your bike will feel like it isn’t as eager to turn in.
    Many would agree that a 190+ width tyre is only really worthwhile on 1000cc bikes and up, but again there is no right or wrong answer as it is mainly down to personal preference. Assuming of course the bigger tyre fits your smaller capacity bike.
    If you’re ever thinking of going up to a 190 on a smaller bike such as a 600 or 750, please know that many 190+ width tyres are designed for 6 inch wide rims, where as many smaller bikes have 5.5 inch rims. People still fit them and get on just fine, but it’s not always recommended.
    Tyre Profile

    Generally it is the width and height of a tyre (e.g. 180/55) that determines its profile. However, some manufacturers such as Bridgestone and Dunlop are known to be more pointy than other brands like Metzeler and Pirelli.
    As hinted to above, the pointier the tyre, the quicker it is going to feel like it wants to turn in. A 180/60 tyre for example is going to give you a quicker turn rate over a 180/55.
    Another benefit of a pointy tyre is that it will give you a greater contact patch when leaned over and on the edge of the tyre, promoting higher lean angles and faster cornering speeds.
    The downside to a pointy tyre is that it will feel more unstable going in a straight line and almost twitchy. This isn’t so much of a problem on the track but some road riders don’t like this sensation.
    It’s All About You

    The size and profile of the tyre you opt for should be down to how you like to ride and what you want from the tyre. Do you like the slower more stable feeling of a wider, less pointy tyre? Or do you like the bike to fall into the corner more, and you aren’t worried too much about little wiggles on the straights? Only you can really decide which size and profile of tyre is best.
    It has to be said though that many of the differences in feel that these tyres will give you are small and would take a fairly skilled rider to notice them, and an even more skilled rider to make best use of those differences, so try not to get too hung up on them and just go with what you feel is right for you.
    That’s your motorcycle tyre sizes and profiles explained. I hope this has armed you with a little more knowledge on the differences in motorcycle tyres so you can now more confidently make the decision on what type of tyre you want to go for next.


  2. #2
    Lurker H13nk's Avatar
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    Tnx, great read


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    Nice and sweet. You though didn't touch on economy by changing the"footprint". Manufacturer advice 160/55, I goi a 140/60. That a bad idea?
    Two wheels not for the faint hearted in Jozi! ​

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    I will check that website again and see if there is more info on other tyres.


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    Thanks Dolphin!
    I just wish I had a choice of tyres. When I phone to ask (Full Throttle) the conversation goes.....what is available......great! I'll take it!
    "Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle!"

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    Yes....... know what what you mean.


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    Best Bike Tyres for Road Riding and Track Days 2016

    Published April 2016

    When taking a quick look around any track day paddock, you would be forgiven for thinking that road bikes on track are a thing of the past.
    Yes, pure track machines make up the largest portion of the paddock, but there are still a great number of you that do track days as they were originally intended.
    A chance to ride your bike to the track, open her up a bit, then ride home.
    As such, the tyres you need won’t be the pure race pace rubber that you’ll find donning most dedicated track bikes on any given day.
    Instead what you need are a pair of hoops that will bring you a few thousand miles on the road, while still giving you ample grip for your track exploits.
    So what you’ll find here are a selection of tyres that are designed for those riders that are more inclined to just have the odd spirited ride on dry roads (fair weather riders, as we’re known), but tyres which will also supply you with more than enough grip to hoon around on track too. And while they will work in the wet to a degree, that’s certainly not what they’re designed for.


    Metzeler Racetec RR K3


    Launched at the same time as the K1 and K2 track biased variants at the end of 2014, the RR K3 quickly rose to the top of the most wanted list for this category.
    In fact, in a group test carried out by Motorcycle News UK the RR K3 came out on top, and MCN gave the tyre the accolade of Tyre of the Year 2015.
    Not only did the RR K3 come out with the fastest lap time around the famous Jerez circuit, but they were also praised for their very quick warm-up time from cold.
    The tyre, like many others here, feature a dual compound rear for extending the life on the road while not compromising the ability on the track.



    Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V2


    The SP V2 has been around for a few years now and was a simple replacement for the standard SP that was so popular before it.
    Between the SP and SP V2 there wasn’t that many notable changes made to the tyre, the biggest change being the tread pattern. Basically, there’s less of it. This should help a little with tyre life, but it’s largely the same tyre.
    It carriers the same construction as it’s race focused cousin (the SC), but the compounds are tailored to incorporate more road use.
    Like the Racetec RR K3 it features a dual compound rear tyre, which again will help increase miles on the road with it’s harder centre compound, while giving excellent grip at high lean.
    Pirelli sits near the top of the price tree for a reason. They make very good tyres. That being said, seeing how well the RR K3 is doing I feel that the SP will be due an upgrade sometime soon.




    Bridgestone Battlax RS10


    The RS10 was brought in as a replacement to the Battlax BT003RS in late 2014, and without wanting to reel off the usual PR features list, they basically set out to make the tyre better in every department – as you would expect.
    It appears that they succeeded in that plan. Coming in second in outright lap times behind the RR K3, as well as offering excellent stability and grip around the Silverstone National circuit, MCN put the RS10 just behind the RR K3 in their group test.
    The biggest difference coming in warm up times.
    The RS10 is said to take a little longer to warm up, but once it is warm you can really begin to test the tyre even on the most powerful machinery.




    ContiRaceAttack Comp (Endurance)


    Since the ContiRaceAttack Comp (how uncatchy is that name?) range was first released back in late 2012 they have only been gaining popularity, and I now regularly see riders opting for the racier options (Soft & Medium) over the more established tyres from Pirelli and Metzeler.
    At a price point considerably cheaper than those brands, but with performance enough for the vast majority of track riders (people are racing on them at a high level) it’s no surprise many riders are now looking to make a saving by opting for them.
    Much like the K3, the Endurance compound is a more road focused variant of their race tyre, sacrificing outright grip for longevity.
    The ContiRaceAttack Comp only has a single compound, but what they do boast is “MultiGrip-Technology”. What it essentially means is that different rubber characteristics are achieved by how the different sections of the tyre are cured.
    Bottom line – the middle is harder, and the sides are softer. They’re achieving the same results as a dual compound tyre, just with a different way of getting there.
    I actually ran the Endurance compound on my R6 back in 2013 and I had no trouble mixing it in the fast group at a variety of different tracks.
    It’s still a tyre I would easily recommend given that the price is quite a bit cheaper.



    Dunlop GP Racer D211


    Anyone that knows a thing or two about tyres will agree that Dunlop make some of the best tyres around.
    Their KR and D212 GP Pro range are regarded as sitting right near (or at) the very top of the track tyre tree. The KR slicks in particular.
    The GP Racer D211 takes the same technology found in the above racier tyres, but brings with it a more road going compound for longer tyre life.
    Unsurprisingly, the result is a tyre that falls in line with all the other options here. Exceptional performance on the track and enough performance and mileage to see you through your dry rides throughout the year.
    The GP Racer D211’s are said to have the raciest feel of the tyres in this category, with its ‘pointier’ front tyre allowing for very quick steering and therefore fast direction changes.
    Even though Dunlop’s performance tyres tend to sit at the upper end of the price scale, the D211’s have been around a while now and can be found for good money.


    Michelin Power Supersport Evo


    Last up we have the Power Supersport Evo’s from Michelin.
    The Power Supersport Evo is the road biased version of the Power Cup Evo. Which, as I’m sure you can now guess, means less outright grip and more longevity.
    Going by reports, however, it sounds like the Power Supersport Evo’s are more geared toward the road, which can be seen as a positive or a negative depending on what you want.
    Outright track performance doesn’t live up to the best in this class, but with that you should expect to see more miles out on the road.
    It’s more of a 50/50 road to track tyre, whereas the other options here lean more toward track riding efforts.


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    The Windsurfer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eaglewing View Post
    Thanks Dolphin!
    I just wish I had a choice of tyres. When I phone to ask (Full Throttle) the conversation goes.....what is available......great! I'll take it!
    For me it's usually, "Hey I need your cheapest longest lasting tire"
    Life on 2 wheels is so much better

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    Biker Trash DolphinD's Avatar
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    i used to do the same on vehicle tyres i was able to tell the good tyres from the bad ones......... Having a bike people always say there's just a few centimeters of rubber between you and the road so make sure its the best so that you able to stay on the bike when the situation arises. i guess with so much of research being done on tyres now days one should not be able to really find 'bad tyres' out there.


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    Awesome thread!

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    Biker Trash DolphinD's Avatar
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    Is nitrogen good for motorcycle tyres?

    Motorcycle tyres are only as good as the pressure in them and that means regularly checking them or filling with nitrogen which keeps the pressures consistent for longer. Nitrogen has long been used in racing, heavy transport and aviation, but is only now commercially available for cars and even motorcycles.
    Nitrogen is a colourless, odourless, non-reactive gas that occurs naturally in about 80% of the atmosphere.


    The advantages for motorists of nitrogen over normal air are reported to be numerous, but there is debate about some of the claims.
    Because of its relatively inert chemical structure, nitrogen doesn’t leak out through the porous tyres as quickly as regular air.
    That means your tyre pressures will be consistent for longer which means you will retain handling, grip and braking performance for longer.

    It also means your tyres won’t develop fatigue cracking or wear out as quickly or irregularly. Having proper tyre pressures also improves fuel economy.
    Nitrogen is also claimed to keep tyre pressures more constant because it doesn’t heat up as much as air. So when you test your tyre pressures cold and then when the tyre gets hot, they won’t have increased by much. This is also good for consistent performance and low wear.
    However, claims that nitrogen doesn’t heat up like normal air are debatable as it largely depends on the moisture content of the gas. More moisture means it heats up more.
    Moisture in the air in your tyres can also react with wheel rims and cause some rust spots.
    While nitrogen is a drier gas than air, it can still contain some moisture.


    Nitrogen Vs Regular Compressed Air- The Duel For Your Motorcycle Tires

    Nitrogen has been around us since a long time. Rather over 70% of the air around us is nitrogen. But how many of you knew that you can also put nitrogen in your vehicle tires? You must have come across various Nitrogen Filling Stations in your city or around and must have ever wondered that what is the actual difference of filling Nitrogen in your tires when the regular compressed air also has over 70% of Nitrogen? Well the difference is simple. The nitrogen in the air is really in a dormant stage, which means it does not actively react with any other elements causing any harmful reactions. The nitrogen in the filling stations though has a higher concentration of nitrogen than regular air, hence please consider this as a disclaimer; Do not Breathe it at any cost.
    But then again the main question that lies ahead of us it that, which is really better, Nitrogen or regular air? Well let’s discuss it in a bit more detail so we can get an accurate answer.

    Nitrogen as an element and a gas is lighter than oxygen. Hence the overall density of Nitrogen and the equal density of oxygen if taken together and weighed, oxygen would weight heavier for the exact same quantity of Nitrogen. So we can easily conclude that it is lighter. And not only that, but oxygen has the tendency to absorb heat quicker than nitrogen. Hence nitrogen has the tendency to remain cooler under normal conditions.

    Now let’s put things in perspective. We want our tires to remain cooler so as to not have any untoward incidences, as well as weight lighter to reduce the overall load and hence rolling efficiency of them. Putting two and two together we can very easily conclude that Nitrogen is better than regular compressed air for our vehicle tires. But all that is alright for cars, but does it make any difference to bikes?

    Well, the answer is generally a subjective one. The difference between the two when it comes to two wheels is pretty negligible. But if you are of the types who do not want to take absolutely any risks, then it would be your worth to go for Nitrogen instead of regular air. Let’s put them up under Pros and Cons for better understanding.


  14. #14
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    Thanks for a very enlightening read, definitely broadens the knowledge. Now i need some more opinions and advise.. I have a 2006 Yamaha FZ6 Fazer, Currently riding on balding Dunlop Roadsmart II' s and they have served me very well about 18-20000km on them believe it or not.
    So Now Do i go for The New Roadsmart III's or the Pirelli Angel GT's?

    Any other suggestions would be awesome. Im more inclined to stick with what i know and what my good friend and trusted advisor tell me, but its good to hear what others have to say to.
    Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today

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