New tires.

Almost a work of art. So black and shiny. Slick looking too. Makes you never want to roll them on the pavement.

Tires indeed help make up the "look" of your motorcycle and though you might feel tempted to leave them well enough alone, the drive to ride quickly takes over and before long those new motorcycle tires look well worn, losing some of their luster and visual excitement.

But their purpose remains intact keeping you on the road and upright when carving through canyons and knee dragging around corners. That doesn't mean, however, tires need little to no care. Routine maintenance of your motorcycle tires keep them lasting longer and with a bit of effort you can quickly restore them to their newly installed glory.

We spoke to the gatekeepers at Dunlop Motorcycle Tires to get their take on proper tire care and tips to keeping new tires fresh and extending their tread life.

Keep in mind that tread life for motorcycle tires vary greatly based on tread pattern, type of bike, load capacity, riding style, and road conditions among other factors. Simply put, some last longer than others. Also, take note of true track tires, or slicks - those made for racing - which have little to no tread and generally considered illegal for use on public roads.

Whether you have Dunlop tires for racing or cruising along country roads, follow these tips to get the most use and reliability.

1. Should riders follow the recommended air pressure on the tire or motorcycle owner's manual?

Follow pressure recommendations shown on the Dunlop Motorcycle Tire Application Guide. Contact Dunlop if year and model are not shown on the current guide and the owner's manual does not list pressure settings for Dunlop tires.

Keep in mind that hard cornering, passengers, heavy loads and sustained high speeds will require higher pressures (up to that indicated on the sidewall).

2. How important is proper tire pressure and is a few psi's off that detrimental to the tire?

Underinflated tires can result in imprecise cornering, higher running temperatures, irregular tread wear, fatigue cracking, overstressing and eventual failure of the tire carcass, or loss of control, which could cause accident, injury or death.

Overinflating tires does not increase load-carrying capacity, but will result in a hard ride and accelerated tire wear in the center of the contact patch.

Checking tire pressure is the most important tire maintenance function you can perform.

3. What's the best way to store tires when the motorcycle is not in use for a significant length of time?

Tires can be damaged as a result of poor storage conditions and such damage can affect tire performance and functioning and may eventually lead to tire failure. Stored tires should be protected against environmental effects such as sunlight, ozone and other potentially damaging conditions.

  • Do store tires where the area is clean, dry, well ventilated and the ambient temperatures are temperate.
  • Do not store tires where the area is dirty or wet, or exposed to petroleum-based products or solvents.
  • Do not store tires where they are exposed to direct sunlight, extreme hot/cold temperatures or ozone-generating sources such as electric motors, battery chargers, generators or welding equipment.

Prolonged contact with oil or gasoline causes contamination of the rubber compound, making the tire unsuitable for use. Wipe off any oil or gasoline immediately with a clean rag.

Do not use any tire that has been exposed to oil, gasoline, corrosives or non-rubber-compatible liquids.

4. Cleaning and shine products help return the slick black look, can those be used?

Use a mild soap solution to clean sidewalls, white striping or lettering, and rinse off with plain water. Never apply any other material, cleaners or dressings to enhance sidewall appearance. These may degrade the rubber and remove inherent ozone cracking/weather checking resistance.

5. Do new motorcycle tires require some type of breaking in period before long rides or fast travel?

Replacements for worn, differently patterned or constructed tires will not react the same. When new tires are fitted, they should not be subjected to maximum power, abrupt lean-over or hard cornering until a reasonable run-in distance of approximately 100 miles has been covered. This will permit the rider to become accustomed to the feel of the new tires or tire combination, find the edge and achieve optimum road grip for a range of speeds, acceleration and handling uses.

Check and adjust inflation pressure to recommended levels after tires cool for at least three hours following run-in. Remember, new tires will have a very different contact patch and lean-over edge. New tires, mixing a new tire with a worn tire and mixing different pattern combinations may adversely affect ride and handling and will require careful ride evaluation.

6. What's the best way to get the most tread life out of a motorcycle tire?

Checking tire pressure is the most important maintenance function you can perform.

7. What's the best way to determine it's time for new tires outside of miles used?

Always remove tires from service before they reach the tread-wear indicator bars (1/32 of an inch tread pattern depth remaining.)