Semi-trucks often litter hot, desert highways with the remnants of blown out tires.

These chunks of tires, also known as road gators, make for dangerous driving conditions for other motorists who may need to swerve around them or end up riding over them at their own risk, and if you have ever been the recipient of a blow-out, you'll never forget it.

However, it's one thing to still have three functioning wheels (or more for trucks) and another if a motorcyclist experiences a blown tire while cruising down the road at 70 mph. Tires naturally heat up when in motion and since asphalt temperature can exceed 40 degrees (and even as high as 60 degrees) warmer than the air temperature, you might question the safety of riding your motorcycle in temperatures hot enough to fry an egg on the road.

Yes, heat does affect tires. But, how concerned should motorcycle riders be when it comes to riding in hot weather and ruining the integrity of the tires over the long term, or worse, facing the prospect of a blown out tire?

To help answer the question, we enlisted the help of Tom Grolemund and Shawn Bell from the Research and Development team at Dunlop Motorcycle Tires.

The short answer is this: For a properly inflated tire, under normal operating conditions based on application, heat should not be a concern.

Grolemund and Bell offered these additional points when it comes to the effect of heat on motorcycle tires:

  • The most common failures due to heat result from under inflation. Under inflation stresses the carcass of the tire and generates heat due to excessive flex in the carcass.
  • On a properly inflated tire, there is no such thing as overheating (with the possible exception of some extreme race applications).
  • Compounds are designed to work within a wide range of temperatures. However, at the extremes (extremely hot or extremely cold asphalt) you'll be operating outside of the ideal range. This can lead to reduced performance.
  • Riding "too hard" or beyond the design of the tire (racing on a cruiser tire for example) you'll be outside the ideal range, and this may cause reduced performance.

Motorcycle owners should review the "Care and Maintenance" section on Dunlop's website as well as any documentation that comes with their motorcycle tires for best practices in handling. Grolemund and Bell also emphasized:

  • Checking tire pressure is the most important maintenance function you can perform.
  • Underinflated tires can result in imprecise cornering, higher running temperatures, irregular tread wear, fatigue cracking, over-stressing and eventual failure of the tire carcass, or loss of control, which could cause accident, injury or death.

On the Motorcycle Pre-Ride Checklist we recommend all motorcyclists inspect the tires for cracking, adequate tread wear AND proper tire inflation prior to riding. So, grab your tire pressure gauge and check the psi (pound per square inch) levels on your motorcycle tires. Remember, check for proper inflation on cool tires since riding even in cold weather heats the tires and inflates the psi number.