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Winter riding means an important check for your bike.

Added January 30, 2018
Tire Pressure

Some of us are lucky and can ride our motorcycles during the winter. The clear sunny skies, crisp air, and dry roads can tempt even a three-season rider to venture out for a winter ride. While you may only plan on a short trip to take advantage of the few daylight hours, don’t skip your pre-ride T-CLOC safety inspection. The T in T-CLOC is for tire, and that’s our focus in this post.

Cold temperatures and tire pressure

As the ambient temperature falls, so does the pressure in your tires. For every 10-degree drop in temperature, your tire pressure lowers by one to two pounds. It may not sound like a lot until you consider the temperature difference between your last tire pressure check in the fall and the current winter temperature.

For example, a tire inflated to a recommended 36 PSI at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, will lose up to six pounds of pressure at 40 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s significant underinflation. If your bike was parked in an unheated garage, the tire temperature could be colder than the outside air, creating further underinflation. 

Dangers of underinflation

Proper inflation is the most critical aspect of maintaining your tires so they perform properly and deliver a good service life. So, what can happen when you ride on underinflated tires?  Here are some of the possible effects:

  • Reduced load capacity
  • Heavy steering
  • Sluggish handling
  • Reduced ground clearance
  • Catastrophic separation from the rim
  • Internal damage to the tire from excessive flexing
  • Uneven tread wear that can cause future handling issues

Performing a proper tire inspection

Before you ride this winter, perform a proper tire inspection, including:

  • Check cold pressure (three or more hours since your last ride)
  • Inflate tires to recommended pressure for your load
  • Look for:
    • Tread depth
    • Wear
    • Even seating on the rim
    • Weathering
    • Sidewall cracking
    • Bulges
    • Embedded objects

Once you know your tires are good to go, finish the rest of the T-CLOCS pre-ride inspection. And be sure to check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s comprehensive tire guide. Remember, your safety is worth the time and effort.

Till next time, ride safe!

Related links

If you enjoyed this piece on protecting your tires, you might also enjoy other motorcycle safety tips we have featured in our Safety section.

Road surface hazards come in all shapes and sizes throughout the year. Here are more articles on how to deal with road hazards:

Four winter surface hazards to avoid on your motorcycle