How Long Do Motorcycle Tires Last? Age-Old Question Answered!
Those two pieces of rubber have saved me from meeting my maker more times than I can count. But lately, something felt odd when going into corners or riding in the rain.
Do you know that SCARY feeling when your tires would slide in a corner or lose grip while riding? That’s what I was experiencing lately. It was a notice that my tires are old and losing grip by day. It’s time for them to meet the Eternal.
Motorcycle tire life isn’t indefinite! It has its own expiration date. And if you think you could roll with the same tires for 8 straight years, as I did, you’re tempting fate!
That made me wonder – how long do motorcycle tires last? (If you’re a scooter boy, skip this. Chances are the tires will outlive you. They are just made that way.)
So, the answer is?!
Or that’s what most motorcycle tire manufacturers say about how long a motorcycle tire lasts.
But the IMPORTANT question is — What type of a rider are you?
Are you like Keanu Reeves in John Wick movies, blazing through the streets and making death-defying stunts? Or you’re like me, who feels like wrenching on the road?
How you ride will determine how soon you’ll pay a visit to the Recycle Center. Besides your style, there are factors like environment, road conditions, tire damage, and other BORING stuff.
Get this – below is a Chart of Motorcycle Tire Life Metrics a.k.a. Motorcycle mileage chart.
The chart will answer questions like:
For you — it means an easier understanding of such a hard topic. It’s not rocket science, but it can be a bit overwhelming to grasp.
And don’t worry. The chart data has different BEST motorcycle tires of 2023, so you’ll get the most longevity and mileage (max grip comes included).
|Different styles of riding||Average mileage Front tire||Average mileage Rear tire||Average life per tire|
|Super-Sport||5000 ~ 6000 clicks||4000 ~ 5000 clicks||1 ~ 1.5seasons|
|Sport-Tourer||9000 ~ 10000clicks||7500 ~ 9000clicks||1.5 ~ 2 seasons|
|Dual-Sport||7500 ~ 8000 clicks||6000 ~ 7000 clicks||~ 2 seasons|
|Touring||13 000 ~ 16 000clicks||10 000 ~ 12 000clicks||4 ~ 5 seasons|
|Cruiser||15 00 ~ 18 000clicks||10 000 ~ 14 000clicks||4 ~ 5seasons|
Clicks are slang for miles. Every time your odometer moves a digit, it’s a CLICK. Or that’s what every Gen Z nobby motorcyclist says.
In one season, a rider can conquer around 4000 miles. And if you’re like me and ride your bike until it snows, then that number is higher.
Why Do Some Motorcycle Tires Last Longer?
Let me ask you this. What is the difference between chewing gum and a motorcycle tire?
OK, I know what you’re thinking – he’s crazy. But let me explain:
Today’s rubber technology is so advanced it’s almost like rocket science. Mix a few different rubber polymers here, add silicon substrates there, twist the molecular structure for 150 degrees, and voila!
You’ve got yourself a Super-Sport track tire.
But the rubber compound has more to it. It has different levels. (Oh, God!)
From SOFT, MEDIUM, HARD, and all kinds of strange letters in between, rubber compound plays a big role in your motorcycle tire’s life.
TOURING and CRUISER tires are expected to last the longest but are unforgiving sons of *beep* when it comes to traction. They have a harder rubber compound that doesn’t stick that well to the road.
SUPER-SPORT tires have extremely sticky rubber compounds. You can lean over the pegs in turns, without breaking a sweat. You know what that means – track day, all day BABY!
A big trade-off with these tires is they won’t last long. Their soft sticky rubber thread would peel off very quickly. Their lifespan is a couple of thousand clicks, so you’d better stash on your savings account.
But know this.
Manufacturers are commercial, so they will sell types of tires that give acceptable grip and mileage, depending on the compound.
I know that when they launch a new set of tires, the tires available at the press launch may NOT be the same as you would buy them in the shop. The journalists will be impressed, end users less so (cheeky, aren’t they?).
How to Increase Motorcycle Tire Life with Throttle
Believe it or not, it’s pretty simple.
Your right wrist has much of the control of the tire’s lifespan. How you rev it will determine how soon you’ll be shopping for new tires.
Here are TIPS for postponing that:
Follow these tips and your motorcycle tire would last a good deal longer. You can even save a couple of Benjamins along the way.
But, even if you do all of those things, it’s IMPORTANT to know when to replace your motorcycle tires.
What you can IMMEDIATELY do to check if your tire is safe to ride or not, is: measure the tire tread depth touched with a coin.
If it’s more than 3mm or 4/32” = pheww! You saved yourself some bucks!
If it’s under 3mm or 4/32” = start thinking about new tires!
The latter is going to be a daily judgment call on your part.
A (Deadly) Trade-Off with Motorcycle Tires
In life you always have trade-offs. The same goes for motorcycle tires.
Cost/mileage OR feel/confidence is what most motorcyclists don’t think of when motorcycle tires come to mind.
Here is an example of what I mean.
A while ago I was a cheapskate and wanted to pay as little as possible for a pair of decent motorcycle tires. I would beat those tires until the steel wires start popping out. But, something BAD was bound to happen.
That rainy day, I was a blink-of-an-eye close to sliding while cornering through a tight curve. I could have broken bones that not even Flex Tape would put together.
It gave me the heebie-jeebies I’ll NEVER forget.
I immediately drove to the nearest motorcycle shop and spent a few Benjamins on a set of high-quality performance tires.
This time around, I chose confidence and comfort, instead of cheap low-quality tires. I won’t risk my life on such stupid mistakes, again!
In short: Choosing quality motorcycle tires with great mileage will potentially save your life!
Beware! These 3 Things Will End Your Motorcycle Tires Sooner
These 3 things used improperly would end your tires sooner than you think:
1. Wrong tire carcass
In plain English, it is what keeps every motorcycle tire together. It’s the most important part of motorcycle tire construction.
Some tire brands like Dunlop have a hard carcass.
OK, but what does that mean?
Let me explain. With such a carcass, you’re bound to feel every imperfection and bump on the road. You have a big amount of feedback about the road through those tires.
Brands like Pirelli have a much softer carcass.
Tires with that type of carcass absorb more bumps and imperfections of the road and do not relay them through to you.
But how can a type of carcass AFFECT my motorcycle tire’s life, I hear you wonder.
Here’s how. You do not want to have a soft tire carcass on a cruiser or a tourer. And same implies for the hard carcass on the super-sport or dual sport.
It won’t feel natural and safe, and you’ll destroy your tires before you even know it.
(“Under pressure, pushing down on me, under pressure…” Nevermind, I’ll stop.)
This one is closely related to the tire carcass — with a hard or stiff carcass, you would need slightly less pressure. With a softer carcass, you would need a LOT more pressure.
Another thing about pressure is that it’s DYNAMIC. In cold weather, you’re gonna ride slower and when it’s 95 degrees, you’re gonna ride faster. Knowing that you should have the right tire pressure for those weather conditions.
But, how does wrong pressure affect your tire?
Here’s an example. When you have a hard compound (remember those?), what pressure are you gonna need to manage the tire’s contact patch and generate enough heat to make the tire work?
Having more pressure than necessary in a sport tire, with a soft compound, would overheat the tire and melt the contact patch.
Overheated tires age quicker and they are NO GOOD with ruined contact patch.
Similar goes for the cruiser tires.
Having less pressure than necessary in a Cruiser tire, with a hard compound, would wear the contact patch quicker. And would give you crappy handling.
So what amount of pressure is best for your motorcycle tire and you?
Well, certainly it’s NOT the manufacturer’s recommended pressure! Controversial, right?
Just know this — Recommended motorcycle tire pressures are wrong and you should know why!
3. Mostly Overlooked – Motorcycle Suspension
When you up to your pace, your suspension setup must match that pace. When you want to ride aggressively at a faster pace, having a slow suspension will DIRECTLY influence your tire wear.
Riding slowly or faster, your suspension will translate all that information to the tire and generate the right tire heat.
With a stiffer suspension and overpressure on a sport-tourer tire, you’ll get excessive contact patch and tire wear.
Stiff suspension is when you have preload and compression damping set too hard.
Having the RIGHT suspension setup and preload will make your motorcycle tires live longer. And best of all, you can adjust it with 6 easy steps.
Dark Siding with a Motorcycle Tire Will End You!
During my riding season, I’ve seen many nasty things, but dark siding with your motorcycle tire takes the crown.
You might wonder — What is dark siding?
It’s not something from a Stars Wars movie (Join the Dark Side, brother!). It’s being that I-don’t-want-to-spend-my-money-on-new-tires guy and putting CAR TIRES on your motorcycle
Wait, you can do that?
Yep, and it’s called dark siding a motorcycle tire.
Commonly, cruiser riders put car tires on their rear wheels, which is not a good idea.
Well, I believe they have some type of an illusion thinking that with a car tire, they will be “more connected” with the road (whatever that means) or have a greater contact patch.
Not to mention that car tires last waaaaaay longer than motorcycle ones, and they are extremely cheap(er). But, whatever your reason to think you would pull a better card with a car tire on your motorcycle, DON’T DO IT!
During your life as a motorcyclist, you might find riders saying that “Motorcycle tires are a complete ripoff!” or “I use a car tire on my rear and I’ve never had problems!”.
Whatever their reason to want to convince you dark siding is good, avoid those riders like the plague!
Even though they might roll, there are reasons why car tires can’t work with motorcycles!
Yes, we are motorcyclists, which means masters of controlled risk. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a knucklehead and go dark siding.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many miles can you get on a Dunlop motorcycle tire?
When I say motorcycle tires, I mean Dunlop. But why are they common in Tourer and Cruiser world?
It’s because they last a hell of a long way. You can ride those tires into infinity! Well, not exactly, but 13000 ~ 15000 clicks would do.
Dunlop tires have a harder carcass and rubber compound, meaning you won’t wear them that easily.
Why do motorcycle tires wear out so fast?
I wish there was a straight answer. Even though you might know all those factors (riding style, environment, road conditions, etc.) there might be hidden ones you missed.
Tires coming from sketchy manufacturers and off-the-shelf brands are likely to have a poorer rubber compound, which equals faster tire wear and slippery handling.
Another thing why some tires wear out faster is because of loose chain tension.
Yep, that could also influence your tire to dig its own grave sooner.
Can motorcycle tires last 100 000 miles?
Unless you have a “Unicorn” of a motorcycle and found a “miracle” brand, then NO.
Car tires won’t even last that long, let alone motorcycle ones.
Is 20 000 miles a lot for a motorcycle tire?
Depends on what you’re riding. In rare cases, some cruiser tires can pull off that mileage, but you would need to have EXTREME CARE of your tires.
If you want to pull that off with Sport-tourer tires, tht’s MISSION POSSIBLE!
How many years motorcycle tires last?
The average number is 5 years. But with some brands and tires, it could be from 4 to 6 years.
With Super-sport tires it’s around 4 years because they have a much softer rubber compound which tends to age faster.
With Cruiser tires, it’s around 5 to even 6 years, because of their harder rubber compound.