Person inflating a tire
May 30, 2023

When leaning into a sweeping bend at 60mph, the only thing keeping your motorcycle upright (in addition to gravity and centrifugal force) are two patches of rubber whose surface area is no larger than a wallet.

Your tires are tasked to control all your inputs regardless of road conditions, whether on triple-digit hot, below-freezing, sandy, wet, cracked, or otherwise perfect pavement.

Tires are one of the most critical components to your riding safety. Their ability to respond depends on whether they're the correct tire for your motorcycle, condition, and pressure.


If there's only one fact you glean from this, maintaining proper tire pressure is essential to your safety.

Tire pressure affects your motorcycle's steering, grip, wear, rolling efficiency, and load-carry capabilities. For every 4psi of underinflation, you can lose up to 80 lbs of load-carrying capacity.

Underinflated tires wear unevenly, are more susceptible to a blowout, handle erratically, and are dangerous.

When your motorcycle is stored, temperature variation and use affect tire pressure, so checking pressure using a high-quality, calibrated gauge before each ride is critical.

  • Always use a high-quality tire pressure gauge.

  • Check the pressure of cold tires before riding.

  • Inflate to the pressure indicated in the owner's manual for your motorcycle, for the riding order weight (weight of the motorcycle, rider/passenger, and gear).


Your owner's manual specifies a range of pressure for each tire depending on the gross vehicle weight of the motorcycle as it will be ridden. You might need to use different pressure if you ride alone with no luggage versus being loaded with gear or a passenger.

Load Calculation

Before inflating your tires, do a load-limit calculation to determine your motorcycle's riding weight:

  • Enter the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) as indicated in your owner's manual or on the VIN plate.

  • Subtract the dry weight of your motorcycle, as indicated in the owner's manual.

  • Subtract the average weight of fuel and fluids (roughly 40 lbs).

This gives you the available load capacity (how much weight you can add regarding rider, passenger, gear, accessories, etc.) of your motorcycle.

Now determine the heavy load you're adding to the motorcycle:

  • Figure out the total weight of the rider and passenger, including riding gear.

  • Add the weight of accessories you have added to the motorcycle (chrome, windshield, additional saddlebags, etc.).

  • Add the weight of additional cargo/luggage.

You now have two critical pieces of information. The first is the load weight you're adding to the motorcycle. If this number exceeds the available load capacity you determined in the first calculation, your motorcycle will be overloaded, a dangerous situation that must be avoided to maintain your safety.

Following the advice of the motorcycle manufacturer is one of the best ways to perform this task safely and effectively. You can use the owner's manual. This manufacturer recommendation is important to pay attention to, as it considers the bike and rider's weight and what the motorcycle will be used for.

There are different maximum load capacity elements to think about here, such as that a touring motorcycle would likely have passengers and luggage and thus require higher tire pressure than, say, a sports bike.

If you can follow the bike manufacturer's guide to help you, there will be a lot of benefits to this, and you will be able to improve things like safety, fuel economy, and wear & tear.

The second piece of information is the total riding weight of your motorcycle and, thus, the weight that determines the proper tire inflation pressure.

What To Do If You're Missing Your Motorcycle Owner's Manual?

But what if you are missing the motorcycle owner's manual or can't access it? You are still able to find the inflation pressure recommendation by:

  • See if the information is on a sticker located on your motorcycle's frame or swingarm.

  • Checking online by entering your make and model of motorcycle.

  • Getting in touch with your motorcycle manufacturer or tire manufacturer.

Tire Maker Max PSI vs. Motorcycle Manufacturer's Pressure Specifications

It's important to note that the tire maker's max psi is not the same as the motorcycle manufacturer's recommended tire pressure.

Ultimately, the tire maker's max PSI is the maximum tire pressure listed on the tire sidewall. The tire maker's max psi is the maximum amount of air pressure that the tire can safely handle, but it does not necessarily provide the motorcycle's best ride quality or performance.

In contrast, the motorcycle manufacturer's recommended tire pressure is designed to provide optimal ride quality, safety, and performance for your motorcycle model based on factors such as weight and intended use.


On regular intervals, thoroughly inspect both tires of your motorcycle by rotating each slowly while checking for the following:

  • Punctures, gouges, or foreign objects embedded in the tire – replacing tires damaged in this manner rather than risk a blowout is important.

  • Surface cracking – any visible cracks in the tread or sidewall can be caused by chemical contamination, ozone effect, age, and/or low air-pressure operation. If there are cracks, replace the tire.

  • Wear – most motorcycle tires should be replaced before reaching the 1/32-inch minimum tread depth or wear bar indicators. The reason: Tires tend to wear into irregular patterns, such as 'squaring' of the tread profile – excessive tread wear on the inside or outside due to over- or underinflation.

  • Bulging – any tire exhibiting a bulge in any area is likely experiencing internal tread separation and must be replaced immediately.

  • Chunking – when chunks of rubber build up along the tire edges, it's called 'chunking' and is likely the result of excessive heat. Tires showing chunking have suffered internal heat damage, which can lead to catastrophic tread separation, and must be replaced immediately.


Understanding the best ways to check and set tire pressure on your motorcycle is hugely important. Here are some key ideas you can use that will help you make the most of this and ensure you are making the right decisions moving forward.

  1. Remove the valve cap and attach the tire air pressure gauge to the valve stem

  2. Press the gauge firmly onto the valve stem until you no longer hear a hissing sound.

  3. Read the pressure displayed on the gauge and compare it with the recommended pressure in the owner's manual to ensure it matches up.

  4. If the pressure is too low, add air using a compressor, hand, or electric air pump until you reach the right pressure.

  5. If the pressure is too high, remove air from the tire using the gauge to deflate it and then start again.

  6. Once you reach the recommended pressure, you must replace the valve cap.


Do I Need To Check My Motorcycle's Tire Pressure Every Time I Ride?

Yes, it is recommended that you check your motorcycle's current tire pressure before every ride, and this is essential for ensuring you get the right balance and proper pressure before you ride.

How Do I Check My Tire Tread?

Checking your tire tread is one of the best things you can do to improve the pressure in your tires. You can check this using either a depth gauge or a coin.

Do Tires Naturally Lose Air Over Time?

All tires on rims naturally lose air over time. This is due to the small size of the molecules that make up oxygen. These tiny molecules naturally migrate out of the tire over time. However, the rate of pressure loss can vary depending on the quality of the tire, as well as the temperature.

How Does Temperature Impact Tire Inflation?

Air, which is roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% miscellaneous gases expands with temperature like all gases resulting in a pressure increase with increasing temperature.

Moisture can slightly enhance the pressure change with temperature.

Should I Use Nitrogen In My Tires?

Using nitrogen in your tires is a common alternative to compressed air. Nitrogen is an inert gas that doesn't react to your tire's internal components. Nitrogen can help to lead to a more stable tire pressure, and weather and temperature changes are not likely to impact it.


  • In wet weather conditions, worn tires and tires with uneven wear decrease the ability to dissipate water and decrease handling.

  • Small, molded-in triangles are spaced around the entire sidewall of each tire. Look in the tread groove at a point the triangle indicates, and you should see a raised-up bar. The surface of the tire's tread must be higher than these bars. Otherwise, it is too worn and must be replaced to prevent tire failure.

  • To prevent premature tire aging and/or cracking, never store your motorcycle (or spare tires) where they're subjected to frequent or varied temperature extremes: attic; trailer; outside storage area; near radiators or other sources of heat; or in confined spaces near electric motors, such as near the furnace in your basement, which can emit ozone that can degrade rubber compounds over prolonged exposure.

  • Never use sidewall dressings, which accelerate tire cracking and, if not applied correctly, can compromise a tire's ability to grip the road.