when should you replace motorcycle tires that have sidewall cracks?
by walter f. kern
part of a series, motorcycle problems and solutions
our motorcycle views forum members often seek solutions to important repair and maintenance problems from the experts on the forum. many of our best experts are professional motorcycle mechanics or those who have done their own mechanical work and have seasoned practical experience. i’ve decided to publish a series of motorcycle problems submitted to forums and their solutions. only the most universal problems will be addressed so most readers will see a problem that may be affecting them. i’ll state the problem exactly as posed by a reader and then give a solution based on responses given by our most knowledgeable forum members.
problem from dpcycle:
who you perform? i still have a lot of rubber on the treads, but the sidewalls are starting to crack.
i’ve also seen some information about not using certain products on the tires (armor all, etc.) because it destroys the tires.
is this true? if so, is there something you can use to keep the tires looking good and increase their life?”
solution by hondamototech:
there is a way to prevent this from happening. go out and ride the motorcycle until the tires wear from use, not sitting and dry rotting!”
solution by markk53:
who seems to show up on your sidewalls for no reason. i think it was sort of greenish on the bridgestones. it protects the compound against ozone which is produced by the sun and also by electric motors. this protectant helps the compound to stay soft.
it can be worn away, washed away, and chemically washed/leeched out of the tire. if a tire sits in an enclosed dark area with no electrical motors in the area putting out ozone, it will usually survive without this “dry rot” because no one is scrubbing or chemically cleaning the preservative off them nor is the ozone able to harden the rubber. otherwise, there is an on-going process of deterioration from cleaning, riding, and the sun. my tires used to get extremely light cracking developing after about a year at which point they were usually worn out and replaced. my bike was used as a commuter so it sat outside a lot.
here is how to deal with this problem. if you or a previous owner used a petrochemical based cleaner on the tires, you wash the tires a lot, or the bike sat outside a lot, this protectant eventually completely disappears and the tire will start to age quickly and cracks develop. however, you can store the bike inside a garage or shed to protect from the sun.
also do not clean your tires with stuff like armor all. only wash them with a brush and soap. this will still remove some of the wax, but it won’t work into the rubber removing it quickly.
if you want proof of the negative effect of tire cleaners, look at some of the show cars and bikes that constantly have this applied. the sidewalls have small cracks all over them. in addition, you can look at some tire that has been out in the sun for a long time in a junkyard or some place like
where did i become the “expert,” you may ask? i learned it from a bridgestone tire representative at a honda parts and accessories seminar. the biggest surprise to me was that the gross green stuff on the sidewalls was supposed to be there and actually served some good. we always wondered what it was and why it appeared.
oh, if you put on enough miles to wear out tires about one set a year, you can clean them however you want except don’t use armor all on the tread. you might hurt a lot when you slid out and fell down. you want to wear out the tires before they get a chance to crack badly.”
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Read more: How Long Do Motorcycle Tires Last?
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