I’m going to come out and say it, too many people let their tires get really bad.
Why am I thinking about this? Well I’m going to tell you a little story:
I was riding home last week and I looked behind me to see that a motorcyclist had caught up with me. This happens occasionally, I don’t take as many risks as some do with lane sharing, but that is another post. I let him past me and was glad I did since he was definitley was riding faster than I was through the cars.
However as often is the case I caught up with him when traffic slowed down and he was not moving as fast. It was then that I noticed something odd. Initially I thought he had something stuck to his rear tire, but I soon realized that nope, he had worn his rear tire down to the metal…
I caught up to him at a light and with some hand waving and pointing and yelling I think I got him to realize that he need to change his rear tire ASAP.
I see this thing way too often. I’m sort of a rear tire… um vigilante? More than once, I have left notes on motorcycles by my work letting them know that their rear tires are close to being a danger. Letting your tires get to this state is obviously bad, and it hurts your braking performance and traction quite a bit.
I did not become this way for no real reason, it’s that I too have ridden a tire way past it’s safe life.
The picture above was taken after my first road crash on about three months after I started riding. The crash wasn’t because the tire was bald, it was because I was a noob and blew the corner.
I learned my lesson though. I am much better about checking my tires and making sure they never get that bad again. It’s something you should do every time you ride. If you listen to the good people at the MSF, it is part of the pre ride check list. In fact it is the first thing on the list. If you’re an everyday rider like me you should still be checking them every week at the very least. I’ve made a habit of checking every time I walk away from the bike. I’ve never had one look that bad (or even close) since.
Edit: A reader pointed out that tire’s don’t wear completely evenly all the time, so you could have a bad spot. If you think your tire is getting bad, make sure you roll the tire and make sure it’s not already looking like the above picture!