5 Ways to detect if your motorbike's tires are underinflated

Avoid premature tire wear, accidents
by Matthew Galang | Jul 12, 2018

Let’s admit it, tire pressure is not exactly the most exciting part of motorcycle maintenance. How much air is in your tires doesn’t sound nearly as cool as how many compounds are in them or what fancy technology they use.

Some riders skip this bike maintenance routine thinking that it’s just another painful, back-breaking exercise. They are more willing to bend down to clean the lower part of the motorcycle knowing that this will make their machine look good, rather than reaching out for a silly tire valve to pump air.

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But remember, the air in your tires are quite literally the only thing keeping them on the wheels.  

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To ensure you maximize the credit card-sized contact patch your tires provide, it’s essential that you check your tire pressure with a decent tire gauge. You may also opt use the digital air monitor at a local petrol station while checking your brake lights and making sure your helmet is fastened properly.

And if you notice your tires slowly and consistently losing air as the days go by, don't have second thoughts of taking your motorbike to a vulcanizing shop because this could be a sign that there's a tiny puncture.

Here’s a few quick and easy ways to tell if it’s time to pump some air into your bike’s rubber:

1) Things start to get wobbly

Philippine roads are notoriously misshapen, and as such, riders will regularly experience wobbles on their daily commute.

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However, when your handling starts to get wobbly even when the road surface is relatively smooth, this may be a sign that your tire pressures aren’t up to spec.

2) Heavier steering

Having tire pressures significantly lower than what listed in your bike’s owner’s manual or the sticker on your swingarm will result in tire deformation, which in turn will cause heavier steering.

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When you have to muscle your handlebars to get the bike to steer where you want it to, that’s a good sign that it’s time to mosey on down to your favorite petrol station to top up on air. And while compressed air from any station is free, our personal policy is to give the station attendants some barya (loose change) for their trouble if they help you out. 

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3) Premature wear

Low tire pressure will lead to a wider contact patch. And while that sounds like a good thing, it will undoubtedly cause your tire to wear out a lot faster. Without the air holding the tire in the shape it should be, you’ll end up using unnecessary amounts of tread, and of course, unnecessary money when you have to buy a new set early.

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4) Lower seat height

The moment you get on your bike, you’ll feel a little bit of sag when the suspension compresses due to your bodyweight. But if it starts to feel a little too squishy and you know your suspension’s in tip-top shape, then your tires are the likely culprit.

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5) Decreased traction

Lowering tire pressure by a certain amount is a common practice to achieve more grip when off-roading or on the track. But go too low and your tires will deform and overheat faster, resulting in less grip and a higher risk of accidents. It’s best to trust what your bike or tire manufacturer suggests.

Seeing as how much riders love their bikes, it wouldn’t take too much effort to check your tire pressure every other week while the tires are cold before you leave the garage. Please don’t be the type of rider that says “puwede pa yan!” Your bike and wallet deserve better than that.

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PHOTO: Aris Ilagan
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