Monday, October 13, 2014

Are your tires up for winter riding? (from a couple years ago)

            Summer is fading fast, and temperatures are falling.  So are your motorcycle tires up to the task of cold, wet roads?  Have you ever tried to "google" winter motorcycle tires?  Find any?
While researching tires for my Subaru Outback, I learned a lot about winter automotive tires.  And since we BMW riders like to ride regardless of the time of year, I thought I'd share some of what I learned.  Winter tires have rubber compounds that are very pliable especially in cold temperatures.  They have highly porous or hydrophilic rubber that adheres to the wet film on the ice surface.  And they have thousands of sipes cut into the tread to increase traction.
What does this mean to us?  Well, your normal performance motorcycle tire that grips the track with tread temperatures of 200° is incompetent as its tread compound becomes like "hard plastic" at below 32°.  So if you ride your bike in the winter, don’t ride it like you ride in the summer.  For example, if you ride it to work and take this one curve at a particular speed in the summer, slow down in the winter even if the curve is clean and dry.  Because the road surface is cold, and your tire may be cold as well.  Remember, your tire contact patches with the road surface are about the same size or smaller than the palm of your hand!  We want that cage driver to think, “That guy has balls to be riding.” not “Serves you right you stupid @##, of course you’re going to fall, it’s winter.”  Keep the shiny parts up. 

Chad “Skid” Gillen

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