We are constantly stating that a well maintained tire is essential for safety. Most accidents happen due to distractions, speeding, road rage, and in a lower but significant percentage due to the bike’s bad condition, including its tires. Upon any of these hazards, what would you do? Do you act in an efficient way to avoid the accident? At what stage can a tire provoke or avoid an accident?

Practicing emergency maneuvers and taking a skills course to increase your abilities throughriding and safety techniques are essential in case of an emergency. These experiences should help the rider act confidently and minimize risks. As we have repeated many times and you should know, tires are the only contact between the bike and the road; therefore we have to pay very careful attention to their condition, quality and maintenance.

Let’s say for a moment that the rider’s abilities are very high, with a lot of experience and has good judgment of his/hersurrounding environment, but for some reason has not taken attention to the pressure or the condition of their tires. The inefficiency of the tires upon emergency maneuvers happen because: low or high tire pressure, tread pattern or carcass deformation, excessive wear, or lack of temperature for maximum grip. Any of these causes in case of a high demand maneuver can lead to a delayed response, braking distance, turning capacity and significantly reduced grip and stability.

Having ABS in the bike improves general safety, but also helps with a prolonged and homogenous wear of the tire. Abrupt and excessive braking without ABS can provoke a flat spot over the surface of the tire. This flat spot will bring bad consequences. It will cause a bad vibration and if the rider needs to brake hard again, vibrations will rise and stability will decrease. The tire will lock on the same flat spot it did before and the rider can experience an un-anticipated loss of control and turning capacity.

Now focusing on tire pressure, low and high pressure at the front or rear tire will produce different handling characteristics in emergency situations. Having a low front pressure tire will cause turning delay when avoiding road obstacles since the tire surface over the road will be higher than usual and with more friction. In case of the rear, it will provoke lateral oscillating movements. In hard braking situations, this loss of direction sensation will increase substantially since you will increase surface contact with the road much higher and therefore with even less control of direction.

On the other hand, an excess of tire pressure is another cause of risks when putting rider’s reaction capabilities to the test. The loss of grip during hard braking as well as hard acceleration will be impaired. The contact patch between the tires and the road will be smaller and the right contact area needed to increase contact with the road in certain leaning angles won’t be enough to sustain the rider. The high pressure will also impair the riders ability to predict the breaking point where is necessary and expected.

An excessively worn tread pattern is also a significant safety hazard. The original shape of the tire will be altered and this will decrease turning ability during at lean angles with high loss of grip during braking and acceleration. If the road is wet or damped implications will increase dramatically. The minimum input during an emergency situation will provoke a total loss of control and the rider will just become a passenger due to aquaplaning.

This happens due to the lack of grooves designed to channel the water out of the contact patch. When a tire loses its tread pattern, a deformation along the transversal circumference is produced and this will inhabit the ability to safely lean from one side to another. During emergency braking, the bike will tend to stay straight, without the capacity to move from one side or the other when trying to avoid an obstacle.

We hope that is very clear now how the good or bad condition of your tires plays a major role in not only performance, but safety capabilities of your bike during emergency situations. It’s easy to keep your tires well maintained, just take a couple of minutes before riding to check the pressure and look at the state of your tires, the tread pattern/grooves and tire deformation. If in doubt, take your bike to the closest shop for further inspection. Always make sure your pressure gauge is working properly by comparing it with another of known good condition. Do not procrastinate and ride safely this summer by checking your tires!

Until next week!