by Bruce de Kock, owner of Bike Tyre Warehouse Group



Chances are good that you will need

to refer back to this feature every once

in a while. There is a lot of info, but it

is important – and relevant, no matter

what bike you ride.

The Basic’s of Reading a Tyre:

Wow! Provinces open & the sun is

shining. Rider’s are getting back onto

their bikes in full force to hit the countryside

and enjoy the open road.

If you have been off your bike for a

while, make sure that you give it a

good scrutineering when you are dusting

it off in the garage.

Critical is to check your tyres if your

bike has been standing for the last

6 months.

If you’re not sure about the condition

of your tyres, pop into a reputable

motorcycle tyre fitment centre and

have them checked out. The Bike Tyre

Warehouse Fitment Centre Group will

give them a free inspection and check

you have the correct specification

tyres for your bike as well as the correct

tyre pressures before you head off

into the sunrise or sunset.

If you need new rubber, here is a very

basic guide to reading a tyre.

It is important for you to take the time

to run through this content as it will

assist you in making the correct choice

by that I mean not the brand of tyre

but the type of tyre specific to your

bike and your bikes requirement which

could - essentially save your life.

We can’t tell you the number of times

that riders come in with issues concerning

road handling, road noise, tyre

life etc – and it is usually because they

have fitted the incorrect tyre/s to their

bikes, 90% of the time due to

ignorance about the basics of motorcycle



1.Tubeless: No tube is used, when

mounted on a tubeless rim; abbreviated


2.Rear: Direction of rotation for rear

tire, indicated by an arrow on the tire


3.Michelin: Tire manufacturer

4.73 Load index: For example, 73 corresponds

to a load of 805 pounds (365kg)

per tire


6.Pilot Power 3: The tire’s model name

7.190: Nominal section width of the tire,

expressed in millimeters

8.55: Aspect ratio, the sidewall height

as a proportion of the tire width

9.R: Radial construction

10.17: Bead-seat diameter of the wheel,

expressed in inches (1 inch = 2.54 cm)

Let’s kick off with the tyres LOAD INDEX

which is a numerical code associated with

the maximum load that a tyre can carry at

the speed indicated by its Speed Symbol

under service conditions specified by the

tyre manufacturer.

This is important, and more especially so if

you are carrying more than just the weight

of the bike and yourself. Loading your panniers,

the wife’s kitchen sink, pillion etc. all

has a dramatic effect on the tyres capability

to do what it needs to under load.

Again the amount of times bikes come

in with tyres that are totally incapable of

carrying a load, sport touring heavy weight

motorcycles especially.

The table to the right is self-explanatory

so have a look see and check that the

tyres you have on your bike are the

correct load index.

Just as important is the SPEED INDEX

which indicates the maximum speed at

which the tyre can carry a load corresponding

to its Load Index under

service conditions specified by the

tyre manufacturer.

Load index Load index Speed index

Every bike requires tyres with a specific

speed index. The table below defines the

maximum speed at which a tyre can carry

the maximum load indicated by its load

index under the conditions of use specified

by the manufacturer.

The maximum speed is clear when the

speed rating is defined e.g. J = 100, S =

180, H = 210 etc.

The (W) speed index is not restricted,

(known as unbounded, shown by the use

of brackets around the speed index letter,

the tyre manufacturer must be able to

supply the maximum speed capability of

the tyre.

It is important to know the maximum speed

capability of the bike before a (W) speed

rated tyre is fitted. If the bike is capable of

a higher speed than the tyre is, the rider

MUST be warned of this.

This is also a consideration for off road

biased DUAL SPORT TYRES such as the

Michelin Anakee Wild.

In some cases the speed index is lower on

the Anakee Wild than the speed capability

of the bike and the OE tyre fitment.

Riders MUST be warned of this fact yet

again ignorant tyre sellers do not do this,

so it all comes down to you as the rider

knowing the basics and servicing your

bikes tyre requirements by professionals

who specialize in motorcycle tyres and

have the knowledge to advise you on the

correct set up for your bike.

I have decided to tackle quite a few topics

concerning tyre technology related to

capability & safety in the future. There are

some specific subjects I have written about

over the years which now need revised

detail as the capability and technology of

motorcycles has increased substantially

and so does the tyre technology therefore

it’s about updating and increasing your

knowledge base.

So many times I read the write ups on the

new bikes hitting the market, most of the

time mention of the tyres is only made if it

is a well-known brand that is OEM fitment

or if a brand importer has sponsored tyres

for the bike test. Sometimes I have noticed

that even the test tyres sponsored have

not been the correct specification tyre type

for the bike.

Education is key and the Bike Tyre Warehouse

Group is driving motorcycle tyre

education in your interests; we are always

available to discuss your concerns, so pop

in at any of our branches and talk to the



A Big Thank you to Ryan Robertson –

Business Development Manager, Auto

Cycle Centre JHB for sponsoring this

September Tyre Tech Talk in the interests

of promoting rider safety.

More than most, bikers have felt the lock

down as we are so used to our freedom

and open roads so enjoy the sunshine &

ride safe.

Bruce de Kock – Managing Director - Bike

Tyre Warehouse Group Holdings Pty Ltd

Tel: 011 205 0216 • Cell: 073 777 9269 / 083 467 1349

Unit 9 Sable Park, 997 Richards Drive, Midrand

Facebook @BikeTyreWarehouse • Twitter @biketyrewhse


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