Tires are perhaps the most important consumables that you need to take care of on your motorcycle. It doesn’t matter whether you have sportbike tires or dual-sport tires on your bike. What matters is that every time you go out on a ride, the rubber on the road is properly inflated for any load that you may encounter.
That being said, just what pressure do you put your motorcycle tires at? That question depends on your rider’s weight and the weight of your motorcycle.
Check your tires before anything else. When you conduct your pre-ride check, make sure that there are no punctures, leaks, and cracks on the rubber that could compromise safety. Other than that, also check your wheels for any bends or cracks.
Check your pressure after and make sure that your tire is holding air as well. Use a gauge or the built-in pressure gauge at any local gas station. Lastly, do not, and repeat, do not forget your valve dust cover.
As a general rule of thumb:
You want to inflate your motorcycle’s tires to about 28 to 40 psi for tubeless tires. This will depend on your bike, what kind of tires you’re running, where you’re riding, and who you’re riding with. The image pictured is the owner's manual of the KTM 390 Duke.
For tubbed tires, however, it is a different story. For most small bikes, going past 30 psi could harm your inner tubes to the point of leaking air, so stay under 30 psi unless the tube can take it.
In both instances, make sure to get the standard pressure that your manufacturer recommends. There, you will also find a chart that details the optimum tire pressure if you’re lugging around gear or another person.
Riding with a pillion
Having a passenger on board means more weight for your rear tire to handle. If you will find yourself with a pillion in the next ride, make sure to pump up your tires by about 1 to 2 psi.
Bringing more gear
The same goes when bringing more weight along for the ride. If you’re strapping on a heavy piece of luggage or slapping on a few panniers forever, then perhaps it is best that you switch up your rear pressure a little but adding a little bit of air. If you will be hauling heavy items on the bike, then just up your pressure by about 1 psi.
If you will find yourself on the trails, it’s best to actually deflate your tires in order to counter the soft and uneven terrain of a typical trail. By doing so, you will be allowing your tire to conform to the surface easier. Tire pressures can go as low as 12 psi depending on the motorcycle, rider's preference, and the terrain that the bike will traverse. However, do note that the tire manufacturer will likely establish a floor pressure. Anything below that might result in tire damage or debeading.
Once you get back on the road, however, you will need to inflate your tires once again, as deflated tires will need more weight to steer.