Purchasing a brand new set of tires is often one of the more enjoyable maintenance milestones in long-term ownership of a motorcycle. Riders are free to choose a new style of tires with different handling characteristics from the previous worn-out set—whether that means choosing a grippier compound for spirited riding, or a longer-lasting set of tires for touring and daily duties. While purchasing a new set of tires can certainly feel very thrilling, it’s important for riders to know that new tires need to be broken in for a few reasons. If you’re about to hop on a motorcycle with brand new tires, here are a few things you need to keep in mind when riding around.
Why it’s needed
In order to gain better appreciation of the tire break in process, it’s first important to understand why tires need to be broken in or scrubbed in the first place. Manufacturing process of today often creates tires which have very smooth surfaces, which causes the problem of a lack of grip as compared to tires which have been scrubbed in. Used tires have a rough, sandpaper-like surface texture which is ideal for grip on the road. The imperfections on the road surface are better gripped by a rough surface rather than a glassy smooth surface which may simply just slip around. The process of breaking in a tire aims at getting that glassy smooth surface scrubbed to a more rough texture which will allow your tire to better grip the road surface.
How to break in a tire
Breaking in a tire is not as straightforward as some might think. It’s important to note that the break-in process is gradual and all parts of the tire will need to be scrubbed properly—from the center band to the sides of the tire. The first few kilometers are the most important to manage properly. Take it easy on both the throttle and brakes and make sure to go easy on corners. The slick surface will need a few tens of kilometers to scrub in enough to trust.
After riding around, the center band of your tire will likely be scrubbed in quite a bit which means that it may now be time to focus on breaking in the sides of your tire. Riding through twisty roads can be an option for riders, but do take it easy on the corners as your tire’s available grip will be significantly less than a properly scrubbed tire. If you’re not feeling adventurous enough for the twisties, another way to break in the sides of your tires would be to pull off a series of figure-8 maneuvers and u-turns. Once you see that the sides of your tires have a surface texture nearly identical to that of the center band, your tires should be on their way to being fully scrubbed in.
When will the process finish?
Most manufacturers will say that a tire takes about 1000-1500 kilometers to break in fully, and during this window it’s important that you take it very easy on your ride. Instead of trying to push the limits of your tires during this time, try to focus instead on getting as much of the tire in contact with the road in a very safe manner. Take a ride through the city, through the mountain twisties, through the highways, or simply practice low-speed maneuvers at home. No matter the destination, always remember to take it easy until you’ve breached 1000-1500 kilometers and enjoy your easy-going ride with your next best set of tires.