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What Makes Motorcycle Tires Different from Car Tires?

The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show

It's not difficult to see the difference between a motorcycle tire and a car tire from a glance. Some riders do put car tires on their bikes, against the current wisdom on the subject. While you may get by with the interchange for a little while, you're placing your safety and the safety of others in jeopardy. Experts confirm that it's never a good idea to do this. What makes motorcycle tires different than car tires? Here's everything you need to know about Motorcycle tires vs car tires.

What are the differences between a motorcycle tire and a car tire?

According to Rider Magazine, the single most important difference between a motorcycle and car tires is the design. There are distinct differences in the compounds used in the development of each type of tire, the tire profile differs greatly and the construction of each is miles apart. Each type of tire is made specifically for the type of vehicle it's intended for. Cars and motorcycles handle differently. There are massive differences in the suspension and handling for each and the tire must be specifically designed to work in conjunction with all other systems of the vehicle for it to operate properly. Consider how a car handles corners and compare this with how a motorcycle corners. The dynamics are completely different. Motorcycles rely on 2 wheels and cars upon 4. The demands that are placed on motorcycle tires are completely different than those placed upon a car. The unique forces of nature and physics differ, hence, the requirement for tires that are made of materials that can hold up to the job and a design that will offer the optimum functionality for handling specific tasks.

Design differences between motorcycle and car tires

Here is the straight information on the physical differences between bike and car tires according to Goldwing Facts. The engineering specifications are totally different starting with the rims. The science of the matter reveals that the results of interchanging car and motorcycle tires could be catastrophic. Ride Apart highlights the differences between car and motorcycle tires. Motorcycle tires are designed for the leans that riders must perform for cornering maneuvers. The tires are made to accommodate these necessary leans with a round profile versus the square profile of car tires. Cars do not operate with the same degree o learning that motorcycles do. The inherent danger is using car tires on a motorcycle is that they are shaped differently and do not accommodate the necessary leaning maneuvers. This creates an issue when the bike is leaned far enough over to cause the sidewall to drag on the pavement or other surface.

Another difference is that car tires are designed to achieve a maximum grip when the full width of the tread makes contact with the road. This is not the case for motorcycle tires. They're designed for leaning with their round profile that provides ample grip in a lean-to prevent sliding. The bottom line is that car tires present a danger of becoming easily punctures when used on a motorcycle, especially if the sidewall comes into contact with debris on the road. A car tire has its maximum grip when its full tread width is in contact with the road. In lean, the square shape of a car tire does not allow for full contact of the tread on the road and you lose the grip on the road that is necessary for traction and stability. The more you learn, the less tread that a car tire makes on the road and it's a potential recipe for disaster.

The darksider trend

According to Haul N Ride, the term for riders that enjoy using car tires on their motorcycles is called The Dark Side. Car tires are usually used for the back tires in most cases. It is a trend that has been catching on in recent years. The riders who use car tires on both the front and back of their motorcycles are called regular riders. While there are inherent dangers associated with dark siding, there are still those who prefer to use car tires on their motorcycles. Comparisons of motorcycle tires vs car tires show that the bead flange, seat, and hump are the same size for some car and bike tires. With this in mind, some riders don't see the problem. It's an ongoing debate on whether or not it's appropriate or safe to use car tires on motorcycles. While some defend their rights to use car tires on bikes, there are other issues to consider. What about the legal ramifications in the event of an accident? What about local laws governing the use of safe equipment? Each state in the USA has its own specifications for legal equipment on motorcycles.

Final thoughts

While you can use car tires on motorcycles, the bigger question is, should you? The most significant difference between motorcycles and car tires is in the profile. Motorcycle tires are made with a round profile that provides for more tread contact with the road when making leans and cornering. The square profile of car tires makes them less suitable for leaning as only one-third of the tread of the tire will make contact with the road during an extreme lean. There is a high potential for the sidewall to come into contact with the road which causes a loss of grip and traction. This increases the chances of an accident occurring due to a slide. It not only puts the health and safety of the rider in jeopardy, but it also endangers everyone else on the road around them. This is an ongoing debate that has yet to be resolved. Darksiders love the action of car tires on their bikes while experts in the motorcycle industry strongly discourage the practice of dark siding or using two car tires on a motorcycle.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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