I see all sorts of garbage advice and misinformation about the correct air pressure to put in your motorcycle tires.
It doesn’t help that tire pressure is a boring subject, to begin with.
So I’ll make it clear and simple.
What Is the Correct Tire Pressure for Your Motorcycle Tyres?
The recommended tire air pressure is written on a manufacturer’s label somewhere on the motorcycle frame. It will vary from a bike model to another.
The second way to know the correct pressure for your bike tires is to refer to the motorcycle owner manual.
Look around on your bike and find the tire information label to know what air pressure should be in your tire.
It is where I found mine as an example on my Honda Rebel 250
Your tire information label or sticker will look something like this.
Highlighted in red is the part of the label that recommends the tire pressure I want to put in my bike’s front and rear tires.
So for my Honda Rebel 250, the recommended pressure is 29psi for both tires.
By the way, as a rule of thumb, You should check your motorcycle tire pressure at least once a week.
When to Check a Motorcycle Tire Pressure? Cold tire?
A tire pressure reading should be taken when the tires are ”cold”. As a rule of thumb, a tire is considered cold when it has not moved for at least an hour.
When you ride your motorcycle, as your tires roll on the pavement, they will build up heat.
This heat will expand the air inside your tire, and in doing so, it will increase the amount of air pressure.
Let make an example.
Before riding that morning, you refilled your motorcycle tires to the recommended pressure of 30 Psi.
You just rode your bike all day, and then you park and take a tire pressure reading right away.
This new reading might be an increased 34psi because of the heat of your tire.
You wait for an hour for the tire to cool down and be ”considered cold”.
You take another reading, and you will probably get 30 psi this time.
It is always recommended to check your pressure when a tire is considered cold.
Never take a reading right after a ride to avoid a false reading.
If possible, park your motorcycle in the shade before a pressure reading. The heat from the sunlight on your tires can also false a reading.
Motorcycle Tire Pressure with Passenger and Heavy Load
It is logical to increase the amount of pressure in motorcycles tires to help them cope with a heavier load. A motorcycle Tire pressure label located on the bike frame will let you know if this is recommended.
There might be one or two recommended pressures setting on your tire pressure label depending on the amount of combined weight you plan to put on the bike.
- The weight of the rider
- The cargo and saddlebag weight if any
- The passenger weight if there is one
In the example of my bike label, those two recommended pressure are mentioned, but it doesn’t matter since both recommend 29 psi of pressure.
So for me, heavy load and passenger or not, I don’t need to change anything.
But for some bikes, it will be different.
For example, it might be 29psi normally but 33psi if you ride with a heavy load for some motorcycles.
You will have to look at your own label or owner manual to know for sure.
Situations that Will Negatively Affect Your Tire Pressure
Tire pressure will be lowered in colder environments and climates. A motorcycle tire will also deflate on its own as a certain amount of time goes by.
A colder temperature will reduce tire pressure.
I knew I had 29 psi in my bike the day before, but it was one of Canada’s first cold nights and morning of the year.
When I took a pressure reading in this cold environment, it read a pathetic 22-23psi.
So beware of a sudden temperature change.
Tire pressure will also decrease as the motorcycle sits.
It is normal. Every tire loses air over time.
The problem is that motorcycle tires don’t hold a large volume of air to begin with.
As a result, bike tires lose pressure faster than other bigger vehicle tires like cars.
A motorcycle equipped with inner air tubes for holding tire air will lose pressure even faster than a tubeless tire.
So check your pressure often, at least once a week, ideally every day you ride.
If your motorcycle sits for a long time, you should absolutely check the air pressure before a ride.
What Happens when Motorcycle Tire Pressure Is Low?
When air pressure is too low, a tire could suffer damage and will wear out prematurely. Other adverse effects include poor fuel economy, sloppy handling response, and increased risk of a flat tire.
A motorcycle tire that uses an inner tube with too little air pressure inside is more likely to suffer a flat due to a ”pinch” flat.
Ask me and my girlfriend how we know.
A tubeless tire is less at risk of a flat, but any under-inflated tire is something you should take care of.
Unlike a car, you only have two tires. They are twice as important.
So double the care you have for them and check them often.
Should Motorcycle Tires Be Inflated to Max Psi?
No, it is not recommended. Inflating a motorcycle tire to its maximum pressure can damage the tire and render a motorcycle unsafe to ride.
It is a common misconception and mistake that many riders make to refer to the side of a motorcycle tire for the amount of air pressure to put inside the tire.
The pressure number mentioned on the side of a motorcycle tire is the greatest pressure a tire can hold, not how much should be inside.
The correct amount of air to put in a motorcycle tire is on a manufacturer label somewhere on your motorcycle frame.
You could also refer to your owner manual for the correct information.
Motorcycle Tire Pressure Gauges to Have.
It is always a good idea to have a tire pressure gauge.
But It is twice a good idea to have it a portable setup to carry with you on the road in case of problems.
Pencil Pressure Gauges
Small pencil tire gauges are cheap and tiny, perfect for taking along for the ride.
But their pressure reading is sometimes inaccurate.
Yet, they will do the job in a pinch.
But, get a more precise measuring tool and retake a reading when you can with it.
I carry a pencil gauge in my jacket while riding, and I will use it if I suspect one of my tires is leaking air.
When I get home, though, I’ll use a more bulky but accurate gauge to get a better answer.
Digital and Needle Pressure Gauge
These are the gauge you want to use.
You will get an accurate reading and peace of mind with these.
The air valves in motorcycle wheels are often a pain to get to and difficult to access.
So choose a unit equipped with a hose and an angled connector.
It will help you reach and connect to that valve way more easily.
Between a digital and needle reader, I would recommend you go with the needle.
Call me old school, but I prefer the durability of analog to a digital unit that will randomly stop working for no reason one day.
Stay away from small and stubby hand gauges like these for motorcycle use.
These gauges will give you a difficult time connecting to your tire valves, especially the rear tire in such a cramped space to work with.
That is, if you can even get it to fit between your wheel spokes.
I hope I cleared some of your confusion about motorcycle tire pressure and you found my content relevant.
Hope to see you with the proper tire pressure on the road.
Take care, Ride Safe.