Did you know that you’re supposed to replace your bike’s tires every six years, no matter how good they look? Even the best motorcycle tires are subject to rubber rot and other damage not easily seen by the naked eye. Here’s how to read the date codes on your tires so you can stay safe on the road.
- Look for the DOT.
On each tire’s outer sidewall, you’ll find the acronym “DOT,” followed by a string of numbers. The last four of those digits contain your tire’s birthday, and the way that information is relayed is a little odd. The last two numbers are the year in which your tire was manufactured. The first two numbers reflect the week of that year. For example, a tire with a date code that ends in 2218 was produced in the 22nd week of 2018.
- Grab a calendar or calculator.
Unless your tire was manufactured in one of the first or last weeks of the year, thereby making it easy to work out that it was made in January or December, you’re going to need to do a little homework to figure out the date. One way, of course, is to grab a calendar and start counting weeks.
A simpler way is to divide the week’s number by 4.3. That’ll tell you in which month your tire was made. Using the example from earlier, 22 divided by 4.3 equals roughly 5.12 if we round up to the nearest hundredth. That means the tire was produced in the fifth month of the year, May.
- Write down the date.
Unless you want to repeat this process at regular intervals, it’s important to record the manufacturing date of your tires. This will help ensure that you replace them in a timely fashion. When it comes to OEM bike parts, your tires are some of the most vital components of your ride.
Regular inspections for wear, tear, and damage are also key to keeping your bike in good shape between tire replacements. Your tire’s tread wear indicator(s) can provide a wealth of information. Wear that’s confined to your tire’s edge may mean you’re taking curves too hard, for example. If your front tire is more worn out than your rear tire, it could indicate that you need to lighten up on the brake. TWI placement can vary from model to model, but no matter where it is, whether it’s next to your tire’s grooves or in them, if it’s flush with said grooves, you likely need a new tire.
- Review your warranty.
Before you replace your aging or worn-out tire, it’s always a good idea to inspect the warranty. Some tire manufacturers will cover replacements for up to four years if the issue is something within the manufacturer’s control. Tires that need to be replaced because of rider use or abuse, such as being inflated to the wrong pressure, alterations, or being used for competitive racing are the rider’s responsibility.
Tire maintenance is key to the safe, reliable, and satisfying performance of your bike. When it’s time to replace your old tires, an online search for “motorcycle tires near me” should unearth a wealth of options. Keep your tires updated to make sure your motorcycle stays on the road and out of the repair shop.