Practicalities and Pressures, Look After Your Tyres !

You should be checking your pressures like you check your wallet and keys before you head out. Make life easier by fitting angled tyre valves, and keep a gauge by the garage door. The owner’s manual, or the internet will provide suitable pressures, but, again, we’re grownups, so if you want to experiment with a few PSI up or down, be our guest.

Of course, trackday use means softer pressures generally, while two-up, luggaged, high-speed Autobahn generally means higher pressures. If you’re unsure, stick to the tyre manufacturer’s, or bike manufacturer’s recommendations.

Changing Tyres

It’s possible to remove, fit, and balance bike tyres yourself, if you invest a moderate sum of cash. A bead breaker, some tyre irons, a tub of tyre lube and a bit of practice will have you slipping the old hoops on and off like George Clooney removing a hennight bra. Static balancing is fine for most purposes, and you can rustle up a balancing setup with an old paddock stand easily enough, or buy a proper one. Once you get started, you’ll never pay a shop £20 to fit rubber ever again. Punctures are the devil's work and in the olden days, you were pretty much screwed, when you rode over a screw.

But there are a few decent puncture repair kits around now. On a tubeless tyre, you can use an external plug repair, which will get you home (within reason). Indeed, some people (not us) have used external plug repairs for hundreds, even thousands of miles. Not recommended, but testament to the repair integrity. Top tip – carry extra gas canisters, or a small pump: the supplied canisters aren’t always enough to fill a fat rear tyre.

- Tubed tyres are more of a faff – you really need the tyre off and the tube out for a patched repair.

- Aerosol-type ‘tyre-weld’ repairs are less good in our experience, and can make a proper repair later
more difficult. They are convenient though, and in an emergency, might do the job.

- No-one who we spoke to recommends the pre-puncture repair fluids which you put in your tyre before you get a puncture. The manufacturers of these products claim they’re safe and effective, but the big tyre firms warn against them. The argument is that they may hide a very serious piece of damage to a tyre – i.e. you won’t notice a puncture straight away, and the tyre can be dangerously damaged. Bridgestone told us, “The use of ANY liquid sealant will render any warranty invalid. This form of temporary repair can have a detrimental effect on ply material and can hide any secondary damage caused by the penetrating object. You have to bear in mind that once the carcass of the tyre is penetrated it is deemed as broken and this is not how it was designed! Therefore, over a period of time the carcass of the tyre could break down with catastrophic consequences.

- The best repair is a properly approved, internal mushroom plug applied by a trained fitter. The hole must be no bigger than 3mm, and must be within the centre area of the tread. Only one repair per tyre, and many manufacturers don’t recommend repairs to V-rated tyres (more than 150mph).