What are correct motorcycle tyre pressures

Tyre pressures track day

One of the most commonly asked rider questions is “what tyre pressures should I run for [insert bike and tyre make here]?”.

British blogger Dan, who writes the popular Bike Track Days Hub, is here to answer that question:

Track day
Blogger Dan shows his style

Having the right pressure for your rider, bike and tyre combination is very important to getting the most out of your tyres both in terms of performance and longevity.

The trouble is there is no one magical pressure for one type of motorcycle or type of tyre, and as you’re about to find out there are times when you would even use different pressures for the same tyre on the same bike!

So to help you understand what actually goes into determining the best pressure for you, here’s a look at some of the things that affect tyre pressure.

Things that affect tyre pressure

Weight – A pressure that works for a 60kg won’t necessarily work for a person weighing considerably more than that.

Tyre Construction – Some tyres have harder carcasses and sidewalls which mean they don’t need to run as high a pressure as a tyre with a soft carcass.

Ambient Temperature – The outside temperature is going to affect how your tyres heat up. Setting your rear to 30psi on a cold day isn’t going to give you the same performance as setting it at the same pressure on a baking hot day, because on a hot day the tyre will heat up quicker and by more.

Hot and Cold Pressures – If you set your pressure to 30psi when the tyre is cold, this isn’t going to be the same as setting them to 30psi when the tyre is hot (a cold tyre will gain around 2-6psi through use).

Road vs Track Tyres – Road tyres are typically designed to run at higher pressures than track tyres because they are not expected to heat up as much, and some track tyres have a stiffer construction.

As you can see, there are many factors that come into finding the best tyre pressure for your bike and tyre combination.

How can I find my best pressure?

What you want first is a good baseline pressure which you should be able to get from any of the below sources.

Manufacturer – Go direct to the manufacturer and get the pressures they recommend, you can usually find them on their website. If not, email them and ask what they would recommend setting tyre ‘X’ to for use on the track.

Tyre Expert – Speak to the tyre supplier at the track, or talk to someone you know who deals with tyres and setting up bikes for the track.

Other riders – See what other riders with similar setups are doing with the same tyres. They too would have gone through the same process to find the best pressures for themselves.

Test, Monitor, Test, Monitor

Once you have your base pressure, try it out and see how you get on. Did you notice any unsavoury reactions from the tyre that wasn’t there before?

Or the more common issue, is the tyre showing any signs of unnatural wear? If you answer yes to these questions then it could well be that your pressure is not quite correct.

6 Comments

  1. Wow. I’m truly astounded by some of the replies thus far.
    (1) The motorbike manufactures make a recommendation for the tyres fitted standard. Note that recommendation is for a rider and load of what weight? How is the load including the rider distributed front to rear? Also note the word recommended.
    (2) We all know (or should) that once we change tyre model or brand, that this recommendation is now worthless information.
    (3) The tyre pressures we should use are a set of compromises. (a) tyre life, (b) tyre grip, (c) how our motorcycle and tyres are to be used, weather and temperatures. Only you can be a judge of that.
    (4) Only experience, knowing your bike, the tyres (brand and model) you use, and the set of compromises you wish to take, can determine the correct tyre pressures, for you and your bike, the tyres of your choice, the changing load requirements and the distribution of the load effecting front to rear bias.
    (5) I was once told on a track day, after being asked what tyre pressures I was running, to knock 3psi out of the front or I wouldn’t be allowed on to the track. This so called expert, had zero knowledge of the brand and model of tyre I was using. I objected to his recommendation, and told him that the front end squirm would make the bike unrideable, but I had to comply or lose my day at the track and the money I spent. I couldn’t get out of the pit lane without the front going into an uncontrollable squirm. I rolled back into the pits reset the front tyre pressure to my settings, and re-joined the group.
    The same so called tyre expert came up to me just before the second session, (he hadn’t seen me sneak back into the pits) and congratulated me on my ride, and how quick I was, on my under powered touring machine. And how I would have never been that fast had I not taken out 3 psi on the front.
    Needless to say he was promptly told, to go forth and multiply, but in not so many words.
    (6) The internet is a wonderful thing, however the keyboard experts on tyre pressures, should when making their recommendations, be quoting not just the bike manufacture and model, year, tyre brand and model, height and weight of the rider (as a taller rider may well distribute their weight differently, effecting the front to rear bias), the type of riding done Solo, two-up touring what loads, (luggage), including speeds, distances, weather, types of roads and surfaces, and list the compromises they made, as well as a comprehensive list of bike modifications (weight loss or gain) including suspension tweaks or mods.
    (7) You can set-up two identical bikes, same suspension same tyres, same tyre pressures, with the same sized riders both of the same weight. Inevitably one will absolutely hate it, the other will love it.
    (8) So the whole tyre pressure debate is a total worthless waste of time, go find the right tyre pressure for you, and how you like your ride to feel.
    Go get a whiteboard, note, pressures, feel, temperatures and weather conditions wind, wet/dry, varying loads, tyre life. Make your own conclusions and compromises, on what you like, what feels right to you. You’ll soon have a pretty clear set of guidelines for tyre pressures for all conditions.

    Just my two cents worth. But hey what would I know? I’ve just been riding all my adult life, street and strip.
    As always Ride free, Ride safe. GOB.

    1. For example, I run Michelin Pilot Road 4’s on my CBR600RR at 36/42 as per the book. Going to Michelin’s website, it states:

      For use on the road, it’s essential to use the tyre pressures recommended by the manufacturer of your motorbike.
      You’ll find it in the bike’s handbook or on the machine itself.

      The inflation pressure stated in these documents is the pressure when the tyres are cold.

      1. This 35/42 seems to be recommended regardless of bikeeeight or rider weight (s). Recommended for my gsx650f as well. They have a big weight difference.

  2. Four , always check with the same gauge ( the gauge on the servo hose could be out by 10 to 20 % and no two servos will have the same readings)
    Five , nitrogen filling is good for racers but you are unlikely to benefit as most suppliers do not provide pure dry nitrogen ( no oxygen no water) and if it’s not pure and dry it’s a waste of time on a bike on a large car or truck it’s another story.

  3. As a guideline –
    1. Run higher pressures on bigger bikes.
    2. Check your pressure regularly so you can be confident in that first turn.
    3. Never trust what your dealer, mechanic or tyre shop has inflated to. Why? Because they sometimes get it wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *