Do your motorcycle tyres meet legal standards?

7 January 2016
Your tyres are the only thing connecting you and your motorcycle to the road, so it’s incredibly important that you comply with Australia’s legal tyre safety standards – for your own protection and that of others.

However, a Canstar Blue survey has found that a significant number of motorcycle riders are potentially putting themselves and other road-users in harm’s way by ignoring – or simply being ignorant of – those safety requirements.

The survey of more than 700 motorcyclists found:

  • 27% don’t know what legal tyre safety standards are
  • 27% have ridden on tyres they suspect were below legal standards
  • 31% have been fearful of an accident because of riding on worn tyres
  • 18% don’t know how to check if they need new tyres

So if you’re one of those in the dark over legal tyre standards, here is what you should know:


It is your responsibility to ensure the tyres fitted to your motorcycle are the correct size and have the correct load and speed rating for that bike. Regardless of the size and type of tyre fitted to your motorcycle, all tyres must have a clearly visible tread pattern and a minimum tread depth of 1.5mm.

Most tyres have tread wear indicators moulded into the base of the main grooves. When the tread surface has been worn down to the same level as these indicators, that tyre should be replaced.

It’s important to get to know your tyres as soon as you buy them – understand what a new tyre looks like and compare it to what you’d previously been riding on. You might get a shock! It’s essential to maintain the quality and performance of your tyres, while observing the safety rules and recommendations of their use, which includes riding on appropriate surfaces. Failing to do this will not only compromise your tyres, but could also compromise your safety and that of others.

Pay close attention to the condition of your tyres (any abnormal signs of wear), their tread depths and any damage that may have occurred due to impacts. Also be sure to regularly check the air pressure of your tyres. If you have any doubts, seek the opinion of an expert and don’t take any risks.

Types of motorcycle tyres

It is illegal to ride your motorcycle on public roads if your tyres are not suitable for those surfaces. If your motorcycle is fitted with tyres marked ‘not for highway use’ or have a marking indicating the same, it cannot be used on public roads or other road-related areas. In addition, tyres cannot be fitted with cleats or any other gripping devices that could cause damage to the road.

It is recommended that you only fit tyres of the same size and specification as those originally fitted to your bike by the manufacturer.

Do your tyres need changing?

Courtesy of Michelin, here are five reasons for checking whether or not you need to replace them…

The tyre has been punctured

Tyres are very strong and capable of withstanding a lot of heavy impacts, but they could still be punctured. If you suspect your tyre has been punctured, have it examined by a professional mechanic who can determine whether or not the interior of the tyre has been compromised, meaning it cannot be repaired.

The legal wear limit is reached

Your motorcycle tyres will have wear indicators, which look like little bumps at the bottom of the main grooves. When the depth of rubber remaining gets to the level of these indicators, the tyre has reached its legal wear limit and must be replaced. If you continue to ride on your tyres below this limit, their safety, grip and performance – particularly on wet roads – is not guaranteed. You will also be breaking the law.

The tyres show signs of ageing

It’s difficult to predict the life of tyres and how long they can be used for. It doesn’t always depend on their date of manufacture as tyres which have never been used, or just used occasionally, could still show signs of ageing. Factors like conditions of storage, load, speed, inflation pressure, riding style and even climate conditions could all play a part in the service life of a tyre. As a result, it’s recommended you regularly check your tyres for any signs of ageing or wear, including deformation on the tread, shoulder or sidewalls.

The tyre is damaged

While they are resilient to many bumps and bruises, your tyres could still be damaged by foreign objects in the road. Any perforations, cuts or deformations that are found should be examined by a professional mechanic who can advise whether or not the tyre remains safe to use. You should never ride on a tyre you suspect is damaged.

The tyre shows abnormal wear

Abnormal tread wear could be a sign of a mechanical problem like worn shock absorbers, transmission or brackets, or a balancing fault. It could also be the result of incorrect inflation pressure. To prevent abnormal wear, it is recommended you get the balancing of your wheels checked every six months. This could extend the service life of your tyres, while giving you a more comfortable ride.

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