Tech Tip: Tire Performance and Tire Pressure

How often do you check the pressure in your tires? Once a week, when you are riding regularly, or just when the tire looks like it is going flat? Did you know that it is generally agreed that the pressures should be checked EVERY time you ride? With only two wheels separating you from the ground, keeping your tires in good condition is critically important, and maintaining proper tire pressure is essential for doing that. Low tire pressure can cause unstable handling, excessive tire wear, and even a blow out or tread separation from overheating. High pressure can reduce traction and cause excessive and uneven wear.  Getting optimum performance from your tires requires keeping the tire pressures within a very narrow range based on the type of riding you do.

Checking tire pressure on the rear tire of a Harley-Davidson® bagger is easy with Motion Pro Digital Tire Pressure Gauge combined with our Pro Fill™ Air Chuck

For off-road riders, the right tire pressure will ensure proper handling and grip, and will also extend the life of the tube and tire. Most off road or motocross bikes will run anywhere from 12 psi to about 20 psi. While this is probably the widest range of pressures of any type of tire, low or high settings will make the bike behave very differently. Different pressures suit different conditions, from mud to hard pack.

Setting tire pressure with Motion Pro Professional Tire Pressure Gauge (liquid filled)

 Setting tire pressure with Motion Pro Digital Tire Pressure Gauge 

Street riders have a different set of priorities, with predictable handling and maximum traction as the most important. Tire life is affected by pressure, and street tires are getting more expensive all the time, so it is important to try to get as much life out of your tires as possible. For the majority of street bikes, 34-40 psi is common. Generally street bikes also run slightly lower pressure in the front compared to the rear. The higher pressures also protect expensive mag wheels from damage by pot holes and other pavement irregularities.

Precise tire pressure is crucial at the track

An exception to the street tire pressure rules are the new breed of tires aimed at the growing group of sport and track day riders. There are new sport tires available these days that are far more advanced than even the best racing tires of just a few years ago. These tires use lower pressures to maximize grip and allow the tire to more completely conform to the pavement for amazing performance. These tires generally run at 30 psi to 32 psi, and sometimes even lower for closed course track use.

What is the common tool that all of these riders need to make sure they get all the performance out of their tires? A quality air gauge, of course. In 2008 Motion Pro introduced our first tire gauge, the Liquid Filled Professional Tire Gauge. It is available in two pressure ranges to work with off-road or street bikes.

After several years of development and market research we believe that it is the best built and most accurate analog (dial type) gauge on the market. The analog gauge is specified to be within +/- 1.5% of the range of the gauge. That means that the 0-60psi gauge is accurate to within 0.9 psi. Most commonly available gauges can have errors of as much as 5 psi. At a suggested retail price of $96.99, the Motion Pro Liquid Filled Professional Tire Gauge is not cheap, but it is a sound investment given the cost of tires, and how much it can help you maintain the performance and extend the lifetime of this very important part of your motorcycle.

For those who take tire pressures and tire performance even more seriously, we introduced the incomparable Digital Tire Gauge, which boasts even more accuracy (± 1% of range) and enhanced functionality. In addition, a special manifold and our own proprietary air chuck make this a special tool to ensure your tire pressures are where they need to be.  At just $99.99, the Motion Pro Digital gauge packs the accuracy and features demanded by professional race mechanics and tire technicians at a price that is affordable to serious riders who want to get the optimum performance from their tires.

A valuable accessory to any of these tire gauges is the Motion Pro Pro Fill™ Chuck, which is a long reach chuck with a pivoting head, designed to get to those difficult to reach tire valves, in particular the ones on sport bike wheels, hidden behind huge brake rotors.

The Pro FIll™ Air Chuck extended length is designed to work on those hard to reach valves on virtually any wheel/tire combination

Having a quality tire gauge in your tool box is a great investment. It’s an advantage not only to the life of your tires, but will help them achieve their best performance. It’s also an investment in safety. Check out the Motion Pro tire gauges at your favorite local dealer or online at



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