Motorcycle Tire Wear Bars
How to know it is time to replace your tires?

Tire Wear Bars

We do what we do because we love it. We are born to ride. So make sure you live more days to ride by keeping your motorcycle from being a safety hazard. We love those sharp curves and high speeds, but make sure you don’t wipe out. Don’t kill yourself or fuck up your motorcycle by not checking your tires regularly or by being cheap about it. Sure you might be able to save a few bucks for a day or two by holding off on the new tire, but what happens if you go down because the tire wasn’t in the right conditions to hold you up on that curve or ride through a bit of rain. Now you’re looking at repairs way deeper in your pocket than a new tire, assuming you don’t kill or hurt yourself so you can ride it again.

So how do you know it is time to get a new tire? And No, it is not when you can start seeing the threads in the inner tire. We have all heard about the penny trick, right? You hold the penny into the tire tread, upside down, head first and if you can see Lincoln’s head without his head being covered it is definitely time to change the tire out. This method has been used for years, but there is another way check your tire.


The tire above is worn out. It looks like there is still good tread, but with over 12,000 miles on it, it’s done and unsafe to ride on. A clear indication of this is that the tread is worn down to the wear bars. What the hell is a wear bar? Don’t be embarrassed. I myself just recently found out when I was researching for motorcycle tire safety tips. But that is why we are here, to share this information with the biker community and keep us as informed and riding safe as possible.


You should never let the tire get to this point, no excuses. Pay close attention to your tires and inspect them often. On a new tire, wear bars are almost invisible. They become clear after the tire gets some miles on it. If you look closely at the photo above, you can barely make out a bar in the long tread that starts on right hand side of the bike near the axle. Follow the tread up, and you can barely make it out a little past the mid-point. Feel free to zoom into the image if you still can’t find it.

They are hard to spot, but the tire manufacturers makes it a little easier for you by providing guides on the side walls.  Most tire makers  have some type of arrow on the side of the tire that points to the wear bars. Notice on the photo below on a worn tire. You can see the relation of the arrow to the bar.


The marker and wear bar are circled in red so you can see the relationship of the two. The arrow makes the bars easier to find.  The bars and arrows are all the way around the tire spaced evenly.  I would suggest you chalk mark a point on the tire and roll the bike forward to inspect all your bars, this way you can tell if you are getting uneven tire wear caused by an out of balance condition.  While you are checking, be sure to look for other problems, cuts, suspicious bulges, nails, etc. I recommend this process be done often to make sure you stay safe on the road. You can see on the photo that the tread is worn out evenly with the tire wear bar, just like in the first photo. That indicates that the tire is done and due for a replacement.

Rear tires are drive wheel so they wear out twice the rate as the front.  The mileage and wear rate can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and, the type of tire can be a factor, “touring” tires trade-off a little less grip for durability, where a “sport” tire will sacrifice longevity high performance traction.  Riding style is also a factor, the more you abuse them, the less mileage you get. The way most ride, 7,000 miles or so out of my rear is about average.

Your safety depends on your motorcycle’s tires being in good condition, make sure you check them regularly for proper pressure and tread wear, your life could depend on it. Best place to get one in the Rio Grande Valley is RGV Cycle Center. Ask for Robert, this guy know his stuff when it comes to tires. He has been doing it for years. I will be speaking to him more often to get you the best tire tips there are to offer. So stay tuned to our tire tech tips.

RGV Cycle Center





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