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Motorcycle tire sizes can be confusing, especially for beginners. A good knowledge regarding the aspects of tire sizing is necessary to ensure that you get the best out of your bike while on the road. This all-inclusive guide will take you through different types of marks found on motorcycle tyres and their explanation in relation to measurement as well as choosing what fits right for your machine.

Understanding Markings on Motorcycle Tyres

There are various types of marks found on a motorcycle tyre which give information about its size, construction and performance characteristics. Here is an outline on some common markings:

Metric System

The metric system is widely used when it comes to measuring motorbike tires. Typically, this system follows the format: Width/Aspect Ratio-Construction Type Rim Diameter.

  • Width: It refers to how wide a tyre is in millimeters from one sidewall across to another sidewall. For example if we have 120/70-17 tyre then its width would be 120mm.
  • Aspect Ratio: Aspect ratio represents height expressed as percentage of width measured at side wall section i.e., In these figures 120/70-17 means that 70% of 120 mm equals 84mm
  • Construction Type: The letter following aspect ratio shows whether it’s ‘R’ for radial or ‘B’ bias ply where radials perform better than bias plies but are less flexible so they can’t carry loads as much as bias can do which makes them suitable for high performances .

Rim Diameter: This shows diameter measurements (in inches) provide clear indication regarding size compatibility between wheels rims designed fitting specific tire; e.g., In our case study above mentioned number denotes 17 inches being rim diameter required by 120/70ZR17

Alphanumeric System

In some instances alphanumeric characters may be used alongside numbers when labelling motorcycle tyres to represent their sizes as well as performance attributes; such example includes MT90-16.

  • M: This refers to the fact that a given tyre is designed for motorcycles
  • T: letter indicating width where each letter corresponds with its own width value
  • 90: Similar to metric system, this denotes aspect ratio
  • 16: An inch measurement which represents rim diameter size

Inch System

A simpler but less accurate inch sizing system is used in older motorcycles and certain specialty tyres. For example: 4.00-18.

4.00: This figure shows tire’s width measured in inches

Always begin with the tire size recommended by the manufacturer. This information can be located in the owner’s manual or on the motorcycle’s tire information sticker.

Riding Style and Conditions

Your riding style and usual riding conditions can affect what tire size will work best for you. For instance, some sport riders may want wider tires to provide more grip while touring riders might be interested in higher aspect ratio tires for a smoother ride.

Tire Load and Speed Ratings

A load rating and speed rating are given to every tire which indicates how much weight it can support and how fast it can travel safely. These ratings help ensure that your tires can handle both your bike as well as your habits of riding.

Front vs Rear Tires

Front and rear tires are not interchangeable; each has its own job on a motorcycle. The front one typically has different tread pattern and construction intended to aid handling and braking whereas the rear is designed for traction plus load-carrying capacity.

Common Motorcycle Tire Sizes

Here are some common motorcycle tire sizes along with their typical uses:


  • 120/70-17 (Front): Provides good grip as well as maneuverability; this is why it’s frequently used for front sportbike tires.
  • 180/55-17 (Rear): Provides excellent stability plus traction; hence often utilized as a rear sportbike tire size.


  • 130/90-16 (Front): Commonly found on cruiser motorcycles’ front wheel because they offer comfort with good loading capability;
  • 150/80-16 (Rear): Designed specifically for cruisers, this size ensures stability combined with robustness;

Touring Bikes

  • 130/70-18 (Front): Commonly seen fitted onto touring motorcycles due to its great handling coupled with long ride comfort features;
  • 180/60-16 (Rear): Ensures stability as well as comfort during rides on touring bikes.

Adventure Bikes

  • 110/80-19 (Front): Provides excellent off-road performance for adventure motorcycles having this tire size installed in their front wheel;
  • 150/70-17 (Rear): It is used mainly for providing good traction and stability across different terrains encountered by an adventure motorbike fitted with this specific rear tire dimension.

The Importance of Tire Maintenance

Proper motorcycle tire maintenance is essential for prolonging their life and optimizing performance. Below are some vital care tips:

Regular Inspections

Inspect your tires frequently for wear signs, damages or foreign objects; such things to watch out for include cuts, cracks or bulges appearing anywhere on the sidewalls or tread area.

Proper Inflation

Ensure that you maintain correct pressure in each tyre so as not only to enhance safety but also to improve handling characteristics of a bike. Under-inflation leads to poor handling and rapid wear while over-inflation causes harsh riding conditions and reduces traction capability.

Tire Balancing and Alignment

Balancing should be done properly together with aligning tyres thereby preventing uneven wear patterns as well as enhancing overall bike control ability; unbalanced wheels bring about vibrations whereas misaligned ones lead to premature wearing out of tires.

Tread Depth

Constantly check the depth of your tyre treads; most have tread wear indicators which reveal when they are too low thus necessitating replacement if one wants maximum grip levels maintained always during rides on all surfaces including wet ones.

Proper Storage

To prevent tire rotting store your motorcycle indoors where it is cool & dry; avoid direct sunlight exposure along with contact with chemicals plus extreme temperatures.

Knowing about the sizes of motorcycles’ tires and choosing the appropriate ones for your motorbike is important for safe riding as well as achieving the best performance. Reading the markings on your tires, taking into account where and how you ride, and maintaining them properly will help to maximize your bike’s potential. It doesn’t matter if you like sportbikes or cruisers, touring bikes or adventure machines – having the right type of tire on these can greatly affect one’s experience while riding them.

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