August 29, 2013 by Rider Newsletter Staff
Caring for trailer tires is easy, but you have to do it…
Admittedly, we talk a lot about tires around here. Mostly, it’s about the two very important ones that sit beneath your rear end as you hurtle down the highway at no more than the posted speed limit (of course). We’ve all agreed that your life may depend on the proper care and feeding of those two black beauties.
However, we’re trailer guys around here, and we know a lot of you are, too. If you’re pulling a trailer behind your motorcycle or hauling your bike to the next event, you have more tires to take care of and keeping them properly maintained and happy can make your ride – and your life – a whole lot easier. The good news is that there really isn’t all that much to do. You just have to be sure you DO it. Here are a few tips that can help keep your motorcycle trailer following happily along behind you.
Just like the tires on your bike, proper inflation is a key factor in trailer tire maintenance. In fact, under inflation is often said to be the primary cause of catastrophic trailer tire failure. The reason is heat. Under-inflated tires flex a lot and all that action creates heat and heat is bad news for tires. Avoiding the problem involves checking the inflation of your tires often and carefully. Inflation should be checked when the tires are cold and they should be inflated to the maximum level shown on the sidewall. It’s simple, but essential.
There are those who say it is not necessary to balance trailer wheels. We believe there is no logic to this theory. Just like any other vehicle, unbalanced trailer wheels can cause vibration, which leads to uneven tire wear and can damage bearings, hubs and other trailer components. Not to mention the fact that whatever you’re carrying on the trailer could receive a shaky ride. Balancing wheels requires special equipment and training, so this is definitely a job for your local tire store.
It’s the time, not the tread
Trailer tires are generally treated very differently than those on motorcycles, cars or towing vehicles. For one thing, trailers tend to spend a lot of time in storage between uses. Depending on how and where the trailer is kept, the tires may be subjected to heat, sun, cold, snow, ice and supporting a load on one area of the tread over a long period of time. The fact is, tires can wear out even when they are not in use. Over time, the materials dry, crack and can even develop rot. Generally, trailer tires are designed to last three to five years and should be replaced, even if there is a lot of tread left.
To help extend the life of your tires, remove unnecessary weight from them by storing the trailer on blocks. Additionally, keep tires covered or out of the sun when not in use. If possible, park your trailer in a cool, dry shaded location. By doing so, you will not only maximize the life of your tires, but also the life of some other components as well.
After long periods of storage, inspect the tires carefully before putting them back on the road. Examine any cracks you see to ensure they are only superficial. If the material appears to have been weakened or you notice numerous deep cracks, replace the tires. It’s not worth taking a chance with questionable tires.
When it comes to tires, an ounce of prevention, and a bit of your attention, is worth a pound of cure. It’s as true for your trailer as it is for your motorcycle.
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