Determining Best Tire Pressures - - The Ultimate Ducati Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old Sep 12th, 2007, 12:35 pm Thread Starter
Old Wizard
Shazaam's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 2,999
Determining Best Tire Pressures

You'll get a lot of opinions on what tire pressure to run, but the correct tire pressure for you is not a matter of polling other rider's opinion. Here are the basics you'll need to decide for yourself.

Start with the BIKE (not the tire *see below) manufacturer's recommendation in the owners manual or under-seat sticker. This is the number they consider to be the best balance between handling, grip and tire wear. Further, if you're running alloy wheels on poor pavement, consider adding 2 psi to the recommended tire pressure just to reduce the likelihood of pothole damage. Just as you would for a car, increase the pressure 2 psi or so for sustained high speed operation (or 2-up riding) to reduce rolling friction and casing flexing. Check your tire pressure regularly, as they say.

In order to get optimum handling a tire has to get to its optimum temperature which is different for each brand of tire. Unless you own a tire pyrometer that will measure tire temperature directly, you’ll need to measure it indirectly by checking tire pressure since tire pressure increases with tire temperature. Tire temperature is important to know because too much flexing of the casing of an under-inflated tire for a given riding style and road will result in overheating resulting in less than optimum grip. Over-pressurizing a tire will reduce casing flexing and prevent the tire from getting up to the optimum operating temperature and performance again suffers. Sliding and spinning the tires also increase tire temperatures from friction heating.

A technique for those wanting to get the most out of their tires on the street is to use the 10/20% rule.

First check the tire pressure when the tire is cold. Then take a ride on your favorite twisty piece of road. Then, measure the tire pressure immediately after stopping. If the pressure has risen less than 10% on the front or 20% on the rear, the rider should remove air from the tire. So for example, starting at a front tire pressure of 32.5 psi should bring you up to 36 psi hot. Once you obtain this pressure increase for a given rider, bike, tire, road and road temperature combination, check the tire pressure again while cold and record it for future reference.

Each manufacturer is different. Each tire model is different. A tire design that runs cooler needs to run a lower pressure (2-3 psi front) to get up to optimum temperature. The rear tire runs hotter than the front tire, road and track. So the rear tire cold-to-hot increase is greater. Dropping air pressure has the additional side effect of scrubbing more rubber area.

When I used the tire pressures recommended by Ducati (32.5F/36R) for my 916 on my favorite road, I got exactly 10/20% on a set of Bridgestone BT-012SS. So I guess I'm an average rider and the BT-012SS runs at an average operating temperature compared to other brands.

For the track you'll have to drop the cold tire pressures an additional 10/20%. Track operation will get tires hotter (increasing the cold-to-hot pressure range) so starting at say 32/30 psi now should bring you up to the same temperature (and pressure) that 35/39 psi gave you for the street. Don't even think about running these low track cold pressures on the street.

Finally, dropping tire pressures on street tires for track use has its limitations, so street compound tires on the track often get too hot and go beyond sticky to greasy. That's why you have race tires. Race tire compounds are designed for severe operation at these higher temperatures for a limited number of thermal cycles. On the other hand, a race tire on the street usually won't get up to the appropriate temperature for good performance. At street speeds, the race compound often won't perform as well as a street tire.

Finally, a tire that is inflated to a lower pressure than recommended will have a tire profile that will sag slightly in the middle. This sagging profile results in increased rolling friction and causes the tires to run hotter. This will reduce tire life but it will also increase tire traction or grip. Depending upon racing conditions and the overall setup of the bike the increased grip may be necessary to be competitive even at the cost of tire life.

* Tire Manufacturer's Recommendations

Japanese sportbikes seem to have an extra 4-6 psi specified for their tires, compared to the equivalent Ducati. Why?

A tire manufacturer will recommend a pressure that is a balance between tire life and grip. When a bike manufacturer is developing a new model their test riders will determine what pressures in their opinion, best suit the new model. The recommended pressures are the best for general street (not track) riding, so you can increase grip somewhat by reducing pressures.

But to answer the question about higher recommended tire pressures for Japanese in-line fours versus Ducati twins - in-line fours heat up their tires more than a twin so a higher starting pressure is needed to prevent overheating the tires, particularly the rear tire.

Years ago, superbike racers discovered that it was easier to modulate the power to prevent wheelspin on the Ducati V-twins than it was to do the same on the Japanese inline-fours. This is because there is a longer interval (in terms of both time and crankshaft rotation) between cylinders firing, which gives the rear tire a "break" - time to recover traction and match its speed to that of the motorcycle.

More recently, more sophisticated traction control systems have been tried to reduce tire temperatures, improve tire life and lap times.

Shazaam is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old Jan 27th, 2011, 11:39 pm
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: los angeles, ca, USA
Posts: 72
Thanks for putting together a great article...looks like I need to lower my BT-016 from 36/38 to 33/36 F/R, respectively.
db626 is offline  
post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old Nov 17th, 2011, 10:30 pm
OKCDuc's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oklahoma City, OK, USA
Posts: 38
Excellent Info! Thanks!

'12 MTS Pikes Peak #123
'08 848 WHITE
'08 1098 YELLOW (Sold)
'09 Monster 696 WHITE (Sold)
OKCDuc is offline  
post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old Nov 21st, 2011, 11:07 pm
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: los angeles, ca, USA
Posts: 72
Thanks for pointing out where to look for manufacturer recommended tire pressure settings!
db626 is offline  
post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old Nov 21st, 2011, 11:17 pm
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Noda, Chiba, Japan
Posts: 2,308
another helpful article from Shazaam! Always nice to have handy.

1968 Kawasaki A1SS
1970 Kawasaki A7
1971 Kawasaki A1 (basket case)
1988 Gilera Saturno 500 x 2
2004 ST4s ABS (yeller)
Mad Dog is offline  
post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old Dec 31st, 2011, 2:49 pm
Junior Member
LDavis16's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Columbia, MO, USA
Posts: 12
excellent! I need to lower the pressure on my bike immediately! Hopefully this will explain why my front end is sliding in hard corners.
LDavis16 is offline  
post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old Mar 16th, 2012, 4:51 pm
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: OC, CA, US
Posts: 175
I know i could find the answer searching the forum, but thought this question might be relevant to this thread/topic.

What are the causes for front tires "cupping"? My last two front tires have both shown signs of cupping.. First set was Mich Pilot One's. Current set is Mich Pilot 2ct's. I think i have the psi at 32 or 33. Also, are there any dangers of riding with this type of "abnormal wear". I havent noticed any signs of the bike feeling/reacting "different".

My riding is 95% commuting(heavy highway) and 5% in the twisties at a spirited pace.

04 999S way coolerestest!
07 Repsol 1000rr - pretty cool, sold before it killed me.
07 Daytona 675 - coolerest, regrettably sold.
03 Lightining XB9S - funky but cooler. sold.
05 F4i - comfy and kinda cool, sold.
drunkentrader is offline  
post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old Mar 16th, 2012, 6:41 pm
Senior Member

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Gulf Coast, USA, ,
Posts: 1,138
Great article. Best part is the sound advice not to put too much stock in the opinions of others, regardless of how well meaning they are.

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.--Socrates
The Official thread closer...
Paisanoracer is offline  
post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 2012, 10:35 am
Senior Member
tscott's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Posts: 138

'02 Duc 998 with lots of CF
'03 Ape Tuono with a few go fast goodies and upgraded suspenders
tscott is offline  
post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 2012, 9:04 am
Prolific Poster Award
SS904's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Coventry, CT, USA
Posts: 5,049
Just wanted to add that since actually following this advice last year, my cold tire pressure went from the 36R/34F I had been using for years to 34R/32F. The improvement in grip is noticeable and handling feels lighter when the tires are at temp. I can now actually feel when the tires are at temp, where before it felt about the same cold as after riding for a while. I could probably go lower, but the back roads here can be bad, so this is as low as I dare go for fear of denting a rim. Spend some time with this, YMMV.

2001 900SSie (gone, but not forgotten)
2003 ST4s (The Truck)
1995 916 (Junk Yard Dog)
SS904 is offline  
Sponsored Links

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the - The Ultimate Ducati Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
GT and Sport Classic tire pressures scooter Sport Classic 26 Oct 26th, 2014 11:13 pm
Question on tire pressures tech7fab Supersport 2 Oct 30th, 2007 2:24 pm
Motorcycle Tire Repair Guidelines Shazaam Hall of Wisdom 0 Jul 28th, 2007 9:20 am
Tire Pressures rabbot Sport Touring 6 Jan 2nd, 2007 6:33 pm
Tire pressures? Dunlop D207s number9 Supersport 5 Sep 26th, 2006 8:19 pm

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome