Are bald motorcycle tires commonplace? Legal?

The in basket: Forrest Butler says in an e-mail, “Looking at motorcycle tires, I have noticed that they are often bald, especially the rear tires. Some of them look like
they were made that way.
“Doesn’t the same Lincoln-Head-must-show tread rule apply to motorcycle tires?” he asked, referring to use of a penny to determine if your tire tread is too shallow.


The in basket: Forrest Butler says in an e-mail, “Looking at motorcycle tires, I have noticed that they are often bald, especially the rear tires. Some of them look like
they were made that way. 
“Doesn’t the same Lincoln-Head-must-show tread rule apply to motorcycle tires?” he asked, referring to use of a penny to determine if your tire tread is too shallow. “If I was riding a bike, I would like to have all the traction I could get.”
The out basket: I haven’t noticed this myself on the street, and Mike Dalgaard of Quick Throttle magazine, a motorcycling publication, questions the “often bald” part of Forrest’s inquiry.
“I think (he) is imagining how many ‘baldies’ he sees,” says Mike. “We all want maximum tread on our tires for maximum traction. The only exception is a bike built for drag racing on a strip. Street bikes are all required to show tread just the way a car is. What he says he sees is an anomaly.”
Lt. Ken Noland of the Bremerton State Patrol office confirms that motorcycle tires must meet the same tread-depth standards as passenger cars.

2 thoughts on “Are bald motorcycle tires commonplace? Legal?

  1. Bald tires have the most traction of any tire — unless the pavement is wet. That’s why they use “slicks” in drag races. A bald tire has more rubber in touch with the road than a tire with tread where there is less rubber touching. Bald tires are better in stopping as well for the same reason. Bald tires are NOT SAFE on wet roads and that’s why it is illegal to drive on public roadways with no tread.

  2. He may also be looking at tires on supersport motorcycles.

    The tires on those bikes have much larger tread blocks with fewer “tread lines” and the uninitiated may not understand that these tires, if in good condition, are not only legal but engineered for maximum grip in all but heavily wet conditions.

    Obviously, they’re not optimal for use in the rain, but most people aren’t running those tires if their bike spends much time in inclement weather.

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