Just like for other vehicles, on or off-road, pit bike tyres are a crucial factor in safety, performance and enjoyment.
With pit bikes gaining rapidly in popularity, the selection of tyres is starting to grow too. They are still specialist sizes so it’s not the same wealth of choice you have with full size motorcycle tyres, but one day it will get there.
Working out which is the right tyre for your pit bike can be challenging, in this article we cover some of the key considerations when selecting fresh rubber, and help you determine which pit bike tyres are for you.
Pit Bike Tyre Sizes
It almost goes without saying, the first consideration you need to satisfy is the size of tyre.
With pit bike rims available in a variety of sizes, for kids and adult seat heights, you need to take extra care to ensure you are hunting down the correct size of tyre for your motorbike.
The simplest way to do this is to observe the size markings on the tyre you are looking to replace. You will see a code similar to this: 90/100-16
This is effectively the same format that full size motorbikes use to indicate tyre size, and it can tell you everything you need to know.
Starting at the end of the number, you can see ”16”, this indicates the rim size the tyre is to fit in inches, this is potentially the most important number as if you get a tyre for the wrong rim size, it simply will never fit on your wheel.
The other numbers are to indicate tyre profile and width. Here we also recommend sticking to the same size as the one you are replacing unless you’re happy to use trial and error. An issue that commonly occurs is where people try to size up their tyre width thinking it will give them additional off-road performance and grip, only to discover that the new tyres rub on the sides of the front forks, or the rear swingarm.
This is an issue well worth avoiding, and you can easily do so by matching your new tyre to the size it is replacing.
Types of Tyre
Once you’ve figured out your size, there are a few different types of pit bike tyre you can select from.
If you’re looking to enjoy your pit bike off-road then you’ll definitely be looking for an aggressively knobbly tyre. These tyres are specifically designed to bite into loose surfaces and give you maximum grip and traction in the most extreme circumstances.
Another top tip for maximising grip is to let a bit of air out of your tyres, this increases the contact patch on the ground and can make some big grip improvements on challenging terrain. Always ensure to stick within the tyre manufacturers minimum pressure specs though as you could find yourself needing to refit a tyre on the trail which is never fun!
If you use your pit bike more on asphalt, tarmac or concrete, you’re probably someone who takes it out on the road or pavement. While serious knobblies look awesome on these bikes, they simply aren’t great when on-road.
They give much less grip on the road as the bike rides only on the tips of the tread with nothing to dig into, they will wear much more rapidly and you’ll also find them to be noisy and transmit unwanted vibrations through the handle bars.
You would be much better off with an all-rounder style tyre with a less aggressive tread pattern. These are very common to find, and can sometimes even offer some of the look of a knobbly tyre, but for road use. The positive is that you will also get improved top speed out of this type of tyre when on flat ground, and you can maximise this by adding some additional tyre pressure too, but don’t go above the manufacturers prescribed PSI ratings, or you’ll risk a blowout which can be dangerous.
Common brands are Kenda who do tyres for all kinds of applications, M2R and Ten10. These brands are generally well trusted in the world of pit bike tyres.
Supermoto Pit Bike Tyres
One of the latest trends in the world of pit bikes is Supermoto styling.
Supermoto pit bikes are not yet mainstream and very few can be found when shopping online. Luckily however, you can easily turn your off-road style pit bike into a Supermoto style.
There are only two parts you need to change on your pit bike to turn it into a fully fledged supermoto bike.
- Supermoto Wheel Rims
- Supermoto Tyres
You can purchase wheel and tyre kits which are simple to put straight on. In doing this you will make your pit bike much better to ride on the road, and you could even partake in some supermoto pit bike racing series for some weekend fun.
Be aware that once converted your pit bike will not be as capable off-road.
How to fit a pit bike tyre
If you’ve opted to source some new pit bike tyres, then your next question will be “how do I get them on the bike?”
The good news is, that pit bike tyres use inner tubes much like bicycles do, so you can much more easily perform a tyre swap at home with simple tools.
Once the wheel is removed from the bike, to fit the tyre yourself, you’ll need a new inner tube (or two and at least one spare), a set of tyre irons, and a good amount of patience. Once you’ve acquired these, the process is as follows:
- Deflate old tyre/innter tube
- Squeeze old tyre inwards and carefully wedge a tyre iron under the bead
- Work your way around the wheel bit by bit levering the tyre over the edge of the rim (add a bit of washing up liquid if needed to lubricate the tyre over the rim)
- Pull old inner tube out and fully remove tyre using the same method for the other bead
- Lubricate new tyre with washing up liquid, and with the wheel laying on its side, press the first bead of the tyre on working your war around
- Insert the inner tube into the half fitted tyre being careful to get the valve poking through the right place
- Put a small amount of air into the inner tube so it takes its shape more
- Very carefully work the other bead of the tyre on avoiding pinching your new inner tube
- Fully inflate the tube and you’re good to go!
It can be satisfying to fit these at home, and once you’ve mastered it, you may even find yourself fitting them on the trail if you need to rather than your ride being over.
However, be aware that it’s very easy to puncture the tubes when fitting them so make sure you have at least one spare when attempting to fit your own pit bike tyre.
Let us know if you have any specific questions about any of the pit bike tyres features that you want more clarification on. Just get in touch with us in the comments below.