Tires provide traction between the motorcycle and the road while providing cushion that absorbs shock. Materials used to manufacture modern pneumatic tires include synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric and wire, carbon black and other chemical compounds.
Rubber used for your tires is a complex blend of up to 200 chemicals, both natural and synthetic rubbers. Carbon black as a filler and a host of other ingredients like sulfur to harden the rubber and anti-oxidants to prevent damage from UV light. Silica is used as a filler to enhance tire grip during wet weather. It also contributes to improved performance during such times.
Synthetic rubber is any type of artificial material with the mechanical property that can undergo much more elastic deformation under stress than other materials but still return to its previous size without permanent deformation.
Natural rubber consists of suitable polymers of the organic compound isoprene with impurities of other organic compounds plus water. The rubber is harvested mainly in form of latex; a sticky, milky colloid drawn off by making incisions into the bark of a tree and collecting the fluid vessels. The latex is then refined into rubber ready for commercial processing. Natural rubber has a large stretch ratio, high resilience and is extremely waterproof.
Tread pattern is the part in contact with the road. This depends on the profile of the tire and the rubber compound you chose is based on the use of your tire. Tire manufacturers use different compounds depending on the intended use of the tire. For instance, street motorcycle tires which use harder rubber compound get better gas mileage but at the same time they don't stick to the road. The softer the rubber compound, the "grippier" a tire is, though you give up gas mileage.
For off-Road tires, the grip depends on where you ride. There is a tire compound best suited for your needs; from soft compounds for hard terrain to hard compound for digging up that spongy loam. Your off-road performance will be directly affected by the type of rubber you use and also the difference in tread patterns and lug depth.
Softer compounds are designed to give an edge in grip while harder compounds are designed to give longer tread life and cooler running mostly for long-haul driving. Manufacturers such as Pirelli Motorcycle Tires produce several different compounds to create a whole range of compounds for consumers. Some use different compounds within a single tire like using a softer compound at the tires edges and a bit harder compound in the center. This design promotes remarkably high grip when leaning over and yet the tire still wears slowly in the center.
To get more performance and mileage from your tires a rider needs to use multiple compounds in the tread. The center of the tire doesn't need much grip that the sides since the motorcycle is upright when the contact patch is in the middle. At the same time, the shoulder of the tire needs more grip, because this is where the contact patch is during hard cornering. The idea is to use a harder compound in the middle of the tire and a softer one in the edges and then you get increased mileage as well as incredible cornering grip.
Charity Kadzo is a professional article writer. Working for 4wheelonline.com, a company that deals with wheels and motorcycle tires among other. For more information on 4wheelonline go to Pirelli Motorcycle Tires