The role of tyres is very important on a motorcycle and the kind of tyres you put on it make a huge difference in how it performs. The motorcycle tyres are subjected to much different forces as compared to a car tyre and that is why it is even more important to pick the perfect one. There are a wide range of tyres available from different manufacturers, both domestic and international. Most of the domestic manufacturers focus largely on commuter segment products and all rounder products and have recently started moving towards performance oriented products. On the other hand, many international manufacturers bring centuries of experience with them and have been making performance focused products for decades. Some of them have now started manufacturing in India as well while some still rely on imports from other countries.
Now it has always been a tough bet for which tyre manufacturer to go for. While the advantages of going for an imported tyre from an international manufacturer are clear, there are some disadvantages as well. Our country serves some really extreme conditions that are far from ideal once you step out on the roads. Most of the imported high performance tyres come from countries that don’t offer conditions this bad. They don’t have to worry about the broken section of road or a road made out of bricks. Neither do their sportsbike tyres have to go through slush. But here it is pretty normal for a rider to go through roads that turn into ponds during monsoons and then are full of potholes once the rains go away.
Another problem is the temperature. Here we have temperatures that cover a large region on the thermometer scale while most European countries have moderate to low temperatures. That is why the tyres from those markets are designed to survive those conditions, not the 50 degree Celsius temperature in summer. This makes the tyres prone to early wear and damage. We have seen some really high end rubber from some top notch manufacturers wear off in just 3-5K kilometres due to the conditions here and that is really a short life by any standards. The manufacturers here tailor the products to the conditions here giving them a longer life and making them more practical for everyday use here. And it is not like their products are any bad. Manufacturers like MRF have produced excellent products that offer a perfect balance between performance and practicality. In fact now they produce some high performance products as well that can match some imported products when it comes to downright performance.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that you should stay away from imported tyres and adhere to domestic manufacturers. Yes there are some issues but then there are lot of benefits as well. Manufacturers like Pirelli and Metzeler offer the kind of performance any domestic manufacturer finds hard to match. Then there are the track focused offerings which are good on road and even better on track. Sure that comes at a premium and won’t last as long but then your life should always take a higher priority than the life of tyres.