Motorcyclist - - Contents - BY JERRY SMITH


I work at a car deal­er­ship that puts nitro­gen in many of their car tires. They’re rec­om­mend­ing I do the same for my mo­tor­cy­cles. They claim that tire pres­sure will not fluc­tu­ate as much with changes in tem­per­a­ture. What are the proven ad­van­tages of putting nitro­gen in mo­tor­cy­cle tires? Are there any safety con­cerns?

Joe Ac­qua­viva / North Fal­mouth, MA


Nitro­gen has ad­van­tages over air. It doesn’t seep out of the tire—through the car­cass, past the bead/rim seal, or the Schrader valve in the stem—as fast as air. Nitro­gen is also more sta­ble when it gets hot, so tire pres­sure doesn’t vary as much from cold to hot. The re­sult is more con­sis­tent per­for­mance, longer tire life, and bet­ter fuel mileage.

For most mo­tor­cy­clists, though, the ben­e­fits are di­luted. Be­sides be­ing more ex­pen­sive than air, nitro­gen isn’t as widely avail­able. If you check tire pres­sures reg­u­larly for com­mut­ing or plea­sure rid­ing, you’ll let out a whiff of what­ever is in the tire, even­tu­ally re­quir­ing a fill-up. Like­wise if you ad­just your tire pres­sures for two-up rid­ing or a track­day. Both re­quire a sup­ply of pure nitro­gen or you’ll di­lute your tires with nasty old air, which, by the way, is 78 per­cent nitro­gen any­way.

Nitro­gen’s tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits are off­set by an in­crease in cost and a de­crease in con­ve­nience. If you’re will­ing to ac­cept the bad with the good, nitro­gen is the way to go. But if you want to save time and money, good ol’ air is good enough.

Got a ques­tion you want an­swered? Send it to mc­mail@bon­nier­

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