“Scrubbing In” New Tyres? Let’s explore…


There are no end of stories about people who have fallen off bikes after having new tyres fitted.

One tyre dealer tells of a time he was advising a customer of the need to be careful for a while and the customer turned to him and said “I’ve been riding since before you were born so you don’t need to tell me about green tyres.” He subsequently rode out of the workshop and fell off as he entered the road. The mechanic offered to assist him but strangely he was a little too annoyed to accept help!

It doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve had with bikes, everyone who knows will tell you it is imperative to be careful for a while as the tyres always require some time on the road surface to ’bed in’ before they can be expected to perform normally and provide maximum grip.

Many think it is a release compound that causes the tyres to be so slippery. In times gone past, manufacturers used this material to help the tyre come out of the mould in much the same way margarine helps a cake to come out of a cake tin once cooked (something seems horribly wrong with that analogy!). Most manufacturers no longer use a release compound but the tyre surface still requires to be ‘broken’ or ‘roughed up’ before it can provide the grip you seek.

Most manufacturers will quote distances of 100 plus kilometres before you push the performance barrier. But most will also admit that it is not just distance that roughs up the surface.

A method I often employ to fully scrub tyres is to go to an area where I conduct training courses (any large car park with a good bitumen surface will suffice). I ride for a few kilometres beforehand to ensure the new tyre has ’settled’ onto the rim. This might sound silly but the belts and rubber does need some small amount of settling. I then begin to weave the bike, while travelling in a straight line, creating some gentle exposure of the sides of the tyre to the road surface. This then gets mixed with some slow circle work (a radius of approximately 7-8m works well). I travel very slowly initially (around 20km/h) then gradually expose more of the sides of the tyre to the ground. If you do this gradually, you will always have the majority of the tyre that has been scrubbed providing the grip and only small sections of the ‘slippery’ part of the tyre coming into contact with the ground. The angle of lean is very gradually increased to accommodate this. This is all done with minimal load on the tyre (i.e. no power being applied whilst leaning) so it minimises risk.

The whole process can take a lot less than 100km (more like a few km) but you just need to remember to be gentle and make sure you can see the tyre is roughed up as much as you are comfortable with.

If you’d like to see how it is done, give me a call and we’ll go try it in a car park near you.

Paul Riley

Skill Master Motorcycle Services

© Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist, 2012 – 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Observations of a Perpetual Motorcyclist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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17 responses to ““Scrubbing In” New Tyres? Let’s explore…

  1. I have heard the warnings, but over the years I have never really experienced any problems. My last pair of new tyres I broke in with a run on the highway, some gravel road work, and then back down the highway, weaving when safe to do so, in order to get some wear into the chicken strip. One good rule, I suspect, is not to take brand new tyres out in wet weather.

  2. Next time you are in a bike shop feel the various tyres – they will vary greatly from feeling OK to very slippery. When I had people fitting tyres for me we would always rub them down with “tyre buffer”. Some will argue against it but we never sent someone out on slippery tyres. You are right the 100km broad statement. used – means nothing if you ride in a straight line for 100kms.

  3. I always (lightly) scrub the new surface with fine grit sandpaper, then use a bit of caution for 20-40 miles.
    I once watched a guy with new tires on his R6 ignore the service tech’s warning about his new tires, then immediately redecorate one side of his bike by sliding it along on the asphalt outside the dealership’s lot…

  4. Good topic. I have been warned many times after getting a new tyre fitted. May be I have been lucky as I have never had a problem. Mind you I do take note and ride gently for a few hundred km. I never really push it hard anyway. After a few off’s as a teenager I soon learned that it hurts.


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