How old are your tires?

By: On: June 2nd, 200811 Comments »Updated: October 13, 2012

Yes, your old motorcycle tires may still look fine as you admire your clean cool-looking wheels.  You probably think those tires are still safe since they’re not that old, right?  But wait, how old are they?  Do you really know?  Is there a way to get more motorcycle info about the age of tires? Since learning that motorcycle tires have date codes, I now check that to be sure.  Time flies and tires age and become less safe.

Here’s how you can check the age of your motorcycle tires.  Look for an 11 or 12 character serial number on your tire’s sidewall.  No, you don’t have to de-code that entire long number, just look at the last four digits (for tires made since the year 2000).  Those last four digits tell you the week number and year that the tire was made.

For example, if the number ends with 2103, the tire was made during the 21st week of the year 2003.  This code works for tires that were made since the year 2000.

Before the year 2000, only the last 3 digits told you about the date.  For example, if the last 3 digits were 508, then that means that the tire was made during the 50th week of year 8 of that decade.  Was it 1998, 1988?  There may be ways to determine which decade, but why waste time on that?  Go get some new and safer motorcycle tires on your bike soon!

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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11 Responded

  1. Jim says:

    Thanks for the info. I bought a 2007 Suzuki Boulevard with only 200 miles on it, it’s now at about 1100 miles. But it has the original tires. I guess I’ll be replacing them, but now I’m paranoid about riding it to the shop. Lol

  2. Robert Leo says:

    My 2004 HD FLSTCI (bought new) has less than 5000 miles; original tires. Should I replace tires due to age even though tread wear minimal?

  3. bobby says:

    hi….I own a 2005 road king with 8900 miles….I haven’t ridden in 8 years…my back is better n I wanna ride again…the bike has been stored in a shed with wooden floor that’s off the ground,and vented roof…the treads look great,but w 10 yr old tires,do I need to replace…thx much

    • John says:

      Bobby, yes, I’d recommend changing those 10 year old tires for best safety, even if they look ok visually. It isn’t fun to worry about tires when riding. They may be ok, but probably is not worth the risk, especially after waiting so long to enjoy riding again.

  4. Garry Compton says:

    My tires on my IZH/sidecar says USSR 1990 and they still have plenty of tread left- guess they made good products – just like the USA did – at one time – Ukraine home

  5. Joe K Cartland says:

    I closed my cycle shop in 2004 and still have several tires from that time. From what I have read, these seem to be somewhat unsafe for road use. Is that correct, or should I destroy them? Thanks for the assistance.

    • John says:

      Joe, thanks for asking about the tires, it is good you are concerned. If they are for street, I’d be hesitant to sell them without some getting legal advice first. I’m not sure what rules or guidelines the motorcycle tire companies have about the resale of NOS tires. It is a tricky situation.

  6. Kevin says:

    Hey John, I purchased a brand new 2008 Honda VTX-1800F back in Summer 2011. It was just sitting in a crate for 3 years. I only put 400 miles on it since I picked it up near the end of the riding season in Wisconsin. Just wondering if the tires are any good since they have been sitting for so long?


    • John says:

      Kevin, thanks for your question! I suggest that you go ahead and replace the tires. I don’t know what condition, temperature, etc the bike was stored in, and tire “rubber” does age and loses some of the desired stickiness and flex properties, so if it was my bike, I would not completely trust those, even if they look new, just my opinion.

  7. moose says:

    I was told, in trying to determine my motorecycle tire ages that the code 3401 meant the 34th week of 2010. I replied with “are you sure it is2010 or 2001? He said the “system was changed so the “year” code (in my case 01) means 10! Is this true?

    • John says:

      After 12/99, the US DOT date code system was changed from 3 to 4 numbers. First 2 numbers are week. Last 2 numbers are year. So, 3401 is the 34th week of 2001. The 34th week of 2010 would be 3410.