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Can a Rear Motorcycle Tire Be Put On The Front?

Posted by Wiley Moody on Feb 3, 2020

rear motorcycle tire and powertrain

Can I put a rear motorcycle tire on the front? This is a common question that motorcyclists ask themselves. Tires are a vital part of a motorcycle's function and are a huge safety component for riders. Whether you're considering switching tires because of your budget, bike styling needs, or just plain curiosity, any alterations to motorcycle tires should seriously be considered.

To understand whether or not you can replace your front motorcycle tire with the rear tire, we're going to explain in-depth when you can do so and when it can be a safety hazard.

Understanding the Difference Between Front and Rear Tires

Whether you're new to cruiser bikes or an experienced rider, you can easily tell there's a difference between the front and rear motorcycle tires. Each of these tires have different functionality on your bike. The front tire is usually bigger, with a larger diameter compared to the rear. They're also thinner. The front tire helps deal with impacts on the road like bumps and holes, ensures better stability, and aids in steering the bike.

The rear tire is usually smaller and more broad compared to the front tire. Its primary function is to provide power and traction to move the motorcycle since the engine is connected to it through the chain and sprockets. With both of these tires working together, riders can enjoy a safe and efficient way of travel on a motorcycle. Now, you can see why using a rear motorcycle tire on the front can be dangerous as it's not good for taking impacts and steering.

When Can I Use a Rear Tire on the Front?

Most motorcycle tires clearly specify which tire should be mounted on the bike. Such specifications will often be something like 'front use only' or 'rear use only.' Indications like these on tire packaging or actual tires should never be ignored for your safety. Never put a 'rear use only' tire on the front of your motorcycle.

However, there are situations when it's possible to put a rear tire on the front. With no specifications provided on the tires, it's possible to use the rear motorcycle tire on the front as long as both tires are the same size the manufacturer recommends for use on the motorcycle.


  • There are all sorts of motorcycle tires in the market so take your time to understand their specific use when buying - front or rear.
  • If the manufacturer hasn't specified which side of a motorcycle a tire needs to be on, you could use the tire on either the front or the rear so long as the tire fits the recommended specs and size.
  • Although it's rare, some motorcycles call for the same size of tires to be used on the front and rear.

Why You Should Stick to the 'Rear Use Only' Rule

As mentioned earlier, using the right tires for your motorcycle is an important safety measure for riders. Never interchange your tires against the manufacturer's recommendation. The front motorcycle tire and the rear motorcycle tire are designed and engineered separately to ensure they perform their functions well and ensure reliable bike control.

Don't ignore the 'rear use only' rule. The reason behind such specifications is to ensure that riders like you are aware of the need to use the right tires on your bike so that manufacturers are not liable for possible injuries if they don't put that usability label on the tires. If there's no specific label for use by the manufacturer, then it's safe to use the motorcycle tire on either the front or rear as long as the size is correct.

What If Circumstances Call for Using the Only Tire You Have?

front motorcycle tire

What if you have no other choice but to use the only spare rear motorcycle tire you have on your front? Or maybe you don't have the money to buy a new front tire. This all depends on the type of spare tire you have. Again, you can only use a rear tire on a front tire if it doesn't specifically indicate it's for 'rear use only' and meets the exact size requirements needed for your front wheel.

Order the Right Tires for Your Cruiser Bike

The wrong type or size of a motorcycle tire can be a massive risk for riders. If you don't have the money to buy a new motorcycle tire, don't ride your bike until you can get the right tire to install. Whether you want a new rear motorcycle tire or front tire, West End Motorsports brings you a wide range of quality motorcycle tiresinner tubes, and metric tires for your cruiser bike.

We also sell aftermarket motorcycle parts and accessories to customize your bike, including exhaustsseatsfairingswindshieldsriding gearluggage, and maintenance parts. Order tires and other customizable parts online now and enjoy free shipping on orders over $99 plus guaranteed fitment. Contact us if you have any questions.