Types of Motorcycle Tires

SPORTBIKE TIRES

If you ride a sportbike, you need a tire that’s agile and super grippy but also street legal (so racing slicks are not an option). The best sportbike tires for the streetare typically radial in construction for better heat dissipation. They have a wide tread pattern and are low profile, making them ideal for tight handling.

TOURING TIRES

If you frequently ride long distances, you will need the best motorcycle tiresfor touring. They have a flatter profile than sportbike tires to enable stability in straight lines. The rubber is a harder compound, which makes these tires last longer but also gives them slightly less grip. Bigger touring bikes often have high-profile, bias-ply tires, which are necessary to support the bike’s weight. The advantage to bias-ply tires is they handle bumps better.

CRUISER TIRES

Large cruisers typically use high-profile tires for overall comfort, while smaller cruisers may lean towards sportier tires for better performance. What’s most important is stability and traction on both wet and dry surfaces. In general, it comes down to preference and what type of riding you do. You should also check with your manufacturer to see what types of tires work best.

ADV TIRES

If you’re an adventure rider, you need tires that will work on pavement as well as sand and mud. The tire you choose must have the ability to provide a smooth ride on asphalt but a deep enough tread for off-roading. It should be comfortable on long stretches of highway and also be able to support moderately heavy loads.

OFF-ROAD AND MOTOCROSS TIRES

If you solely ride off-road, opt for motocross tires that are very knobby and have superior traction in the dirt. These tires have tread that wraps around the sides for optimum grip. Some motocross tires are designed for soft terrain (tall with spaced-out knobs), while others are for hard terrain (low with tightly-spaced knobs).

Top Brands

BRIDGESTONE

Bridgestone Tire Co., Ltd. was established in Japan in 1931. The company is the largest manufacturer of tires in the world and operates 81 production facilities in 24 countries. 

PIRELLI

Pirelli was founded in Milan, Italy, in 1872 by Giovanni Battista Pirelli. The company manufactures tires for cars, motorcycles, and bicycles, and operates in 160 countries. 

CONTINENTAL

Continental is a German automotive manufacturing company specializing in tires, brake systems, and powertrain and chassis components. The company was founded in 1871 as a rubber manufacturer. 

MICHELIN

Michelin is a French tire manufacturer based in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. It is the second-largest tire manufacturer in the world. The company traces its roots back to 1889 when it was a rubber factory. 

METZELER

Metzeler is a German motorcycle tire manufacturer that was founded in 1863 in Munich. The company strives to be on the leading edge of technical innovation with an eye on superior quality and performance. 

DUNLOP

Dunlop was founded by John Boyd Dunlop in Dublin, Ireland, in 1890. Currently owned by Goodyear, the company is known for producing high-performing tires for cars and motorcycles. 

SHINKO

The Japanese-based company Shinko has been in business since the 1940s. After purchasing Yokohama Rubber Co. in 1998, Shinko started producing motorcycle tires and currently makes more than 200,000 motorcycle tires monthly. 

Motorcycle Tire Pricing

  • Less than $50: You can spend very little on motorcycle tires — and it’s not a good idea. Even the best cheap motorcycle tires won’t be high in quality and are more likely to fail over a shorter period of time.
  • $75-$125: You can get a good, high-quality motorcycle tire within this moderately low price range. This is one area on your bike in which you won’t want to sacrifice safety and handling for price.
  • $125 and up: The best grip motorcycle tiresare used by sport bikes and racers and tend to be the most expensive. They feature superior tread and gripping ability, so expect to pay more for those with advanced performance capabilities.

Key Features

TREAD AND PATTERN

The part of the tire that makes contact with the road is called the tread. The pattern is made up of the grooves and channels that cut into the tread. On-street tires, for example, the pattern is intended to direct the water away from the tire so it doesn’t lose grip. Racing slicks, on the other hand, have no pattern and are 100 percent tread. In contrast, the aggressive tread is used on off-road tires. 

SIZE

The size of a tire can vary depending on what type of motorcycle you have and the type of riding you do. For optimum performance, choose tires that are the same size as the OEM ones. Even if you want wider tires for more grip, be sure to check with the manufacturer to make sure a slightly larger tire won’t compromise safety and performance.

BIAS-PLY VERSUS RADIAL

Radial tires have steel belts that run at a 90-degree angle to the tread’s centerline. They are more rigid and have better traction than bias-ply tires but don’t last as long. In contrast, bias-ply tires have nylon belts that run at a 30 to 45-degree angle to the tread’s centerline. They provide a softer ride and are better at carrying heavier loads.

TUBE VERSUS TUBELESS

Tubeless tires are stiffer, stronger, and run cooler. They are better for performance, and if they’re punctured, they deflate slower than tube tires, enabling you to control the motorcycle better. They are also more comfortable for riding. Tube tires tend to be less expensive and are common on vintage bikes with spoked wheels.

Other Considerations

  • High Mileage: If you want to save a little bit of money, choose a tire brand that will go the distance. These tires are typically constructed with harder compounds, so they tend to provide a little less grip. More expensive brands may use multiple compounds to deal with this issue.
  • Speed Rating: How fast do you ride? Tires are rated for the speeds they can accommodate. An H rating means the tire has a maximum speed of 130 mph, V indicates 149 mph, while W indicates a top speed of 168 mph.
Carlos G. Hill

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos joined TireReview in 2019 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire, Professional Motorsport World, Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International and Crash test Technology International

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