14 Best Motorcycle Tires of 2020 – Reviews & Guide was last modified: June 24th, 2020 by Lucas
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14 Best Motorcycle Tires (Reviews) in 2020
If you’re looking for the best tire to upgrade your bike but simply haven’t got the time to sift through hundreds of motorcycle tires reviews, then you’re in luck. We’ve created a list to showcase some of the most popular motorcycle tires today, complete with descriptions so you get help in choosing the right one for your needs and budget.
1. Michelin Pilot Power 3 Hp/Track Front Motorcycle Radial Tire
The Pilot Power 2CT is a high-performance 17-inch motorcycle tire that is suited to people who like riding the track as well as normal but be sure to get a moto GPS tracker, because this way you can protect this tires and your bike from theft. In terms of size, this one is 180-mm wide with a 55 percent ratio, making it a good candidate for people who love sharp cornering and a good grip even on wet roads. The surface and patterns shed off water quite easily so you get to enjoy all your rides together with the best motorcycle accessories from this site.
This model features a rubber mix on the edges of the tread which is 20 percent softer than the rest, resulting in a much better cornering grip and possible lean angles of 51.2 degrees. This tire benefits from the Real MotoGP technology which has earned the Michelin brand countless awards, as well as 15 GP World Championships so you'll only need to think what tire changer to get from this selected options.
You get a tire that can satisfy even the needs of pretentious sportbike riders by offering a solid grip on many types of surfaces, as well as superior handling, acceleration, and braking performance every time.
Versatility is best when you are on the track, but just as much when you are riding on a street, and that's what makes this model so great for all categories of riders.
If a good grip is essential for you, when touring, the 180-mm width of these tires with 55% ratio will do its job, but no matter what, don't leave your ladies helmet at home because safety must always come first.
Designed to shed off the water quickly from the thread pattern, this model is also ideal for all the times when you want to ride in wet weather.
Excellent corner grip and ability to accommodate lean angles with ease are must-haves for any competent rider, and that's what these tires provide.
The Real MotoGP technology employed on these tires is the same that brought the manufacturer many accolades and awards.
If you decide to put these tires on your bike, you may feel tempted to go on rides more often, which can result in their quick wearing out.
2. Michelin Pilot Road 4 Touring Radial Tire
The Michelin Pilot Road 4 is a high-end 17-inch tire that’s perfect for street enthusiasts and daily commuters. This product balances many qualities and features so it can offer reliable all-around sport touring performance every time. This model is tubeless so you get to enjoy long-term performance with little risk of having a flat tire.
This model is 180-mm wide and great for adrenaline-filled road races but also for day-long rides. You get great handling as well as reliable braking and acceleration on dry as well as wet roads so the weather won’t ever spoil your fun. This tire is advertised to offer a 20 percent longer service life than its predecessor, the Pilot Road 3.
Thanks to the 2-compound technology and enhanced tread patterns, you get to benefit from a superior grip, while the XST+ siping makes for excellent traction when cornering even at steep lean angles.
This tire is rated W which means it is designed for a maximum speed of 168 mph.
As touring tires, these offer fantastic dependability, and you can use them for your daily commute, as well as for longer trips.
Best for daily use, but also ideal for longer trips, this model has a width of 180 mm, which is perfect for touring, and for racing, just the same, something that will surely make you happy.
Superior performance on both dry and wet ground makes this model from Michelin an excellent option for versatile riders.
Your bike will surely benefit from the enhanced thread patterns, as they will offer excellent grip, which also means that you can ride at high speeds while minimizing the risk of accidents.
With a longer service life than its direct predecessor, this model is recommended for all riders who want to enjoy their tires longer.
It is not advisable to rely on these tires in snowy weather and cold temperatures, as it appears that they behave better in warmer climates.
3. Michelin Commander II TL Front Tyre
The Michelin Commander II is a reinforced front tire that is designed to offer superior performance and reliability to riders who enjoy cruising on long trips. This tire has been tested extensively to ensure a proper response and handling in various road conditions, logging over half a million miles to ensure that it is up to the task.
This front tire has been designed to offer unique handling capabilities through an ingenious combination of characteristics and a complex casing and profile construction. You get stable handling in any situation thanks to the rayon carcass ply which replaces the standard polyester ply.
You also get the less costly fiberglass belts replaced with aramid ones for a better control of the centrifugal tire growth which in turn increases contact area and thus provides better traction while minimizing wear.
This Michelin motorcycle tire is an excellent choice for cruising fans and occasional commuters alike, offering long-term reliability, precise steering, and long mileage for the most pretentious out there.
Designed with longer trips in mind, these reinforced tires will behave beautifully when you embark on multiple-day journeys and look for nothing but reliable gear.
Be aware that this is a front tire, and that's why its primary role is to offer you excellent handling while on the road so that you can make the most out of your trips.
In this model, the fiberglass belts have been replaced with aramid belts, something that must be mentioned since the latter can offer better contact with the ground for increased stability.
Any rider can appreciate the long mileage this model is capable of giving to the daily commuter, or anyone who loves to use a motorcycle often.
Since its made from handling and control, this front tire is made with a larger width than what you can see in other models on the market, and that might not be something you're used to.
4. Continental Motion Tire Set 120/70zr17 Front & 180/55zr17 Rear
If you’re looking for a tire set that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, then the Continental Motion is an excellent choice. These are made according to the highest manufacturing standards so you get reliable performance on the road to enjoy both short trips and long cruises across the country.
The tires are radial, offering a better grip on wet surfaces as well as dry gritty roads. You also get to enjoy longer tread life and increased longevity for year-round use. The rear tire benefits from a steel belt construction for maximum strength and flexibility, ensuring extra stability and comfortable rides every time.
Thanks to the new polymer compounds used and the tread patterns which are force-oriented, you get to benefit from a longer-lasting performance. The front tire is 120-mm wide with a 70 percent aspect ratio, while the rear tire measures 180 mm in the widest section and has a 55 ratio. These tires are 17 inches in diameter.
For both long trips and daily rides, this tire set from Continental is created with durability and dependability in mind.
One thing that will surely make you happy about this model is that it is created with a thread pattern that allows excellent grip on both dry and wet ground so that you can use it regardless of the weather.
Also, for touring, this Continental set is perfect because of its steel belt construction that ensures proper stability and increased safety.
For their size, the front and rear tires do an excellent job, and your bike will look so nice that you will barely wait to take it out for a spin.
Seeing that they provide long-lasting performance, they are also a sound investment that you will never regret you made.
If you take this set on the road often, you may notice that the thread begins to wear out.
5. Kenda Cruiser K671 Motorcycle Street Tire
The Kenda Cruiser K671 is an inexpensive front tire that comes with a solid construction which will keep you riding for a long time. This product is DOT-approved and has an H rating which means it can be used at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour. This 6-ply tire is a fine option for touring, cruiser motorcycles, as well as sports.
Thanks to the deep offset tread sips, you get to benefit from efficient water dispersion as well as a better traction on wet and slippery surfaces.
The strong and stiff sidewalls offer excellent handling and overall performance, while the wide contact patch increases grip as well as mileage so you won’t need to replace this tire anytime soon.
This tire measures 90 mm in width with a 100 percent aspect ratio. Because it is a tubeless model, you won’t need to get an inner tube and neither will you experience too many flat tires.
This tire is best for medium to high speeds, as it has the H rating, which means that you can use it for speeds up to 130 mph without a problem.
It can be easily considered a sport tire since it comes with a 6-ply thread pattern on the rubber, to ensure that it provides enough grip when the need arises.
The offset thread sips are ideal for a ride in the rain because they are capable of dispersing water fast so that you don't lose performance or grip.
Since its a tubeless model, you won't have to purchase or use a tube, which is pretty convenient for anyone who doesn't need a tire for long trips.
Its stiff sidewalls make the job of any rider easier because they offer excellent handling.
If you are on the road a lot, you may notice that the thread begins to wear unevenly, which might make you want to change them prematurely.
6 Shinko 705 Series (Tube) Tire
If you’re looking for a tire that works well on the rear as well as on the front, then the Shinko 705 Series is just what you need. This 18-inch model is designed to give you an amazing street experience every time. You can also use it successfully for trail riding, despite not being specialized for this discipline.
This tire features an innovative tread pattern which offers excellent adhesion on both wet and dry surfaces so you get to ride on the highway as well as off it regardless of the weather conditions. The strong rubber compound is made to resist the tough conditions of off-road riding. The 4-ply construction increases tear-resistance as well as long-term durability.
This bias ply tire is versatile and can give you a good feel of the road as well as superior performance and handling. You also get tougher treads for increased mileage as well as a tubeless design for fewer problems down the road.
For touring, trail riding, and even racing, this sturdy tire that works as a front and a rear tire just as fine, will prove dependable and versatile enough to convince you.
Its innovative tread pattern is what makes it stand out from the crowd, as it provides excellent grip regardless of weather, something you can surely appreciate.
Also, there is something else that commends the 4-ply construction of these tires: they don't wear out as fast as other models, and they offer a lot of durability.
Made from a durable rubber compound, this model can handle increased mileage, as well as the track, without any complaints.
Its superior handling must also be mentioned on the list of advantages offered.
Riding on grass or other wet terrains may prove a bit of a challenge for this particular model, something to keep in mind when you embark on a long trip.
7. Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra Front Tire 120/70B-21 (68H)
These tires were specifically designed to be used with touring bikes. They feature low and high-speed stability and they allow for smooth handling. The model is built to last and it is the go-to choice for those riders who enjoy dirty riding.
Furthermore, the thread that the unit includes provides great water drainage and, as a result, the product delivers improved wear characteristics as well as a higher mileage. This tire performs well in wet weather. Because of the technology that was used to make the model, it offers consistent performance throughout the entire life of the tire.
This choice has a rim diameter of 21 inches and a total weight of 11.6 pounds. Moreover, it has a load index rating of 68.0 and an H speed rating. The design of the tire is highly appealing and, given the steel belt construction of the choice, it delivers uniform heat distribution.
This model is made of quality materials and it includes a special thread that allows for good water drainage. It does well on wet surfaces.
Besides, this product was built to last and the technology that was used when manufacturing it ensures that you will get great results at high speeds.
The uniform heat distribution that this tire features guarantees improved wear characteristics. So, you will be able to use the model for an extended time.
If you are a fan of dirt riding, this tire is just what you need. The option ensures a safe and reliable ride and it is long-lasting.
If you are on a strict budget, this option might not be a great fit for you. Still, it delivers great results and it is made of high-quality materials.
When the tire is not installed correctly, there is a chance that it will go flat faster.
8. Shinko 230 Tour Master Rear Tire - 170/80V-15
The Shinko 230 Tour Master surely deserves its name. With a solid construction, innovative technologies, and a well-designed tread pattern, this 4 ply-rated tubeless rear tire is an amazingly resilient model and an excellent option for any rider who enjoys touring around the country in maximum comfort and style.
This tire is 170-mm wide and an 80 aspect ratio, with a diameter of 15 inches. You get a wider contact area so that the motorcycle can transfer a lot more power to the road while maintaining a good grip in all kinds of conditions. The 230 Tour Master is designed for long distance riding as well as maximum speeds of up to 149 miles per hour.
The smooth tread also ensures long-term performance and mileage so you get to save money in the long run. The aramid-belted tire also features a staggered tread pattern which minimizes noise when riding while also offering exceptional performance that you will enjoy every time.
As far as touring tires go, this model is truly the master, due to its tubeless 4-ply construction that gives it a lot of durability, and also superior performance.
When you are on the road for a long time, you need stability, and that's precisely what this wide model offers, with its 170-mm width and 80 aspect ratio.
Since it offers an excellent grip, it may be a good choice for racing, too, as long as you bear in mind that its main area of expertise is still touring.
The maximum speed limit recommended for it is 149 mph, which is pretty impressive and means that you can ride as fast as you want.
Its smooth thread is a guarantee that this tire will last for a long time, and it's a sound investment.
If you plan on riding a lot at fast speeds, it might not be such a good idea to get this tire, as it tends to wear off quickly; for touring at a steady pace, it's still great.
9. Shinko 712 Front Tire - 100/90-19
In case you value performance and mileage in a tire but you definitely don’t want to break the bank to get a decent model, then the Shinko 712 might just suit your budget and needs. This front tire is 100-mm wide with a 90 ratio and a 19-inch diameter that will help you achieve consistent high speeds on the road while also maintaining a high level of comfort.
The staggered tread pattern can shed off water faster so you can still enjoy your ride even when traveling on wet highways.
This model has an H rating which means it can perform well at speeds up to 130 miles per hour. The 712 comes with a tough build which features a 4-ply nylon carcass and a tubeless design so you won’t have to spend money on inner tubes.
The improved lateral grooves offer better stability in various conditions so you get to travel safely and enjoy your cruises to the maximum.
As a front tire, this model from Shinko is great for the track and not only as it has a 100-mm width and 90 aspect ratio.
Not only people who enjoy riding as a sport will appreciate this front tire; it is comfortable at steady speeds and lets you increase your pace just as fine.
Created with a staggered tread pattern, the tire has garnered positive reviews due to its ability to shed off the water fast when traveling on a wet surface.
The tire has an H rating, which means that you shouldn't ride your bike at speeds higher than 130 mph, but that's still an excellent performance.
You will notice quickly the lateral grooves that are there for added stability.
If you intend to burn some rubber and hit high speeds, these tires won't last very long and will require a replacement fast.
10. Pirelli 180/55R17M/C Diablo Rosso Ii
The Pirelli Diablo Rosso II is one of the most versatile and sportiest models of the new generation of Rosso road tires. This rear tire comes with a 180-mm width and a 55 ratio, making it a superb choice for both long touring adventures as well as daily commuting.
This radial model is one of the most popular Pirelli motorcycle tires for riding in all kinds of conditions, including on the wet highway. Thanks to the Enhanced Patch Technology, this model provides an optimized contact patch, resulting in an improved grip. The Integrated Contour Shaping also contributes to the handling of the bike, especially at high lean angles.
The slick shoulder area boosts performance when cornering, giving the rider more confidence while also improving safety. The Functional Groove Design leads to a better response on wet surfaces. The 17-inch Diablo Rosso II comes with a ZR speed rating which makes it functional at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.
Whether you're a commuter or you just like riding, these Pirelli tires will grant you with excellent durability and reliability.
Pirelli is known for its sporty models, and these are no exception, as their 180-mm width and 55 ratio help with creating just the right grip, regardless of the surface you're riding on.
The Enhanced Patch Technology Pirelli is known for ensures that you will feel your bike grip the ground like you've never experienced with other tires.
Designed with the Integrated Contour Shaping, this model increases the handling of your motorcycle, and many users mention it in their reviews.
Its speed rating is ZR, which means that you'll be able to hit 150 mph without any troubles.
It appears that the lifespan of these tires is not as good as one might expect from a company with such an excellent reputation.
11. Dunlop D404 Tire
The Dunlop D404 front tire is one of those affordable models that is packed with features. This tire comes in the 16 inches variant, has a rating H which equals a maximum speed of 130 miles per hour, and it is an excellent choice for street riders. The bias construction ensures greater stability as well as an improved performance in different road conditions.
The D404 fits on street bikes and standard models, but it may also be quite a good choice as a vintage motorcycle tire. The tread compound balances grip and mileage so you get the best of both worlds without investing a fortune on a new tire. The tread patterns offer efficient water evacuation while considerably improving traction and grip on wet surfaces.
You get a tire that’s comfortable to ride in all kinds of conditions while also benefiting from an enhanced straight-line stability, thanks to the offset center groove. This model comes with a Black Wall sidewall style and Marauder fitment.
Street riders surely consider this model the best they could get in its price range, as it comes with more features and advantages than the competition.
As size matters, it must be said that these tires come in the 16-inch version, and they have a speed rating of H, which stands for a maximum speed limit of 130 mph.
The offset center groove ensures stability, and you will be glad that the model is designed like this, as you can decrease the risk of accidents usually associated with high speeds.
The Black Wall sidewall helps with increased stability, another safety feature you will be glad to have in your motorcycle setup.
Street bikes and standard motorcycles are a good fit for it, but you will also be happy to learn that it works as a choice for a vintage look.
In case track day comes for you more often than for other riders, you will discover that this model tends to wear off a bit too fast.
12. Duro HF319 Front/Rear
If you want an inexpensive tire to mount on your front wheel, then you should look no further than the Duro HF319. The great thing about this model isn’t just its really low price, but also the fact that it is made of tough compounds so you get extra protection from punctures.
This tire also comes with ingenious tread patterns to shed off water easier and offer a better grip on wet surfaces. This tire combines modern materials and technologies to ensure an enhanced mileage so you get an excellent value for the price. This model is great for street bikes, as well as vintage cruisers, offering increased functionality and flexibility every time.
The bias ply construction ensures a good performance and increases stability so you can safely take sharp turns or negotiate difficult terrain. The HF319 comes with a black sidewall and it is a tube type tire so you’ll need to get inner tubes as well.
If you're looking for tires that resist punctures and other troubles when on a long ride, look no farther than this model that is made from durable materials to sustain a lot of wear and tear.
Vintage cruisers and street bikes work well with this model, so you might not expect it to do great for racing, but otherwise, it's a solid choice.
Its bias-ply construction will make sure that your bike remains stable, and that means that you will enjoy a worry-free trip, as well.
On a wet surface, this tire will behave beautifully, as its innovative thread pattern will shed off the water quickly.
Excellent grip makes this model stand out from the rest that promise the same thing.
Since this model is quite cheap, there might be some worry that they will wear out pretty fast; however, their economical price makes them easy to replace.
13. ProTrax PT1010 Motocross
The ProTrax PT1010 is a rugged tire that’s perfect for off-road adventures. With a solid construction and durable materials, this tire will help you dominate any kind of terrain. However, you will obtain the best results on soft to intermediate terrain. You get an amazing value for the price and enjoy a superior performance for the fraction of the cost of some high-end models.
This tire comes with a modern design that balances traction with durability so you can benefit from an increased mileage out of it while also being able to maintain a very good grip on off-road surfaces. This tire is suited to mini or mid-sized dirt bikes, and it has a diameter of 16 inches.
Thanks to the stiff 4-ply construction, you get extra protection against punctures so you won’t risk having your exciting trail experiences spoiled by a flat tire. The knob spacing minimizes mud build-up and helps the tire through bogs and other wet conditions.
Just a look at these tires will tell you that they are made to perform at their maximum efficiency once you go off the beaten track.
That said, you might not feel tempted to ride on a motorcycle equipped with them when you are in a town or on the interstate, as their performance shines on soft to intermediate terrain.
With a 16-inch width, this model is created for you to enjoy if your favorite sport is biking on challenging trails and terrain.
Due to the 4-ply construction, you don't have to worry that much about punctures, another great plus for this model.
Also, the knob spacing ensures that mud won't get stuck in the tread pattern so that your motorcycle will be easy to clean.
Some might consider this tire pretty expensive for their budgets, given its limited usability and application.
14. Kenda K760 Dual/Enduro
The Kenda K760 Dual/Enduro is a 14-inch diameter tire that’s designed for all sorts of off-trail adventures. You get a sturdy construction as well as great performance and value considering the low cost of this model. You can be confident when hitting the trail, knowing that this tire offers an enhanced grip and traction on many types of surfaces for maximum enjoyment.
This tire is legal for highway use so you won’t only be limited to wild areas, and neither will you need to haul your bike to and from your favorite off-road locations with a truck. The K760 is meant to be used predominantly off the road, although you’ll still get a decent mileage and performance on the highway.
The carcass benefits from a strong 6-ply construction while the aggressive knobs will bite the dirt and improve performance. You also get a stiff bead and sidewall which enhances stability and offers better control when cornering.
If you want tires that are designed for off-trail rides, you should opt for the Kenda K760 Dual/Enduro, as it is a model that will indeed endure through the trials and tribulations of such adventures.
Grip and traction are two things that make this tire stand out from the rest of the competition, as any ride with your dirt bike will be more comfortable, no matter the challenges ahead.
An exciting aspect of this tire is that it's also street legal, so not only for the type of sport mentioned earlier.
You can rest assured that the robust 6-ply construction will resist punctures and other damages, something that increases the lifespan of this tire.
It appears that if you tend to use this type of tire on paved roads, the thread will start wearing off quickly, as it is still made for off-road use.
This Year’s Buying Guide
If you’re trying to find the best motorbike tires, there are several things you should take into account to make sure that you make the right purchase. Especially if this is the first time, trying to find a tire replacement or upgrade might seem quite difficult, especially considering the wide selection of models present on the market.
Here are a few things you might wish to know about tires which could help you perform a comprehensive motorcycle tires comparison so you can select the very best one to suit your needs, ride style, and budget.
Tube type or tubeless?
One of the first questions you might ask yourself when looking for the best tires for motorcycle is whether to go for a tubeless or tube type model. In modern times, the popularity of tubeless tires has far surpassed that of their older counterparts. This is because of the stiffer and stronger design of tubeless variants.
A tubeless tire comes with the advantage of being able to run cooler, which in turn means that it offers a better overall performance, as well as increased mileage. In case of a puncture, a tubeless tire will deflate much slower than a tube type variant, posing a decreased risk of losing control of the motorcycle.
You can also run at a lower pressure with a tubeless than a tube tire, benefiting from improved cornering and braking. However, you should definitely not dismiss the idea of getting a tube type tire. Tubeless motorcycle tires for sale tend to offer a more supple ride, and you get to fix flats easier in the long run.
With a tubeless tire, you can patch up a puncture with an external plug in an emergency, but many experts advise against trying to repair a damaged tire. You can use an internal plug and patch, although you’d best hire a professional for the job. With a tube type, despite the hard work, you can simply replace the inner tube with a new one, or patch it up in case of an emergency.
When it comes to good motorcycle tires, many tube type models also tend to be much cheaper nowadays so you can expect to save quite a bit of money. However, you should only use the same type of tire the motorcycle initially came equipped with. (interested about more moto products?? Check out our article on oil filters for motorcycles)
Radial vs bias
When choosing a proper tire for your motorcycle, you should also make a choice between going for a radial tire or a bias type. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. With a radial tire, the sidewall flex won’t be transmitted to the tread so that the motorcycle can actually transfer a lot more power to the road, leading to increased performance.
With a radial tire, you also benefit from a lower fuel consumption so you can save more money on gas. This tire exhibits less compaction and thus is less susceptible to damage and wear. You also get better shock absorption and comfort, especially during long rides, which can really be a rear saver. Radial tires are capable of offering better traction than their older counterparts.
However, bias-ply tires are also good in certain activities, and they’re actually better for things such as touring. Due to their heavier sidewall construction, these are more sturdy and better able to handle a heavy touring bike that’s stuffed with all sorts of supplies. Many riders also feel more confident riding on bias-ply tires, especially when on heavier motorcycles.
If you enjoy vintage bikes that come with spoked wheels, then you actually need to get a bias-ply tire. This is because spoked wheels should only be used with tube type tires, and radials shouldn’t be used with an inner tube. Some cruisers such as models from Harley-Davidson use bias-ply tires, or sometimes in combination with a radial tire.
Deciphering the sidewall code to get the right tire
If you’re getting your first tire replacement, then you definitely need to learn what all those numbers and letters that you see on the sidewall of a tire mean. The first number tells you the tire width in its widest section. The next number is the aspect ratio between the height and the width of the tire, expressed in percentages.
You should make sure that you choose the right tire for your needs. For example, rear tires need to be wider than front tires, while street variants are certainly going to be wider and have lower aspect ratios than enduro tires.
You might also see a letter next to the aspect ratio, which can be an R or a B, corresponding to radial or bias-ply. The 3rd number indicates the rim diameter, where a 17 would mean the tire is to be used with a 17-inch wheel.
The last number on the sidewall is the load index which expresses the maximum load supported by the tire, with a capacity in pounds. You must check a chart to see the exact value. The last letter on the sidewall is the speed rating, where an H corresponds to a maximum speed of 130 miles per hour, while a W indicates a top speed of 168mph.
How much should you spend?
Depending on the type of motorcycle you’re riding and your specific needs, you might get by with an inexpensive mode, or you could look at spending over 100 bucks for one tire. For example, you can get one of the decent cheap motorcycle tires for the normal road for several dozen dollars, while a quality track tire would cost nearly 200 bucks, if not more.
What’s important is to decide what you want most from the tire. Your specific needs should dictate your choice and not the price of motorcycle tires, where you choose the most expensive model you can afford. Make sure you get the proper type and balance performance with mileage and cost so you get the perfect buy to give you enjoyable rides while saving money.
While motorcycles are a passion for many people, not all of them have had the time or desire to actually get to know these amazing machines from a mechanical point of view. Because we feel this is something that should be taken much more seriously, especially when talking about motorcycle tires, we figured we’d point out some basic information about this subject.
A good rider will always take into account the way he or she likes the tire pressure to be and whether the usual riding environment has humid or dry conditions. Being honest about your intents and abilities will lead to you choosing the best tire possible and, most important of all, being safe when on your motorcycle.
Planning on spending some adrenaline-filled hours on a track day should also see you checking for the right tires so you’ll get to enjoy it to the maximum.
When you’re out there on the road and something gets damaged, you’ll feel much better if you also know something other than just your tire manufacturer. Furthermore, making a good decision when purchasing these items is all about understanding yourself and the way you ride so that you can choose the tire that’s most adequate for you.
Basic tire terms
Tread – The most simple part of the tire, as this is the one you actually see hitting the road and the part most people think about when using the word “tire”. A rule of thumb would imply that a smoother tread works better on dry surfaces while the bigger, bulkier tires tend to be better in off-road conditions.
You can also find some street tread patterns that are designed to enhance your riding experience in a variety of different situations, ranging from dry conditions to hard-packed dirt to wet roads or even sand.
Bead – This is the tire part that is stuck to the wheel in order to achieve the desired effect. You will generally see it as being a steel wire that is covered heavily in rubber. To prevent the wheel from accidentally slipping during the rotation of the tire, the bead has a snug fit to it.
Carcass – In layman’s terms, the carcass is exactly what you would think it is upon first hearing it. Think of it as the “body” of the tire that is found under the tread. As we said, motorcycle tires will typically be bias-ply or radial. In simple terms, this refers to the manner in which the tire is constructed by the manufacturer.
Just to make sure you got it, radial tires are the ones that come with reinforcing belts (and the reinforcing is almost always done by steel) that run from bead to bead across the tread of the entire tire. See? How much better is it now that you know what the actual terms mean?
Bias-ply tires, on the other hand, also have belts but theirs are usually made of strong, durable fiber such as polyester, fiberglass, or aramid. These too run from bead to bead at an angle of about 30 to 40 degrees so that’s the bias that gives them their name!
Sidewall – Last but not least, the sidewall can be described as the area of the tire that’s there to bridge the tread and the bead. While physically it is a small part of the entire product, it’s vitally important for the way the entire thing works.
The sidewall is essential for allowing the tire to uphold much of its handling and load transfer characteristics. In fact, this is the part that we talk about when referencing things like height, aspect ratio, or profile. Usually, the shorter the sidewall, the stiffer it will be so it will tend to flex less. The tire pressure also dictates how much it can flex.
For a rider, this leads to better handling and turning of the motorcycle but also a worse experience when it comes to bump absorption and the actual mounting of the bike. This section is paramount in contributing to the tire’s role in the suspension because yes, you’ve heard it correctly, the tire is a suspension component!
Some questions you might have
With all this new information, it’s possible you may have some questions about it so we thought we’d try to clear some things out.
For instance, a question we often hear is about the possibility of mixing radial and bias-ply tires or even switching from one to the other. While every rider definitely has its own opinion and experience and has the right to form judgments starting from that, we recommend sticking with what the manufacturer recommended in regards to the tire’s construction type.
Generally speaking, radial tires offer lower temperatures and less flex which will, in return, lead to a longer life for the tire. On the other hand, bias-ply ones deliver a softer, less bumpy ride, and will also come with a lower price tag. Furthermore, you’ll also notice their bigger load-carrying capability.
A fun fact, though, is that some tire manufacturers actually use a mix of radial rear and bias front as the factory setup for their products.
Another question that seems to pop up often among rookies is about the potential of ruining their track day by reusing old tubes with a new tire. We wouldn’t usually recommend that because tubeless tires see the valve stem replaced at pretty much every tire swap. When you have an inner tube, the valve is built right into it and it hardens with every heat cycle.
As a result, it’s going from cold to hot and back to cold again every time you ride your motorcycle and, since it’s rubber, it will turn brittle over time and it’ll be prone to cracking which may lead to accidents. Bottom line, follow the lead of your tire manufacturer and change the tubes with the tires every time.
Frequently asked questions about motorcycle tires
Q: Can a motorcycle tire be repaired?
If you have a tube type tire, then you can repair it by replacing the inner tube or at least by patching it. With tubeless tires, things are trickier. Most manufacturers don’t recommend it, but you can use an external plug for an emergency fix, and then an internal plug and patch for a somewhat permanent repair.
It’s true that you need to be careful when it comes to motorcycle tires, mainly because if anything goes wrong, you don’t have the same level of protection as you would when driving a car. On the other hand, while tire manufacturers do make recommendations that you need to keep in mind in order to enjoy a smooth ride every time, there are situations in which you cannot avoid having to fix a tire.
If you are in the middle of nowhere and this needs to get done, there’s not much that you can do about it other than fixing the tire. In case you are used to such a task, it’s a good idea to carry a repair kit with you, especially if you ride in both wet and dry conditions.
On the other hand, if you are not sure how to repair motorcycle tires on your own, it’s always a good idea to leave this to an expert.
Q: Can a rear motorcycle tire be used on the front?
While some riders have successfully managed to use a rear tire on the front wheel, many experts advise against it. This is because most tires are made specifically for the front or rear, and since they serve different functions, they have different characteristics which make them unsuitable for working properly in the wrong position.
It’s important to know what kind of front and rear tires you are using on your bike and whether there’s a difference between them before making any decision to switch them. In many cases, the rear tires come with different characteristics because they need to withstand stronger forces, but this depends on the type of motorcycle you are riding as well.
However, most tire manufacturers do design front and rear tires with different treads and sometimes even different types of rubber compounds in order to ensure superior results, so you need to make sure that any plan of switching the two can work and that you remain safe while riding.
Since we’ve mentioned treads, they are particularly important when riding in wet conditions, because they need to spin in the right direction in order to effectively clear the water away for the tire to adhere to the pavement.
Q: What do motorcycle tire numbers mean?
The first number shows the width of the tire or the section width. The second number shows the aspect ratio between the height and width of the tire, expressed in percentages. The 3rd number is the rim diameter, while the 4th number gives you the load rating. Finally, the last letter in the code is the speed rating of the tire.
Motorcycle tires need to be able to perform in all sorts of road conditions, both wet and dry, which is why you need to be extra careful when it comes to choosing the right ones for your bike. You want to take a close look at the numbers marked on them to make sure that they can perform the way they are supposed to and, thus, ensure your safety.
This goes especially for rear tires, given that they need to sustain higher forces while riding, so it’s a good idea to look at these numbers and also at the rubber compound used for their construction, no matter if you usually ride in dry conditions.
In most cases, this is somewhat stronger in order to prevent the tire from wearing out much faster than the other one, which means that you will be able to enjoy a safe and smooth ride every time you take out your motorcycle.
Q: What are good motorcycle tire brands?
There are quite a few brands of motorcycle tires manufacturing durable models that offer superior performance. However, the best tire is the one that is perfectly suited for your motorcycle and ride style. You can go for a street or cruiser tire, or pick one of the grittier enduro tires that suit your needs and budget.
On the other hand, it’s true that you should take a look at the manufacturer when you choose new motorcycle tires, especially if you want to use your bike for a more intense type of riding, or if you want to participate in competitions.
Since good tires perform well in both wet and dry terrain, those made by well-known brands usually come with all sorts of particular characteristics. For instance, the rubber compound used may be different, depending on the type of tires you choose, and the treads should be specially adapted for front and rear tires.
This way, even if you need to adapt to wet conditions, the tires can effectively adhere to the pavement, while keeping you safe. If you want to make sure that you choose the right motorcycle tires for a certain activity, don’t hesitate to ask other riders for advice as well, as this way, you can make sure that you enjoy a smooth ride in both wet and dry conditions.
Q: When to change a motorcycle tire?
A tire doesn’t need to get completely bald to need a replacement. If your model has a wear bar, check if it has become flush with the tread. Any cracks, ruptures, cuts, inexplicable pressure loss or just the feeling that the tire is old should get you to buy a new tire.
No matter if you usually ride in dry conditions and for short distances, you should always make sure that your motorcycle tires are in good shape. This is a safety matter, so it’s not one you should overlook. Of course, if you often ride in wet conditions, then this is even more important because, otherwise, the tire might not ensure your stability in certain situations.
The rubber compound matters as well, especially when it comes to the tire’s lifespan. Therefore, you want to go for a high-rated option for your motorcycle and then make sure that you check on both tires constantly to see if there’s any sign that they need to be replaced. Motorcycle tires can be damaged even if you are not using your bike too often, so keep this in mind as well.
If you haven’t taken your motorcycle out of the garage for a while, but you want to go for a longer trip that includes wet and dry terrain, you surely need to check the tires beforehand.
Q: What are motorcycle tire warmers for?
Motorcycle tire warmers are a great addition to your arsenal if you often ride on racing tracks. These are actually the equivalent of electric blankets, and they will warm the rubber of the tires to operating temperatures. If you only ride on normal roads, you might not need these as the tires will get warm after a few miles.
However, if you are thinking about using your bike for competitions, then you need to think about getting the motorcycle tires in top shape, and using warmers is a great way to do so, especially if you ride in dry conditions.
It’s true that when it comes to bike riding and enjoying a smooth ride, it’s important to take into account the weather you are going to ride in, especially if you expect wet conditions. On the other hand, using warmers is not mandatory if you simply want to enjoy a long ride in dry conditions, in your own free time.
These are a fine addition for those riders who need to obtain a certain level of performance in a short amount of time, usually for competition purposes. Therefore, if you are not sure whether your motorcycle tires need warmers, chances are that they probably don’t.
If you're looking for high-quality tires for your motorcycle, the name Continental will pop up more often then not. A company with a long-standing tradition in making automotive parts, including gear for racing bikes, it is known to provide fantastic quality at the right price.
Continental has its headquarters in Hannover, Germany, and it's considered one of the best in the industry. Initially a rubber manufacturer that started its operation in 1871, it has evolved tremendously since its humble beginnings. Many reviews praise it for its excellent products, and the tire options offered for various bikes are outstanding.
When it comes to getting a new set of tires, Continental’s name will always be right up there in your list of choices. The versatility and durability of their products have ensured that the company’s name stays at the top, while the fact that they offer both original and replacement tires have only added to the fact that they can cover pretty much any need of a commuter.
If you’re thinking of going for something that’s middle-tier in regards to pricing then you’re looking at the right player on the market because while not as cheap as brands like Cooper or Douglas, you can still get Continental tires at a decent price but with a significant upswing in quality.
So, if safety and quality are important elements for you but you don’t want to break the bank, rest assured that you’ve found just the company to cater to your every need in regards to tires.
The French company is one of the best manufacturers of tires, on par with Pirelli, and a few select others. What started as a rubber factory by two brothers sharing the name Michelin, has grown over the years to become one of the leading manufacturers of such parts for motorcycles and not only.
Important innovations, such as the radial tire, were brought to the world by Michelin, so the brand deserves all the praises and positive reviews offered by users and critics alike. Many wouldn't go for a track day adventure without equipping their bikes with Michelin gear.
The Michelin Man has long been of the premier symbols in the world of tires and it certainly does not seem as he is going anywhere anytime soon. Innovating the radial tire is only part of the company’s huge success. Michelin has managed to continue breaking the barriers due to the fact that the customer always comes first, no matter what.
In a world of mechanical items and rubber accessories, it can be easy to let slip the fact that at the end of the day, it’s still a business about people and what they want. Michelin never forgot that and a mere look at their reviews will show how happy their customers are in regard to the manner of resolving any problem that they might have.
As a result, they have managed to not only acquire a base of customers but also be able to proudly stand behind their products since they represent high standards of quality.
Another manufacturer included in the list of the best manufacturers of tires in the world, Dunlop is the British contribution to this market. Although its headquarters is located in Ohio, United States, its beginnings go back to the year 1889 when John Boyd Dunlop founded it in Birmingham, England.
Many bikes on the road right now run on Dunlop tires, and they are great for racing, commuting, off-trail adventures, and so on. Their versatility recommends them, and the manufacturer creates many various versions any rider can try. Today, Dunlop operates in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Even though it’s now based in the United States of America, Dunlop is Britain’s contribution to the tire market and it stands by its heritage by offering tremendous versatility when it comes to the choice of products for any potential customer.
Over the years, Dunlop has not only been a steady name at the top of the food chain but has gotten into the habit of surprising riders by exceeding their expectations. For instance, the company managed to win a lot of popularity points when it released the new Sportmax Q2 product and fans quickly noticed it was an amazing product that required no warm-up time.
As an obvious consequence of the trust and confidence delivered to the customers, Dunlop now operates on 4 continents and has no plans to slow things down any time soon so take this into account when deciding on your next batch of tires.
A newer company than the rest mentioned so far, Kenda has its headquarters in Taiwan. The manufacturer makes tires not only for motorcycles, but also for bicycles, ATVs, and other street vehicles. It also has factories in mainland China and Vietnam, which provide Kenda gear to the international market.
While it may not be considered the best when compared to the big names mentioned earlier, you will find many reviews that praise the qualities of the products Kenda makes. It should also be said that Kenda supports humanitarian causes, as well as sports teams, such as a cycling team and a racing team.
While definitely a newer name on the market if we compare it to the other big brands, Kenda is rapidly gaining ground due to the company’s mission in regards to the customers it targets. Any value-conscious owner on a tight budget will definitely take a look at Kenda’s products because replacing an entire set of tires may just not cost an arm and a leg with a little luck.
If you know where to look, and that is, obviously, on Kenda’s page, you’ll notice that the company aims to deliver to people with regular-level vehicles that don’t need luxury tires. As a result, any enterprising business that took advantage of this niche was bound to shine, exactly like Kenda is doing now.
While not known for premier tires like the rest of the gang, there’s definitely a need on the market for what the company offers so success is already there for the taking.