The tires of a motorcycle are the most important components of it because these are the only elements which connect the bike to the road. No matter how powerful the engine is or how effective the brakes, if the tires are of a poor quality, they won’t provide a comfortable ride. Their wonky performance will be a greater headache for riders.
Good tires are not only of paramount importance for the confidence of riders, but they also ensure safety as well. They need to be sturdy and competent enough for grappling with changing conditions and multitude of forces which influence them during the ride. A low quality tire is therefore highly non-reliable and might lead to a situation where bikers are left stranded by the side of a road.
Prudence requires that motorcycle riders make an investment of both time and money while selecting tires. To help ease their search, we have done an extensive research of the market and have come out with the 10 best motorcycles tires along with their features and pros/cons. We have also included a buying guide describing features that one should look for in a motorcycle tire.
Buying Guide – Best Motorcycle Tires 2019
Place the most uncompromised, well researched, suitable rubber on the road and your bike will be unrecognizable. How well your bike keeps up with your use depends upon the tires you choose to equip it with. I have seen two types of buyers. Some are brand loyalists to an unmatchable limit, while others are more into experimenting with all the options available. Whichever category a rider fits best in, he must know that his life is the biggest asset and safety is the first and foremost concern. Choosing the right tires for your motorcycle is therefore vital.
The riding style of every individual differs. Therefore, the tires bought should be such as to compliment that style perfectly. Some people love going on long rides. For them, touring motorcycle tires do the job of covering all those miles.
Riders on the creative side see dual sport motorcycle tires as their thing, so that they can enjoy unrestricted rides. To others, speed is the most superior asset of their motorcycle. The sport bike tires that they purchase need to serve their purpose efficiently with a calm response to vigorous speeds and road irregularities.
This buying guide is crafted after doing many tests over a considerable number of products, so as to give you a clear idea about which choice to make. These tests were carried out by professionals. We have given coverage to all sorts of requirements so that you can find this guide helpful no matter what type of a rider you are.
There are certain aspects and features regarding tires that ought to be considered by all customers who want to purchase either new tires for their bikes or want to replace their worn-out stuff.
These points are discussed below:
Tube or tube less?
The first point that is worth considering is either one needs a tube tire or tube-less. Tubeless tires have become immensely popular in modern times, because of their stiffer and stronger builds. One important feature of these tires for which they are preferred over their counterparts is that they withstand punctures for a longer duration because they deflate slowly. Also, they get fixed more tightly to the rim as compared to tube tires, and therefore are much safer when you are whizzing down the road.
Tube tires on the other hand need specialized equipment to get them off the rim to fix a puncture. Many tube tires are now coming with cheaper price tags and going for them may also save quite a bit of money, but we will suggest purchasing the OEM tires which were provided by manufacturers initially.
There are different types of tires and bikers should select the one that matches their specific requirements. For this, they need to figure out the tire that satisfies their maximum needs.
If a person owns a cruiser bike, thick tires are what suit him best. This is because these bikes are supposed to cover long distances, and the tires should be strong enough to endure all the wear and tear that comes along.
Tires for a street bike need to be durable too because they need to pull the double duty of covering long distances and doing so with speed. The treads should have channels to hinder water interruptions.
Dual sport tires are for adventurers who like discovering every sort of terrain. They need to calculate the use of their bikes on each kind of surface, on and off road (dirt). ADV has a ratio of 40% street/60% dirt, which tells about the proportions of time that they have the capability to be used on a particular surface.
Radial VS bias-ply:
The other dilemma for the tire purchasers is to select radial or bias-ply. The radial tire is constructed with steel belts that run at 90-degree angle at tread center line. The bias–ply tires on the other hand, are made of nylon belts that run at a 30 to 45-degree angle at central line of tread.
The tread life of radial tires is improved because they are provided with discrete plies for the sidewalls and tread. This in turn, increases the area of contact between the surface and the tread. The same reason helps in hardening the grip while cornering. Speed riding with such tires automatically means a more comfortable ride as the soft sidewalls are made to take in and fight back the unevenness of the road surface.
Therefore, if a stable ride at high speeds is what one prefers, we will suggest putting the money in radial tires. But, if you’re into moderate speeds, bias-ply tires are a better option. At the cost of a shorter tread life, they can take more weight loaded on them. Radial tires entertain sporty purposes better. They support rides at ZR speed ratings, above 150 mph.
Most people who lack technical literacy tend to prefer tires with a large size for their motorcycles. They think half of their issue is resolved when the tire size is big enough. This is definitely not the case. Every vehicle is designed with precise requirement for every part.
The size of the tire should be just what the manufacturer wants it to be. Buying otherwise will create a lot of trouble for the rider. Plenty of times people tend to install a wider tire without paying heed to the consequences.
They put it on the back side of the motorcycle. This enlarges the contact patch area to more than the required amount that should give a soft and smooth cornering because of increased friction losses. The larger tire lacks the ideal roundedness and affects the bike’s transmission negatively. Also, getting a rim replaced with a wider size is not a solution as then the belt and drive gear will require replacement too to be complaint with the tire.
A few individuals look for tread patterns on the tires to get a hint of the road grip it is going to have. This concept does make some sense. A better hold on the road comes from deeper grooves and larger treads, according to many.
Contradicting this viewpoint is the idea that these tread patterns as nothing but beautifying objects engraved on the tires. Let me tell you the right interpretation of these patterns. Having bigger tread blocks on the tires means providing a channel for the water on wet surfaces so as to compensate for the decreased friction. They help a lot during rainy seasons, but on dry roads they come in between the tire and the road, thus decreasing the contact patch. This contributes towards a weaker grip.
Therefore, depending on what type of road you travel most, you need to make your own decision. Other than that, it is important to realize that most of the part in having a good grip on road is played by the build material of the tire rather than the size of the grooves.
A soft material will make sure the grip is tight, especially in hot weather, as it will tend to become sticky due to raised heat. This will also mean that it will not survive for very long and wear out fast. The opposite goes for tires built from a harder compound. Therefore, the choice has to be made on what the pocket allows one to do.
The written data on the wall:
The specifications of the tire are encrypted on the side wall of the tire. It might be in metric or in the alphanumeric form. Let me give you an example on a metric spec, so that you can understand better. If 170/90 R15 67 W is what is written on the side wall, it means the tire is 170 mm wide. This is referred to as section width. Then there is a dual digit number after the slash mark. This represents the aspect ratio of that tire size. So, in our example, the height of the tire makes 90 percent of its width.
There is a direct relation between the size of the sidewall of the tire and the aspect ratio. Next information is about the construction of the tire. Radial is abbreviated here as ‘R’, giving the information that the layers are arranged radially across the tire. If the tire was of bias size, this letter would be replaced with ‘B’. 15 is the diameter data of the tire. It is measured in inches.
The following two digits speak for the load index of the tire. In the case of the example I have mentioned, the 67 identifies the potential of the tire to bear a load of 661 approximately pounds, when the inflation is proper. The last information is about the speed rating of the tire, represented by a letter.
Established in kilometers per hour, the speed ratings tell you the compatibility of the tire according to the top speed of a vehicle they are going to be loaded on. The ‘W’ relates to a good rating for the tire’s performance for a maximum speed of 168 miles per hour. This is vital information to have prior to making your purchase for the ‘right’ tires so as to get the most out of them when you are on the maximum acceleration limit of your vehicle.
It is easy to crack the code to know what is inside a tire and about its sizes. The born-on date is another piece of information that manufacturers often mention on the tire which is indicative of its manufacturing date. These are very simple to read based on four digits only. The first two speak of the number of week and the next two of the year it was made in. You might also find abbreviated particulars provided by some companies like ‘WW’ designated for white walls.
You purchase tire for longevity. This involves a reasonably good amount of spending and you definitely will not want the tires which do not last long enough to justify their cost.
Tire manufacturing companies have often sacrificed grip for better mileage, because they use harder compounds for this purpose. Some of the premium brands overcome this problem by incorporating multi-compound formulation and a harder material strip in the center of the tire for increasing straight-line mileage.
The threat of a punctured tire is one of the biggest problems a motorcyclist fears. This is not only because of unnecessary time wastage but also because of the loss of momentum as well.
The tires offer different level of puncture protection. Generally, manufacturers add an extra layer of material for tire to combat this evil. It is often called a puncture protection belt and is made of rubber or some specialized fabric.
The bikers should also check a tire for a higher TPI (threads per inch). As a rule of thumb, the higher the TPI, the better the grade of fabric used for making tire casing, which means a denser weave and a supple tire to withstand punctures for quite a while.
Final words for Buyers:
In the list of tires, we have gathered all the best quality products and broken them down for individual assessment. While all these have their own pros and cons, one should make a final purchasing decision on the basis of his individual and specific needs.
At the end of the day, the factors that matter most is whether you want tires for high performance sports motorbikes, larger horse power motorbikes or just for daily commuting. Last but not the least, every buyer has his own budgetary constraints and therefore they should first make their needs assessment and then select a tire set that satisfies the most requirements including the price.
1. Continental motion tire set 120/70 Zr 17 & 180/55 Zr 17 rear – Best Value for the price:
These sport touring radial tires are for all-seasons and feature high-end performance at quite an affordable price. They offer reliable feedback on both on dry and wet roads. Their cost/mileage ratio is very impressive on account of newly formulated polymers in the compound
The tires are very durable because of their modern force-oriented trade pattern steel belt construction on the rear tires. Riders enjoy a smooth ride and improved stability with these tires. The tires have an aggressive tread look which is liked by most people. They also have a great grip on corners and their overall grip is very predictable. This make them quite trustworthy and dependable.
These are great sports touring tires as well because of their high mileage and good traction. They are applauded by daily commuters and are a favorite choice among them. Their long life is evident from customer feedback who generally report that these tires remain in great shape and do not have any flat spots even after running for substantial usage.
On the downside, the tires are very sticky in summer but there have been some complaints from customers that they are a bit slippery in winter.
- The tires are durable, with great mileage.
- They have very strong grip for dry roads.
- It has a zero degree steel belt that gives smoothness and extra comfort.
- These are not so sticky in winter.
- The tires do not have good balance at very high speed.
These are great daily commuter tires on a sports bike with good grip and impressive mileage. An excellent pick, that offers real value for the price.
2. Michelin pilot power-120/70 Zr 17 & 180/55 Zr 17 – Best Confidence boosters Tire:
Are you searching for reliable and stable tires for your motorcycle that satisfy your biking needs as well? Well here they are! These Michelin Pilot Power tires are just made for you. These are designed for high performance sports bikes but are equally suitable for street or track use.
Both, the front and rear tires are made from synthetic rubber, derived from Moto GP tire technology. This formulation gives them strength to maintain a consistent performance even at advanced stages of wear and tear. The cornering grip of the tires is also very strong and gives a comfortable confidence to bikers.
These tires offer excellent grip at extreme lean angles and are super soft. Due to their strong grip which, comes from slick tread pattern, the tires are capable of taking any type of ground. Its superb slickness is compatible with speeding up at highways and dirt-filled roads. These are also very light-weight and thus are quite convenient to use.
The tires tend to show slackening performance at the higher speeds.
- They perform excellently in rain.
- These tires are fit for all kinds of routes in any weather condition.
- The performance level is not good at very high pace.
Overall, these tires are effortless. Their consistent high performance at almost all types of routes and firm grip on the road make them a highly reliable product which can be confidently recommended to all bikers.
3. Shinko 009 Raven front 120/70 Zr 17 – Best Budget tires:
The Shinko 009 Raven were designed as high performing tires to last longer and provide a great grip to riders. Customer reviews show how satisfied they are with the performance level of these tires. The best thing about these tires is that this performance comes at a very low price.
The tires last longer than many of their competitors and even after substantial use there are no signs of wear and tear. This durability is adored by commuters who don’t want tires that need to be replaced after being used for only few thousand kilometers. These are very sticky and hold corners quite well.
The tires are aramid belted which make them much cooler and since heat is the biggest enemy of tires they last longer. The aramid belts help in softening the ride, therefore the bikers attain an unmatched comfort level.
These are W-rated tires which is an approval for speed up to 168 mph (270 km/hr.) under optimal conditions. Tires with this rating fall under the category of ultra-high performance and fit for all season. Additionally, they are also DOT (Department of Transportation USA) approved. The tread life of these tires is the highest among all Shinko radial tires.
These are slow at warming up and before they warm enough they become somewhat slick.
- This is great bang for the buck.
- The tread pattern does extremely well on gravel.
- The tires have a high grip on both wet and dry roads.
- These take a while to warm up.
These are very good commuter tires at low price point. We recommend these tires for their longevity and traction.
4. Continental Motion Tire set 120/70 Zr 17 front and 190/50 Zr 17 rear – Great value with deep tread:
Are you one of those price conscious bikers who want to have quality tires for their motorcycles, which do not strain their pockets much? So here is one such product that is low in price and yet does not compromise on quality.
This sport touring motorcycle tire is supposed to be a product for an entry level rider, but the technology of continental deployed in making these tires have nothing of the entry level sort in it. The technology produces high-end radial tires with a performance level that cannot be beaten.
Their performance is good on both dry and wet roads. Talking about mileage, they provide consistent performance at substantial use without showing signs of wear and tear because of newly formulated polymers in the compound that deliver an excellent cost/mileage ratio.
The grip of these tires is pretty nice. Once warmed up, they catch the grip quite quickly. It is a W rated product and therefore can withstand high speed up to 168 m/hr.
- Its 0 degree steel belt construction ensures smooth ride and improved stability.
- The tires offer excellent value for money.
- The tires have smooth and linear roll-in on corners.
- These are not good for extreme lean angles.
These tires show an outstanding all-round performance. The package includes longevity, grip and great adhesion to asphalt combined at one place at a price affordable by majority of customers.
5. Full Bore Super Bike F2 Tire set – Great for sports motor bikes:
These tires are designed mainly for modern day sports motor bikes and take them to the next level. The very purpose of sports motor bikes is speed, nimbleness and acceleration. The full Bore causes all these three in a synchronized way.
Both novice and advanced riders enjoy exceptional handling and comfort featured by these quality tires. The tires literally make the riders care-free from winding roads and sharp corners. The tires are W rated for consistent performance at speed up to 168 miles/hour. So, whether someone is scraping pegs or commuting for work, the Full Bore offers great opportunities of riding with fun in both the conditions.
These tires are pretty sticky in both wet and dry conditions. These are well built and the high-quality rubber used in its construction makes it a radial tire that last longer than many competing products in the same price range. These tires, despite so many high-end features, are quite inexpensive.
There are no noticeable downsides for this product. However, few customers have reported that after 125 mph these start to shake.
- The tires offer superb handling and traction:
- The price is quite affordable.
- The tires have a solid grip in all weather conditions.
- Some customers report that after 125 mph it vibrates.
The tires offer great traction and control. The radial construction provides longevity. Overall, this is a great.
6. SHINKO 712 rear tire (130/90-16) – Great tread design in an affordable cost:
The Shinko 712 is for mileage according to what the manufacturers claim. And their claim is right! The customers seem more than satisfied about its longevity and report that even after substantial usage, the tires do not show any sign of wear and tear.
The tread pattern of the tires is stunning as it provides a superb wet weather performance, because tires neither skip, nor lose a bit of their grip on asphalt. No doubt its wet weather traction is great, but dry weather traction is also surprisingly very nice.
The price of these tires is another factor that attracts customers. These are comparatively cheaper than many similar products, despite featuring better performance.
These tires improve mileage, cornering and handling to a great extent. Even in the most climatic conditions these will be reliable companions of bikers and will provide a consistent performance. The tires are made with 4 ply nylon carcass that add to durability and make it withstand the tedious a wear and tear. The H rating of these tires ensures stable performance at speed up to 130 mph.
These tires are not good for hard riding therefore; performance of these tires is not so impressive for power cruises.
- These are economy priced tires with fantastic performance.
- They track well at free-way speeds.
- They offer good grip both dry and wet.
- The tires are not suitable for power cruisers.
The tread design and price are the biggest positives of these tires which make it unbeatable.
7. Michelin Pilot Power 2 CT Motor Cycle tire – The star performer:
These are awesome tires that provide versatility and quality combined in one package. The tires offer precise handling and an adhesive grip, thus enhancing the smoothness in your ride. The firmness in grip comes from the 20% soft rubber mix on the edges of the tread that results in amazing cornering grip.
The surface of the tread has been divided into three different areas. The 2CT (2 Compound Technology) features two different compounds, which enhance the performance level at lean angle up to 51.2 degree, measured on Michelin test track.
The dual compound is derived from MotoGP technology of the tire company, which has won 15 consecutive world GP championships.
This technology yields multiple benefits for the tires i.e. progressive acceleration, improved braking capability on wet surfaces and effective handling enabling bikers to ride on twisty roads at a speed exceeding 100 mph, confronting sharp turns and decent curves with great comfort.
The low price is a bonus. This combination of affordability and top-notch performance is a rare find in today’s market conditions.
The tires do have their downsides as well. While applying heavy brakes, the tires performance appears to be dwindling. These are also not suitable for motorcycles with bigger horsepower.
- The cornering grip is marvelous.
- Designed for track days at high speeds, but Michelin has intelligently made these as an everyday tire also.
- The price is very competitive.
- These are not ideal for heavier bikes with high horsepower.
- The performance in heavier braking conditions is not satisfactory.
These renowned radial tires are one of the best in the market. Though these were designed for demand sport bikers, the tires are great for street riding as well. Overall, they offer a great value for money.
8. Dunlop Harley Davidson D 402 Rear tire –Great touring tire
The D 402 is a tire that is co-branded by the Dunlop and Harley Davidson. This approved touring tire is built with a three ply-polyester casing with 2 fiber glass belts, providing it an unmatched durability. The superior construction enables the tires to carry greater loads.
The product is manufactured in USA, and undergoes rigorous Harley Davidson testing to ensure that they give top notch performance for touring bikes and cruiser models. These are the only approved tires by Harley Davidson for their touring bikes. These tires have a stiffer sidewall than others. The traction on wet roads is nice.
Having a terrific computer optimized tread profile with offset center groove; the tires boost the rider’s confidence over steel grated bridges and rain grooves.
The tires come with an H speed rating. The tires offer smooth ride plus decent handling. There are three versions available to meet the entire styling needs i.e. Wide White wall, black wall and white stripe.
For downsides, there are customers complain about its mileage that it is not good. If you are riding in wet conditions and need to apply heavy breaking, do it quite carefully, as there might be problems in that.
- The tires have awesome look.
- The tires are easy to clean.
- The fiber glass belts and 3 ply polyester casing gives it great stability.
- The tires do not do well in heavy braking conditions in wet.
- Some customers complain on the mileage.
These are fabulous tires from a trusted brand and are well-engineered and rigorously tested. They offer nice handling and good wear at great price.
9. Pit Posse PP 3126 Tire warmers – Better heat distribution and management:
To enrich the tires with a great heating process, they are run through a thermal imager to ensure that heat is evenly distributed. In this way each warmer can adjust a 1 degree downward or upward change in tire temperature within a range of 120-210 degrees.
The heating element has minimal gaps which ensure that a tire is completely heated.
The warmers are easy to use and the temperature can be easily seen via the digital gauge. The tires are set to proper temperature before they get on the race track. These fine tire warmers have a very reasonably affordable price and are a great bang for the bucks.
These are the best investment for every prudent rider before he gets to hi tracking days.
This is because that the tires are saved from a cold tire crash. They also give extra life to the tires as tires don’t get warm before carcass. The Pit Posse reduces the extent and amount of heat going through tires considerably thus providing extra dose of life.
- The quality is excellent for the price.
- The heat is evenly distributed.
- High or low temperature setting is possible for different conditions.
- There are no significant downsides.
This is very effective tire warmer, which offers the management of tire heating in a consistent manner that ensures even heat distribution across the tire for long lasting performance.
10. Pirelli Diablo Lasso iii 120/70 Zr 17 & 190/50 Zr 17 front & rear – Excellent at fast acceleration and hard Brakes:
The Diablo Lasso iii is the latest tires launched by Pirelli which is renowned for supplying spec tire for the world super bike championship. These are designed as street–intended sports tires. But thanks to their intelligent designing, they are capable of handling an occasional tire day as well.
These tires have a bigger shoulder radius and circumference (5% and 7% respectively). These improvements enhance the contact area at maximum lean and the bikers can roll in and out faster into a turn.
The rear tire is made 60% harder than the front. This results in dual benefits as the back offers stiffness while the front shows more bumps compliance. The tires were tested by braking hard for corners and the front showed firmness without any sign of giving up.
The belts of the tire carcass gradually stiffen from center to shoulders and result in enhanced bump compliance as well as much improved feedback in grip. The dual compound formulation with front having 100% silica and rear with harder 20% silica section in the center enhances durability.
On the downside, the rubber used in these tires is soft and thus ends fast, creating relatively shorter life span.
- The overall grip is excellent at all lean angles.
- The warm up is swift even in colder conditions.
- The tires show smoother bump compliance even on highway imperfections.
- The soft rubber used in these tires runs out fast.
The tires are crafted using Pirelli technology developed during world super bike championship. The tires offer unprecedented handling for new generation of sports motor bikes.
To select a best pick from the above-mentioned list is somewhat difficult because we have selected some of the best tires that have high-end features. Some tires highlight certain specific features relatively more than others. But there are still other examples which perform better at different aspects. This is a game of personal priorities because people tend to give more weightage to certain specs which stand higher in their needs. The budget also plays a vital role in selecting an appropriate product, and there are models, which are affordable yet offer great quality.
In light of the above factors, we present our pick on an overall performance criterion. Our choice #1 therefore is Michelin Pilot Power 2 CT Motor Cycle tire for its versatility, handling, grip, mileage and price.