Let’s point this thing out right from the start – the thing that affects the motorcycle performance the most are most certainly the tires. This is because the tires are the only thing that connects the power of your bike to the ground. It is very important that you find the best motorcycle tires you can for your ride.
Our Top 3 Picks
Not only that bad or worn out tires can give you poorer performance; they can also be extremely dangerous. This is one of the reasons why we made this buying guide and did the motorcycle tires reviews.
We choose the 10 of the best motorcycle tires and reviewed them for you, to save you some time and help you decide which ones to buy.
No matter what is your riding style the correct tires are what you need the most to make the best out of your ride. If you are replacing the old worn out tires or upgrading to enhance the performance, it is very important that you know what are the best motorcycle tires for your specific motorcycle and how to compare the specifications of the bike against the specifications of the tires.
Anatomy of a motorcycle tire
First of all, let’s see what the basic parts of every tire are.
- The tread is the part of the tire that we all can see on the outside. It’s the rubber part that meets the road. There are many different patterns on the tread depending on the type of the tire and its purpose.
- The carcass is the part that goes beneath the tread and it’s the backbone of the motorcycle tire. It’s made of steel cords or fiber cords which go from bias to bias. The tire can be bias or radial ply and this is the very important difference. Radial plies go directly from side to side, and the bias plies are utilized at an angle.
- Bead this is the part where the tire is mounted to the wheel. The bead has the steel cords placed in it to make a tight fit against the tire.
- Sidewall the part where the information about the tire is printed. But this is not the sole purpose of the sidewall. All of the load support and a lot of handling depend on the sidewall design.
Bias or radial
Traditional motorcycle tires were all bias ply. But as the motorcycles evolved so have tires. Nowadays you will mostly find the radial ply tires. This is because of the many advantages of this kind of design.
- Heat dissipation: Radial design displaces the heat much better and because of this the tires last significantly longer.
- Sidewall flexibility: The sidewalls on the radial ply tires are not as stiff as the sidewalls of the bias-ply tires. Because of this, the sidewalls can contour to the road much better.
But the bias ply tires are still around. The stiffer sidewalls do have some of the advantages. The lack of flexibility works great with the bikes that are made to carry passengers and luggage. So if you are riding a heavy cruiser the bias-ply tires are a better choice.
Now that we know all about the tire construction, let’s see how to decipher the sidewall data. Most of the information you need to know about the tire is molded directly into the sidewall. It can be in metric or alphanumeric.
In the case of the metric sidewall info, the first number represents the tire width at its widest point. The second number represents the tire height. Next, comes the letter which can be R or B and it refers to the construction type. R stands for radial and B for bias.
The third number that comes after the letter indicates the wheel size (the diameter of the wheel in inches). The last number stands for the load rating of the tire. It informs you about the maximum load capacity of the tire. And the letter that comes after the last number is for speed rating; for what speed the tire is suitable.
Alphanumeric is similar to metric. The difference is that there is always a letter M in the beginning which stands for “motorcycle”. The second letter represents the width. After that, we have the numbers for aspect ratio and wheel size and the last letter stands for load rating.
Stick with what comes with the bike
The simplest and probably the best option is to stick with the type of tires that come with the bike. Most of the motorcycles are designed for the specific size of the tire. Altering the size, ply style or any other specification can affect the handling and therefore make your bike unsafe.
The thing that people most often overlook is the air pressure. This is very important motorcycle maintenance. Over or under inflation can be extremely unsafe and can affect the handling and decrease the millage.
The middle section of the tire will wear faster if your tire is over-inflated and if it’s under inflated the side sections will wear disproportionally to the middle section.
To ensure the safety and longevity on the road, follow these few tips.
- Use pressure suggested on the sidewalls
- Add a little bit of pressure if you are carrying a passenger or a luggage
- Get a good gauge
- Always check pressure when the tire gets cold
- Check it frequently
Tube type tires
If your bike comes with a tube type tires, NEVER try to fit the tubeless tire on it. The wheel is not made for tubeless tires and it will never fit properly. This will cause the leakage.
Remember to always install a fresh tube whenever you’re changing the tire!
When to replace the tire
Remember this: THE TIRE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE BALD TO BE WORN OUT!
Most of the manufacturers put wear bars across the tread. The good time to replace the tire is when the wear bar is leveled with tread. If there are no wear bars on your tire you can test it by putting the penny in the tread. If the head of Honest Abe is partially covered you still have some life in the tire.
The age of the tire is also one of the factors to consider. The lifespan of your motorcycle tire should not be longer than five years.
Always check for cuts and punctures on the tire. If you see any it is time to change it.
If your tire is losing pressure rapidly it can be because your bead is worn out and because of that the tire is leaking air.
Sometimes you can feel that there is something wrong with the tire while you are riding. Any unnatural vibration or pulsation during the ride can be an indicator that there is something wrong with the tires.
Best Motorcycle tires reviewed in 2016
Now that you know when to replace the tire you can go ahead and buy the best motorcycle tires for your ride. To find the right pair that will suit your needs here are our reviews of the best motorcycle tires in 2016.
10. Metzeler M5 SPORTEC Street Sport Motorcycle Tire 120/70ZR17 58W
This particular tire offers a very high level of grip in both wet and dry conditions and it will provide you with an excellent mileage. There are five tension zones to enable you maximum control over the bike as well as the confidence and agility.
These tires have a superior performance and are great for city riding as well as for the canyon carving. High level of control while leaning is ensured by a new tension layout. The tires act as well on the street as they do on the track.
The wet traction is so great because of the new high silica formula in combination with the resin compounds. The tread pattern is designed that way that it’s optimized for high performance in all conditions.
The tires are very durable and you wouldn’t be able to tell if they were used at all even after many miles of road. They heat up very fast and grab the asphalt and there is almost no difference on the wet road.
- Extremely good grip
- Very durable
- Maximum control, confidence in all conditions and great agility
- Good in all conditions
- A bit expensive
9. Continental ContiMotion Sport/Touring Motorcycle Tire Rear 160/60-17
These tires are the Continental’s new all season sport touring radial tires with a very economical price. These are very popular economy tires on the market because unlike some of the economy tires utilizing yesterday’s technology, the Conti Motion uses the latest developments and knowledge.
This is a long lasting tire due to new special polymer compound and modern tread pattern. The force-oriented tread pattern features a solid tread strip down the center which increases mileage with deep treads extending to the sides for maximum water drainage.
The zero degree steel belt construction provides you with an excellent stability and a ride comfort because of the larger contact patch and high shock absorption.
These are the great tires for your bike if you are looking for a predictable tire to ride on safely in both wet and dry conditions. The grip on these is excellent. You just can’t get better for this price.
- Great in both wet and dry conditions
- Excellent stability and riding comfort
- You will get great mileage
- Force oriented tread pattern
- Great price
- Needs a bit of balancing
8. Shinko Raven 009 set 120/70zr17 Front and 180/55zr17 Rear
The Shinko Raven 009 is a high-performance radial that offers perfect riding comfort while its tread compound offers outstanding grip in all conditions. These tires were intended for long life with no compromise in traction and stability.
It guarantees the highest tread life than any other of Shinko’s sport performance tires. They are made long-lasting, high traction intermediate rubber compound enforced with Aramid belts to enhance high-speed performance and control.
The tire is W-speed rated at 168 mph. These tires will do the job and take you wherever you want to go. Additionally, the price is outstanding. The Shinko Raven 009 set will give you great mileage as they are very durable.
Once you break them in correctly while leaning on turns they will stick like glue. And there is no significant difference on the wet road. You might buy these tires because of the price, but you will be surprised how well made they are.
- Great grip on both wet and dry road
- DOT approved
- Excellent stability
- Highest tread life of any other Shinko sport radials
- They feel too firm sometimes
7. Dunlop D404 Tire
This is maybe the most popular metric touring/cruiser tire from Dunlop. It is a bias ply tire. That means that the ride is very soft and very comfortable. It’s excellent for heavy-weight metric cruising touring bikes. It has an excellent weight capacity and it will provide you with a smooth ride.
The tire heats up very quickly and it handles great in both dry and wet conditions and it fits all the metric cruisers. The center tread groove on the front tire is a continuous line and on the sides, you will notice the decent amount of tread grooves for water drainage.
The rear tire also features a lot of deep treads and even in the blocks there is a little bit of a siping going on. The sipes open up when the tire flexes in the corners giving you a bit more friction.
The tires are produced in many different sizes making them very popular as they fit many different bikes.
- Perfect for heavy metric cruising bikes
- Excellent weight capacity
- Great grip and tire siping
- Soft, comfortable, and smooth ride
- Not suitable for Harley Davidson bikes
6. Shinko 705 Series Dual Sport Tire
The Shinko 705 Dual Sport tires are great for those who are budget minded and put a value on a tire that will work well both on and off road. Shinko built these to be 80% designated for on road use and 20% off-road.
If you look at the tread pattern and how it’s designed you can tell how well it’s going to handle in different situations. For the street use the 705 gives you a nice round profile with a pretty decent land-sea ratio which means you have a good amount of rubber touching the road versus the tread grooves.
For off-road use, the 705 is a decent choice but the tire like this can fall short in softer off-road conditions like sand or mud. This is because of the lack of the knobs. Also, the tread tends to get filled with mud and basically turn your tire into a slick.
Additionally, you have a huge advantage in terms of tread life. Because you have a lot of rubber meeting the road instead of knobs that tend to wear out really fast on the pavement, this tire will last a lot longer than a more aggressive tire.
This is a perfect tire for anyone who is looking for a tire that is great on the street but it will also act greatly in off-road conditions.
- Excellent on the street and very good in off-road conditions
- Great grip
- Longer tread life
- The tread grooves tend to get filled with mud and turn it into slick in softer off-road conditions
5. Pirelli Diablo Rosso II Rear 180/55ZR17 Motorcycle tire
Diablo Rosso II is a tire for 17-inch wheels only. These are very versatile tires of Rosso Generation. This radial is perfect for riding in both dry and wet conditions.
The rear is dual compound. Most of the companies usually go with 50% of the harder compound in the middle and then 25-25 on the shoulders with the soft. The Rosso II is 75% of the harder compound in the middle and 12.5% of the soft on the sides. Because of this, when you lean the bike on the side you get the fantastic grip.
The tire is durable and it will give you quite a couple hundred miles per day while still keeping enough bite on the edge to keep you happy.
- High-grip compound on the shoulders and long life/mileage compound in the center
- Excellent in both wet and dry conditions
- Very durable
- Great profile for smooth transition
- Sticks like a glue
- A bit pricey
4. Bridgestone Exedra Max Front 90/90-21 Motorcycle Tire
Bridgestone Exedra Max tire is made of a special rubber compound that makes it ideal for cruisers and will give you excellent mileage. Wide tire profile is perfect for touring and reduces the fatigue.
This tubeless tire has an excellent grip in both wet and dry conditions and the tread pattern is designed for enhanced water evacuation. The ideal tread pattern also provides you with perfect rigidity and linear handling.
The contact area in the central section of the tire increases the traction and makes the tire more wear resistant.
Exedra is the most popular tire for Japanese cruisers because the design is based on years of experience and it is available in many different sizes and all three basic structures.
- Perfect for all Japanese cruisers
- Excellent grip in both wet and dry conditions
- Enhanced water evacuation tread pattern
- Long life
- No warranty
3. Continental Motion Tire Set 120/70ZR17 Front and 180/55ZR17 Rear
This is one of the best-selling sport touring tires in the North America. The Motion combines the German engineering and DNA through the entire tire for a high quality and affordable price.
It is designed for an excellent handling and feedback and an incredibly good grip in both wet and dry conditions. It features the 0-degree steel belt for high-speed stability and excellent shock absorption. The tendency to react to the road imperfection is reduced which gives you a smooth ride.
The tire has a large contact area and a round profile giving you both a high level of straight line stability and a sharp handling.
The wide strip at the center section provides you with increased traction and a longer tread life. The large tread grooves on the sides enhance the water drainage.
All of these features combined with a German technology give you a perfect sport touring tire.
- Affordable price
- Excellent handling
- High-speed stability and excellent shock absorption
- Longer tread life
- A bit too soft for some riders
2. Kenda Cruiser K671 Motorcycle Street Tire – 170/80H-15
K671 ST tire is a great choice for the owners of the smaller cruiser, touring or sport bikes. These tires are made of 6 ply construction which helps with durability. The tire can take the road abuse while still remaining flexible enough.
It has a wide contact patch providing you with a better handling, solid traction, better stability as well as the longer tread life. The aggressive tread design allows you to take on curves and bends with confidence because the tire sticks to the road.
The deep tread grooves enhance the water drainage in wet conditions giving you a superior traction.
The Kenda Cruiser K671 Motorcycle Street Tire have exceeded regulations from the National Highway Safety Administration and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and delivers incredible quality and safety.
- Can take the road abuse while remaining flexible
- Great handling, traction, and stability
- Long tread life
- Great in all conditions
- Needs a bit of balancing
1. Michelin Commander II Reinforced Motorcycle Tire Cruiser Front 130/90-16
The Commander II is specifically designed for the cruiser market. Whether your bike is metric or American, whether you have a bias or radial, these tires are proven to last twice as long as the competitors’.
The Michelin used an amplified density technology on these tires. The highly dense casing is more rigid than ever before, resulting in increased feedback and much better handling. Square wire beads are also used to improve the rigidity.
The unique longitudinal tread groove design disperses water very fast and as a result gives you more confidence while riding in wet conditions.
The tires are designed for long rides and long life. You will get such a great mileage from these that you will forget when you last changed the tires.
- Perfect for cruisers
- Amplified density technology
- Increased feedback and better handling
- Excellent in all conditions
- Long tread life
- Not so great traction