For many people, their bikes are their pride. Some choose to ride for pure fun and excitement, while others use it as a means of transportation. No matter the reason for your buying motorcycles, you will also need to have decent tires. The right tires can make life easier and most importantly, you are safer on the road as well.
Bike tires are in abundance when you consider availability. Numerous top brands will give you some of the best tires available, but the quality may vary. In this article, we have set out to find the top tires for your bike. We have tried to diversify the list to include tires for all bike types and riding conditions.
- Top 10 Best Motorcycle Tires 2020
- Guide to Buying the Best Motorcycle Tires
- Frequently Asked Questions
Motorcycle Tire Types
The biggest decision you need to make is the type of tire that you will choose. Depending on the conditions you are riding in and the use of the bike, you need the right tires. Since there are a whole host of different tire types available, we have selected the most important options. As a newcomer, you might find this interesting to read before buying:
One of the first tires you will find is the cruiser tire. These tires have been specifically designed for cruiser bikes. As we all know, the cruiser bike is the ultimate long-distance bike and it needs a tire that can work for these distances. When looking for these tires, durability will be one of the most important features.
The cruiser tires a little thicker than most of the other and they have more grips. They have been designed to use in all different weather conditions, while not regressing in quality as quickly. The bias-ply tires are some of the most common when it comes to cruiser bikes and they have plies added for more durability. They provide a less stiff ride while lasting longer in all weather conditions.
The radial tires are one of the most common options for those with street bikes. Street bikes are not made for extremely long distances, but occasionally, you will want to enjoy a longer trip. Since these tires are commonly used in the city streets, they have deeper channels, which many people might also consider the thread to keep the water out.
Since they have increased stiffness, the tires are much more responsive when you need to make sudden turns. Generally, they are much lighter than you bias-ply tires and this makes them ideal for keeping the bike light. Most people also use them for races in the street. However, we don’t recommend illegal street racing.
Dual Sports Tires
No matter what bike you have, the dual sports tires are some of the most versatile you can find. They are also referred to as ADV tires and can be used on a wide variety of different terrains. When selecting these tires, you will need to keep the ratio in mind. The ratio can be something like 40/60 for street and dirt. However, this will vary depending on the tire.
Aside from the incredible versatility that is provided by these tires, one of their main features is the additional traction that has been offered. Since you might end up in wet conditions, they are ideal for keeping you on the bike. We should mention that they are not always recommended for high speeds on the streets.
The final piece to the puzzle will be the traditional dirt of off-road tires. These tires tend to be a little slimmer than some of the others mentioned so far. However, they are also larger with more tread for better traction. Since the thread is also much deeper, the tire tends to have more grip on looser and wet surfaces.
They can also be used on things like pavement, but this is not recommended. Since the tires do have a lifespan dedicated to off-road racing, you might burn off some of the thread when they are used on street surfaces. As a rule of thumb, you should always ensure that you are using the tires on the right surfaces they were meant to be used on.
The tire type is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to important features. We have included a deeper buyer’s guide that will take you deeper into these specific features. However, the tires are easier to choose when you understand the tire-specific features. Here are our reviews of some of the best tires that are currently used:
Top 10 Best Motorcycle Tires 2020
One of the main features that the Michelin brand has been priding themselves son is the grip. These tires feel hard when you touch them, but around the sides, they are considered to be about 20% softer than most of the other brands. The benefit of this is more traction around the corners when you only use a small part of the tire.
The added softness can also remove some of the stiffness. While many pro riders would love the stiffness for a more responsive feel, the beginners can ride without risking potential falls due to driver errors. They are also softer, which means that they cannot always reach the top speeds of some harder tires.
Ideal For Racing:
The rubber compound that Michelin has incorporated does not take a long time to warm up. This means that one or even two practice laps around the track will ensure that it has been heated up. This does improve the traction and once they are warm, you will have much more control. Beginners don’t need to worry about maintaining high speeds to get them to grip.
All of this means that they are ideal for racing and should be used accordingly. Unfortunately, the tires are not made for gravel roads and they work best when used on paved roads that will ensure you get traction. On rough roads, the thread might wear down a little too fast, which does not bode well for the tires.
Michelin is one of those brands that we generally expect to see in the high-end of the price spectrum. While these tires have all the same high-end features, they are still affordable. The biggest downside is that the softer tire compound does make braking a little harder. You need to practice with them to find the ideal speeds and breaking times.
One of the main reasons that we have selected this tire is the overall durability that they offer. Since the tire is made for long rides, it can give you several thousands of miles in distance. While comparing them to some of the bigger names, we have included them since they rarely show any signs of weakness or regression.
One of the main reasons for this is the new thread pattern that the brand has been experimenting with. The thread is deeper than some of the others and this allows water to move freely between the thread of tires. Should you hit an off-road or dirt patch, they should also ensure that you have no issues with traction in these areas.
If you are going to buy a tire that will last you several thousand miles, the consistency also needs to be on point. Fortunately, the Metzeler Brand has been known for providing a lot of consistency over the lifespan of their tires. The tire we have selected is for the back of the bike, but the front tires are equally as impressive.
In all weather conditions, they seem to flourish and they can even allow you to ride at higher speeds than some of the other cruising tires. The tire is quite heavy and this keeps it firmly planted on the ground, while also allowing you to regulate your speeds a little more. No matter which speed you travel, they will be stable.
Since the tires from the brand look and feel like they have more attention paid to the detail of them, you will notice that they are slightly more expensive. However, this will be worth it in the long run when you don’t need to replace your tires. We would recommend them to some of the longer cruise riders in the world today.
The Ultimate Distance Tire:
The Commander II is not only a tire that has been made for cruising and it can take the battering of racing as well. One report suggested that these tires have logged around 1 million miles and this makes them some of the most durable. I have seen that cruise bikes really regard these tires as some of the very best.
While the test of 1 million has been done for testing, most people suggest that at high speeds, it can still hold out for around 30,000 miles without showing any signs of regression. However, this will depend on the speeds you are traveling and the terrain, but thousands of miles do seem like a real benefit to me.
Michelin is not only known for pouring all of their expertise into the quality or durability of the tires. They have also been the leader in modern technology and designing tires with all the new modern features. Since these tires do not have a lot of stiffness, they seem to improve the handling of the rider significantly.
Sure, they can be a little heavier than expected, but even if they are not as wide as some of the other cruising tires, they stick to the ground like glue. Since the thread pattern is not exceptionally deep, you might have some issues with water and many people have mentioned that they can be a little slippery in the wet.
No matter which list of best tires you prefer, you will always notice Michelin. They are one of the most recognized tires on the market today and they are not nearly as expensive as many of the other top brands. Sure, some can be expensive, but the Michelin Commander II Motorcycle Tires have a reasonable price tag.
The one thing that you might have noticed with most touring bikes is the amount of noise they make. While the engine does give off a lot of noise, the tires can also contribute to creating more noise that you will need to deal with. However, these tires have been created to help reduce the noise made by your tires.
While the exact reason for less noise is not known and probably kept as a secret by Bridgestone, the tire is made for cruising long distances. Due to the durability, the tires will never lose this ability to reduce some of the noise and you can actually have a conversation through your helmet if you have one with Bluetooth.
Since comfort is extremely important when we consider the quality of cruising with your bike, these tires are not as stiff and hard on the saddle. You might have a little less responsiveness, but for beginners, it can be really beneficial to not accidentally pull the whiskey throttle and damage the bike or the tires.
While they have been mainly designed for two bikes that already offer a ton of comfort in themselves, you can use them on other touring bikes as well. The benefits will be incredible, but you might need some professional assistance to ensure the tires have been mounted correctly and modification made if needed.
Aside from being backed by one of the biggest brands in the world, you will get many smaller features that include traction and durability. However, all of this will come at a price and these are some of the more expensive tires on the market today. The benefit is that every single cent you spend on them will be worth it.
Much like the previous tire that we have from the same brand, they have redesigned the tread pattern on these tires. Once again, you have a tire with wider and deeper threads and this will consistently ensure that you can allow water to pass through more sufficiently. In the city streets, it can be really helpful.
Additionally, the tires also have a bit of versatility that has been added to them. Since the tread pattern has been designed in this specific manner, you can rely on these tires for traction on dirt roads. You might be using them on dirt roads, but loose gravel is abundant virtually everywhere in the city streets.
Control And Handling:
On the streets, you will need to deal with corners and different types of roads every day. Since this can be a little daunting, you need to have a lot of control over your bike. These tires are slightly harder than your standard cruise tires, but this will give you some added responsiveness to work with, especially when cornering.
Since they have been designed for responsiveness, they allow you to brake harder when you need to. The additional braking power will make it possible to stop dead in your tracks when you really need to do it.
Metzeler might not be the brand that everyone will be choosing off the bat. However, you will definitely fall in love with them once you start giving them a try. The tires are made for long-distance rides and they don’t cost you a fortune like the other top brands. You should be able to find the perfect tire for your bike with this brand.
The Pirelli Angel ST Motorcycle Tires are designed for you to use them under almost any condition. Once you look at the history of the tires, you will find that they are currently the holder of around 7 world records. These records are not only for the long-distance rides but also some of the rides in the city streets.
Having such benefit, allows you to buy one tire for your bike and it can be considered a real workhorse. These workhorse tires are made for everyday use and they can be found for almost any road bike that you currently own.
As you might have noticed by now, this tire is like the Jack of all Trades and it can be used for almost anything aside from off-road. With a special tread pattern that has been included, it will allow you to ride through all weather conditions as well. The tires are a little stiff, but for an advanced rider, the responsiveness is perfect.
Another feature is the materials that have been used in the construction of these tires. According to the manufacturer, all of the compounds are environmentally friendly and they should not cause any damage to you.
Unfortunately, this tire is not made to specialize in anything and can be used for versatility. Since they are designed for this purpose, the price is not that expensive and you can definitely buy them as a set of backups. They offer some of the best quality results while being backed by an incredible brand like Pirelli.
As a beginner, you want to try out tires to see what works for you without having to spend a bucket load of money. Continental has noticed this and designed a tire that really appeals to most beginners. The quality is still great and many tests have shown that the tires can give you a couple thousand miles before wearing out.
Additionally, it has not been designed for one specific bike or bike type. These tires are available in a whole host of different types that will fit cruising bikes and the road bike when needed. They should hold up the same for all these bike types.
The tire is a little softer than some of the other stiff tires and this reduces some of the responsiveness for accidents. One can say that the tires have a lot of forgiveness when you do make accidental mistakes. While you might not attain the same high speeds without them wearing out, you will be able to break much better.
The tire also looks phenomenal on most bikes and Continental has made this a priority, since most beginners like to look at the appearance before focusing on the performance. If you decide to ride at slower speeds, you will be able to easily get the best possible value from them and use them for an extended time.
Since the tire is predominantly marketed towards the beginner, it is one of the most affordable options on the market as well. However, this does not come with a couple of drawbacks. The most prominent is that the thread wears out extremely fast as the tires grow older. However, more experienced riders will avoid this with better tires.
Guide to Buying the Best Motorcycle Tires
While we have already gone through the different types of tires you can buy, there are a few more things that make up the final criteria. With so many tires on the market today, many people might like other tires and this buyer’s guide has been designed to help you find the right options. Now you are also a bike tire professional:
The durability of the bike tire is one of the toughest aspects that you can look for, but this is something that is considered important. Durability refers to how long the tires will last you when you are riding and this is commonly measured in miles. You will need to consider doing a little of your own to look for this.
One key tip that I can give you is to consider the fact that it should last you a couple of thousand miles. If it can last you in the range of 20,000 miles, you can be sure that you are going to be using them for an extended period. However, brands like Michelin can be much more durable and last you a little longer.
Additionally, you should keep in mind that the tires wear out much faster as they near the end of their lifetime. Unfortunately, this is not something that we can easily account for or even prevent. You might need to constantly check the tires and once you do see a lot of regression or less thread, you can order new ones.
The size is one of the toughest aspects to look for as a beginner, most advanced riders will understand some of the terminology and all of the numbers. Fortunately, we have done the research and this should help you to understand all of these numbers. They can make a massive difference when you are buying your new tires:
- First Numbers: The first numbers are generally in a set of three and this refers to the width of the thread on the tires from side to side. For cruise bikes, this number is higher and it can be an indication of how long they will last.
- Second Number: The second number is generally a 2-digit number that actually refers to a percentage. This is the aspect ratio of the tires, which is a percentage of the width compared to the height. The higher this number is, the bigger the tire.
- Letters: Next, you will see two letters that will break up the numbers and this shows the optimal speed of the tires and the design type. The speed capabilities are generally rated as something between J and Z. The second letter is an R that indicates that these are Radial tires.
- Final Numbers: The final numbers are the least complicated and this refers to the rim size that is generally required. You will use this to also see if the tires will fit your rims.
It is important not to buy any tires that you think look good before looking at the specs. Fortunately, the top brands have now decided to add the exact bike type the tires are recommended for as well. If possible, you should use this as your main method of finding the ideal tires for your specific bike type.
Radial Vs. Bias Tires
Another thing that many people might be struggling with is the difference between the radial tires and the bias tires. This refers to the type of construction of the tires. Now, you can see a small breakdown of the two to ensure that you also have the right understanding before buying new tires for your motorbike:
- Radial Tires: The radial tires have a steel belt that directly runs from each bead to the next bead. This ensures that they have less of an angle and more of a sidewall that can actually benefit you for more grip on the sides.
- Bias Tires: Much like the radial tires, the bias tires also have steel belts that run from bead to bead. However, this is done at an angle and reduces the size of the sidewall. It also makes the tires a little stiffer.
The bottom line is that radial tires are the best for almost any bike due to the lighter weight and additional grip capabilities they carry. For your dual sports or cruising bikes, you might prefer the bias tires for more responsiveness. Additionally, they also have a longer lifespan since cruising is done over long distances.
You might have noticed that we have included only some of the top brands and this is not to be biased, but since they project quality. You can find a whole host of different bike tires on the market, but you should stick to some of the best brands. Since these brands have a reputation to protect, they tend to offer more value. Here are the top 5 brands to consider:
- Michelin: High quality and reasonable price
- Metzeler: Great quality and affordable price
- Continental: Decent price for beginners and rookies
- Bridgestone: Excellent quality, but at an expensive price
- Dunlop: Affordable for newer riders and some of the newer bikes
Frequently Asked Questions
Bike tires can be intricate, but they can be made simple once you understand them. Now that you have seen some of the features and the top tires, we have also found a couple of questions that many of you might still have. With some added research, we have tried to answer all of these questions and make your life easier:
Can I Put Front Tires On The Back Or Vice-Versa?
This is one thing you should never do, as the tires for the front and the rear has been specifically designed for a purpose. With rear tires at the front, you will have a ton of traction, but very low responsiveness when steering. This might not make a difference at lower speeds, but at the top speeds, you can have some issues.
Additionally, the sizes will vary and even if you decide to ignore our advice and go ahead with it, you might need a lot of modifications to make them fit the right way. You can end up with a serious injury and a lot of damage to your bike.
How Long Does Motorbike Tires Last?
This is one of those questions that can have many answers and they are all debated. You can’t really determine a general time period down to the specific number, as it will vary depending on the type of tire you are choosing and the brand.
For most sports tires, the average lifespan is in the region of 5000 to 10,000 miles if they are brand new. However, riding on different surfaces that the tires have not been designed for can actually reduce this time. For touring and cruising tires, you can go between 10,000 and 20,000 miles before you need to change them. Keep in mind that these are only some rough estimations and it will vary from tire to tire.
Is It Possible To Use Racing Tires In The Street?
This is another question that can be up for debate and you can do it if you want to. However, it is not recommended and many experts will definitely scrutinize you for doing this. You can never reach the same speeds on the road that is capable on a track and you will also reduce the amount of traction that you have.
The slightest dirt or even a bad surface can reduce the traction and this can have a few bad effects. If you do need to use them on the road, it is best advised that you do so sparingly and don’t try to use them here too often. Racing tires are extremely expensive and using more affordable road bike tires will be better.
Do I Need An Expert To Change My Tires?
It depends on the level of skill you have with motorbikes. If you can change the tires or you have done so before, you can do it on your own. However, the professionals will have the right tools and they can do it in just a couple of minutes. They also give you peace of mind if you know it is done professionally.
Will I Need New Rims For My Tires?
The current rims that you have should be sufficient if you find tires that match their size. Additionally, you might need to change your rims to match the tires if you have specific tires that you want on your bike and you cannot compromise. As a beginner, you will want to save some money and should stick to something that will fit your current rims. Occasionally, you can also find am package deal that will give you some new rims with your tires, but these can be expensive.
If you are new to the world of motorcycles or you have the experience, the tires we have selected should work for almost anyone. These are some of our personal favorites that are also highly regarded by some of the professionals. Let us know in the comment section, what you think and if we might have missed any of your favorite tires.