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The Best Motorcycle Tires of 2020 (Review and Buying Guide)

The right motorcycle tires can make a huge difference to your ride experience. They can improve your grip, maximize your lean angle, and give you a more confidence-inspiring ride. The wrong tires can be slippery, lose grip when you don’t want it, and they can drastically affect your handling. If you haven’t got confidence in your grip, you’re not going to have a very enjoyable experience on two wheels.

Naturally, you can always follow your motorcycle manufacturer’s advice and re-purchase and re-fit the same brand and model of tire over and over again, but you might be putting on tires that aren’t well-suited to your individual needs.

To help you make the right decision when you’re shopping for your next set of rubbers, we’ve put together a top list of our favorite motorcycle tires on the market, and written a short buying guide that covers everything you need to know about tires: their sizes, load ratings, speed ratings, and other important information.

Since different motorcycle types require different types of tire, we’ve decided to list the best motorcycle tire for every type of motorcycle, rather than just putting a top list together tries to compare apples with oranges. So, here are our top picks of the best motorcycle tires for different styles of bikes!

1. Best Sport Tires: Pirelli Diablo Rosso III

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III

Pirelli motorcycle tires are some of the most well-known in the industry, and the brand’s Diablo Rosso rubbers have been setting the standard ever since the Diablo family was born in 2002. Diablo Rosso tires are usually attached to top class super bikes as standard, and that’s a good reason why you should either replace your existing Pirellis with the same units again, or upgrade your old rubber to Diablo Rosso III tires.

While they’re not cheap motorcycle tires, they’re worth every penny. Developed using Pirelli’s World Superbike Championship experience, these tires offer excellent grip and handling for both race tracks and public roads. T

The profile is designed for agile response, with a bi-compound design that offers full-grip from a mid-lean angle. There’s a “flash” racing tread pattern, with high-performance silica compounds that allow for excellent grip, no matter the conditions.

These sports-focused tubeless tires are ideal for riders looking for seriously confidence-inspiring grip, multi-weather usability, with a reasonable life span. They’re high-performance tires built for fast and furious riding, but they also look the part too.

If you need a sophisticated look, these blackwall tires will really give your motorcycle the edge: on the sidewalk as well as the track. They aren’t cheap when compared to other tires, but if you want the best, you’ve got to pay a little more for it.

Pros

W-rated for speeds of 168 mph +

Large contact patch

Race developed bi-compound for improved lean grip

Cons

Expensive compared to some others

May be too soft for some climates

Not particularly versatile

2. Best Cruiser Tires: Shinko 777 White Wall Cruisers

Shinko 777 White Wall Cruisers

If you’re looking for the best motorcycle tires for cruisers, then we recommend the Shinko 777 White Wall units. Shinko might not be as well-known as the likes of Bridgestone, Michelin, Pirelli, or Metzler bike tires, but this Shinko motorcycle tires offer excellent quality at a decent price.

Shinko is a joint Korean and Japanese venture that has been producing quality tires since 1946, so you can trust their ability. Their 777 White Wall tires are hard wearing and will improve your handling, whilst looking good at the same time.

Specifically designed for large-capacity cruisers, these tires offer the best combination of traction and mileage, for the ultimate cruising performance, improving handling and extending longevity. Long haul cruiser riders have reported a distinct improvement on their riding with these tubeless tires equipped.

They also feature a directional tread pattern that makes them ideal for riding in the wet as well as the dry. Plus, they look great too, thanks to the vibrant white walls. You will certainly turn heads with these installed. These are ideal Harley Davidson motorcycle tires

For the best results we recommend investing in a front and rear tire set. Check your rim size before purchasing!

Pros

Recommended for large-displacement cruisers

H-rated for a maximum speed of 130 mph

Available in 4 or 6 ply variants

Cons

The white wall requires extra care

White wall color has been known to over run

Front/rear combo generally has to be bought separately

3. Best Touring Motorcycle Tires: Continental Trail Attack 3

Continental Trail Attack 3

These aren’t real adventure touring tires, but they’re great for touring on roads when a bit of light dirt riding might be necessary. They’re road tires that have a little bit of extra traction on the rough stuff. But in truth, that’s what a lot of adventure-touring buyers are looking for: for adventures around the block and into work, rather than crossing the Gobi Desert.

If you’re looking for great road tires that give you a bit of extra confidence when the road quality gets a little rough, these are ideal. They’re an evolution of the already successful Continental Trail Attack 2 rubbers, with some exceptional improvements.

With a new optimized tread pattern for improved traction in the wet and dry, the Trail Attack 3 tires will boost your confidence off-road. They’re also designed to work with high-performance models and larger capacity bikes, with a new MultiGrip compound that boosts traction and improves tire life.

One of the coolest things about these tires is the TractionSkin tread surface, which allows for a quicker warm-up and a reduced breaking-in period. That, and the fact that these tires give owners free 3 year-road side warranty from Continental.

These tubeless tires have a V speed rating, for speeds up to 149 mph.

Pros

0-degree steel belt construction for stability and comfort

EasyHandling technology, improving road-feel and boosting handling

3-year Continental roadside warranty included

Cons

Not great for off-road riding

Great for gravel roads, not for real mud or sand

Registering for the warranty can be time consuming

4. Best Motorcycle Dual-Sport Tires: Metzeler Tourance Tires

Metzeler Tourance Tires

Metzeler motorcycle tires are some of the best on the market. However, if you’re looking for top quality dual-sport tires, there are a lot of products to choose from and making a final decision can be tricky. The Pirelli Scorpion Trail or Michelin Anakee tires are worthy rubbers, but if we had to choose, we’d take the Metzler Tourance units.

These tires were specifically developed to maximize the performance of modern, large-capacity enduro machines, offering excellent off-road grip without compromising a motorcycle’s sealed road prowess. Percentage-wise, they’re 85% on-road and 15% off-road. This means that you’re not going to be traversing landslides on them, but a few dry riverbeds and unsealed roads aren’t going to be a problem.

Made from a twin layer, 4-ply diagonal carcass, these radial tires feature MAW (Metzeler Advanced Winding) technology, a 0-degree steel radial belt for improved puncture-resistance, and a special tire compound that maximizes the tires lifespan. There’s also an optimized tread pattern that actively reduces rolling noise.

For an authentic dual sport riding experience, we recommend these Metzler Tourance tires. Long mileage, comfortable riding, and stable handling are always guaranteed.

Pros

H-speed rating: for speeds up to 130 mph

Excellent in wet conditions

Seriously long lifespan, even with hard riding

Cons

May not perform well on tough trails

Reports of punctures are rare, but they do happen

Fairly expensive compared with other similar tires

5. Best Dirt Bike Tires: Bridgestone BattleCross X30

Bridgestone BattleCross X30

Off-road riders can be very particular about their tires, and what suits one riders set up may not favor another. However, if you want a neutral dirt bike tire that’s designed for intermediate terrain, suits all riders and riding style, then the Bridgestone BattleCross X30 will put you in good stead.

These Bridgestone motorcycle tires are perfect for rookie and veteran dirt bikers alike. For newbies, they offer confidence-inspiring traction and outstanding grip that allows new riders to understand the fundamentals of off-road riding. For seasoned riders, the superior traction and gap absorption, along with the optimized profile, allows experienced hands to push their dirt bike to the limit.

Much like their on-road equivalent, the Bridgestone Battlax family, the BattleCross X30s are developed with competition in mind. They’re specially designed to offer top level performance when braking and cornering, with higher traction and grip than other products on the market.

It should come as no surprise that these tires are Bridgestone’s flagship motocross tires, and as such, they’ve repeatedly proven themselves time and time again in top tier MX competitions.

These tires require the use of an inner tube, like most off-road tires. They’re also rated M for speeds of up to 81mph.

Pros

Competition quality off-road tires

Perfect for beginners and experienced riders

Asymmetric block pattern tread

6. Best Super Moto Tires: Michelin Pilot Power

Michelin Pilot Power

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We’ve got these Michelin motorcycle tires down as the best super moto tires, but they’d also be excellent sports bike or street bike tires too. We’ve put them down in the super moto category because the last time we rode these they were on a super moto, and they definitely did the trick.

Similar to other Michelin road tires, the Pilot Power series has been specifically developed with MotoGP derived know-how. They come equipped with a special rubber compound that reduces warm-up time, a soft rubber mix that offers excellent grip and performance, even when the tire begins to degrade.

The tread pattern has been designed with a special groove area that provides unparalleled cornering adhesion, offering insane lean angles of up to 50.6 degrees in dry conditions, and up to 41.6 degrees in the wet.

Though they’re designed with traditional sports riding in mind, for super moto riding they’re the perfect weapon. If you need nimble handling, excellent grip, and top performance, then these are the way to go.

Compared with the likes of the Dunlop Q3, or Pirelli Angel GT, there’s no match for the original Pilot Power series.

Pros

Excellent grip and traction for an affordable price

Ideal in wet and dry conditions

W speed rating: for speeds of 168 mph and up

Cons

Tread life could be better

Coating can be slippery—requires careful breaking in!

Flat spots can appear if not stored properly

7. Best Classic Motorcycle Tires: Dunlop Vintage K70 Tires

Dunlop Vintage K70 Tires

For slightly older motorcycles, vintage classics, and retro-scramblers, a nice set of Dunlop Vintage K70 tires will do the job. They offer the perfect balance of modern tire technology, with a classic style and look.

These tires require the use of inner tubes, rather than their modern tubeless equivalents. Because of this, they’re ideal for dual-sport riding, with enough toughness and durability to tackle hard and soft roads, and boasting enough grip to help riders traverse a wide range of surfaces.

They’re not designed for high-performance riding, but for casual trail-riding, reasonable road-riding, and standing still looking good. If you want an old-school tire with a blackwall finish and a retro look, the Dunlop Vintage K70 is the one you need.

When it comes to vintage bikes, you could opt for Avon motorcycle tires, or some Kenda motorcycle tires, but these Dunlops seem to last longer and generally require less hassle. They’re old-school tires, so you can’t expect the same kind of performance than you’d get from modern street bike rubbers, but if you want the best vintage tires at a reasonable price, that feature the perfect old-school look, then these Dunlop motorcycle tires are what you need.

Pros

Ideal for old classics or retro customs

Balance of off and on road performance

Very affordable

Cons

Not high-performance tires

Inner tube required

Not quite the original tread pattern from the old Dunlops

8. Best Motorcycle Tires For Racing: Shinko 008 Race Slick

Shinko 008 Race Slick

Choosing the best race slick motorcycle tire isn’t an easy task. At racing level, your tire choice can make or break the outcome of a race, and there are tons of things to take into account when selecting a tire. There are different compounds, you have to understand the operating temperature, and of course, the weather can affect it all. For the average, casual racer, there’s only one factor that really matters: the cost.

Racing slicks can be expensive, and for the best racing results, they need to be changed regularly. So you’re going to want cheap motorcycle tires. Ideally, you want cheap and good. The Shinko 008 slicks are exactly that.

These tires are radially constructed with a soft compound slick tread, and an aramid belt. These fat motorcycle tires have the largest contact patch to the asphalt as possible to provide excellent traction and grip, without compromising.

Again, the most amazing feature of these slicks are the price. If you’re a regular racer who burns through tires faster than your wallet can handle, then these tires are excellent for stretching your racing budget.

Ideal for drag racing and short courses, the Shinko 008s are exactly what you need. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but these are absolutely not road-legal, and are for closed track racing only.

Pros

Economical race tires

Soft compound construction with an aramid belt

Easily available

Cons

Front tire and rear tire sold separately

100% NOT road legal

Tread life isn’t great!

Motorcycle Tires: The Buying Guide

Mix Compound Race Tire

Sure, new tires aren’t the most exciting upgrade that you can invest in. Not when compared with a cool sounding slip-on exhaust or sportier handlebars. But in truth, your tires are what keep you connected to the road, and the right tires can go a long way into improving your ride experience, boosting your confidence, and in some respects, boosting your performance too.

New tires won’t make your motorcycle go faster, but they could help you become a more confident rider. But to feel any improvement, you’ve got to buy the right kind of motorcycle tires for your bike and riding style.

Tire Types

Tires come in a variety of styles, often aimed at certain motorcycle types. For example, high-performance tires are best suited to supersport machines, while touring-focused tires are better suited to cruisers. Here’s a quick overview of the most common tire types and their special features.

Performance Tires

Sports tires are specifically developed with lightweight soft compounds to offer nimble handling with outstanding grip. They have fewer tread marks and lines, maximizing the tire’s contact patch with the asphalt. Despite the reduction in tread, they can handle the wet. They’re made with a stiff carcass for increased stability while under stress. And in all, they offer excellent traction with reasonable longevity.

Touring Tires

Touring tires are tough things. They’re built to carry heavier machinery over long distances, whilst simultaneously being prepared for a wide range of weather and road conditions. These road-focused tires feature stiff side walls to help carry heavier loads, with deeper tread patterns to boost longevity, and harder construction compounds to ensure high mileage. Dunlop American Elite and Michelin Commander units are good examples of these tires

Sports Touring Tires

By definition, sport-touring tires offer the best features of performance tires with the practicality of touring rubber. They are generally made from dual compounds that offer sports performance on the tire’s edges—for added grip and traction—with a harder compound in the middle for improved stability and tire longevity. They have ample tread to help them perform excellently in wet weather too.

Dual Sport Tires

Dual sport tires—like their name suggests—have dual natures. They’re designed to perform well both on and off-road. They have knobbly off-road treads but they’re DOT approved and totally road legal. They have thick treads designed for handling sand, mud, and gravel roads, whilst offering excellent road performance too.

Other Tire Types

Of course, those are just a few tire types available. There are slick racing tires, full-on dirt bike tires, special vintage units, and extra wide motorcycle tire types too. If it’s got a rim, it’s got a tire to match. But what special features do you need to know about all these tire types?

Tube Or Tubeless

A common question asked involves tubed and tubeless tires. The main difference between tubed and tubeless tires is fairly obvious. One requires the use of an inner tube, while the other doesn’t. Historically, all motorcycles required inner tubes, but most modern road bikes will use tubeless tires.

While it is possible to install a tubeless tire on a tube-tire rim, it’s a lot of hassle, and it’s also possible to use an inner tube on a tubeless tire rim, but for the best (and easiest) results, we always recommend following the manufacturer’s recommended tire type.

Almost all dirt bikes will require a tire with an inner tube. Since dirt bikes favor spoked rims, an inner tube is the best option. Since off-road pursuits have a greater risk of punctures, inner tubes are easier to repair than tubeless tires, so it makes sense.

Radial Vs. Bias

Radial Bias Tire Construction

The difference between radial and bias tires is also the source of some confusion. Essentially, the two terms describe the different construction methods used in a tire. Tires feature cords: a material running through them to give them strength and improve their structure. These are often made of steel or aramid.

A radial tire has cords that stretch from bead to bead, in a perpendicular fashion. These tires have softer sidewalls, but they offer improved performance with greater heat resistance. This makes them ideal of sports applications.

A bias tire has cords that crisscross at different angles to the tire’s center line. They offer excellent sidewall protection, and a tough and rugged tire in general. They’re stiffer and more solid, which is better for heavier motorcycles.

Tire Sizing: How To Read A Tire

Pirelli Angel GT Advertisement

It’s all very well following your manufacturer’s advice, but what do the numbers in your manual and on the sidewall of your tire actually mean? If you look at your tire, you’ll see a series of numbers and letters that will tell you all you need to know about your tire. But what means what? Let’s take a look at the specs from the popular Pirelli Angel GT tire and use it as an example. It has these specs:

190/55 17 75 W

190: This measurement is the width of the tire’s tread in millimeters. 190mm is the tire’s width.

55: This number is the tire’s aspect ratio, or rather, the percentage of the tire’s sidewall size compared with the width. In this case, it’s 55%. Or rather, the sidewall is 55% of the tire’s width.

17: The rim size is always written in inches. In this case, this is a tire specifically made for a 17-inch rim.

75: Next, we have the tire’s load rating. The number corresponds with a figure in an index that can easily be looked up online. For a load rating of 75, this example tire can support a maximum weight of 853 lbs.

W: This letter refers to a tire’s speed rating. This is the maximum speed that these tires can handle. This example has a top speed limit of 168 mph.

Check out this tire guide from Maxxis for a comprehensive guide to all the numbers and letters on a tire and what they mean.

Important Features To Look Out For

Now that you know what tire type to look out for and what size you need, here’s a quick look at some other important features that you should keep an eye out for. Some of these aren’t necessarily “features” but they’re specs that you should pay attention to, or look for more information about before you commit to a purchase.

Tread

The tread of a tire is a significant feature. Naturally, deeper tread is better for off-road riding and shallower tread with a lower profile will lend itself better to sport riding, but you should also look at tread that will work best for your situation. If you live in a wet weather area, you’ll want tires that can handle the rain, with sipes that are designed to channel water away from your tires. Always keep an eye on the tread depth and pattern if wet weather is a constant threat to your riding.

Mileage

A tire’s mileage should be an important factor that you take into consideration. Since tires aren’t cheap, high mileage would be the most desirable. However, harder compound tires that last longer often enjoy higher mileage by compromising on grip. Always read the reviews from existing owners to get a real idea of what a tire’s lifespan is really like, and how well it truly performs.

Speed Rating

As we mentioned above, different tires have different sped ratings. The letter designation on a tire’s sidewall indicates the maximum speed that a certain tire is safe to operate at. While the highest speed rating sounds brilliant, is it actually realistic for you riding style or for your motorcycle?

A tire that’s rated to endure speeds of above 168 miles per hour will be more expensive than one that’s rated to handle more reasonable speeds. Opting for a lower speed rating to try and save some money is also a bad idea. If a manufacturer says a tire can’t handle it, then the tire can’t handle it. It’s not worth gambling with your life over.

Price

Lastly, there’s the most important factor to consider: the price. It’s all very well following the manufacturer’s instructions and replacing those premium Pirelli tires with another set of premium Pirelli tires, but if those tires are prohibitively expensive then you’re going to need to find a cheaper option that will do the job safely.

Fortunately, it’s possible to find a wide range of deals out there on the internet, with multi-pack options, second-hand (but never used) tires, and some with only a little bit of wear. These are all options worth considering.

Motorcycle Tire Brand Names To Keep In Mind

We’ve mentioned a few of them above, but if you want some inspiration and need to shop around other  brands, here are some of the biggest in the business, with some lesser-known brands worthy of your attention:

  • Michelin
  • Pirelli
  • Dunlop
  • Continental
  • Metzeler
  • Bridgestone
  • Avon
  • Shinko
  • Kenda
  • Maxxis
  • Firestone

If you’re stuck for ideas, check in at your nearest motorcycle tire shop for first-hand advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Motorcycle Tires Last?

The average sports bike front tire will last around 5000 miles, with the rear having a shorter lifespan of around 3,000—but it all depends on how you ride it, and how well you maintain it. Generally, tires can last much longer. However, it’s always wise to change them every few years since rubber can degrade and perish.

Can You Plug A Motorcycle Tire?

Yes, you can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Now, a motorcycle with an inner-tube can be patched easily, but tubeless tires will require a plug if they get punctured. Plugs can only work if the puncture is small and located within the tread. A professional garage generally won’t perform this kind of motorcycle tire repair. A replacement is always a better option.

Where To Buy Motorcycle Tires Near Me?

The internet is a great place to source discount motorcycle tires, but a good old fashioned shop has its advantages. The tire prices might be higher but they will probably fit them for you, using proper tire changer tools, and professionally fitting motorcycle tire balancers. Some garages won’t fit tires that you’ve bought from elsewhere, but that’s down to the garage.

Online, the best resources are Amazon, Revzilla, and Chapparal Moto (Chapmoto).

What Should I Do With My Old Tires?

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