If you’re new to the world of motorcycling, or if you just need to finally make a tire change, it helps to know what your options are. Your choice of motorcycle tire depends on the type of bike you have, the type of riding you plan on doing, and the design of the tire in question.
Tires For Different Rides
Cruisers: Cruiser tires are the most versatile you can get, designed to give you good traction whether the pavement is wet or dry. If you ride in a variety of conditions regularly, but not primarily under performance conditions, a cruiser tire could be the best choice for you.
Touring: Touring Dunlop motorcycle tires are designed to provide you with comfort for miles at a time with their superior ability to absorb bumps. They are often used on larger bikes and have slightly less grip than other tires. This is because they are made with a stiffer rubber that allows them to last longer under constant highway use.
ADV Tires: These tires are for people who take their bikes off-road on a regular basis. They strike a balance between comfort and edge grip on turns. They can also handle larger weights so you can load up your camping gear on your bike. If you need to ride on pavement often, look for shallower ADV tires. If you will be off-road nearly the whole time, look for tires with more knobs.
Sport bike: These are extremely sticky, and, if made well, will warm up on pavement at speed. Most of these are radial, as that helps with throwing off heat. Angular sport tires help you make aggressive turns while flatter treads help you stay upright.
Dual-Sport: These tires are legal to ride on pavement, but they are really made to perform off-road. If you primarily use your bike off-road, but you need to drive on roads to get there, this might be the best choice. You don’t want to ride on pavement for too long, though — you won’t get much grip and the ride is noisy.
Off-road: These tires are often not legal to use on the streets, but if you never use your bike on the road, then this the perfect choice for the best possible performance. When choosing a tire, take a look at the knobs. The more tightly clustered they are, the better the grip will be on hard terrain. For soft terrain, choose ones with more widely spaced knobs.
Choosing a Tire
Load and speed rating: All tires have a particular load and speed rating. The load tells you how much weight the tires can safely handle, and the speed tells you how fast you can take it on a regular basis. Your motorcycle manufacturer usually have a load/speed recommendation and it’s important to check this.
You can always go higher on speed, though you will sacrifice some fuel efficiency if you do. Never put on a tire with a lower speed rating, and be careful of tires with higher load ratings than recommended. While it won’t hurt your bike, it may tempt you to put more on than the bike can handle.
Letters: Some tires have a letter that appears after the sizing, like B, C, or E. These letters vary by manufacturer and are a service description that gives you, and anyone who works on your bike, more info about the tire.
A letter might signify that the tire has extra stiffness in the sidewalls. Other letters may refer to the temperatures the tire can withstand or to traction grades. AA typically signifies the best traction for wet conditions. Ask about these when you shop for tires.
Feel free to play with your tires, learning as you go. If you’re first starting out, get expert help to understand what your choices are and what might be best for your bike. But don’t be afraid to experiment as you and your bike grow together.