Tires – they’re quite possibly the single most important part of any motorcycle, regardless of the type of riding discipline. They’re the one thing – okay, two things – that you ideally ever want coming into contact with the ground while riding a motorcycle (knee and elbow dragging don’t count). Speaking of contact, you only get but a couple square inches of rubber per tire ever touching the ground at any given moment, and on top of that, your tires have to contend with an ever-changing multitude of forces and conditions all while fighting for traction, so you definitely want to choose a tire that’s going to suit your riding style and needs as closely as possible.
The sport-touring tire segment is an interesting one because the goal is to blend supersport corner-carving grip and performance with mile-munching cruiser type wear and longevity – two opposite sides of the spectrum. Sport touring bikes like the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT and Kawasaki H2 SX (and many others) deliver horsepower numbers well north of 150 that can decimate the life of a tire. Additionally, tire life is obviously also heavily dependent on how hard you twist the throttle, and how often. So this begs the question: How much cornering grip are you willing to sacrifice in favor of a long-lasting tire you won’t have to change each season, and how often will you be tilting the horizon vs. riding in a straight line?
Fortunately, tire technology is advancing each year and manufacturers like those listed below have offerings that compromise very little side grip and performance in favor of centerline longevity. These are our picks for best sport-touring tires.
Avon calls its premier sport touring tire, the Spirit ST, an “Ultra-High Performance Hypersport Touring Tire.” It features interlocking three-dimensional points hidden in the sipes that aim to improve stability and grip, while simultaneously limiting tread flex and allowing for quick warm up times. Avon introduced the Spirit ST last year and engineers have also increased and improved the silica distribution and polymer technology throughout the tire’s rubber compounds for improved wet traction and handling. Additionally, the Spirit ST features Variable Belt Density – steel belts that are tightly spaced in the center for high-speed stability and even wear, and widely spaced belts at the edges to increase the tire’s footprint while leaned over. The rear features multiple compounds, with a harder center and softer sides while the front is a single compound.
The Spirit ST is available in just about every popular tire size. As a bonus, they also come with a free one-year road hazard warranty.
Following on the heels of the popular Bridgestone T31 comes its successor, the T32. Much of the technological updates in how the T31’s profile and compounds were selected were carried over into the T32, but as always, the search for better performance spawned this update.
With the T32 you’ll find a new tread pattern designed to disperse more water than before. This, combined with its silica-rich compound, ensures the T32 Battlax gives the rider 7% shorter wet stopping distance compared to the T31. In the rear, a 13% larger contact patch improves cornering grip and feel.
For riders on larger and/or heavier sport-touring rigs, the T32 GT Spec provides additional stability and 10% better wear life compared to the T31 GT Spec of old. With its vast experience making tires for all categories, including the highest levels of racing, the Bridgestone Battlax T32 Sport Touring Tire will provide endless confidence for the sport-touring rider, no matter where the road takes you.
The ContiRoadAttack 3 is a German made sport touring tire that, like the Bridgestone T31, is designed to improve wet grip and performance. However, Continental is unique in that it opts not to use different tire compounds in different areas. Instead, Conti’s MultiGrip technology utilizes a temperature-controlled curing of the tire during the production process to enable the ContiRoadAttack 3 to use a single compound. With it, the shoulder area is softer to provide extra grip, while the center area is harder for durability. And since the ContiRoadAttack 3 doesn’t use differing compounds, there’s a continuous transition when moving from the side of the tire to the center, or vice versa.
Another Continental feature, TractionSkin, makes tire break-in periods extremely short, as new mold-coating technology eliminates the need for tire release agents during the build process. And finally, the ZeroDegree steel-belted construction ensures stability at high speeds.
Dunlop claims the Roadsmart III is its most versatile tire, offering ultra high mileage, sportbike level grip and outstanding wet weather performance. Dunlop uses its Multi-Tread design that binds a harder high-mileage compound to the center and softer high adhesion compound to the lateral flanks for improved cornering grip. Both the front and rear tire compounds feature an innovative resin that’s designed to enhance wear resistance as well as increase wet grip. Additionally, the Roadsmart III’s sidewall construction has been beefed up to help provide increased shock absorption and more precise handling characteristics. The new cross-groove tread pattern is also claimed to achieve better water drainage in inclement weather.
The Roadtec 01 is Metzeler’s latest evolution of its Roadtec line dedicated to the sport touring segment, and like the other tires on this list, is focused on enhanced grip on both wet and low-friction road surfaces as well as increased mileage. The Roadtec 01 is claimed to offer up to 10% more mileage than the Roadtec Z8 Interact, as well as improved steering accuracy, stability, and handling predictability on the road. The front tire’s compound consists of a single-compound construction with 100% silica for wet-weather grip. The rear features a dual-compound construction consisting of a center strip of 80% silica for better durability over the center 20% of the tread. The remaining 80% of tread surface is constructed of 100% silica and split evenly between the two sides of the tread for maximum grip while leaned over. Additionally, the 01s feature a shorter, wider contact patch that according to Metzeler, is 5% larger than its Z8 predecessor.
Metzeler’s Zero-degree Interact steel belt technology provides the carcass’ structure. Steel thread runs parallel to the tire’s rotation and the tension and spacing between the threads varies to tune the carcass’ stiffness for various sections of the tire profile, allowing for increased stability in the center of the tire and maximum grip on the edges.
Superseding the Pilot Road 4, the Road 5 is a tire Michelin is incredibly proud of. The Road 5 features an all-new tread and siping pattern that is claimed to disperse water better than any other sport touring tire, and is also said to provide the same amount of wet weather traction and stopping power after 3,000 miles compared to brand new Pilot Road 4s. This is thanks to Michelin’s XST Evo (X Sipe Technology), the third generation of XST found on Michelin motorcycle tires. XST Evo sipes feature a patented teardrop shape as they get closer to the carcass of the tire. Basically, as the tire wears and the groove becomes shallower, it opens up wider the deeper it goes, allowing more water to be displaced.
The Road 5 isn’t just a great wet weather tire, dry performance has also received upgrades thanks to the inclusion of ACT+ (Adaptive Casing Technology). ACT+ provides a carcass that creates a softer crown while maintaining a stiffer sidewall. ACT+ paired with 2CT+ (two compound technology) means harder, more wear-resistant compound to be run in the center and base of the tires, with softer, grippier rubber on the shoulders. The two technologies together help the tires to better withstand the forces of acceleration while leaned over and results in more stability while still delivering the better mechanical grip of the softer compound.
Michelin doesn’t offer the Road 5 in as many applications as some of the other manufacturers on this list (especially fronts), however, if you have a 17-inch front, they’ve got you covered. Rears offer many sizes.
Pirelli’s Angel GT II is the Angel GT’s successor, and the goal was to improve upon wet grip and handling and increased tread life. The GT II builds on the GT by incorporating technology from the Diablo WET racing tire with a distinct silica compound and tread pattern. Groove depth is reduced on the shoulders for better edge grip and increased stiffness and, according to Pirelli, the GT achieves more longevity with the specifically-developed profile. The Angel GT’s profile is different from other tires as well because it’s slightly flatter in the center and about 5% sharper at the edges. Pirelli says the bigger footprint actually loads the stress more evenly on the tire, which in turn improves tire life.
The front tire is a single compound with a high silica mix, which improves warm up time as well as wet surface grip. The rear features a dual compound with the base and center 20% of the tire made from a 70/30 mixture of silica and carbon black for quick warm up, durability and high feedback, and the remaining 80% uses the same silica rich compound as the front for that sticky-icky leaned over grip.
The 016 Verge 2X is Shinko’s premier sport touring tire. Perhaps not the most technologically advanced tires, but they’re the most affordable and will get the job done for more budget-minded riders. Both the front and rear feature dual compounds for supporting both mileage and grip, and they’ve added extra sipes to better disperse water and even out the tire’s wear characteristics. The front tires feature aramid belt construction and the rears are steel belted.
What is a sport-touring tire?
As the name suggests, a sport-touring tire combines the grip and profile you’d find in a pure sportbike tire with the longevity and wet-weather performance you’d find in a touring tire.
How long do motorcycle sport-touring tires last?
As it always is when talking about how long a tire lasts, the answer is – it depends. It depends on the kind of bike you have, the kind of riding you’re doing, and how aggressively you ride (or don’t ride), among other things. Generally speaking, sport-touring tires try to find the sweet spot between a true sport and touring tire, so by default, the answer lies somewhere in between. Different models prioritize different aspects of sport-touring also, so one tire may last a fraction of the distance of another, and that’s completely normal. If we’re giving ballpark answers though, 6000-10,000 miles should be reasonable.
Recent Updates: Changed format of layout, replaced Bridgestone T31 with T32, added FAQ, Recent Updates, and Additional Resources.
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