Best Motorcycle Touring Tires for Going Further
Pity the poor fool who’s got nothing to do for a week or two but roll around on his motorcycle – no job, no cares, no particular place to be. And if you’re fortunate enough to have all those things working in your favor, chances are you’re carrying around quite a bit of loot in the saddlebags and trunk of your Goldwing, Ultra Glide or big BMW K-bike – possibly even an accomplice. What you want on all of those bikes are tires that stick to the pavement, wet or dry, upright or dragging peg, carry a heavy load safely, and preferably wear like iron. Is that too much to ask?
Burning Rubber: Best Sportbike Tires
The job of a sportbike tire is a tough one. Considering the performance – and variety – of today’s modern sporting machines, an ideal tire needs to be able to warm up quickly, offer good grip in both wet and dry conditions, transfer feedback to the rider, and provide good handling capabilities. Thankfully, all the major tire companies work tirelessly to improve their tires to meet these demands. Of course, longevity is a concern as well, but compared to a sport-touring tire a sportbike tire won’t quite measure up with all the other duties it has to perform.
Here, we’ve gathered seven different tires that are great at handling it all. We’ve focused on street-based tires, since that’s where the majority of sportbike riders spend their time, although all of the tires here are more than capable of handling the occasional trackday or two. If you’re the serious trackday/racing type, we’ll have a separate guide for you coming soon.
Sport-Touring Tire Buyer's Guide
Sport-tourers include a variety of designs from large technology-laden models such as BMW’s K1600GT, to Kawasaki’s more traditional Ninja 1000 to Ducati’s long-travel Multistrada and Yamaha’s FJ-09. With some luggage and a willing disposition you can, of course, set out for a far away destination aboard your new Yamaha R1 and call it sport-touring. And if you do, the tires in this Buyer’s Guide will certainly be a better choice than the sticky hoops you’d normally install on a sportbike.
For a look at the current crop of sport-touring bikes on which to install the tires in this Buyer’s Guide check out these latest shootouts:
2014 Heavyweight Sport-Touring Shootout
2014 Sport-Touring Final SmackDown
Middleweight Sport-Touring Shootout
Sport Tires Buyers Guide
Tire manufacturers have a unique challenge when developing tires for sportbikes. Truth is, most sportbikes on the road will hardly, if ever, see a racetrack. Their time will largely be spent cruising around on the street during the week, with an adrenaline-pumping canyon ride or trackday on the weekends. The challenge engineers face is creating a tire with a center that will last, while also giving the rider side grip for navigating the bends, both on the street and the track. The different tire manufacturers have each come up with their own solutions to accommodate these needs, and what we have in this week’s Sport Tire Buyer’s Guide are choices from eight different tire manufacturers. Each tire is meant to live the majority of its life on the street, but is capable for the occasional trackday if needed.
Cruiser Tire Buyer's Guide
Cruiser riders want what the rest of us want, don’t they? Round black pneumatic tires that hold air, provide good traction in the wet and dry while providing a smooth quiet ride. Yes, they want those things, and they also want a tire that produces orange smoke when lit off. Otherwise, we’re all one big happy family. Where sport and touring bikes have mostly settled on 17-inch diameters front and rear, with usually a 3.5-inch front and a 5- or 6-inch wide rear wheel, cruisers are less standardized. And where sportbike riders will overlook a little harshness for the sake of handling and grip, cruiser riders tend to be more concerned with ride comfort and long life. Since tire engineers aren’t having to deal with 150-mph-plus top speeds, they’re able to give it to them. Looks are important too. Buying decisions can be heavily influenced by tread pattern, and cruiser riders are swayed by whitewalls and crazy-wide rears on their choppers. Luckily, there’s a tire for every rear. Let’s try to keep it in some semblance of alphabetical order, shall we? (The orange smoker starts with an “S.”)