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.
Metzeler Tires: Everything You Need To Know
Fun fact: Metzeler, the company we now know for its motorcycle tires, used to be in the business of making sausage casings. Yeah, sausages. Like the things we stick between buns and eat at baseball games. This was just one of the many different business ventures under the Metzeler umbrella during its 158-year history.
For a clearer context, let’s go back to the beginning. Robert Friedrich Metzeler founded the eponymous company in 1863 in Munich, Germany, producing rubber goods ranging from surgical equipment to children’s toys. The company’s early claim to fame, however, came in 1878, as it developed and produced an air-tight fabric made from rubber (among other things) to form the world’s largest tethered balloon for that year’s Paris World Exhibition. Spanning 36 meters (118 feet) in diameter, attendees of the fair could get a view of Paris from as high as 500 meters (1,640 feet) in the sky.
Metzeler Sportec M9 RR Tire Review
Since its introduction in 2015, the Sportec M7 RR tire has been a popular seller for Metzeler and continues to sell well to this day. So, why fix it? Well, while we may think that the advent of motorcycle electronics has been growing quickly, the arena of tire performance has also been undergoing seemingly exponential change, and a five-year-old tire runs the risk of being left behind in the marketplace. Enter the Metzeler Sportec M9 RR, a tire designed to capitalize on all the M7 RR’s strengths and then exceed them. Does Metzeler, the only tire manufacturer to exclusively produce motorcycle tires, have another hit on its hands? Let’s take a look.
Shop for the Metzeler M9 RR here
Metzeler Roadtec 01 Tire Review
Since 1979 Metzeler has produced only motorcycle tires. This singular focus has yielded significant firsts. In 1978, the company created the first tubeless motorcycle tire. The first tire with transversal grooves rolled out of the Metzeler factory in 1982, and the first mass-production tire with a Kevlar belt came out a year later. The first rear tire with a 0° steel belt came in 1992, and four years later, the first set or radial tires with 0° steel belts was released in the form of the Metzeler ME Z4. The march continued in 2008 with the patent of Interact technology for the Roadtec Z6 Interact. Now, Metzeler has released the heir to the popular Roadtec Z8 Interact throne, the Metzeler Roadtec 01.
Metzeler Roadtec Interact Z8 Tire Review
While the Roadtec Z8 Interact tire was well-received by both riders and the media, the company believed the role sport-touring tires play is changing. The market has grown beyond just traditional sport-touring motorcycles to include both urban naked bikes and larger, more touring-focused rigs. With this change of job description in mind, Metzeler set three design parameters to surpass the Z8 with the creation of its next generation sport-touring tire:
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.”)
Metzeler Sportec M7 RR Review
As I slide on my back, the wet Spanish dirt at the outside of Almeria’s Turn 6 rushing up to greet me, I take a moment to ponder the error of my ways. It’s funny how time appears to slow down once one fully accepts that control has been ceded to powers greater than ourselves. Rewinding my current situation to just a fraction of a second earlier, my sin is revealed, standing before me like an old friend, arms open. With my no longer pristine, custom Pilot leathers providing tactile proof through my back protector of why I shouldn’t be allowed to have nice things, I try to ignore the 2015 BMW S1000RR skidding to my left and slightly in front of me. (So much more can happen before it grinds to a halt.) I can’t help but think how this has all happened before. How, once again, a single thought has spelled disaster. In the past, the thoughts were as simple as “I love this track!” or “I’ve finally figured out this corner!” This time, I merely thought, “The Metzeler Sportec M7 RRs have so much grip in the rain. Soon, I’ll be dragging knee!” Instantaneously, I was – only not in the manner I was expecting.
Metzeler gathered the international moto-press to Almeria, Spain, to sample its latest generation track tires, the Racetec RR K1, K2, and K3. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. When we woke on the morning of the test with wind and rain pelting the hotel, the event organizers, in a move that showed remarkable flexibility, acknowledged that the conditions were hardly conducive to poking at the limits of street-legal racing rubber – though they noted that the tires could still be used in the rain. However, they explained, the rain-soaked pavement would provide an ideal environment for demonstrating the performance of the other member of the Metzeler RR family, the new Sportec M7 RR. So, as clusters of rain cells moved through the area with occasional flashes of lightning in the distance, Metzeler lined up the S1000RRs and sent us out on the track to let the Sportecs display their mettle.