Shinko isn’t as well-recognized a motorcycle tire brand as the likes of Michelin, Bridgestone, Pirelli or Dunlop. Part of that is because the company is relatively new to the game. The Shinko Group was founded in Japan in 1946, producing bicycle tires and tubes as the country emerged from the Second World War. Shinko didn’t really get into motorcycles, however, until 1998, when it acquired the tire technology and molds from Yokohama.
There are a dizzying array of options when it comes to dirtbike tires. From tread patterns, to compounds, to the brands themselves, it’s difficult to decipher what is the best tire. That’s mostly because deciding on the best tire requires a lot of input from the rider themselves. What kind of dirtbike are you riding? What kind of terrain are you riding on? Are you looking for longevity or for the most traction possible just to get through a hard enduro race? These are just a handful of the questions you need to answer for yourself before embarking into the deluge of different off-road tire choices.
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.
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 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.”)