Reviews | The Drive

Best Motorcycle Tires: Great Choices to Improve Handling and Performance

These top motorcycle tires are essential for safe, performance-driven riding.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive, is the leading authority on all things automotive.

youtubefacebookinstagram

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BY/ LAST UPDATED ON March 26, 2022

If you're a biker, you know the importance of good tires. Old tires can be dangerous, so it's important that you replace them when needed. Plus, you get more performance from tires that are new and feature the latest technology. A good set of tires will get you where you're going safely and can also make the ride a lot more fun. If you're not sure which tires to choose for your ride, check out our list of the best motorcycle tires available.

Best Overall

Michelin Road 5 Tires

Summary
Whether you're a commuter or weekend warrior, these tires will have you covered in both wet and dry conditions.


Pros
  • Great wet-weather traction
  • Good dry-weather traction
  • Siping design maintains wet weather traction after thousands of miles
  • ACT technology prevents tire from tucking at high-lean angles
Cons
  • Won't last as long as some direct competitors
Best Value

Dunlop Roadsport 2 Tires

Summary
These aren't the cheapest tires on the market, but they're certainly the best value. They offer a good level of grip in both wet and dry conditions but are limited to 17-inch tires.


Pros
  • Good commuting tire
  • Warms up quickly 
  • Good for weekend warriors 
Cons
  • There are better tires for sport-focused tires
  • Only suitable for 17-inch wheels
Honorable Mention

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Tires

Summary

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires are for sport riding and have a racing profile designed for agile response and quick turn-in and transitions.

Pros
  • Quick and precise in turns 
  • Make the bike feel nimble
  • Incredibly stable at a high lean angle 
  • Handle well at high speeds
Cons
  • A little slippery until they're broken in 
  • May not be suitable for all-year riding in certain climates
Best Motorcycle Tires: Great Choices to Improve Handling and Performance

If you're a biker, you know the importance of good tires. Old tires can be dangerous, so it's important that you replace them when needed. Plus, you get more performance from tires that are new and feature the latest technology. A good set of tires will get you where you're going safely and can also make the ride a lot more fun. If you're not sure which tires to choose for your ride, check out our list of the best motorcycle tires available.

Our Methodology

To choose the best motorcycle tires on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of tires before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of the automotive industry. 

I visited RevZilla to see what the experts had to say about their experiences with the current range of motorcycle.

Some brands are already well-established in this niche, and priority was given to their products. However, other lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were rubber compound, tread patterns, dry-weather traction, wet-weather traction, lifespan, available sizes, price, and speed rating.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Motorcycle Tires Reviews & Recommendations 2022

If you want something that can handle spirited riding when the mood strikes, as well as your daily commute, then look no further than the Michelin Road 5 Tires. Deep, water-evacuating sipes are spread throughout the areas on this tire that see the most use during everyday riding. It's more efficient siping when compared to the previous model too, as this model uses Michelin's XST Evo siping design. This design is trapezoidal, so as you wear down the tires they'll still provide excellent wet-weather grip.

The front tire uses Michelin's 2CT compound, which means it has harder rubber at the center for improved longevity. If you look to the edges, you'll find the smooth, soft, uninterrupted rubber that you want when riding aggressively on a dry road. This model uses Michelin's patented ACT casing technology to prevent the tire from tucking in when it's on its edge. This provides plenty of feedback to the rider, and should result in a more confidence-inspiring feeling at high lean angles. 

The Dunlop Road Sport 2 Tires are a great value option for anyone who commutes on their bike but wants a tire that they can push on backroads every weekend. The tire warms up quickly and offers predictable, confidence-inspiring traction. Although this isn't a tire I'd recommend for track days, it provides nimble handling and enough grip for spirited weekend rides.

As mentioned, this tire shines in terms of its year-round commuting capabilities. It offers good wet weather traction thanks to its multi-width tread siping. This feature aims to improve wet-weather traction without reducing traction when riding in dry conditions. If your budget doesn't stretch to the best overall pick, this tire is a great option.

The Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Tires are a great choice for motorcyclists who mainly see dry weather miles and enjoy sporty road-riding, within legal limits, of course. They are W-rated for speeds over 168 mph and have large contact patches throughout the surface. High-performance silica compounds improve grip across a wide range of temperatures, and the bi-compound design offers plenty of grip from a mid-lean angle.

Although there are slightly better choices for the track, these tires won't leave most riders wanting on track days. Once they're warmed up, they have excellent grip, and for sports-orientated tires, the tread life is good. The only real issue with these tires is that they don't have great traction in wet conditions, as the siping is relatively minimal. Like many new tires, you'll need to be extra cautious when breaking these in, as they'll be slippery.

The Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP V3 Tires are as close as you'll get to slicks on the road. These tires are more or less intended to be ridden to on a track or on the twistiest roads that you can find. There's minimal siping on this model, which has only a 4-percent tread void. So, you'll have more of your tire in contact with the road's surface when compared to practically any other DOT-certified tire. Unfortunately, that also means the angular 'flash' tread pattern won't disperse much water if the heavens open up.

The tubeless tires are (W)-rated for speeds of over 168 mph and should be an easy choice for track fiends, thanks to the confidence they inspire upon corner entry. When compared to the previous generation, there's more grip at all lean angles thanks to larger steel cords and a wider angle at the shoulders. These tires are sold at one of the highest price points, but if you can afford them, you'll have all the dry grip you can handle. But be warned, you'll need to curb your enthusiasm if you're riding in the wet. 

If you're as likely to see wet pavement as dry, then the Continental Road Attack 3 Tires are for you. The compound is optimized for wet grip, and the tread pattern is one of the best on the market for drainage in wet conditions. If you're buying a tire to combat the wet weather you're facing, the last thing you want to worry about is breaking it in while riding. Thanks to this model's TractionSkin mold release-free manufacturing process, meaning it's basically ready to roll with almost no break-in time.

Just because this tire shines in the wet doesn't mean it'll let you down on a dry road. It's not a multi-compound tire, but the MultiGrip temperature controlled curing process during production creates a relatively hard center but keeps the sides soft and grippy. Continental claims that its wet grip has improved by 15-percent and that it's 10-percent better on dry roads when compared to the previous iteration. So you're getting a tire that's capable of commuting year-round that has plenty of life and will be the best for anyone who regularly rides in wet conditions.

If you push your adventure bike to its limits, you'll need suitably high-performance tires, and you'll find them in the Continental Twinduro TKC 80 Dual Sport Tires. Make no mistake about it, these are for serious off-road adventures, and you should opt for the TKC 70 tires if your bike spends most of its time on the road. Continental describes this model as 40-percent on-road and 60-percent off-road.

The block tread pattern provides tons of grip when accelerating and turning on dirt and sand. You'll also have plenty of traction while braking on a wide range of off-road surfaces. Unfortunately, this type of block tread pattern means that you will probably feel some wiggle while cornering on asphalt. But, as long as you're not hoping to replicate Rossi in his heyday, you should be fine. Another big selling point for these tires is that they'll fit most BMW and KTM adventure bikes.

If your pride and joy is a heavy-duty cruiser, there's arguably no better rubber to pair it with than the Michelin Commander III Touring tires. When I say heavy-duty, I mean it, if you're riding a lighter cruiser, like a Sportster, then you should consider the Commander III Cruiser tires. These tires are perfect for anyone who's eyeballing their next big adventure, as when tested on a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, they covered up to 25,000 miles. Unlike the Cruiser version, the Touring tires don't have siping that extends all the way to the sidewall. The difference in the design is to improve stability for the heavy bikes that the Cruiser version is intended to work with.

When compared to the previous iteration, this model has a more rounded profile, which improves stability when cornering. The silica compound has also been improved on the latest version to provide better traction in wet conditions and prevent uneven tire wear.

Our Verdict on Motorcycle Tires

I've chosen the Michelin Road 5 tires as the best overall motorcycle tires. These tires aren't the best in any particular area but are easily the best all-rounders on the market. They provide good wet and dry traction, which makes them suitable for commuters year-round while still inspiring confidence on twisty roads. The Dunlop Road Sport 2 tires have the aforementioned qualities, albeit to a lesser degree, and are fantastic value for money. 

What to Consider When Buying Motorcycle Tires

The motorcycle tire market is as vast as the motorcycle industry itself, making it hard to know what tire is right for you and your bike. Making things more difficult is the fact that a tire's price is determined largely by features that aren't visible on a surface level. So, I've put together a buying guide to help you understand what features to look out for and what you can expect to get at certain price points.

Key Features

Tread and Pattern

The part of the tire that makes contact with the road is called the tread. The pattern is made up of the grooves and channels, known as sipes, that cut into the tread. On-street tires, for example, the pattern is intended to direct the water away from the tire so it doesn't lose grip. Racing slicks, on the other hand, have no siping, meaning rubber is in contact with the track's surface all the time. If you only ride in try conditions and want the most traction possible, then it's better to have a tire with minimal siping. On the other hand, if you ride in wet conditions, you'll need sufficient siping to give you plenty of grip.

Single Verses Dual-Compound

Some tires are made of a singular rubber compound, whereas others are dual-compound. Single compound tires offer consistent levels of grip at all lean angles. The benefit of a dual-compound tire is that it's hard in the center, which decreases wear, but softer at the edges to increase grip. 

Size

The size of a tire can vary depending on what type of motorcycle you have and the type of riding you do. For optimum performance, choose tires that are the same size as the OEM ones. Even if you want wider tires for more grip, be sure to check with the manufacturer to make sure a slightly larger tire won't compromise safety and performance. Some tires aren't produced in all wheel sizes, so check your bike's wheel size before making a purchase.

Bias-Ply Versus Radial

Radial tires have steel belts that run at a 90-degree angle to the tread's centerline. They are more rigid and have better traction than bias-ply tires but don't last as long. In contrast, bias-ply tires have nylon belts that run at a 30 to 45-degree angle to the tread's centerline. They provide a softer ride and are better at carrying heavier loads.

Tube Versus Tubeless

Tubeless tires are stiffer, stronger, and run cooler. They are better for performance, and if they're punctured, they deflate slower than tube tires, enabling you to control the motorcycle better. They are also more comfortable for riding. Tube tires tend to be less expensive and are common on vintage bikes with spoked wheels.

Motorcycle Tire Pricing

For under $120 you can get a decent motorcycle tire, which will serve you well for commuting but wouldn't be a good option for track days. Most of the tires between $120-250 will offer good traction in dry and wet conditions or have particularly good traction in dry conditions and be suitable for track days. Tires priced at more than $250 usually provide the most grip in dry conditions, making them the best track day options, or are intended for touring and have a lifespan of at least 25,000 miles.  

FAQs

Q: How long do motorcycle tires last? 

The answer depends on the type of tire you choose and the riding you do. A sport-focused tire that's usually being pushed near its limits might last for 3,000 miles. A tire that's designed for touring and ridden fairly gently should last for at least 25,000 miles.

Q: When should I replace my motorcycle tires?

The minimum legal tread depth for a motorcycle tire is 1/32-inches - 2/32-inches, so you'll have to replace them at that point. But you might want to replace them well before that, as the level of grip on offer will decrease long before a tire reaches the minimum legal limit. If a tire is five years old, it should be inspected by a professional, and manufacturers claim that a tire that's 10 years old should be replaced even if it has plenty of tread left.

Q: What size of motorcycle tires do I need?

Look at the sidewall of your existing tires, and take note of the numbers and letters. The first number is the tire’s width. The second number is the aspect ratio between height and width. You will then see an R or a B, indicating “radial” or “bias ply.” The third number is the rim diameter, and the fourth number is the load index. The last letter is the speed rating. 

Q: Can I repair my motorcycle tires?

If you have a tire with an inner tube, you can patch or replace it. If you have a tubeless tire, it’s better to replace it. However, you can use external plugs in an emergency or try a special kit for permanent repair. 

stripe
stripe