Reviews

Best Motorcycle Tires: Great Choices to Improve Handling and Performance

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

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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON April 25, 2021

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
Dunlop American Elite Front Motorcycle Tires
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Summary
Summary

These are replacement tires for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They have a long-wearing compound in the center of the tread and a lateral-grip compound in each shoulder.

Pros
Pros
  • Handles and wears well in both rain or shine
  • Provides both a smooth ride and great traction
Cons
Cons
  • May be narrower than the original Dunlop tires on your bike
  • Made only for Harley-Davidsons
Best Overall
Dunlop American Elite Front Motorcycle Tires
Best Value
Michelin Pilot Power 2CT Motorcycle Tire
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Summary
Summary

This tire is for sport bikers who ride both on the road and the track. A 20 percent rubber mix on the edges of the tread provides enhanced cornering grip.

Pros
Pros
  • Gives you the confidence to make turns at steeper lean angles
  • Makes your bike feel lighter
  • Transitions very well
  • Lasts longer than some other brands
Cons
Cons
  • May not perform as well when braking on bumpy surfaces and in quick transitions
  • May also turn slower than other track tires
Best Value
Michelin Pilot Power 2CT Motorcycle Tire
Honorable Mention
Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Tires
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Summary
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
Pros
  • Quick and precise in turns 
  • Make the bike feel nimble
  • Incredibly stable at a high lean angle 
  • Handle well at high speeds
Cons
Cons
  • A little slippery until they're broken in 
  • May not be suitable for all-year riding in certain climates
Honorable Mention
Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Tires

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Benefits of Motorcycle Tires

  • Safety. Riding a motorcycle with worn-out, cracked, or defective tires can be very dangerous. They're susceptible to failure, which can result in deadly consequences for you and your passenger.
  • Performance. When you buy a motorcycle, you may not get the best motorcycle tire brand or even a tire model with performance in mind. Regardless of your riding style, you’ll want the best tires that will efficiently and effectively get you where you need to go.
  • Confidence. Knowing your tires are new and reliable will boost confidence, ultimately making you a better motorcyclist.

Types of Motorcycle Tires

Sportbike Tires

If you ride a sportbike, you need a tire that's agile and super grippy but also street legal (so racing slicks are not an option). The best sportbike tires for the street are typically radial in construction for better heat dissipation. They have a wide tread pattern and are low profile, making them ideal for tight handling.

Touring Tires

If you frequently ride long distances, you will need the best motorcycle tires for touring. They have a flatter profile than sportbike tires to enable stability in straight lines. The rubber is a harder compound, which makes these tires last longer but also gives them slightly less grip. Bigger touring bikes often have high-profile, bias-ply tires, which are necessary to support the bike's weight. The advantage to bias-ply tires is they handle bumps better.

Cruiser Tires

Large cruisers typically use high-profile tires for overall comfort, while smaller cruisers may lean towards sportier tires for better performance. What's most important is stability and traction on both wet and dry surfaces. In general, it comes down to preference and what type of riding you do. You should also check with your manufacturer to see what types of tires work best.

ADV Tires

If you're an adventure rider, you need tires that will work on pavement as well as sand and mud. The tire you choose must have the ability to provide a smooth ride on asphalt but a deep enough tread for off-roading. It should be comfortable on long stretches of highway and also be able to support moderately heavy loads.

Off-Road and Motocross Tires

If you solely ride off-road, opt for motocross tires that are very knobby and have superior traction in the dirt. These tires have tread that wraps around the sides for optimum grip. Some motocross tires are designed for soft terrain (tall with spaced-out knobs), while others are for hard terrain (low with tightly-spaced knobs).

Top Brands

Bridgestone

Bridgestone Tire Co., Ltd. was established in Japan in 1931. The company is the largest manufacturer of tires in the world and operates 81 production facilities in 24 countries. 

Pirelli

Pirelli was founded in Milan, Italy, in 1872 by Giovanni Battista Pirelli. The company manufactures tires for cars, motorcycles, and bicycles, and operates in 160 countries. 

Continental

Continental is a German automotive manufacturing company specializing in tires, brake systems, and powertrain and chassis components. The company was founded in 1871 as a rubber manufacturer. 

Michelin

Michelin is a French tire manufacturer based in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. It is the second-largest tire manufacturer in the world. The company traces its roots back to 1889 when it was a rubber factory. 

Metzeler

Metzeler is a German motorcycle tire manufacturer that was founded in 1863 in Munich. The company strives to be on the leading edge of technical innovation with an eye on superior quality and performance. 

Dunlop

Dunlop was founded by John Boyd Dunlop in Dublin, Ireland, in 1890. Currently owned by Goodyear, the company is known for producing high-performing tires for cars and motorcycles. 

Shinko

The Japanese-based company Shinko has been in business since the 1940s. After purchasing Yokohama Rubber Co. in 1998, Shinko started producing motorcycle tires and currently makes more than 200,000 motorcycle tires monthly. 

Motorcycle Tire Pricing

  • Less than $50: You can spend very little on motorcycle tires — and it's not a good idea. Even the best cheap motorcycle tires won't be high in quality and are more likely to fail over a shorter period of time.
  • $75-$125: You can get a good, high-quality motorcycle tire within this moderately low price range. This is one area on your bike in which you won’t want to sacrifice safety and handling for price.
  • $125 and up: The best grip motorcycle tires are used by sport bikes and racers and tend to be the most expensive. They feature superior tread and gripping ability, so expect to pay more for those with advanced performance capabilities.

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 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 pattern and are 100 percent tread. In contrast, the aggressive tread is used on off-road tires. 

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.

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.

Other Considerations

  • High Mileage: If you want to save a little bit of money, choose a tire brand that will go the distance. These tires are typically constructed with harder compounds, so they tend to provide a little less grip. More expensive brands may use multiple compounds to deal with this issue.
  • Speed Rating: How fast do you ride? Tires are rated for the speeds they can accommodate. An H rating means the tire has a maximum speed of 130 mph, V indicates 149 mph, while W indicates a top speed of 168 mph.

Best Motorcycle Tires Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Dunlop American Elite Front Motorcycle Tires

Dunlops are the official replacement tires for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They are designed, made, and tested in America and are built with a long-wearing rubber compound in the center of the tread and lateral-grip compound in each shoulder to maximize cornering performance. They provide even tread wear and quiet operation in both wet and dry conditions and are H-rated for speeds up to 130 mph.


This is a great tire for a reasonable price. It's grippy and doesn't track road imperfections like some competing products. It handles and wears well in both rain or shine, providing both a smooth ride and great traction. It has great mileage, and there have been some reports that the tire lasts much longer than 20,000 miles.


One potential downside is the tire may be narrower than the original Dunlop tires on your Harley. If you want a wider tire, you will need to choose another product. Also, they are made specifically for Harley-Davidsons so unless you ride a Harley, they won't work for your bike.

Best Value
Michelin Pilot Power 2CT Motorcycle Tire

The Michelin Pilot Power 2CT tires are geared towards sportbike owners who ride both on the road and the track. The tread provides excellent grip, handling, and acceleration on wet surfaces. A 20 percent rubber mix on the edges of the tread results in enhanced cornering grip. It also has a lean angle of 51.2 degrees as demonstrated on Michelin's dry test track.


This tire is stiff in the middle and sticky on the sides, giving you the confidence to make turns at steeper lean angles. It sticks to the street like glue and does so very quickly without having to wait for the heat to build up. The tire makes your bike feel lighter, it transitions very well, and it lasts longer than some other brands without sacrificing performance on curvy roads.


One downside is that if you use this tire on the track with a big bike versus a smaller bike, it may not work as well when braking. It also doesn't perform as well when braking on bumpy surfaces and in quick transitions. 

Premium Pick
Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Tires

Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Tires are for sport riding and have a racing profile designed for agile response and quick turn-in and transitions. They are W-rated for speeds over 168 mph and have a large contact patch for adherence. High-performance silica compounds improve grip across a wide range of temperatures. Also, the bi-compound design offers full grip from a mid-lean angle.


These tires will hold a line all day long and are quick and precise in turns. They stick to the road, provide a lot of control, and make the bike feel nimble. They are incredibly stable at a high lean angle and handle well at high speeds. Once they're warmed up, they have excellent grip, and the tread life is great. In addition, low-speed handling is comfortable and transitions are smooth.


One issue is the tires are a little slippery until they're broken in. They may also not be suitable for all-year riding in certain climates.

Best for Harley-Davidsons
 Dunlop Harley-Davidson D402 Tires

If you ride a Harley-Davidson, you can't go wrong with the Dunlop D402s, which have been featured as original equipment tires on many H-D models over the years. These tires are stable, long-lasting, and perform well in wet conditions. The tubeless tires are engineered and tested with Harley-Davidson, so you know you're getting the best for your bike. They feature a three-ply casing and two fiberglass belts that cater to a larger load capacity and maximum stability. They also have offset center grooves, which helps when the roads are wet. Overall, they're soft and smooth and provide good traction. 


There are few complaints about these tires except some rival brands may have slightly better grip and tread life.

Best for Wet Conditions
Michelin Road 5 Tires

The Michelin Road 5 Tires are fifth-generation all-weather sport and sport-touring tires. Even as they wear down, the siping effectively evacuates water. The channels flare outwards towards the middle of the tire, and unlike other types of tires, the negative space between the tread won't get narrower. Instead, it maintains its shape, which promotes better water dispersal. This makes it easier for riders to corner and stop suddenly when roads are wet. They also perform well in dry conditions. They have a softer compound on the sides and are firmer in the middle. Users report that they handle well overall and provide excellent grip, even in colder temperatures. 


Unfortunately, the tread may wear down quicker for some users, and there have been complaints that they only last 5,000 miles.

Honorable Mention
Dunlop Q3 Plus Sportmax Tires

You can corner confidently with the Dunlop Q3 Plus Sportmax Tires. These hypersport tires are one of the best track/street tires available, especially considering the price. They have Intuitive Response Profile technology, which allows you to make mid-corner corrections more easily. This lets you push the bike a little further compared to less-capable tires. Other features include Carbon Fiber Technology sidewall reinforcement and a steep, aggressive tread pattern. Overall, they provide excellent grip, stability, and steering. They are long-lasting, have a silica-infused compound for a longer tread life, and feature lateral grip compounds on the shoulders for grip. They're a great go-to tire for the track or if you prefer canyon carving. If you like aggressive tires, they are a great option.


They're not good on dirt or gravel roads, but that's to be expected. Also, they can overheat rather quickly on the track.

Honorable Mention
Michelin Commander II Tires

The Michelin Commander II Tires grip any type of road in any terrain, making them an excellent all-around tire.  They are good in the rain, in dry conditions, on the highway, and for cruising around town. They look good and stick well to the pavement. The Commander II tires are popular on touring bikes as they provide a quick response to the slightest handlebar adjustment and feel stable even if you scrape the floorboards. Michelin claims they have a 25,000-mile lifespan. They include Silica Rain Technology and are highly maneuverable. They also include an aramid fiber crown ply, which provides stability at high speeds, and multiple longitudinal grooves to effectively evacuate water in wet conditions. 

Honorable Mention
Mitas E-07+ Tires

If you're an adventure rider, you need tires like the Mitas E-07+ Tires to keep you going on the trails. These 50 percent street/50 percent dirt tires have a cross-ply construction and a big block chevron tread that provides grip both on and off the pavement. Extra stable on asphalt, these tires also do a good job of dispersing mud, sand, and water that can get stuck in tires with small tread blocks. They handle the twisties as well and can pretty much go anywhere. They provide a great combination of on and off-road traction. The sidewalls are strong, and they will get you through all kinds of terrain. 


One downside is that they are a little noisier than a street-specific tire. They can also be a little slippery on wet roads.

Honorable Mention
Shinko 705 Dual Sport Tires

The Shinko 705s are largely designed for street riding, but they’re fine for light trail use. These four-ply tires feature a tread pattern that provides a smooth ride on the asphalt and good wet/dry grip. Some models can be used either on the front or rear of your bike. They also have a rubber compound that is tear-resistant, which helps when you're off-road.  Like most 80/20 tires, they aren't the best in sand or mud, but they perform well in dry dirt and on the street. Overall, they provide good grip while cornering, they wear well, and they're a good value. They also look good. 


One downside is they are louder than a regular street tire. Also, these kinds of tires may be a bit unstable at speeds over 85 miles per hour.

Honorable Mention
Metzeler ME880 Marathon Tires

The Metzeler ME880 Marathon Tires are OE replacement tires for a variety of makes and models, including the BMW K1200LT and Triumph Rocket 3. You can also install them on the Harley-Davidson V-Rod, Honda Shadow 750 Aero/ACE/ACE Deluxe, and various other Honda, H-D, and Triumph models. Designed for cruisers and touring bikes, these tires provide neutral steering and have a larger contact patch for more traction. They perform well at high speeds, are low noise, and do a good job of evacuating water in wet conditions. They also grip the road well and have a good tread life. They hug the corners, and you can grind your pipes and pegs with confidence.


There are very few complaints about these tires. They may be a little pricier than some other options, but they're worth the extra money.

Tips

  • Check the tire production date. If a tire sits too long, it can start to degrade and dry out, which can be dangerous. 
  • If you plan on riding in wet conditions, increase the tire pressure by 10 percent. Make sure you double-check the pressure by looking on your bike, the tire, or online. 
  • Proper tire alignment is important. If they’re not aligned correctly, they will wear down quickly, and handling will be affected. 
  • Before taking a ride, visually inspect the whole bike as well as the tires. When riding, steer clear of potholes, curbs, and objects in the road that may puncture your tires.
  • Break in your tires before riding at maximum performance. After around 100 miles, they will provide the best grip. 
  • If you take your bike to the track, it may be worth investing in a tire warmer. It warms the rubber to bring it up to operating temperatures. 

FAQs

Q: How long do motorcycle tires last? 

The best-rated motorcycle tires typically have a 20,000-mile lifespan. However, if you are an aggressive rider, you may need to replace the tires more frequently. Sportbike tires have a shorter tread life than other types of tires. 

Q: When should I replace my motorcycle tires?

Look for a wear bar on the tire. If it’s flush with the tread, then you need a new tire. Also, keep an eye out for cracks, cuts, ruptures, and other anomalies that may cause issues with performance or safety.

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. 

Q: Can a rear tire be used on the front of my motorcycle? 

Not really, no. Motorcycle tires are specifically made for either the front or the rear. The front one may be designed for more responsive steering, while the rear may be designed for better traction. There are exceptions with some vintage bikes and dual-sport tires, which can be interchangeable.

Q: Can I use racing tires on the street?

You could, but they are made for riding fast on the track and don't have any tread on them. Just a little bit of dirt on the road may cause a problem, and they won't work at all on wet surfaces.

Final Thoughts

Our pick for the best motorcycle tire is Dunlop’s American Elite Front Motorcycle Tires. They are quiet and provide even tread wear on both wet and dry surfaces. They are also very grippy and have great mileage.