The 7 Best Motorcycle Tires for each Riding Style | Rugged + Grippy

Quick Overview: Our Top 5 Picks For Motorcycle Tires

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
OUR TOP PICKptsntbl-table__imageDunlop American Elite FLHXS 2014-2016
  • Great grip
  • Wet weather compatible
  • New rubber compound
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ptsntbl-table__imageDunlop Q3 PLUS Sportmax Motorcycle Sportbike Tires
  • Aggressive tread pattern
  • Excellent grip
  • Great cornering ability
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ptsntbl-table__imageShinko 005 Motorcycle Tire
  • Decent cornering grip
  • Sticks well with heavy throttle
  • Cruiser tires
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ptsntbl-table__imagePirelli Angel ST Front & Rear Tires
  • Natural eco-friendly rubber
  • High steering precision
  • Straight-line stability
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ptsntbl-table__imagePirelli Diablo Rosso III Front & Rear Tires
  • Grippy sidewalls
  • High mileage
  • High-quality motorcycle tire
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What’s your two-wheeler without wheels?

When I first started riding, I was too scared to buy anything but OEM tires. Everything else was a big gamble according to me, and it’s only until I saw all my rider friends using dedicated replacement tires that I began to welcome the idea.

I’ve come a long way now, all my tires are aftermarket modifications, and it’s a huge part of the riding experience. The best motorcycle tires improve your brake time, ride stability, lean angles, all the while providing staggering mileage.

I’ve put together the best tires in these categories: cruisers, sport, sport-touring, racing, and winter. All the tires on our list are tried out either by me or the writers at Motorcycle Larry: and they’re high on performance for long and short distances both.

If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, the Dunlop Q3 plus is as good as it gets.

Top 7 Best Motorcycle Tires 2021

1. Dunlop American Elite FLHXS 2014-2016

Our Top PicDunlop American Elite

The Dunlop American Elite tires were originally designed as full replacements for Harley Davidson OEM tires: but they’re so much more than that. I couldn’t believe I was choosing a cruiser tire as the top pick for this roundup, but the Dunlop American Elite is the gift that keeps giving.

I actually like these tires on my Harley Davidson more than the OEM tires, especially because of the cornering grip which is out of this world. Apart from the perfect tread pattern, there are great lateral grip compounds in the shoulders of these tires which is what contributes to the silent no-noise, optimum grip.

I was waiting for a bit of rain to test these tires out and I’m pumped to announce that the wet weather grip is just as good. You also enjoy great braking stability, and they totally transform your Harley’s ride. While I’ve only recently gotten these tires, my research tells me that the Dunlop American Elite can last for up to 20,000 miles which I’m really looking forward to.

Here’s my only bone to pick: they’re just not as wide as I would like. Considering they’re built for Harley Davidson motorcycles, wider tires would just fit that vintage look better. But if you’re a more form-over-function kind of guy, the narrow tires shouldn’t bother you as much. Another point worth mentioning, these aren’t the most ‘aggressive’ tires out there: they’ve got a good grip, but it’s not going to give you exceptional traction in soft terrain, so you’re better off getting an ADV tire if that’s what you’re looking for. Another option for a more aggressive grip would be these Pirelli tires.

Pros:

  • Great grip
  • Wet weather compatible
  • Cruiser tires
  • New rubber compound

Cons:

  • Narrow tires
  • Only compatible with Harley Davidson motorcycles
  • Non-aggressive tread pattern

Suitable for:

If you own a Harley, this is one of the best aftermarket tire options out there. If you’re looking for a reliable option with the perfect non-aggressive grip, brake stability, and cornering, it doesn’t get much better than this. Not suitable for wide tire and aggressive tire fans.

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2. Dunlop Q3 PLUS Sportmax Motorcycle Sportbike Tires

Best High-End Premium TiresDunlop Q3 PLUS Sportmax

Two of Dunlop’s tires made into my Top 3. If you’re into sports tires, you’ve probably heard rave reviews about the Dunlop Q3, which really set the standard for premium Hypersport tires in the market. Get this: the Q3 Plus is here, and it knocks the previous Q3 out of the park with an 80% redesign.

I was beyond excited to try these on my friend’s Yamaha YZF R6, and here’s what I found: a super aggressive tread pattern that gives you incredible steer feel, feedback, and control.

One of the best things about these tires is the use of Dunlop’s Carbon Fiber Technology (CFT). Q3 uses one of the most advanced materials, carbon fibers, which are lightweight and of high strength in reinforcing the tire. This increases the feedback and gives the user an exceptional cornering performance. With this tire, you will have a lot of flexibility in choosing the latitude while cornering, thanks to the Intuitive Response Profile (IRP) technology. Intuitive Response Profile is usually used on racing tires, so getting to enjoy them on Hypersport tires is a sweet deal.

They’re definitely an investment when you compare them to some of the more budget-friendly tires on the list: so it’s a good idea to keep in mind that they’re not going to fare very well in off-road applications. You could definitely ruin these tires if you use them off the asphalt. If you’re not ready for the investment, look into a budget option like the Shinko 005.

Pros:

  • Intuitive Response Profile technology
  • Aggressive tread pattern
  • Sidewall reinforcement
  • Excellent grip
  • Good steering
  • Great cornering ability

Cons:

  • Not affordable for all

Suitable for:

If you’re looking for some of the best Hypersport tires in the market to last a couple of years and deliver extremely high performance: you don’t need to look further.

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3. Shinko 005 Motorcycle Tire

Best Budget TiresShinko 005 Motorcycle Tire

After testing dozens of motorcycle tires, I was pretty convinced that tires below $125 were a waste of time, low quality, and borderline dangerous. That is until I met the Shinko 005. Now here’s a tire that really impresses, and would still be a great buy if it was double its price.

The Shinko 005 uses an intermediate rubber compound that gives extra stability on smooth roads. This greatly increases the durability of the tire. This tire has way more longevity and durability than most of the other tires in its price range, but don’t expect as much mileage as the Dunlop Q3.

The treads on this tire are specially designed to effectively evacuate water. The treads are continuous and are not super dee which gives good grip and increases the overall performance of the motorcycle.

One of the best things about this tire is the use of Aramid in the belts. In case you didn’t know: Aramid is a special kind of heat-resistant polyamide that boosts tire speed and durability. Thanks to the low density of Aramid, you’re not sacrificing the weight of the tire.

Shinko 005 Advance Rear Motorcycle Tire is also DOT compliant. Of course, you won’t get the best durability, but if your motorcycle is usually on time-out in your garage, a budget tire like this one should be good enough for its decent road-hugging abilities.

Pros:

  • Sticks well with heavy throttle
  • Decent cornering grip
  • Traction control
  • Cruiser tires

Cons:

  • Not the most durable tire option

Suitable for:

This is one of the best and most affordable budget motorcycle tires out there. I wouldn’t recommend it if you ride your motorcycle more frequently, but they’re definitely worth it if you’re looking for budget tires with good grip and traction control.

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4. Pirelli Angel ST Front & Rear Tires

Tires with maximum gripPirelli Angel ST Front & Rear Tires

Alright: we’ve been looking at regular street tires and cruiser tires so far, and it’s time to get to the grippiest of grippy.

These Pirelli Angel ST tires are specially enhanced tires for street sports. Angel ST holds seven world records when it comes to tires. These offer a high-performance ratio and are honestly some of the best tires in the price range.

These tires have an innovative and high-performance sport touring tread design. This design balances the tire grip in wet and dry conditions. This means that you don’t have to buy extra wet tires to drive in wet conditions. These tires will perform almost the same on any surface. The patented 0-degree steel belt radial structure really helps keep the tires in balance in various surface conditions.

One of the significant advantages of the Angel ST tires is the tire design. The tires are W rated for speeds of 168 Miles per Hour. This means that these tires are legally approved to attain a speed of 168 miles per hour. You know what that means? These wide-tread touring tires are perfect for street racing.

If this all sounds too good to be true, in a way, it is. There’s a significant drawback with these tires and their durability. They do not have the best mileage, and they scream I’m here for a good time not a long time. That’s because it’s made from a sustainable eco-friendly natural rubber that’s best friends with Mother Nature, but does degrade faster than most of the tires. As long as you’re prepared to replace your tires more often for the sake of sustainability, you’re good to go.

Pros:

  • Natural eco-friendly rubber
  • Sport touring tires
  • Street riding tires
  • Maximum grip
  • Straight-line stability
  • High-speed rating
  • High steering precision

Cons:

  • Not affordable for everyone
  • Not the best mileage

Suitable for:

These are the best tires for someone looking for street riding tires that double as sport-touring tires, with emphasis on more grip.

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5. Pirelli Diablo Rosso III Front & Rear Tires

Best Sport TirePirelli Diablo Rosso III Front & Rear Tires

I’m a Pirelli fan: and they really went all out on the Diablo Rosso 3. The tire was developed within the World Superbike championship. Rosso 3 has amazing steering feedback, which makes handling a breeze. This is a tire that can take you from the race track to the road with superior adaptability. These are W rated for speeds of 168 Miles per hour (hence the racing).

Diablo Rosso 3 combines the power of the Diablo series and modern technology to give a fantastic tire with extreme performance ratios and high longevity. The bi compound used in manufacturing the tires has a wide side soft stripe. This offers a full grip starting from a mid-lean angle onwards. The tires have a WSBK-derived profile that offers agile responses and turn-in. I found the transition to be pretty smooth because of the design of the tire. What’s more: The Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa has a large footprint area for improved adherence.

However, it’s going to take a while for the tires to feel this great. When you first get them, they feel way too stiff and take a long time to wear in the tire pressure. Usually, that’s a sign of good quality, so I wouldn’t worry too much — but it’s worthwhile to consider that you’re playing the long game with these tires, and they’re gonna last a really long time with zero compromises on performance.

Pros:

  • Sport touring tire
  • Soft compound
  • Grippy sidewalls
  • High mileage
  • High-quality motorcycle tire

Cons:

  • Takes a while to break-in
  • These are not all-weather tires

Suitable for:

These are the gold standard for sports tires and will be a perfect fit for anyone looking for W-rated high-speed sports tires that they can race with. They’re perfect for sports bikes that fit the 17inch rim diameter.

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6. Michelin Dual-Sport Radial Tire

Best Dual Sport TiresMichelin Dual-Sport Radial Tire

A dual-sport rider is the best of both worlds: a tire equipped for street riding and off-road applications both. The Michelin Dual Sport Radial tires are 80/20 tires — which means they’re built for street-riding 80% of the time and off-road 20% of the time.

Michelin introduced their new bridge block technology with this series. This technology provides a new level of on-road stability. It’s also made from Michelin 2Ct components (a nice throwback to the previous model) and gives the rider a really high degree of control over the motorcycle.

Something that really stands out with the Michelin Dual-Sport is the wet-weather capabilities. The shoulders have a drainage component that keeps the tire dry and doesn’t compromise on the grip. The new silica treading used in this tire also increases the durability of the tire and provides the user with great cornering experiences.

The steer feel and the feedback is also nice. If you’re looking at specs, The Michelin Dual Sport tire has an aspect ratio of 60 and a load index rating of 72, which is considered the best.

I chose this as the best Dual Sport tire because of its wet weather performance and bias-ply construction, but this isn’t a good option for someone looking for 50/50 street and off-road applications.

Pros:

  • Drainage component for wet weather
  • Geometric tread wear
  • Dual compound construction
  • Offset center groove
  • Bias-ply
  • Amazing grip just like glue
  • Great for gravel

Cons:

  • Built for more street riding than off-track
  • Not the most budget-friendly

Suitable for:

These are great tires with an exceptional grip that fit the Dual-sport bill. If you’re someone who needs solid street tires that can hold up in different weather conditions, as well as your occasional off-road adventure, you’ve found what you’re looking for.

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7. Mitas Trelleborg Winter Rear Tire

Best Winter Tires / Best Wet Weather PerformanceMitas Trelleborg Winter Rear Tire

None of the other tires on my list are built for the winter: so this is where the Mitas Trelleborg comes in. The Mitas Trelleborg Winter Studded Motorcycle PRO Rear Tire has one of the most innovative tread designs that’s specifically made for winter-off road applications. These tires are literally built for the snow.

Each tire has about 250 carbide-tipped steel studs that are perfect for grip in snow and icy track conditions. The durability of the tire is also quite high because of the sturdy reinforcement that’s built-in.

Of course, these tires are best suited for off-road purposes. If you’re an ADV fan, these winter ADV tires are made for your cold adventures.

However, if you are looking for tires for the occasional regular motorcycle usage, these might not be the right tires for you. The tire pattern may easily wear off if you drive with these tires on the road. Besides, they’re not street legal: so there’s no logical (or legal) reason to use them for regular street riding.

Pros:

  • ADV tires
  • Good for snow grip
  • Tire warmer
  • Tread compound

Cons:

  • Not possible for street riding

Suitable for:

Are you a winter ADV biker? I can’t say I’m one of you — but I’m definitely jealous of you. You’re going to love these premium winter tires with exceptional grip and carbide steel studs that don’t get much better than this in the category.

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Things To Consider While Buying A Motorcycle Tire

What kind of tire do you want? A good one? That’s a pretty loose definition, and you’ll need to understand some basic tire jargon and terms in order to make the best choice according to your riding style.

1. Thread Pattern

The threading pattern on the tires determines the friction that a motorcycle attains on the road. In Layman’s terms, the threading pattern determines how much grip will be there between the tire and the road.

Fewer tread patterns can improve speed to a certain extent, but remember that choosing a tire with a light pattern means that there will be less grip. This, in turn, means that the tire won’t be able to stay on the road, which will lead to skidding or drifting, especially on a route with a lot of bends and corners.

To avoid any such extremities, you need to choose a tire with the right tread pattern that can give your motorcycle the optimum speed and grip. Road and off-road riding also require different kinds of grip.

2. Tire Diameter

Tire diameter depends on the motorcycle itself. Most standard motorcycles use the same tire diameter. However, if your vehicle is customized or has a larger wheelbase, the tire diameter may increase or decrease. So it is better to check the motorcycle manual before buying the tires. Tires are not one size fits all!

3. Tire Material

Tire material mostly determines the durability of a tire. A tire needs to be highly durable. If you ride regularly, your tires will wear out quicker than expected.

If you buy tires with not-so-great material, there is a good chance that the tires may give up in the middle of a ride, which is, well, unimaginable. So to prevent this, it is better to get tires made with advanced polymers.

Tires are usually made with rubber compounds. These rubber compounds have a good grip on both dry and wet roads. However, using Silica in the tires as an additive greatly increases the grip of the tire on wet surfaces.

The durability of the tire also depends upon the number of layers. The higher the number of layers of the tire, the greater the durability.

4. Tire Grip

Tire grip is different from the tire patterns. There are four types of tire grips: Low, Medium, High, and Wet. Tire grip determines the speed. The tires that have better grip wear out quickly too. This is because of the high friction that the tires come into contact with during the rides. Wet grip tires are special tires and have almost the same speed as medium tires. Also, wet grip tires provide additional grip on wet or damp roads.

5. Durability

Tire durability depends on various factors, as discussed above. Some tires support long rides for long periods, and some do not. Durability tends to come with a high price point, but it usually works out the same value for money in the long run, since you have to replace your tires less often.

FAQs on Motorcycle Tires

1. How Many Miles Do Motorcycle Tires Last?

Mileage is a tricky question with motorcycle tires since there’s such a huge range. The average would be 3700 miles for a regular street-riding motorcycle tire. But there are premium motorcycle tires that can offer up to 20,000 mileage (such as the Dunlop American Elite on this list). Mileage is usually directly proportional to price, and you’ll always get better mileage as you go up the price point.

Keep in mind that it usually amounts to the same amount spent in the long run, if you purchase low-mileage budget tires and have to constantly replace them.

2. Should I Replace Both My Motorcycle Tires At The Same Time?

There’s no explicit rule that you should replace both motorcycle tires at the same time. However, both your tires should have a similar level of wear and mileage on them so that there’s no inconsistency in performance.

But it’s not that simple: the front tire tends to have half the wear that your rear tire does! This means that you can consider the mileage on your front tire to be half of the rear tire, and replace the rear tire twice as often as you replace the front one.

3. Which Tire Wears Out Faster On A Motorcycle?

The rear tire wears out faster than the front tire. This is because the rear tire is mainly the receiver of the power transmission system.

4. Can I Put Two Different Brand Tires On My Motorcycle?

Yes, you can do that. However, it is not often recommended. The tread pattern of the tire matters the most, so if you found two tires with similar tread patterns you can use them.

Conclusion

Tires matter the most on a motorcycle. The right tires let your motorcycle engine sing, while the wrong tires can turn your world upside down. Tires are motorcycle accessory where you can’t overspend — the investment always pays off.

Still on the fence? Get the Q3 plus Dunlop tires, you can’t regret it.

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