When it comes to the base elements of safety and ridability, nothing is as important as tires on your motorcycle. After all, the contact patch of a motorcycle tire is about the size of a credit card, so the better compounds, tread pattern, and construction fit the bill, the safer, more reliable and enjoyable your riding experience.
Here are some choices for brand name touring tires when getting new shoes for your machine.
Created for dry performance and critical grip in the wet, as well as a focus on longevity, Michelin’s Commander III is a V-twin and cruiser-focused tire. The Commander III enhances what the II had established, improving the tire’s exceptional handling in the dry, with plenty of stiction in wet weather. Michelin engineers have managed to achieve an impressive tire life without sacrificing any of that dry/wet performance.
Silica Rain Technology is integrated into the tire’s compound to help prevent uneven wear. The unique, eye-catching tread pattern’s longitudinal grooves optimize water dispersal, granting exceptional grip in the wet.
An aramid-fiber crown ply provides enhanced durability while reducing mass. Stable, with excellent feedback, the Commander III employs Michelin’s “velvet” sidewall details to complement the styling.
Evolved from its successful Road 5 GT tire, Michelin has created the Road 6 GT specifically for heavier touring machines. The dual compound tire benefits from 20 years of designing and building tires to handle the special needs and application for heavy touring and sport-touring motorcycles.
An all-around dry/wet tire, the 6 GT provides rigidity at lean angle to enhance the feel and predictability, resulting in confidence-inspiring stability even under full loads. The Road 6 GT uses Michelin’s exclusive Water Evergrip Tech tread pattern, which is combined with silica technology to give the tire a full 15% more grip in the wet than the 5 GT, while adding a 10% increase to tread life.
With Marathon and Ultra in its model name, you know the new Metzeler ME888—or Triple 8 for short—is built for performance and longevity. Developed on the demanding roads of Germany, the Triple 8 was designed specifically for the American market with custom touring bikes in mind, providing stability and smooth handling at both high and low speeds.
Employing a deep tread depth, the tubeless ME888 promises consistently high performance over the entire life of the tire. Offering solid dry performance, the tire utilizes parabolic grooves for its tread pattern to better drain water, ensuring as much rubber as possible stays in contact with the road.
Catering to the preferred taste of some riders, the ME888 is available in a striking white-walled design.
Watch for new sizes of the ME888/Triple 8 to be introduced to accommodate a wide range of motorcycles.
Metzeler’s RoadTec 01 was created with a focus on ensuring grip in the wet, especially on low-friction road surfaces such as city streets with worn tarmac. The tire’s stiffness has been rebalanced to provide stronger adherence, and the RoadTec 01 is imbued with upgraded belt and carcass tension parameters to increase stability under serious braking.
The RoadTec’s footprint pattern is larger and shorter to increase handling and feel. Metzeler has focused on a long tire life, creating a product that would provide exceptional performance over a large range of heavyweight motorcycles.
The tires, which are rated for speeds up to 168 mph, are distinguishable by a special “weight” icon imprinted on the sidewall. There is also an SE, Supersport version available that utilizes a slicker shoulder tread for better grip when leaned over.
The upgraded belt and carcass increases stability under hard braking. The new Metzelers are tubeless and available in blackwall.
Designed specifically for adventure motorcycles, the Tourance Next 90/10 tires are crafted to serve as a 90% street and 10% enduro option. They suit ADV riders who spend the majority of their time on pavement, yet provide confidence for those times the path ahead is rough.
The rear tires consist of a dual compound (borrowing from Metezeler’s Z8 Interact) which provides greater stability and safety on wet surfaces while also delivering long mileage. Intended as an all-weather tire, the Next model is a solid choice for ADV bikes with an eye on touring. Both front and rear tires are made from silica compounds that give faster warm up.
The Tourance Next tires employ Metzeler’s zero-degree steel radial technology with a unique groove design for traction and water dispersion. The aforementioned dual-compound make-up of the rear tire provides stability at high speeds, especially when fully loaded—an important consideration for larger, heavier adventure bikes that are often maxed out on carrying capacity.
Designed and purpose built for heavy cruisers and large touring motorcycles, the Bridgestone Exedra Max tires use compounds that mix stability, handling, water dissipation, and a long life. All of these are important points to consider when choosing a tire for your motorcycle.
Utilizing compounds specifically intended for the demands of heavier motorcycles, the new Max tires provide exceptional traction and handling without sacrificing mileage. The tires have a wide shape that increases the footprint, which in turn helps to reduce rider fatigue—particular crucial on long tours.
The tread pattern provides grip in both dry and wet riding conditions, with a focus on water evacuation for improved handling and safety. Tubeless, with a built-in long life, the Exedra max tires are made for the open road.
Created for certain large modern cruisers (depending on load rating) Dunlop’s new D404 tires are built for a smooth ride and maximum comfort. Available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate many cruiser brands and models, the D404 provides a balance between grip and mileage, with a focus on tread patterns that dissipate water for better traction while delivering solid straight-line stability in both dry and wet conditions.
A bias-ply construction provides extra load capacity, which is essential for touring motorcycles. With an emphasis on touring miles, the tires provide decent all-around performance and durability.
Value-priced, the Dunlop D404 is a solid, reliable brand-name tire and is available in whitewall for a distinctive look.
Note—the D404 is not intended for Harley-Davidson motorcycles due to load capacity ratings. For application to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, consider the Dunlop D402/401 series.
The Continental ContiTour tires employ dual reinforcement belts and nylon and aramid carcass plies to provide predictable handling and a comfortable ride even when fully loaded for travel. The tread pattern uses a 6-9mm groove width for optimal waterdrainage, providing grip in the wet by keeping more tire surface in touch with the road.
Continental infuses the ContiTour tires with its Mileage Plus Technology, which extends mileage without compromising handling and performance for the life of the tire. Economically priced, the ContiTour tires are eligible for Continental’s free three-year roadside warranty.
Designed to accommodate dual sport riders with a tire that performs well in the dirt while also delivering a smooth ride on the pavement, Heidenau created the K60. The tread pattern features deep, block chevron-style grooves that emulate the duties of knobby tires, proficiently routing dirt, sand, water, and mud as the tire rotates., Thanks to the pattern, the tire maintains contact with the ground for exceptional off-road traction.
The unique interrupted chevron design of the tread pattern also provides a smooth ride on the pavement without sacrificing traction and handling. The K60 combines true off-road performance with strong street-going capability, together with a consistent level of performance over the long tire life.
Standard equipment on the 2021 KTM 1290 Adventure S, the Mitas Terra Force-R tires earned serious kudos as an all-around tire that can handle both road-going pleasure and off-road challenges. These dual-purpose tires are 90/10 classified, with the rugged construction intended for delivering a decent cross-over performance between street and dirt for large displacement adventure machines.
The aggressive tread pattern provides a solid footprint on pavement with a large contact patch, while the deep grooves help channel sand, gravel, and water for wandering off-road.
The tire’s multi-compound construction is designed to deliver long life and high mileage without sacrificing traction and performance, with the added benefit of cornering grip at low temperatures, which is welcome when touring in cooler climates. Although the tread pattern has an aggressive deep groove design, the tire functions well on paved roads, delivering straight-line stability and solid cornering characteristics.
The radial construction and tubeless design make Terra Force-Rs a sensible choice for owners of larger adventure motorcycles who spend the majority of their time on the street, with the confidence of knowing their tires can handle light off-roading.
Designed specifically to handle a loaded large-displacement motorcycle with the long haul in mind, the Shinko 230 Tour Master tires are highly versatile, constructed for distance and high-peed riding. The tubeless, four-ply nylon carcass tires have a belted aramid design and employ a staggered tread pattern to provide good handling in the dry or the wet.
Especially important is the tire’s quiet disposition. Long-distance riders can enjoy less road noise and consequently less rider fatigue.
Shinko offers a wide range of sizes to ensure there’s a set of 230 Tour Master tires to fit your machine. The high-value tires provide grip and durability while a V speed rating (meaning the tires have been tested to 149 mph) adds confidence.