15 Types of Motorcycle Tires According to Their Use and Function

Different types of motorcycles require different types of tires for different types of uses. Tires are one of the most important elements of the motorcycle and are highly responsible for our safety. They are the element that binds us to the ground and remember that when driving on only two wheels, adherence is a fundamental factor.

You will see that there are different types of tires depending on our motorcycle or what we are going to do with it, each one with a mission and a rigorous development process to achieve the best performance. Here is a list of the most popular ones you can find on the market.

Index of contents

Most popular types of motorcycle tires


All
tires are made of rubber , have the shape of a ring and are filled with air or another type of gas to mobilize your motorcycle. Differentiating them or choosing a new one will depend on two aspects: according to their structure and their use. There are several  brands of motorcycle tires cataloged , but in this guide we are going to summarize the two most important factors that you should consider when choosing the  new tires for your motorcycle .

Motorcycle tires according to their hardness


One of the main differences that can be seen between various motorcycle tires is the hardness of their rubber.
The composition of this is one of the factors that determines the adherence of the tire. In general, a distinction can be made between tires:

  • Hard : A “hard” rubber, if it is at the right temperature, can offer as much or more hysteresis than another, which, even though it is softer than chewing gum, is working too cold. Controlling the thermal range is the responsibility of the casing. An element that we already talked about in previous chapters and that may be worth remembering.
  • Medium : Medium tires are built so that there is a balance between grip and wear. They are very typical and highly recommended.
  • Soft : The softer and more elastic the chemical mixture that makes up the rubber is, the greater the hysteresis it offers, and therefore, the better adhesion values ​​it returns. The problem is that, as a general rule, the greater the elasticity, the less resistance to friction and therefore greater tire wear. This relationship known to all, which is inverse correspondence, suffers serious disturbances with temperature.


The choice between one type or another is determined taking into account the terrain on which it is going to circulate and the use that is going to be given to it.
Thus, although a soft rubber usually offers better grip than a hard one, its use depends on the terrain on which it is going to be used, since, for example, the tires used on dry or stony terrain must be hard, while for cross or trial it is preferable that they are soft.

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The hardness of the tires, in addition to determining the adherence to the surface on which it circulates, is also related to the surface of the tires.
Thus, hard tires usually have more tread than soft ones and are therefore the most suitable for wet terrain because they maintain the driver’s safety.

Motorcycle tires according to their structure


For the safest possible ride and the right choice of tires, it is worth knowing how the interior is made.
Therefore, there are two types:

  • Bias motorcycle tires : These are conventional tires. The knitting cords are positioned at an angle less than a right angle in relation to the tread line. They provide great resistance to external agents, which is perfect off-road. They generally offer a smoother ride and, in addition, they take on much more load capacity, meaning that you can handle more weight on your bike without it affecting you.
  • Radial motorcycle tires : The fabric threads are placed radially in the structure of the tire. Covered by an additional layer that provides greater rigidity. This detail will allow the rubbers to have a longer useful life; In addition, they have a greater grip of the tire with the pavement.

Motorcycle tires according to their use


In this aspect there are several models, but the choice will depend on the utility of the motorcycle.
You can drive your machine only on weekends, it is your work tool or it is your vehicle to go from home to work.

  • Motorcycle tires for daily commuting : These are tires made for everyday conditions. The rubber in these tires offers a high level of tolerance for damage from road hazards. It provides adequate grip and they have a lot of tread , which makes them very safe on wet surfaces . They are made for low operating temperatures, since speeds are generally low in an urban environment. Do you use your motorcycle or scooter to work or to get to and from work every day? So, you know which one to choose.
  • Motorcycle tires for Off-Road : These are specific tires for enduro, motocross, trial and rally motorcycles . They are tires with marked studs to achieve maximum penetration in off-road activities, which require tires with optimal grip and traction. They can allow you to connect short distances on the road, however, it will have a negative effect because they wear out more when braking and accelerating on asphalt.
  • Circuit motorcycle tires: These tires are exclusively for high competition . Tried and tested on tracks because they are designed with advanced technology, capable of withstanding the most demanding circuits in the world such as MotoGP or the Dakar. Tires in this category are lighter and made of softer compounds that can provide excellent grip and allow riders to position the bikes correctly and safely in turns.
  • Motorcycle tires for adventure or sports : Also called touring tires . They are made from a rubber compound that is neither too soft nor too hard. These tires offer very good grip and are rated for a top speed that is higher than street (daily commuting) tires and slightly lower than performance tires. Suitable for a variety of uses including daily city driving , long drives and weekend rides .
  • Slick motorcycle tires : This type of tire is exclusively designed for competition motorcycles on closed circuits . They do not present any warning or figure. They are totally smooth. They are made with extra soft rubber, which reduces their useful life. They are not suitable for use on public roads.
  • Studded and winter motorcycle tires: These tires are exclusively used for driving in low temperatures and in areas where snow or ice is common. Winter tires have a grooved surface that facilitates water evacuation; while the nail ones consist of small metal tips to provide the necessary grip on the ice. Both are hard to get.
  • Motorcycle tires for touring : Touring tires are tires developed to offer good grip as well as good resistance over the miles, and thus offer especially long lives. Touring motorcycles usually mount this type of tire. They are rubbers that offer a wide range of friction and need a lower temperature to offer their maximum performance, so they are quickly at their best. They usually offer a surface with a lot of drawing so that even in the rain they continue to offer safe behaviour.
  • Trail motorcycle tires: Trail tires, designed for trail motorcycles, are also known as mixed tires. They are tires with a very deep pattern and great relief to achieve good grip both on asphalt roads and on dirt roads. They work at a relatively low temperature and have great longevity as they are made of generally hard materials. They offer versatile behavior but on asphalt their grip is less than that of other specifically road tyres, such as sports or touring tires.
  • Trial motorcycle tires: Trial tires are tires developed for that discipline with trial motorcycles. They are tires with numerous studs and designed to work with very low air pressures. They are soft to offer great grip on all types of terrain, be it dirt, stones or water, and their casings are easily deformable and very square.
  • Motorcycle tires for scooters : These are tires created for scooters or maxiscooters. They are usually of a smaller diameter and there are sporty, well-cared or even touring ones. They are tires that offer their best behavior without the need to reach high temperatures and their use lives are usually relatively long.
  • Motorcycle tires for supermotard: Supermotard tires are competition tires and designed to be used on supermotard motorcycles. There are more or less drawing and even slicks. They work at very high temperatures and have a very rounded throat to get a lot of grip on their flanks.
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motorcycle tire codes


When we look at the measurements of the tires we rarely know how to correctly interpret what the numbers that form them correspond to, with the following explanation each of the aforementioned characteristics will be clearer.
We start from the most normal road tire on most motorcycles and which corresponds to the front wheel.

120/70 ZR17 M 58W T

  • 120 : It is the first number of the code and refers to the width of the tire section expressed in millimeters.
  • 70 : Expresses the relationship between height and width. In this case, the height will be 70% of the width, that is, 60mm.
  • Z : This letter corresponds to those of a code that indicates the maximum speed at which you can ride with that tire. Sometimes this letter is printed after the tire’s maximum load. The letters corresponding to each speed are:


Maximum speed code for tires

Code Speed Code Speed Code Speed
J 100km/h P 150km/h OR 200km/h
k 110km/h Q 160 km/h h 210km/h
L 120km/h R. 170km/h V 240km/h
m 130km/h S 180km/h ZR 270km/h
No. 140km/h you 190km/h W more than 270 km/h
  • A : This number indicates that the tire has a radial casing (structure) which provides advantages over a bias casing (indicated with a D ).
  • 17 : internal diameter of the tire, expressed in inches (ex: 17” = 431.8 mm). It must correspond to the diameter of the rim.
  • M : Which tells us that it belongs to a motorcycle or C for the rest of the vehicles.
  • 58 : Maximum load index (ex: 58 = 236 kg).
  • W : speed index. It is the maximum speed at which the tire is approved when subjected to its maximum load index.
  • TL : Tire with an inner tube and T for tires without an inner tube.
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