How to Choose the Right TIRES for the Motorcycle

Have you noticed that the wheels of your motorcycle are worn and/or crystallized and you are thinking of changing the tires of your motorcycle or buying new ones, but you don’t know how to choose the right tires ? Don’t you know what types of motorcycle tires are on the market or how to read or understand them? You are in the right place! The tires are the contact you have with the pavement or any surface where you want to use your motorcycle. They give you stability and are your point of support, so you must constantly keep an eye on them so that you do not have an accident. It is better to spend for a new tire than to pay a hospital or clinic bill. 

how to choose motorcycle tires

The  tires  of a sports motorcycle are not used or provide the same speed as the tires of a “scooter”, however,  safety must always prevail in the choice . Today,  the motorcycle has become the main means of transportation  for those who want to avoid traffic jams and traffic in big cities. Its main equipment is the  tire , therefore, many aspects must be taken into account when choosing one. Although it is also important that you complement it with good winter pants or a vest with an airbag that provides you with security .

Index of contents

How to choose the right tires for your motorcycle

#1 Know the 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 . Depending on your type of motorcycle, driving style or the use you are going to give it , you should opt for one tire or another. In general, a distinction can be made between the types of tires that we mention below.

  • 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 to balance grip and wear . They are very typical and highly recommended . If it is your first motorcycle, you will surely find it necessary to opt for this type of tire that will give you the necessary security when you go on the road. You can always check with your trusted workshop if you are not sure what type of tire to install on your motorcycle.
  • 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.
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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 greater grip than a hard one, its use depends on the terrain on which it is going to be used. 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.

Motorcycle tires according to their structure

The internal structure of a tire is a way of classifying tires, both motorcycle and car . To make the ride as safe as possible and to make the right choice of tyres, it is worth knowing how your interior is made . We can say that the most common are those with a radial structure. Therefore, below, we show you the types of tires according to their structure .

  • Bias motorcycle tires : These are conventional tires . The knitting cords are positioned at a lower angle in relation to the tread line. They provide great resistance , which is perfect off-road. They generally offer a smoother ride and additionally take on much more load capacity.
  • 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

If we take a look at any store or workshop specialized in motorcycles , we will quickly realize the wide variety of tires they offer. Each of them satisfies specific needs and is suitable for a certain type of use. In this regard, 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 low in an urban environment. 
  • 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 . 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 are made of soft compounds that can provide excellent grip and allow bikes to be positioned correctly and safely when cornering.  
  • 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 tires and slightly lower than performance tires. Suitable for use that includes daily urban driving , or long journeys. 
  • Slick motorcycle tires : This type of tire is exclusively designed for competition motorcycles on closed circuits . Its main characteristic is that they do not present any drawing: They do not present any notice 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.
  • Touring motorcycle tires: Touring tires are tires developed to offer good grip as well as good resistance , and thus offer particularly 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 .
  • 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.
  • 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 land, stones or water, and their casings are easily deformable and very square. For this reason, special care must be taken with this type of tire.
  • Motorcycle tires for scooters : These are tires created for scooters or maxiscooters. Therefore they are a somewhat special type of tyre. 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. With these tires, you can save costs .
  • Motorcycle tires for supermotard: Supermotard tires are competition tires and designed to be used on supermotard motorcycles. They should not be used for everyday driving as they are not suitable for all terrains. 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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#2 Learn to read motorcycle tire codes

When we look at tire measurements we rarely know how to read the codes well . And it is a very important element to choose your type of tire , which suits your motorcycle and your type of driving. Therefore, in the following explanation each of the aforementioned characteristics will become 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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#3 Buy the tires in online or physical stores and make sure you buy quality

how to choose motorcycle tires

Currently we can find several websites or virtual stores which sell all kinds of products related to wheels , tires, motorcycle tires and other accessories.

Conclusion: Choose the correct tires for your motorcycle and increase safety

We have reviewed all types of  motorcycle tires  and now it is surely much easier to choose the right ones for yours. The choice should not be a problem if you have the precise data and the use that you are going to give them with your motorcycle. In case of doubt,  you can always consult your trusted workshop . Your safety is important and you should always check all the additional components of your machine, such as the brakes or lighting system. In addition, it is mandatory to wear  a helmet and it must be approved.

Quite apart from the type of motorcycle you drive, the main keys to choosing your tires will depend on their structure and type of use . However, there are other aspects that you must be aware of so as not to be deceived when you buy your tires. Taking into account the advice that we show you below , you will avoid having to buy a few second tires and therefore a higher cost.

  • Measurements of your tires : The tires have codes engraved  on the side with numbers and letters. Do you know how to read them? It is important that you know this because they will inform you, for example, of the brand, year of manufacture, approval, load and speed index, etc. 
  • Known brands : There are numerous brands of  safe tires, the most reliable being  Michelin, Pirelli, Dunlop, Continental or Bridgestone.  
  • Buy tires online : Make sure they are certified and that they comply with all safety regulations. There are already sales websites that are affiliated with official assembly workshops. 
  • Do not combine radial and conventional : This negatively affects handling because it can cause a crash and that of the motorcyclist. Also, if the motorcycle comes with specifications for radial tires, it is better to consult with the specialist if you want to change to a conventional model. 
  • Storage : The professional regulations for the storage of tires are very demanding and, in addition to correct physical positioning of the tyre, it is recommended that it be in a cool, dry, ventilated place, protected from direct sunlight, chemical products, derivatives oil or other effects of ozone. If stored properly, the tire will keep in optimum condition for up to 4-5 years after its manufacturing date. 
  • Second-hand tires : They are a danger for the motorcycle and the driver, since each car is assembled with a specific wheel from the factory. It is true that your budget may vary, but you always have to look for guarantee and security with a new wheel that is not worn out.

It is likely that you want to continue with the same type of tire and the same brand, but with  this guide you have realized that there is a huge range of possibilities . So, the limitation in the choice will be, on the one hand, the sizes of tires approved for your motorcycle, and on the other, the use that you are going to give to your motorcycle. Take to the road prioritizing your safety, but above all enjoy the freedom and pleasure of getting on a motorcycle. 

What did you think of this guide on how to choose tires for your motorcycle and the types of motorcycle tires ? Did you know that such a variety of tires existed? Did you know the useful life of your tires? Do you have any experience to tell? Then we ask you to leave your comment and we will be happy to answer you. 

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