Contributed post for our northern hemisphere readers
Just like with lots of other things, people’s buying habits for motorcycle tires go in phases. Or cycles, if you don’t mind a terrible play on words. And, just like with lots of other things, a lot of it comes down to personal preferences and habits.
There are different kinds of riders with different motorcycles, different styles, different expectations. They’ll all have different motivations for buying tires, other than “the old ones were worn out.” So, let’s break it down a little.
Retailers run sales periodically. The problem is, “periodically” also means “sporadically,” and there are only a few predictable seasons where you might see a deep discount on motorcycle tires. Spring and Christmas sales come to mind, or of course, the post-holiday sales where retailers need to move that old unsold stock out the door. For instance, February is commonly a time for motorcycle dealers to start pushing bikes, and as you can see from the chart below, there’s a pretty sharp spike in motorcycle tire sales in March likely from this February push. It makes sense since February means that Spring is right around the corner and everyone is ready to get out of the house and get on those bikes.
There’s also the occasional special where manufacturers will discontinue a model of a tire, which is closeout time. The best thing that a rider can do is to just keep checking back for sales, or maybe subscribe for emails or push notifications about upcoming sales and discounts.
Different Riders, Different Bikes, Different Tires
Regardless of what type of motorcycle you’re into or what your demands are, tires are going to be one of the biggest ongoing expenses you’ll have.
Grand touring tires on a car can last 60k miles, but sport touring tires for a motorcycle might last a fraction that long. Rubber formulations have a lot to do with that life expectancy for tires, and they have a pretty profound effect on handling and ride quality as well. And, of course, that soft
rubber compound on a sport-bike tire is going to be stickier for killer handling ability, but it’ll also wear a lot quicker.
The right choice of tire makes a big difference in your safety, especially in wet weather. Just like with automotive tires, the depth and design of tread grooves have a lot to do with how well tires channel water from the road and evacuate water from the grooves. That, of course, is to prevent hydroplaning. So, if you’re setting out on a weeklong cruise on your touring bike, those sportbike tires with the minimal tread pattern are probably not the best choice.
Lots of guys want to customize their bikes, starting with a wider set of tires or just a wider rear tire. If there’s something like that to be done to a bike, you can bet that someone has done it already and put it on YouTube.
Just remember, though, that a motorcycle is designed for a certain type and size of tire. A deviation from that can have unexpected results in terms of handling, road manners, and cornering. If you’re contemplating a wider tire or a change from factory spec, be sure you research it carefully for your year/make/model of bike.
A Few Great Picks For Tires
Let’s get a quick rundown of a few top-notch picks for tires, across several different tire types:
Bridgestone Battlecross X40: Designed on the rigors of motocross, the Battlecross features chunky, aggressive tread blocks to dig into soft soil, as well as fins to dissipate heat on harder surfaces. This tough tire offers exceptional cornering ability and unparalleled wear characteristics.
Continental ContiTour: Excellent design for heavy bikes and touring. The ContiTour features a long-wearing rubber formulation for long service life. The rear tire is designed with no grooves in its center tread band for lower rolling resistance and better directional stability.
Bridgestone Battlax BT-016: This ultra-high-performance tire features an innovative tread pattern and durable rubber compound for long life and enhanced performance even in wet weather. It’s hard to beat this one for handling, style, and overall value.
Safety First, Last, and Always
Regardless of what kind of motorcycle you ride and what your demands are, there’s one thing you don’t want to do, that is, over-stretch the life of your tires. Riding on worn motorcycle tires is just plain dangerous, as you compromise traction and risk having a tire failure. Either one of
these can be catastrophic, obviously.