BEST MOTORCYCLE TIRES
From mega-mileage highway tours to churn-and-burn track needs, the best motorcycle tires for on-road motorcycles will also keep you on rails. The products we’ve picked this year won’t force you to sacrifice between grip, longevity and confidence in overall performance. Our nominations for the best motorcycle tires of 2023 are middle-of-the-road winners that still sport all the proven design features you’ve come to expect from a premium set of rubber.
The best all-around tire for street riding was an easy choice this year. Michelin's Road series of tires has been among our top picks many times, and with the introduction of the Road 6, Michelin has delivered its best Road tire ever. These tires are intended for sport-touring, and they come in a range of sizes to cover many of today’s most popular street motorcycles. (Fronts are available in 17-, 18-, and 19-inch sizes, while the rears are 17-inch only. Skip down to our cruiser picks if your motorcycle uses more traditional tire sizes.) What sets these tires apart? It turns out that sport-touring is an understatement. The Road 6s are sporty enough to handle the most aggressive canyon carving you can find with maximum grip and outstanding feedback when leaned over. The touring capability is excellent, as well, and it is possible to get well over 15,000 miles out of a rear tire in regular street riding. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on what you ride, and how you ride it, but no other tire offers the same balance of performance and longevity. They also excel when encountering wet or debris-covered roads. So whether you’re commuting, having fun in the twisties, or taking a road trip, a set of Michelin Road 6 tires will perform at the highest levels.
First up is the best cruiser tire for performance: Metzeler’s Cruisetec. It’s at the top of the food chain for all-out grip and cornering, so if you’re looking to ride the tightest roads with total confidence, spoon on the Cruisetecs. They are stable on the highway, too. While these tires won’t last as long as a dedicated touring tire, you can still expect to get somewhere between 8,000 and 12,000 miles from a rear tire, which is another point in the Cruisetec’s favor.
Made and tested in America, the Dunlop American Elite tires offer incredible longevity without making performance sacrifices like some of the competition. In fact, these tires are the same ones found on Harley-Davidson’s flagship models, and they are meant to lay down serious miles in all conditions. With the American Elite, Dunlop uses a harder center compound that resists premature wear during long highway stretches. A softer compound at the sides offers improved grip for the turns. Our customers consistently report an average of 12,000 to 15,000 miles from each set, with some outliers pushing 20,000 miles or more!
Our favorite sport/track tire for 2023 is Dunlop’s Q3+. It’s an incredibly versatile choice that can tackle track days and spirited street riding with confidence. While Dunlop recently introduced the Q5S sport/track tire as a successor, our testers felt that the Q3+ offered similar performance at a more affordable price point. The Q3+ gets even easier on the wallet when you consider its longevity compared to other sport/track tires that can wear down to the cords in a couple thousand miles. The Q3+, in contrast, routinely gives around 4,000 street miles of exceptional performance before throwing in the towel. That’s made possible by Dunlop’s Multi-Tread technology that distributes different rubber compounds around the tire for an optimized blend of durability and grip.
Whether you’re railing berms, tearing up some single track or seeking out unpaved opportunities, the best off-road motorcycle tires all have something innovative to offer. That’s because “dirt riding” means different things to different motorcyclists. Some seek tread patterns for maximum hook-up out of turns while others need a set that’ll carry them down the road until hitting the woods. However you define your style of dirt digging, the best off-road motorcycle tires will keep you on the gas.
Many riders primarily use their ADV motorcycles for on-road commuting and touring duty, and why not? These bikes are comfortable, powerful, versatile, and ready to soak up bumps from the worst pavement around. These riders will want a road-focused ADV tire, and for 2023, our favorite pick is the Continental Trail Attack 3. The Trail Attack 3 tires use multi-compound technology like you’ve seen in some of our other top tire picks, and the tread gives an appropriately adventuresome look to your ADV bike without compromising street ride quality. Continental earned additional praise from our team because the Trail Attack 3 is available in an unusually wide range of sizes, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a set for your next ride. They even have tubed and tubeless options available.
If you split your riding equally between roads and trails, you should consider a 50/50 ADV tire. Specifically, we recommend the Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 tires. They are much more capable off-road than the Trail Attack 3s, yet they won’t wear out too quickly for street riding. The AX41s have been out for a few years now, and for our money, there isn’t a better 50/50 option available right now. Veteran ADV riders might be wondering why we didn’t choose the beloved Continental TKC80 tires this year. We fully recommend the TKCs, as well, but Continental has been struggling with inventory issues, and the reduced availability tipped this one to the Bridgestones. The AX41s are also affordable, making them the undisputed bang-for-buck choice in the 50/50 ADV world.
If you treat your ADV machine like a giant dirt bike, and most of your riding takes place off-road, you’ll need an off-road ADV tire. No other option gives as much performance in loose and slippery terrain. Our pick? Pirelli’s Scorpion Rally tires are purpose-built for this kind of riding. The Scorpion Rally hooks up on rough terrain better than any of its competitors, and its mean-looking tread blocks aren’t just there for looks. Pirelli designed the Rally Scorpions to dig in with the weight of a full-size ADV bike for maximum performance, and real-world testing confirmed their abilities. If you mainly ride off-road, you won’t be disappointed here.
Using feedback from our customers and our own in-house riders, one motocross tire stood above the rest with near-universal praise: Dunlop’s MX. They’re actually the best-selling motocross tire in the United States, and for good reason. First, it’s a series of tires instead of a single model. Dunlop offers several variations so you can pick the right compound for your local MX track. A quick rundown on these profiles: MX3S is the super-soft type, the MX33s are a little harder, and the MX53 is best for intermediate-to-hard terrain. We recommend starting with an MX33 front and an MX53 rear if you aren’t sure where to begin. By mixing and matching these tires, you can dial in the perfect setup for your MX bike.
For trail riders, our favorite tires are a combination from two different manufacturers. This is a bit of a secret recipe perfected by our singletrack-addict tire testers, and it should work well for whatever dirt adventures you might have, from dodging trees and hitting rock gardens to hillclimbing and blasting sand whoops. The Bridgestone M59 front has been a go-to choice for many years, and its proven track record speaks for itself. The IRC’s VE-33S is a newcomer in comparison, but it brings a gummy compound that seriously boosts grip. Surprisingly for a soft tire, it also outlasts many of its competitors, which means more time riding. Put them together, and your trail machine should be able to handle any terrain.
Frequently Asked Questions
As with most things motorcycling, this one comes down to having the right tool for the job. The best street motorcycle tires will offer plenty of grip for canyon-carving while being durable enough to log thousands of miles' worth of highway and around-town duty. In other words, these aren't one-and-done race slicks. Rather, they're a middle-of-the-road compromise between performance and longevity that balances rubber compound and tread pattern to get there.
The answer here depends on the dirt you dig and the frequency with which you dig it. Pure motocross bikes live strictly on earthen tracks; they need big and brutal knobs on a harder compound tire carcass to hook up in the loamy turns and berms. ADV bikes that spend considerable amounts of time covering highway slab mixed in with some fire roads will benefit from a 50-50 tire that's DOT-legal. Competition cross-country bikes and trail bikes exist in more of a middle ground, with occasional roadway or hard-pack surfaces forcing them to run something less aggressive than the MX knobbies.
We've got a fun and informative walk-through here, but the general process is as follows: remove the wheel from your motorcycle, deflate the tube or tire by removing the valve core, loosen the valve stem nut and any rim lock nuts, use a bead-breaker to get the tire off the rim bead, install any rim protectors and utilize tire irons to pry the old tire off the rim, check for rotational direction of the new tire and install one side over the rim bead, insert tube unless the tires are tubeless-type, begin to work the other side of the tire over the opposing rim bead, tighten valve stem and rim lock nuts, add air until the tire is fully seated.
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Lifting your sport bike and removing its wheels doesn't need to be a chore. Joe Zito's here with the essential information you need to get the job done. Whether you're swapping tires, adjusting suspension, or simply getting the bike off the gr...
Lifting your dirt bike and removing its wheels doesn't need to be a chore. Joe Zito's here with the essential information you need to get the job done. Whether you're swapping tires, adjusting suspension, or simply getting the bike off the gro...
Lifting your cruiser and removing its wheels doesn't need to be a chore. Joe Zito's here with the essential information you need to get the job done. Whether you're swapping tires, adjusting suspension, or simply getting the bike off the groun...
Lifting your ADV bike and removing its wheels doesn't need to be a chore. Joe Zito's here with the essential information you need to get the job done. Whether you're swapping tires, adjusting suspension, or simply getting the bike off the grou...