Navigating the Road: How to Choose the Right Motorcycle Tyre for Your Riding Style

Selecting the perfect motorcycle tyre involves a comprehensive understanding of various factors, including size, compound, and type, that cater to specific riding needs. This article delves into the nuances of motorcycle tyre selection, guiding riders on how to determine the most suitable option for their unique motorcycling requirements. From demystifying the complexities of tyre size and its impact on handling to unraveling the significance of different compounds for varying terrains and weather conditions, this overview sheds light on the essential considerations that enable bikers to make informed decisions. By examining the distinctive features of each tyre type, weather slicks, treads, or hybrids, this article equips readers with the necessary knowledge to enhance their riding experience and optimise performance based on their preferences and intended use. With a focus on simplifying the intricate aspects of tyre selection, this piece serves as an indispensable guide for motorcyclists aiming to maximise their motorcycling potential through the right choice of tyres.




Tyre Compounds 

Motorcycle tyres are composed of a complex amalgamation of compounds, meticulously engineered to synergistically enhance performance and ensure unparalleled durability beyond conventional rubber construction. The composition of the tread compound stands as the pivotal element dictating a tyre’s traction on both dry and wet surfaces. Constructed from a blend of natural and synthetic rubber, along with additional components like silica, carbon black, waxes, and oils, this essential amalgamation plays a critical role in the tyre’s overall performance.

Furthermore, the choice of tread compound significantly impacts a tyre’s functionality. Typically, firmer compounds demonstrate prolonged longevity but diminished grip, while softer compounds deliver heightened traction at the cost of accelerated wear. Categorized into four primary classes – soft, medium-soft, medium-hard, and hard – each compound type serves distinct purposes. Soft variants excel in securing superior grip on dry terrain while exhibiting commendable wear resistance on wet roads. Medium-soft compounds strike a balance between traction and endurance. Medium-hard compounds are tailored for high-speed applications where longevity takes precedence, whereas hard compound tyres are best suitable for long highway runs, providing the best longevity as they have less grip and wear.


Radial vs Non-Radial Motorcycle Tyre

Radial motorcycle tyres, characterized by their distinct construction with sidewall plies laid perpendicular to the direction of travel, offer enhanced stability, improved grip, and a smoother ride, making them ideal for long-distance touring and cruising. On the other hand, non-radial (or bias-ply) motorcycle tyres, built with sidewall plies at an angle to the direction of travel, provide better load-carrying capacity and are well-suited for off-road adventures and aggressive, high-performance riding styles. Riders seeking enhanced comfort and grip for extended journeys should opt for radial tyres, while those prioritising robustness and load-carrying capabilities may find bias-ply tyres more suitable for their needs.


Types of Tyres:

Types of tyres can be summarised under 4 major categories: Slicks, Hybrid/Road, Dual purpose, MX knobbies. You can choose a tyre based on your riding style and the type of motorcycle that you own.

Track Slicks:

Racing slick tyres, these sport tyres are designed for high-speed track racing, feature a smooth, treadless surface that maximizes the contact patch with the road. This construction allows for superior grip and traction on dry surfaces, enabling enhanced cornering capabilities and optimal performance in racing conditions. By eliminating the grooves and patterns found in regular tyres, slicks prioritize maximum surface contact, enabling racers to achieve peak speeds and unparalleled handling precision on the racetrack. Using racing slicks on regular roads is discouraged due to their design, which lacks the tread patterns necessary for effective water dispersion. This absence of grooves makes the tyres highly susceptible to hydroplaning, compromising their ability to maintain traction on wet surfaces. Additionally, the absence of tread reduces the tyres’ ability to provide grip in various road conditions, posing a significant safety risk for regular road users, particularly during wet or slippery weather conditions.


Hybrid or road tyres:

Road tyres for motorcycles are designed for general-purpose use on regular road surfaces or to be used as touring tyres. They typically feature a tread pattern that facilitates efficient water dispersion, enhancing grip and stability in wet conditions. These tyres prioritise a balance between durability, traction, and performance, catering to the needs of everyday riders seeking reliable handling, comfort, and safety across various road conditions.


Dual purpose tyres:

Dual-purpose motorcycle tyres, also known as adventure or ADV tyres, are versatile in their design, intended to perform effectively both on and off-road and to be also used as touring tyres on adventure motorcycles. These tyres feature a tread pattern that strikes a balance between on-road grip and off-road traction, allowing riders to navigate various terrains with ease. With sturdy construction and reinforced sidewalls, they offer increased durability and resistance to punctures, making them suitable for extended adventure rides and exploring diverse landscapes. In short, Jack of all trades, Master of none.


Mx Knobbies:


Motocross knobby tyres are specialized off-road tyres primarily used in motocross and other dirt biking disciplines. They are characterized by their aggressive, protruding tread pattern, comprising prominent knobs that provide exceptional traction and grip on loose, muddy, or uneven terrain. These tyres are designed to maximize control and maneuverability, allowing riders to navigate challenging off-road tracks and trails with heightened precision and confidence. Using motocross knobby tyres for daily road use is not recommended due to their design, which prioritizes traction and grip on off-road surfaces. The prominent, spaced-out knobs on these tyres generate excessive noise, reduce stability, and compromise handling on regular paved roads. Additionally, the softer rubber compound used in motocross tyres wears out rapidly on hard surfaces, leading to decreased durability and increased maintenance costs. Moreover, the lack of effective water dispersion channels in the tread pattern can result in reduced traction and handling, particularly on wet roads, posing a safety risk for everyday road use.


Tyre Sizes

Motorcycle tyre sizes are typically denoted by a sequence of numbers that represent the tyre’s width, aspect ratio, construction type, and rim diameter. For instance, a common format for motorcycle tyre sizes is “120/70 R17,” where “120” refers to the tyre width in millimeters, “70” represents the aspect ratio (percentage of the tyre’s height to its width), “R” indicates radial construction, and “17” signifies the rim diameter in inches. These measurements provide crucial information about the tyre’s dimensions and construction, enabling riders to select the appropriate tyre size that aligns with their motorcycle’s specifications and intended usage.

Speed Ratings:

 The speed rating on a motorcycle tyre denotes the maximum speed at which the tyre can safely operate under specific load conditions. Represented by a letter code, such as “H,” “V,” or “W,” these ratings correspond to predefined speed limits. For instance, “H” indicates a maximum speed of 130 mph, “V” indicates 149 mph, and “W” indicates 168 mph. Selecting a tyre with an appropriate speed rating is crucial to ensure optimal performance and safety, as exceeding the designated speed limit can compromise the tyre’s integrity and increase the risk of accidents.

Is it recommended to upsize your motorcycle’s tyre?

Changing the manufacturer-recommended tyre size can impact various aspects of a motorcycle’s performance, including handling, stability, and overall safety. Deviating from the recommended tyre size may alter the bike’s speedometer accuracy, ground clearance, and suspension geometry, potentially compromising the vehicle’s overall balance and stability. It is essential to consult with a trusted mechanic or refer to professional recommendations before considering any modifications to the manufacturer’s prescribed tyre size to ensure the continued safety and performance of the motorcycle.




Understanding the intricate aspects of motorcycle tyres is crucial for riders seeking optimal performance and safety. This article has thoroughly explored tyre types, sizes, speed ratings, and the differences between radial and non-radial designs. By considering factors like terrain, weather conditions, and riding preferences, riders can make informed decisions when selecting the right tyres for their motorcycles. Remember, choosing the appropriate tyre type and size is pivotal for an enjoyable and safe riding experience, making this knowledge invaluable for riders as they navigate the roads ahead.





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