Motorcycle tires 101
Peter_Black last edited by Peter_Black
Round and black. Done and done.
Joking aside, there are literal libraries worth of forums pages on what is the best tire, how do you get the most lean, what is the stickiest, and so on and so forth. The truth of the matter is, what you need out of your tires is different person to person and location to location. Each style of bike has something different they are looking for.
Cruisers are looking for mileage and being able to handle the weight and rain. So their tires then to be stiff and heavy. Not much for grip, but long distance and heavy loads are the name of the game. Most of the time, you will be shopping based on availability and sizing, as cruisers have far more sizing difference then sport bikes or dirt bikes.
Moving to off road machines, you will come to rubber that is far narrower (as a result of narrow frames and bikes). The tread pattern will have far more variety in this category. Mud tires, dirt, sand, and hard pack will all have different patterns. Loose/ soft terrain like mud, sand will have tires with large spaces between the knobs to be able to ‘scoop’ into the terrain and move the bike forward. Hard terrain tires will have tighter knobs for more grip (more surface on the ground) with the gaps between the blocks more for evacuating debris, rather than catching the ground and moving the bike that way. Intermediate tires are just that, the in between.
The ADV riders have the most variety of rubber they can chose between. Because of the wide variety of bikes and uses an ADV rider can do, ADV tires are sorted in percentages. 50/50.60/40 70/30. 80/20. This denotes how road/offroad oriented the tires are. Which obviously will make a huge difference. ADV riders can also opt to put on sport touring rubber if their bikes spend all of the time on the pavement.
The last group of tires I’ll be going over is the sport touring and super sports guys. These guys almost all use the same tires, a 120/70/17 up front, and anything from a 140 to a 200 wide on the rear (but still a 17 inch rim). These tires all look more or less the same, but have the greatest difference in the compound used. You start at the heavy touring tires, go to sports touring, go to sports and super sports rubber, then you get to DOT and race slicks.
How do all of these differ? Like the other catergories, there are certain goals. The more life you want, the harder the compound. However, you give up grip. You want more grip, you give up life. You must also balance WHEN you want your peak grip. We all know about warming up the tires yes? Slicks and higher performance rubber will work better in a higher temperature range. Not a problem when you have tire warmers and it’s a warm sunny day at the track. Little bit more of an issue when you are going out to meet the boys Sunday morning.
Now, wet performance. the more wet performance you want, the more siping you need, but you also loose out right grip and the tires becomes easier to flex and cold tear. Something like a Dunlop Q4 is HORRIBLE in the rain (I can personally attest to this, my Daytona spun up the rear going in a straight line…a straight line!) where as I used to be able to drag knee on a pilot road 4. Compound and siping pattern make a HUGE difference.
So that’s the run down. Keep in mind in each category, there will be a tire that has better hot grip, one that’s better in wet, one that has a more stiff carcass which, some with softer. Each gives its own handling characteristics and its really dependent on what YOU want as a rider. AS an example, I found that pilot RS tires tend to slide a little bit more progressively under hard cornering, even if they do not have the outright grip of the Q3 or supercorsas. Which I like. I can pretend to be Marc Marquez on my local tracks
EDIT: forgot to mention. one thing about bike tires is that you should avoid mixing and matching front and rear tires. Lets take tire X and tire Y. Tire X is made to work at temp A and lean angle alpha. Tire Y is made to work at temp B and lean angle omega. This miss match of idel operating conditions means that you will be working one tire much close to the limit then the other, and you will be getting missed messages.
also, lets talk tire profile! Unlike car tires, bike tires are curved. This curvature is what ditates the turn in response. Having different tires with different curvatures will REALLY throw you off your game and potentially throw you off your bike too.
Exage03040 last edited by
Excellent do up. Thank you!
onlytwowheels last edited by
I'd like to add a side note regarding mixing different tire compounds front and rear, DON'T DO IT!
Thirty some years ago, armed with youthful ignorance, I nearly pitched my bike on an offramp at 60 mph when the front street compound tire gave up grip and the rear race compound tire was stuck like glue....
@onlytwowheels ah, I knew I forgot SOMETHING. I'll add it.
Roadkilled last edited by
Maybe it's coincidence, but FortNine posted this video today.
@roadkilled a bit. I had this typed up since last week, just didnt get around to posting it. and then while I was working on the 250 Ryans video popped up in my que and I was reminded of this.
Longtime Lurker last edited by
@roadkilled I was looking at those TKC 70 Rocks last year, but the 18" rear was just to wide to fit my swingarm.
krustywantout last edited by krustywantout
@peter_black This should be part of Best of OPPO or a 2Wheels 101 section of OPPO. Great job! We also need one of these for car tires.
Edit: You might want to add a section on longevity of each tire option. What I found out about my bike is that the stock rubber was very sticky but lasted maybe 6k miles. The new rubber is slightly more sport touring oriented and seems to be wearing slower than the previous one.
Alfalfa last edited by
@peter_black only gets 9/10 for me, zero info about putting car tires on your Goldwing.
AestheticsInMotion last edited by
screeches in dark sider
@alfalfa i will backhand a fucker into the middle of next week for that
doodon2whls last edited by
Good stuff, Peter... I would be happy to contribute to a Tires 201 write up exploring multi-compound tires and carcass design (ply construction and how it can influence tire performance) as well as a discussion on slip vs. grip plots and how they differ for sport and touring tires.
My work as a vehicle dynamics engineer (in a past life) had me evaluating tires for production performance vehicles (among many other things), so I have spent many weeks with the Goodyear and Michelin tire nerds... I have also built many vehicle dynamics simulation models using various tire data. I have run four different tire products on the VFR800 over the years - each with their own pros and cons... Dunlop D204K (OEM, X1), Pilot Sport (X2), Conti RoadAttack (X1), and Pilot Road 2 (X2)... Not a fan of the D204K or the Conti Road Attacks. I nearly low sided on the D204K's and did low side on the Conti's. No such problems with the Pilot Sports and Pilot Road 2's...
Tires are one of the most critical components on a vehicle for ride, comfort, and handling performance. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of vehicle owners think that 'round and black' is good enough.
Let me know if that is of interest to you... We should probably develop an outline, because there is a LOT to talk about. The average Binder thickness for the Tire and Chassis Dynamics courses I have taken over the years was 4-5" ... Each class was a minimum of 5 classroom days... Ooof.
@doodon2whls I am 100% game. I'll send you a PM.
Rider last edited by
@peter_black What about paddle tires on sport bikes?