If you’re looking for a new set of cruiser tires, you’ve come to the right place. A cruiser motorcycle is a different beast from a sport or a touring bike, and the same goes for its tires. Motorcycle tires for cruisers are designed with longevity in mind and can last for well over 10,000 miles. Cruiser motorcycle tires are made with tougher compounds as they’re meant for heavier bikes, while touring tires, for example, are better at cornering. Finally, lots of cruiser motorcycles have different wheel sizes. To choose the right tires, you’ll need to research which brands make tires specifically for your bike or buy different brands for each wheel.
In this post, we’ll review some of the best cruiser motorcycle tires in 2023 and talk about tire changes. Cruisers typically have stiff, tough tires, and changing them is no easy job – unless you have the right tools, but we’ll come back to that later. First, it’s important to figure out what tire type will work best for you.
Cruiser Motorcycle Tires: What to Look For
These days, few riders want to compromise on grip versus longevity or the sporty feel vs sturdiness. Tire manufacturers have come a long way, but while cruiser tires are designed with long miles and heavy bikes in mind, different brands offer tires with slightly different purposes. Which one should you go for?
It’s all about the type of bike you own and the kind of riding you do. Cruiser motorbikes can be large-capacity, heavy motorcycles meant for long highway distances, but some are nimbler, sportier machines aimed at canyon carving and Tail of the Dragon sort of fun. Your cruiser tire choices should be based depending on what type of riding you do: long-haul travel, commuting, or chasing the mountain twisties.
Equally, some cruiser bike owners happily use touring or sports tires for their bikes. Some even prefer the dark side and put car tires on their motorcycles. In other words, cruiser tire choices are very individual, so don’t just trust the reviews. Instead, think of what’s most important to you and your riding – the miles, the grippy, sporty cornering, the all-weather traction, or all of the above.
With this in mind, we’re comparing eight best motorcycle tires for cruisers in 2023:
Image credit: Michelin
Michelin makes one of the best cruiser tires out there – riders report getting as much as 25,000 miles out of them, and that’s an impressive number for a tire that grips like a sport-touring one. The Commander has a solid carcass and soft (in comparison to most cruiser tires) compound, which means it’s equally good on straight highways and twisty backcountry roads – and it’ll last you a long, long time.
Michelin uses aramid plies within the Comander’s carcass making the tire comfortably stable and extremely sturdy. Aramid is stronger and lighter than steel, and that’s the secret sauce in the Commander’s longevity and stability.
If you’re looking to do long distances on a heavy cruiser, the Michelin Commander is one of the best choices out there.
Pirelli Night Dragon
Image credit: Pirelli
The opposite of the Commander, Pirelli Night Dragon is all about an aggressive, sporty grip. This is a tire meant for performance and made with Harley-Davidson cruiser motorcycles in mind. While we’re all for giving it extra kudos for a cool name, the Night Dragon won’t last anywhere near as long as the Michelin Commander – according to Pirelli, you can expect around 6,00-8,000 miles out of these tires. But what it lacks in longevity, the Night Dragon more than makes up for in traction and confidence – building stability in corners. If you own a large, chunky cruiser and you love leaning into corners, the Night Dragon is your best bet.
Dunlop Elite 4
Image credit: Dunlop Tires
Want to cross the country six times before you need new tires? Dunlop claims their Elite 4 can do just that – eat up those miles and show little signs of wear over long distances. Made with a multi-tread compound, Dunlop Elite 4 tires are sturdy, stable, and reliable in all weather and all road conditions. Riders claim the Elite 4 can last for 15,000-18,000 miles – an impressive number for cruiser motorcycle tires, and the best part is, they’ll work on highways, backcountry roads, rain, and anything else you throw at them. Another great bonus is that Dunlop Elite 4’s are made for cruiser motorbikes with 15- to 21-inch diameter wheels, which means they’re available for a wide range of motorcycles.
Image credit: Dunlop
Another classic from Dunlop, the D404 is one of the most popular cruiser tires out there. Why? Plenty of sizes are available, there’s the beloved whitewall version for older models, the round profile provides plenty of cornering fun, and Dunlop doesn’t compromise on longevity. The only drawback is that the D404 is meant for lighter cruisers, not the massive, large-capacity machines. Then again, there are the D401 and D402 versions available for the larger Harley-Davidson cruiser motorcycles.
Keep in mind that the Dunlop D404, 401, and 402 tires are notoriously difficult to change on your own. To help you out, we put this video tutorial together where we’re changing an old, stiff Dunlop D402 on a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. It’s nowhere near as hard when you’ve got the right tools with you:
Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra
Image credit: Metzeler
Much like the aforementioned Dunlop, the Metzeler ME888 Marathon Ultra comes in a variety of sizes and has a whitewall version for those who love that iconic Harley or Indian cruiser motorcycle look. German-founded, Italian – based, Metzeler is a reputable tire manufacturer, and their ME888 Marathon Ultra is aimed at heavyweight cruisers that rack up thousands of miles. Its tread pattern increases stability in all weather conditions, and the reinforced sidewalls along with a different compound add to the tire’s lifespan. As the name suggests, Marathon Ultra is meant for serious long-distance travel, and riders report getting 19,000 miles out of these tires.
Image credit: Avon Tires
Giving the Pirelli Night Dragon a run for its money, Avon Cobra promises 15,000 miles and supersport heritage. In other words, it’s a tire that will last reasonably long while offering that plush, grippy cornering feel. The Cobra is a fantastic tire for powerful bikes like a Triumph cruiser motorcycle or a Goldwing as well as custom bikes since they come in a wide variety of different wheel sizes.
Metzeler Cruisetec Tires
Image credit: Metzeler
Technically, cruiser tires aren’t expected to have sportbike performance. Metzeler claims that Cruisetec does, however: made for cornering and braking stability, this tire boasts a high-curvature design and a new tread pattern outdoing the ME888 Marathon Ultra when it comes to performance.
The Cruisetec is all about sporty handling due to its soft compound blend design. The longevity of the Cruisetec is about 17,000 miles – not bad for a grippy, traction-focused tire, and Metzeler claims the tire performs consistently throughout at least 80% of its lifespan.
Shinko 777 budget tire
Image credit: Shinko Tires
Need a reliable tire that won’t break your budget? Shinko 777 might be the answer. Although most riders assume it’s a Chinese brand, Shinko’s manufacturing is based in South Korea while the design is Japanese, and the company seamlessly combines Japanese engineering and design principles with South Korean production and quality standards. Shinko’s 777 is a decent cruiser tire capable of long miles and reliable in all weather conditions. Shinko 777 comes in black and white walls, and it can serve well as a commuter or touring tire for both mid-weight and heavy cruisers.
How to Change Cruiser Motorcycle Tires
Once you’ve chosen your new tires, it’s time to replace the old rubber. If you usually take your bike to a shop for tire changes, that’s an easy job. On the other hand, changing your own tires is so much more rewarding – and it gives you more freedom to swap rubber whenever you feel like it. So what’s the best way to change a cruiser motorcycle tire?
Here at Rabaconda, we’re firm believers in the right tools for the right job. The Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer is designed specifically for street, touring, and cruiser motorcycles making tire-changing infinitely faster, easier, and smoother. To show you how it works, we’ve put a short tutorial together. In this video, we’re replacing an old a Triumph Scrambler tire, and as you can see, it takes just minutes to get the job done:
Want to change your own cruiser tires the fast and easy way? Grab your very own Street Bike Tire Changer and forget high dealer costs and busted knuckles.
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