On the hunt for the best touring motorcycle tires? We’re here to help. Much like adventure tires, touring tires have to meet a very specific set of requirements. Pure sport bike tire choices are easier since they’re designed for one purpose only – to withstand high speeds and fast cornering. Sport touring and touring motorcycle tires, on the other hand, need to do both – speed and corners plus longevity since most tourer bike owners cover long miles and often travel with luggage or a pillion passenger.
In other words, touring motorcycle tires have to provide great grip while cornering and offer a mileage ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 miles per set. As with any other tire, its longevity will depend on how often you ride, how you ride, and whether you ride year-round.
In addition, touring motorcycle tires are generally very stiff and notoriously difficult to change if you’re doing it by hand. Aggressively grippy, long-lasting, and tough tires mean capricious beads and are hard to wrangle if you don’t have the right tools.
So what are the best touring tires in 2023, what’s the word from bike manufacturers, and what’s the best way to change tires on your own? Read on to find out.
Motorcycle vs Tire Manufacturers
The simplest and easiest way to choose your motorcycle tires is to trust your bike’s manufacturer: quite a few sport-touring and touring motorcycles come with decent tires, especially brands like BMW. On the other hand, some manufacturers – looking at you, Japanese brands – shoe their motorcycles with tires that have a lower load rating. Some use tires that are simply cheaper. It doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, it just means the tire meets the manufacturer’s standards. They may not be your standards, however.
When choosing new touring motorcycle tires, first evaluate your own needs and expectations. Your mileage, your weight (including luggage and/or your passenger), how much fast cornering you hope to do vs how long are your rides, and the conditions you ride in (all-season, fair weather only, etc.) are all important factors. Next, look at the tire specs like load and speed rating, your budget, and finally, tire brands.
As with any other motorcycle product, everything is a trade-off, however slight. When it comes to touring tires, it’s longevity versus grip. For long-distance riding, longevity may be more important; for fun weekend rides, you’ll probably want better grip while cornering.
Can touring motorcycle tires do both equally well?
Best Touring Motorcycle Tires in 2023: Brand Comparison
The short answer is: sort of. Although the tire manufacturing world is ever-evolving, such a thing as the perfect tire, much like the perfect motorcycle, doesn’t exist. But choosing the right touring tire isn’t about looking for perfection – it’s about finding what works best for you.
Here’s a list of the top brands offering some of the best touring motorcycle tires in 2023:
Bridgestone Battlax T32
Image credit: Bridgestone Tires
One of the most respected tire manufacturers out there, Bridgestone offers the Battlax T32, a tire aimed at midweight and large-capacity touring motorcycles. Boasting better braking distance and great grip in wet conditions, Battlax T32 sticks to its racing roots (Bridgestone was the official tire supplier for MotoGP) providing easier cornering and a better feel. In other words, this might be the unicorn you’re looking for – all-season tires with great grip and ease of leaning into those tight curves.
Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III
Image credit: Dunlop Tires
If you’re looking for a sportier tire with fantastic grip, Dunlop Sportmax Roadmaster III ticks all the boxes. Aimed at riders who love the sports side more than the long-distance riding aspect, Roadmaster III is a great summer tire for carving canyons and touring mountain roads at a lively pace. Dunlop claims the Roadmaster III delivers consistent quality over the entire lifespan of the tire (that is, even at 3,000 miles the tires will deliver the same performance as new. Don’t expect big miles out of these tires, but they will provide plenty of adrenaline-inducing fun.
Metzeler Roadtec 01
Image credit: Metzeler
Sturdy, confidence-inspiring, and stable: Metzeler’s Roadtec 01 touring tires are praised for being grippy in all weather conditions while retaining the sporty, plush feel - rain or shine. Made to last but offering sharp steering, the Roadtec 01 is a serious contender for Bridgestone’s Battlax, and riders report easily getting as much as 8,000 miles out of them.
Continental Road Attack 4
Image credit: Continental Tires
One of the newest touring motorcycle tires on the market, Continental Road Attack 4 is designed specifically for aggressive long-distance riding. Aimed at powerful and heavy sport tourers with ABS and traction control, Road Attack tires boast an improved, silica-rich compound, better longevity, and great grip in all weather conditions.
Michelin Road GT6
Image credit: Michelin
Michelin is the oldest motorcycle tire manufacturer in the world – suffice to say, they know what they’re doing, and the Road GT6 is their newest offering for sport touring bikes. Road GT6 has a rounder profile for better cornering and offers better handling and more stability for heavy, loaded bikes and or two-up riding. The sporty features are combined with Michelin’s new Water Evergrip tech which means more grip in wet conditions, and the tire is promising long miles and consistent performance over its whole lifespan.
Pirelli Angel GT
Image credit: Pirelli
Pirelli is another iconic tire manufacturer known for its racing performance; Angel GT is a model worthy of a place on the best touring motorcycle tire list. Boasting improved cold and wet grip as well as longevity, Pirelli Angel GT tires are meant for long-distance, all-season riding and are equally fun on sport, sport touring, and touring motorcycles.
Shinko 016 Verge 2X
Image credit: Shinko Tire
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly touring tire, Shinko 016 Verge 2X is a great option. Although it isn’t meant for long miles – most riders report the Verge 2X lasts about 3,000 miles – these tires offer fairly decent dry grip and good performance in wet conditions. They’re a tad stiffer than sport-oriented tires like Dunlop or Pirelli, and they may not be ideal for long journeys two-up, but they’re a fantastic choice for weekend warriors and riders who prefer shorter miles.
Darkside: Car Tires on Your Motorcycle
We know, we know, it doesn’t sound quite right, but some riders use car tires on their motorcycles. Known as “Darkside”, putting car tires on your motorcycle is something frequently done by tourer and V-twin bike owners. Why? Car tires last infinitely more than motorcycle tires, have a higher load rating, and are more advanced in tire tech. Darkside riders claim car tires provide more traction in any weather conditions and have a better lean angle, especially with heavy, loaded motorcycles. If you own a tourer and put long miles in, using a car tire for your bike’s rear wheel might be a creative option.
How to Change Touring Motorcycle Tires
Now that you’ve picked a set of tires for your tourer, it’s time to think about tire maintenance and tire changes. Depending on how much you ride (and how many bikes you own), changing your own tires might be the best solution. Being able to change rubber whenever needed is a great asset – you’ll save time, money, and energy spent on frequent trips to the dealerships. In addition, you’ll always be able to choose the best motorcycle touring tires for your bike – not the ones the sales folks might be pushing. E-tailers often offer great tire selection and pricing.
Curious what’s the fastest way to change your own tires? Check out the Rabaconda Street Bike Tire Changer, a tool that allows you to swap even the most stubborn rubbers within minutes. Don’t believe us? Here’s a quick tutorial:
Get your Street Bike Tire Changer