Sport Touring Tire Buyer’s Guide

Tires – they’re quite possibly the single most important part of any motorcycle, regardless of the type of riding discipline. They’re the one thing – okay, two things – that you ideally ever want coming into contact with the ground while riding a motorcycle (knee and elbow dragging don’t count). Speaking of contact, you only get but a couple square inches of rubber per tire ever touching the ground at any given moment, and on top of that, your tires have to contend with an ever-changing multitude of forces and conditions all while fighting for traction, so you definitely want to choose a tire that’s going to suit your riding style and needs as closely as possible.
The sport touring tire segment is an interesting one, because the goal is to blend supersport corner-carving grip and performance with mile-munching cruiser type wear and longevity – two opposite sides of the spectrum. Sport touring bikes like the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT and Kawasaki H2 SX (and many others) deliver horsepower numbers well north of 150 that can decimate the life of a tire. Additionally, tire life is obviously also heavily dependent on how hard you twist the throttle, and how often. So this begs the question: How much cornering grip are you willing to sacrifice in favor of a long lasting tire you won’t have to change each season, and how often will you be tilting the horizon vs. riding in a straight line?
Fortunately, tire technology is advancing each year and manufacturers like the eight listed below have offerings that compromise very little side grip and performance in favor of centerline longevity.
Avon Spirit ST

Avon calls its premier sport touring tire, the Spirit ST, an “Ultra-High Performance Hypersport Touring Tire.” It features interlocking three-dimensional points hidden in the sipes that aim to improve stability and grip, while simultaneously limiting tread flex and allowing for quick warm up times. Avon introduced the Spirit ST last year and engineers have also increased and improved the silica distribution and polymer technology throughout the tire’s rubber compounds for improved wet traction and handling. Additionally, the Spirit ST features Variable Belt Density – steel belts that are tightly spaced in the center for high-speed stability and even wear, and widely spaced belts at the edges to increase the tire’s footprint while leaned over. The rear features multiple compounds, with a harder center and softer sides while the front is a single compound.
The Spirit ST is available in just about every popular tire size: Fronts range from $126.99 to $185.99 and rears from $166.99 to $209.99. As a bonus, they also come with a free one-year road hazard warranty. Click here for more information.

Bridgestone Battlax T31

The Battlax T31 is Bridgestone’s latest sport touring offering. At the heart of the new T31 is the concept of enhanced wet grip and handling while maximizing contact feel. In the front, which features only one compound, Bridgestone used its latest nano technology, which works at the molecular level to improve the dispersion of silica in the compound mix. This increases rubber flexibility, which they claim improves the contact feel of the surface and enhances grip in wet and low-temperature conditions.
Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A41 and Sport Touring T31 Tire Review
The rear tire features a triple-layer compound in a cap and base configuration construction, to provide the ideal balance between grip and cornering stability, with a harder compound in the center and base, and softer shoulder sections. The T31 tread pattern is designed with a higher sea/land ratio on the shoulders, for increased water drainage, and a reduced sea/land ratio in the center of the rear tread, to maintain good high-speed stability. Bridgestone says the contact patch is up to 7% larger, from upright to full lean angle, generating a higher camber thrust for more confident cornering. Camber thrust, in simple terms, is the movement of a tire perpendicular to the direction it is rolling. So, in other words, the redesigned grooves provide 7% more steering power and grip in whichever direction you’re turning, which means you can rail a turn that much harder.
Bridgestone testing also suggests that the T31 has a higher friction coefficient on wet pavement than its predecessor, the T30 EVO, recording 3% faster lap times on a wet handling track. The whole T31 package has been developed with the goal of increasing tread life.
The Battlax T31 is available in the complete range of sizes: Fronts range from $132.99 to $141.99 and rears from $159.99 to $197.99. Click here for more information.

Continental ContiRoadAttack 3

The ContiRoadAttack 3 is a German made sport touring tire that, like the Bridgestone T31, is designed to improve wet grip and performance. However, Continental is unique in that it opts not to use different tire compounds in different areas. Instead, Conti’s MultiGrip technology utilizes a temperature-controlled curing of the tire during the production process to enable the ContiRoadAttack 3 to use a single compound. With it, the shoulder area is softer to provide extra grip, while the center area is harder for durability. And since the ContiRoadAttack 3 doesn’t use differing compounds, there’s a continuous transition when moving from the side of the tire to the center, or vice versa.
Another Continental feature, TractionSkin, makes tire break-in periods extremely short, as new mold-coating technology eliminates the need for tire release agents during the build process. And finally, the ZeroDegree steel-belted construction ensures stability at high speeds.
Continental offers a full lineup of tire sizes with fronts costing between $119.99 to $140.99 and rears from $126.99 to $190.99. Visit the link here for more info.

Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart III

Dunlop claims the Roadsmart III is its most versatile tire, offering ultra high mileage, sportbike level grip and outstanding wet weather performance. Dunlop uses its Multi-Tread design that binds a harder high-mileage compound to the center and softer high adhesion compound to the lateral flanks for improved cornering grip. Both the front and rear tire compounds feature an innovative resin that’s designed to enhance wear resistance as well as increase wet grip. Additionally, the Roadsmart III’s sidewall construction has been beefed up to help provide increased shock absorption and more precise handling characteristics. The new cross-groove tread pattern is also claimed to achieve better water drainage in inclement weather.
Dunlop Roadsmart III Performance-Touring Tire Review
Like the other tires listed so far, Dunlop offers the Roadsmart III in all the popular sizes, with fronts ranging from $121.99 to $139.99 and rears from $144.99 to $184.99. Click here for more details.

Metzeler Roadtec 01

The Roadtec 01 is Metzeler’s latest evolution of its Roadtec line dedicated to the sport touring segment, and like the other tires on this list, is focused on enhanced grip on both wet and low-friction road surfaces as well as increased mileage. The Roadtec 01 is claimed to offer up to 10% more mileage than the Roadtec Z8 Interact, as well as improved steering accuracy, stability, and handling predictability on the road. The front tire’s compound consists of a single-compound construction with 100% silica for wet-weather grip. The rear features a dual-compound construction consisting of a center strip of 80% silica for better durability over the center 20% of the tread. The remaining 80% of tread surface is constructed of 100% silica and split evenly between the two sides of the tread for maximum grip while leaned over. Additionally, the 01s feature a shorter, wider contact patch that according to Metzeler, is 5% larger than its Z8 predecessor.
Metzeler Roadtec 01 Tire Review
Metzeler’s Zero-degree Interact steel belt technology provides the carcass’ structure. Steel thread runs parallel to the tire’s rotation and the tension and spacing between the threads varies to tune the carcass’ stiffness for various sections of the tire profile, allowing for increased stability in the center of the tire and maximum grip on the edges
The Roadtec 01 runs the gamut of tire sizes for any bike built to swallow miles, including adventure bikes. Pricing starts at $136.99 to $167.99 for fronts and $170.99 to $213.99 for rears. Head here for more deets.

Michelin Road 5

Superseding the Pilot Road 4, the Road 5 is a tire Michelin is incredibly proud of. The Road 5 features an all-new tread and siping pattern that is claimed to disperse water better than any other sport touring tire, and is also said to provide the same amount of wet weather traction and stopping power after 3,000 miles compared to brand new Pilot Road 4s. This is thanks to Michelin’s XST Evo (X Sipe Technology), the third generation of XST found on Michelin motorcycle tires. XST Evo sipes feature a patented teardrop shape as they get closer to the carcass of the tire. Basically, as the tire wears and the groove becomes shallower, it opens up wider the deeper it goes, allowing more water to be displaced.
MO Tested: Michelin Road 5 Tire Review
The Road 5 isn’t just a great wet weather tire, dry performance has also received upgrades thanks to the inclusion of ACT+ (Adaptive Casing Technology). ACT+ provides a carcass that creates a softer crown while maintaining a stiffer sidewall. ACT+ paired with 2CT+ (two compound technology) means harder, more wear-resistant compound to be run in the center and base of the tires, with softer, grippier rubber on the shoulders. The two technologies together help the tires to better withstand the forces of acceleration while leaned over and results in more stability while still delivering the better mechanical grip of the softer compound.
Michelin doesn’t offer the Road 5 in as many applications as some of the other manufacturers on this list (especially fronts), however if you have a 17-inch front, they’ve got you covered. Rears offer many sizes. Pricing starts at $151.99 in the front and between $179.99 and $218.99 depending on rear tire size. Click here for details.

Pirelli Angel GT

Pirelli’s Angel GT is the Angel ST’s successor, and the goal was to improve upon wet grip and handling and increased tread life. The GT builds on the ST by incorporating more continuous grooves for better water dispersion. Groove depth is reduced on the shoulders for better edge grip and increased stiffness and, according to Pirelli, the GT achieves a 10% and 16% greater sea/land ratio in the front and rear, respectively, compared to its predecessor. The Angel GT’s profile is different from other tires as well because it’s slightly flatter in the center and about 5% sharper at the edges. Pirelli says the bigger footprint actually loads the stress more evenly on the tire, which in turn improves tire life.
Pirelli Angel GT Tire Review
The front tire is a single compound with a high silica mix, which improves warm up time as well as wet surface grip. The rear features a dual compound with the base and center 20% of the tire made from a 70/30 mixture of silica and carbon black for quick warm up, durability and high feedback, and the remaining 80% uses the same silica rich compound as the front for that sticky-icky leaned over grip.
The Pirelli Angel GT comes in a variety of different sizes, including most popular ADV sizes too. Pricing for fronts is between $131.99 and $149.99 while rears run from $164.99 to $209.99. Check here for more info.

Shinko 016 Verge 2X

The 016 Verge 2X is Shinko’s premier sport touring tire. Perhaps not the most technologically advanced tires, but they’re the most affordable and will get the job done for more budget-minded riders. Both the front and rear feature dual compounds for supporting both mileage and grip, and they’ve added extra sipes to better disperse water and even out the tire’s wear characteristics. The front tires feature aramid belt construction and the rears are steel belted.
Sizing is limited, but there are two fronts priced $83.99 and $84.99 and several rears that will set you back between $141.99 and $153.99. Head here for more info.
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Source: All Bikes news one

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